Shirow's definition of a ghost and its relation to humanity

Discuss the philosophy found in the various incarnations of Ghost in the Shell

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Shirow's definition of a ghost and its relation to humanity

Post by 01secn »

The thrust of this thread is - what is really meant by a 'ghost'? I've done a very little background reading on different concepts of what makes humans human and where Shirow's thinking lies in the canon of this philosophy, and I've identified some different threads of thought. One is the classic Descartes definition of a physical body and intangible mind, separate from the physical construction of brain, nerves, blood etc. My immediate reaction would be that Shirow's thinking would be here, since the ghost seems to be something separate from the body. To be sure, there is a part of the brain that needs to communicate with the ghost (I may be wrong on this but it was my understanding, I can't remember where I picked it up, that 97% of the human brain could be replaced without damaging that person's connection to their ghost, hence the 3% that is required for connection) but it does not seem that the ghost is actually contained in that part of the brain. It seems intangible, outside the realms of neuroscience entirely-very much like the soul in religious thinking. And yet some internet sources claim that Shirow largely rejects Descartes' thinking. Here is what the wikipedia article on GITS philosophy says:

The concept of the ghost was borrowed by Masamune Shirow from an essay on structuralism, "The Ghost in the Machine" by Arthur Koestler. The title The Ghost in the Machine itself was originally used by an English philosopher, Gilbert Ryle to mock the paradox of conventional Cartesian dualism and Dualism in general. Koestler, like Ryle, denies Cartesian dualism and locates the origin of human mind in the physical condition of the brain. He argues that the human brain has grown and built upon earlier, more primitive brain structures, the "ghost in the machine", which at times overpower higher logical functions, and are responsible for hate, anger and other such destructive impulses.

The next part of the paragraph is where I get lost and where I am looking for help!

Shirow denies dualism similarly in his work, but defines the "ghost" more broadly, not only as a physical trait, but as a phase or phenomenon that appears in a system at a certain level of complexity. The brain itself is only part of the whole neural network; if, for example, an organ is removed from a body, the autonomic nerve of the organ and consequently its "ghost" will vanish unless the stimulus of the existence of the organ is perfectly re-produced by a mechanical substitution. This can be compared, by analogy, to a person born with innate deafness being unable to understand the concept of "hearing" unless taught.
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Post by Violentidiot »

Hold on.
So "ghost" isn't merely referring to consciousness? Or even a conscience? Are those categorized as physical traits?
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Post by Freitag »

You have to remember that Japan is an animist culture. That is they believe that a great many inanimate objects have a spirit attached to them (think sylphs or dryads fro western mythology - except they think it about almost every piece of lint. And they have a particular fascination with dolls)

So when the organ is removed from the body you not only lose the mechanical function of that organ,but also the spiritual nature of it. If you watch anime like Inuyasha you see a representation of these spirits (called souls in the English dub of Inuyasha) and on person can be a container for more than one of these glowing orbs of light.

The Major at first through the Tachikomas were becoming unreliable as weapons as their AI developed. She says that it would be a breakthrough in an academic environment but for Section 9 it's just a pain. Later on she comes to the conclusion that the Tachikomas had developed ghosts - making them"real" (alive?) instead of complex simulations of something real.

The concept of a ghost is explored from several aspects. Togusa has minimal cyborization - essentially just an Internet connection in his head. While the Major and Batou are fully cyborged. The Tachikomas never had an organic body part and the Puppet Master never even had a physical body of any type. The Major even questions at one point if Togusa has a ghost - asserting that he does once he starts to act upon his hunches.

So I'm not sure there is a really good western analogy for the ghost. I think I remember one place where they said that dreaming is caused by the body moving whiel you are asleep and your ghost being partially pushed out of the body? Was that in GitS?
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Post by Net_Wanderer »

The implication I received in the episode where Motoko questions the existance of a ghost in Togusa got me to thinking that the term "Ghost" means more like Instinct instead of Consciousness.

Because it is said that only a creature of logical and intelligent thought but also with Will Power, can have instinctive impusles.

A machine is only as smart as its creator. A program can learn from humans or other living creatures but it lacks Instinct. Therefore it cannot develop hunches or gut feelings.

Whereas a cyborg has had a living human brain with Instinct and Will and was, over time, morphed into a fully prosthetic neuro-robotic body. The instinct remains because they are not 100% cyborg.

The moment they lose that last percentage, however minimal or minuscule, and completely become machine, is when they lose Instinctive Behavior and Force of True Will.

Memories of being human will become errors in system protocols, more or less.
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