The 2014 Conference at Dunedin

Thinking Meat


The "Mind/Body Problem" is brought to our attention in a 1991 science-fiction story by Terry Bisson. We listen in on a conversation between the robotic commander of an interplanetary expedition and his equally electronic leader who reports with astonishment that the human inhabitants of Earth are "made out of meat":

"Meat?"
  "There's no doubt about it. ... "
"That's impossible. ... How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."
  "I'm not asking you. I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector, and they're made out of meat"
"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. ... "
  "Nope, we thought of that, since they do have meat heads. ... But ... they're meat all the way through."
"No brain?"
  "Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat!"
"So ... what does the thinking?"
  "You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."
"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat?"
  "Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Dreaming meat! The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"

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