The Brain in the Jar

If we were to begin removing body parts (i.e. amputate an arm), at what point is consciousness removed and at what point do we stop being human?

It would make sense to believe that, in theory, we could remove so many organs that we’re just left with the brain and perhaps some supplementary constructs to support its ability to run.

An amputee experiences reality just as well as someone with all their limbs (perhaps with some phantom limb sensations, however). So we know consciousness doesn’t rely on the fullness of the body to exist. Could we, in theory, remove the stomach and excretory system? Could we go further and remove the heart and use artificial tools to run the brain?

A brain in a jar mightn’t be capable of visual stimuli and won’t have any somatosensorary input either. But it would be capable of thought, that is to say it would have a conscience. If we can suppress this consciousness long enough to evade sensory deprivation induced insanity to wire up an artificial body, could we have a bodiless human?

Could we run an artificial optical nerve a hundred meters down the road to allow our brain to receive visual input from somewhere external to the brain?

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