typographic illustration: what is my body

What is my body?

One of the positive side aspects of the rise of AI is that it showed us how limited our understanding of our own body and consciousness still is. Trying to emulate intelligence raised a lot of questions that we couldn't answer about ourselves.

I took this as a starting point to ask a series of questions about myself. Starting with the body: What is it really? How am I using it on a daily basis and what does it enable me to do?

Take a few moments, focus on your breathing and try to experience your body just as it is. Listen to it, feel it, then ask yourself some of these questions as well. You might come up with completely different answers, that's fine. Here are my initial questions and observations after this little experiment.

Is my body a machine?
Partly it is a machine, it requires nutrients, I can train it to become faster and stronger, I can adapt it to certain tasks. (Like muscle memory in drumming).

To a large degree it is an autonomous machine functioning by itself though. I am not able to interfere with core routines such as cell reproduction, blood pressure or digestion. Although it is the most personal object I am carrying around with me in this world it is still closed to me in many ways. I don't have full control over it. Cells, organs, nervous systems. They all work by themselves, mostly ignoring the daily troubles and joys of life which we tend to define ourselves by.

Is my body a vessel?
So what can I do with it then? Assuming it is partly an autonomous machine working and functioning by itself I can still steer it like a vessel. I can use it to explore, manipulate, observe and interact with the physical world around me. Like a steamboat with a complex system of power supply, water flows and electricity I can benefit from all these constantly running background routines and direct where the boat should go next. Like a captain setting the course for a well experienced crew thats running all the tasks to keep the ship going.

Is my body a medium?
Most importantly to me though my body seems to be a medium. A medium that allows me to experience reality and life. Life can't be put into words or expressed in thoughts. It can only be lived and experienced through bodily experience. By listening to my body I feel like I can get glimpses of understanding of what life is.

Further topics to explore

The mind-body problem
What is the relationship between body (machine, vessel) and the mind (consciousness)? Dualism, Monism, Materialism.

Biology / Physiology
How does the human body function at cellular and organ levels? Homeostasis, the role of neurotransmitters in bodily functions.

Neuroscience
The mind-body connection. How does the brain and nervous system control and coordinate bodily functions? How are thoughts, emotions and consciousness linked to neural activity?

Phenomenology
The body as a medium to experience reality.

Existentialism (Sartre, Merleau-Ponty)
The relationship between body and existence. How does our physical embodiment shape our subjective experiences and choices in life?

Psychology
Listening to your body as means to understand life. Self-awareness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence.