I'm trying not to give a damn about the Terri Schiavo case, but it's on every single channel. And I've got to watch something.
So now I'm pondering human consciousness. It's interesting that it and the processes which create and sustain it cannot be biologically identified or even proven. Yet their absence can be diagnosed by medical officials.
Is that the only way consciousness can be defined and recognized? Through its absence? Or on a relative scale? Does being healthy really just mean having the same diseases as your neighbours?
It reminds me of that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Captain Picard must prove that Data is not simply an android, but a conscious sentient being, lest he be dissected by a young Federation go-getter. The captain's main defense was that human consciousness itself cannot be proven and that its acknowledged existence is based predominantly on comparison -- similarities in behaviour amongst those who were determined to have consciousness through the same means. The entire concept was grounded in circular logic. It therefore seemed ridiculous to outrightly exclude Data based solely on his biology. After all, he was the only one who truly understood what was going on inside his own head.
In fact, that's all any of us understand. We understand what's going on inside our own head.
It's rather sad that the only time I ponder issues of ethics, theology, or the nature of humanity in general is if TV reminds me to do so.