276. The Mental God Bot

GodMaskAlmost every kind of god seems to be somebody’s favourite. Most of them make an easy tar­get for satire. Explana­tory evi­dence for a gent on a thun­der­cloud seems to be thin in the air after all. Yet a per­fectly rea­son­able account of one kind of god is avail­able from a care­ful obser­va­tion of the human mind. Firstly it is clear enough that con­scious­ness is a mere pin­prick of light illu­mi­nat­ing one frac­tion at a time of the myr­iad com­pu­ta­tions in our brains. Sec­ondly most philoso­phers agree that there is no sin­gle “I” or self. Our lives involve mul­ti­ple roles, and the frag­ment of con­scious­ness which becomes “I” in each of them can be quite dis­tinct. Thirdly, our behav­iours often involve role play­ing. We typ­i­cally have a super­or­di­nate self behind the mask edit­ing what is pre­sented to the world. Finally, given this frag­men­ta­tion of self, it may be a small step to con­struct a super­or­di­nate “bot”, a kind of men­tal agent, to provide a pri­vate inte­gra­tion and ratio­nal­iza­tion for our diverse iden­ti­ties. It might make sense to call this super­or­di­nate agent bot “god”, and make even more sense to iden­tify it with a socially adver­tised supreme being called “God”. That is, the pub­lic God offers a very reas­sur­ing iden­tity and val­i­da­tion for all the pri­vate gods of indi­vid­u­als. The indi­vid­u­als in their pri­vate sub­jec­tive worlds can rein­ter­pret the pub­lic God for pri­vate con­ve­nience with­out fear of rebuke. They may not even be con­scious hyp­ocrites, but from the evi­dence of his­tory they will defend to the death that socially shared pub­lic ver­sion of their God. 

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