You Don’t Own Your Body

The human body. A miraculous structure of cells working together. So complex, yet so beautifully fitted together. Each cell, organ, tissue, or organ system does not act alone. Cellular respiration, on the small cellular level, is also tied to our respiratory system, on the organ system level. At the same time this is happening, other functions are also being processed in other parts of our body. All of this in one body. To me, this seems like a truly unified thing- complex processes all beautifully tied together into one human body.

As unified as the body seems, there are two things that don’t seem to be that unified: the person himself and his body. Perhaps more clearer is one’s mind and one’s body. For instance, have you ever sat in a quiet room full of people, just minding your own business? Then suddenly, because it’s almost lunch time, your stomach starts growling? And you’re even not that hungry? You tell your stomach to shut up, but it keeps on growling, and by then, everybody is looking at you weird.

Your stomach growling is an involuntary action; you have no say in the matter. Then who does? Your body. Because your body senses no food coming in, it starts giving off these growling messages. Wait, hold on then. Isn’t your body also you? As you can see, times such as this seem to suggest that no, your body is not you.

In a sense, your body seems like another organism- maybe just like a jumble of cells deciding to work together. If you were your body, then you would be aware of all the chemical reactions in your body, you would be able to make your stomach never growl, you would be able to consciously breathe while you are sleeping. But do you? No.

Portuguese-man-of-war

So I noticed this, and I was thinking, maybe our body is  another organism. For instance, take the Portuguese-man-of-war. Its sort of like this jellyfish that floats on water. This species is actually not an animal (even if it looks like it), but rather a collection of animals. Its just a group of  individual organisms who decided to attach together and soon became dependent on each other, thus forming a new species.

I would say all multicellular organisms are just like that. In the pre-ancient past, there were these primitive cells roaming around, similar to bacteria. Through endosymbiosis, a few cells swallowed other cells, and those cells swallowed became organelles. Thus, eukaryotic cells came into being. Now, this is where my hypothesis kicks in: soon, bands of eukaryotic cells decided to join together, probably because it made life easier for them, or because of safety in numbers. After a long long time, cell specialization occurred, (just like in the Portuguese-man-of-war, where the organisms became specialized), where liver cells, muscle cells, etc. developed to perform a certain function. Soon enough, these cells became dependent on each other (sorta like a symbiosis) and formed a new species.

Overall, the body you think you own now is actually not yours. Rather, they are organisms themselves, separate from you, and you don’t control them. The only reason why these cells decide not to just escape from your body and live their own life is because they’ve become dependent on the other cells in your body.

Now, this is where animals like humans differ from the Portuguese-man-of-war. Whereas this jellyfish creature did not evolve consciousness, somehow humans did. You could think of consciousness as an accidental byproduct of cells coming together to form a species. Or perhaps it was an intentional byproduct- the brain cells maybe were just cells evolved to make sure all the cells were doing their thing for the benefit of the body as a whole.

watch out…..

Let me clarify this: suppose a tiger comes chasing after you. What does your brain aka consciousness tell you to do? Scram! But why is it doing this? Is it really to make sure you’re safe? Heck no, your cells don’t care about you. Rather, your brain cells are telling the muscle cells to move, so that in the end, if the muscle cells can make you outlast the tiger, the rest of the cells are safe. Again, they’re not doing it for you; the muscle cells and brain cells are doing it for the other cells that they have become dependent upon. So all the cells are safe as a whole. Its like a symbiosis between the cells.

Basic message: cells came together not to create you, but just as a beneficial symbiosis for each of themselves. Just like two smart students coming together to make a group project; they’re not doing it for the group itself, but rather for each of them individually so each can have a higher chance of getting a good grade. The students are like the cells and the group is like the body. In a sense, cells are a little bit selfish.

However, although consciousness has seemed to occur just so all the cells in your body are safe, our conciousness has evolved, such that we feel that we were meant to be made. We feel that we are a single organism, a human, rather than just a collection of organisms. And then from there we become creative and do things that are not necessary for the survival of your cells, but for our consciousness. That is perhaps the true beauty of humanity- we made our consciousness human.

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3 thoughts on “You Don’t Own Your Body

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