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John Carpenter's

 

Philosophical Proof the Thing
is a Zombie Stealer of Souls

By Cpl Ferro

Recently some have suggested that the Thing is more akin to an infection than to an organism. What if, for instance, the Thing was precipitated by a virus or prion that, when present in sufficient numbers in a body, altered than body into behaving-like-a-Thing? The 20th Century discovery of biophotonics, showing that all living cells emit light, and that light can in theory be used to alter cells' shapes non-genetically, offering an explanation for the Thing's amazing plasticity. I propose, by combining the concepts of infection, biophotonics, the zombie paradox, evidence from the film, and the "First Truths" given by Gottfried Leibniz, to prove that the Thing is, technically, a philosophical zombie at the highest level, and also a literal stealer of souls.

If Leibniz' principles of identity (A is A) and of Sufficient Reason (all causes are intrinsic), both hold, then we face a universe which is not influenced, in a metaphysical sense, by either any object in it, or by God. To use the most pertinent example (and excluding questions of free will): Your mind does not influence your body, nor vice versa. Rather, your mind and your body work concomitantly, harmonized with each other. I will to grasp a knife, and my body likewise wills it, independently. The knife in my hand moves into a tea biscuit, and the tea biscuit cleaves of its own accord. All in harmony, but none causing or being caused, by the other per se.

Science, we should note, claims as unsolved the riddle of how the incorporeal "mind" manages to affect the corporeal "body". We scan the brain and find no mind, only neural activity apparently corresponding to mental states. From this we can conclude that the mind either (a) /is/ the body, or (b) is separate from the body. As we already know from debunking empiricism, elsewhere, we cannot directly perceive reality, and so for the mind to directly /be/ the body, then, would violate this. At the least, there, the mind must be the reality (monad) and the perceptible body, the reflection. However, according to Leibniz:

"[the] body cannot be merely extension. For in that case there might be parts of bodies and bodies exactly alike except in number (if they were exactly alike in extension, which is conceivable); and that is impossible, since there would then be no sufficient reason to distinguish the two. So "bodies" must contain some non-corporeal principle or form which is the real substance of them and the reason for the predicates they assume. Thus "bodies" as well as minds are really souls, not bodies; the only difference is that some souls perceive more clearly than others and are called rational."

According to the above, the Thing's body itself is a soul, just as a man's body is a soul, independent of that man's mind (which is also a soul). At no time in the film does the Thing ever attempt to communicate with the men, even when it would be to its advantage to do so, such as upon capture, about to be burned alive. There is, in fact, no evidence in the film whatever that the Thing /can/ communicate. I propose that it doesn't communicate, because it /can't/ communicate. It can't communicate, because it is /exclusively imitation/, possessing no form of its own, and therefore, no soul of its own, distinct from its body.

Throughout the entire film we never see anything we can confidently claim to be the Thing's true form. It's always either pure imitation, or a farrago of partial imitations. Because of this, when it assimilates a man, it assimilates him /as an imitation/, turning him into an imitation too. Granting that a man will die in the process, the problem arises of providing a soul to substitute for the victim's. If the victim's soul is gone, leaving only the body, then we face the so-called "zombie paradox," which begs why any body bothers to experience anything in the first place, if it were capable of "running on autopilot" so to speak. And if the Thing itself can "possess" the body, then we are left to wonder how, when any body harmonizes with the mind it contains, the Thing's mind can behave identically to the victim's mind (now absent), without suffering amnesia that it was ever a Thing and (because of Leibniz' identity principle) literally becoming its victim!

First, the zombie paradox we can rule out precisely because of our own experience, and other humans' and animals' neural similarity to ourselves. Philosopher David Chalmers terms this the principle of organizational invariance, stating that experience must conform to brain state, so identical brains have identical experiences. Thus, a perfect imitation cannot be a zombie. Second, the possession theory we must also rule out, because the Thing indisputably plans and acts deliberately counter to how its victim would act in particular situations, barring some kind of directed brain infection. For the Thing's mind to delegate a part of itself to perfectly imitate the entire, sovereign mind of another being, is a contradiction. Such a perfect imitation would require an organizationally invariant nervous system, which leaves no room for any "extra mind" to contain it.

As the Thing's body is a soul, and demonstrably capable of /thinking while dead/ -- such as in the case of Norris, whose body planned and executed what to do even while unconscious and under cardiac arrest it stands to reason that the Thing's body itself can form a mind. Lacking a neural net, however, it must find another way to accomplish this, that is both fast, and doesn't interfere with the body's biochemistry. This method, I think, is biophotonic, wherein the cells communicate with each other using light. Present development in fiber optic compression provides an example of how vast amounts of information can be encoded and interpolated into ordinary signals as meaningless and harmless background "noise". This explains not only (1) how it can think at all when deprived of a nervous system, but (2) can think fast enough to orchestrate its metamorphoses, and (3) how its cells change so drastically so fast.

The solution, therefore, is that the thing not only imitates its victims, but that it also /imitates itself/. It has no mind independent of its body, rather, in the strictest sense it /is/ its body, constantly mentally active at a level undetectable to the imitation itself, but tapping into the imitation's sensory stimulation to inform it of the world outside. Thus, even though Norris himself was unconscious, the Thing remained conscious, and could still hear what was going on so long as Norris' ears still worked. However, it can't actually /do/ anything until it begins imitating, hence why it doesn't simply melt into an amorphous blob to attack. It has to generate a particular set of anatomy, rigged with a nervous system, in order to physically act. Similarly, it must have a brain of a particular sophistication in order to act in extremely intelligent ways (such as building a UFO).

With advanced nervous systems, copied from its victims, come organizational invariance. The Thing can construct nerve-ridden anatomy at will, and can graft that anatomy onto a central controlling brain or brain-like organ, and it may develop more than one of these brains, or a hybrid composite of multiple brains or parts of brains, all blending and separating at will. These central brains, however, being exclusively imitations of other organisms, however mutilated, must, by the necessities of organizational invariance and the principle of identity, remain in association with their original souls!

According to ethnomycologist James Arthur, biochemical evidence suggests that the human soul enters the body forty-nine days after conception. This is when the embryo's nervous system activates and its pineal gland begins producing dimethyltryptamine (a psychedelic chemical associated with dreaming), and when medicine begins terming it a "fetus". The Catholic Church, prior to the present anti-abortion polemics, formerly held that the soul indeed entered the body at forty-nine days. Further religious coincidences are in order, as supporting evidence: First, Christianity has three main holidays: Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. These are associated with Christ's death, the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit, and Christ's birth respectively. Interestingly enough, Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter forty-nine days. And Christmas is always nine months after Easter. Thus, the Christian holidays correspond in order with conception, imbuement of the soul, and birth, of an individual. Second, Buddhism claims that the soul is reborn forty-nine days after death. A strange coincidence?

When the Thing assimilates its victim, it kills him, but prevents his soul from departing. Scientist Karl Pribram, from his neurological experiments on animals, found that memory is non-local, and theorized that memory, and perhaps the mind itself, is holographic, associated with, but separate from, the brain. A biophotonic Thing-mind would also need to be holographic, then. Outside an imitation, the structural basis would not exist needed for the victim's soul, but the Thing's /memory/ would exist, and that memory could, with the tapped resources of the entire body behind it, hypothetically enfold the victim's soul into itself. So enfolded, the victim would be frozen in eternity, as it were, experiencing no time. As the Thing's mind triggers (in the manner of light patterns altering DNA) the formation of a nervous system, the associate victim's soul, and thus consciousness, is reborn.

When mounting a perfect imitation, then, the Thing reinstalls the captured soul of its victim, which can be said truthfully to be the original person, into the imitation. This person will not remember the attack, and behaves normally, until the Thing decides to act counter to the person's will. It does this by spontaneously altering the imitation's brain, as by a lesion or swelling, causing a sudden change of personality and motives. Such changes are well-documented by science; in this case we merely add the possibility of directed change, and/or fusion with another brain. The sinister Blair near the film's end, for instance, was not Blair, but rather a portion of Blair's nervous system wedded to an imitated alien brain, presumably one of superior intelligence, captured before coming to Earth. We can only shudderingly imagine what the trapped soul experiences while being combined with other imitations.

To conclude, I argue that the Thing is not, and never is, conscious in the sense that we understand it. It does not possess a conscious mind, though perhaps a dreaming one, and may only be composed of memories that spontaneously influence its body in response to circumstance. Nevertheless it possesses a survival instinct, and forms imitation bodies, and imitation minds, using captured souls. Its ability to capture souls also explains how it can remember the physical forms of all its victims, as the DNA codes are also captured, to be recreated at will. It, strictly speaking, never acts, never thinks, never feels the pain of death, or the horror of rebirth, it only pulls the puppet strings, always hiding beneath the surface, a zombie stealer of souls from outer space!

[1] One strong objection to this is that if the Thing does steal a soul, then should two parts of the Thing divorce each other, the soul would have to go with one part or the other. For each new Thing to retain the ability to imitate the original, should debunk the entire soul hypothesis in favor of logical positivism. There are two responses to this, deciding which is more likely is left to the reader: (A) One of the properties of holographs is how each portion of the whole, contains the whole in miniature, with detail diminishing along with relative size. If souls are holographic, then, a Thing which has captured a soul, then splits, should retain the soul in each of its resultant parts. The smaller the new Thing relative to the original victim, the less coherent the imitation, placing an absolute limit on whether a "perfect imitation" of a given victim can be mounted. Solving the apparent problem of simultaneity -- that is, of how two identical objects can exist in different places at the same time -- requires debunking Newtonian space-time (see footnote 2). In brief, time and space are necessarily properties of the soul itself, making simultaneity compatible with the soul. A soul existing in two separate bodies at the same time, would experience one first, then the other, though we couldn't tell which. (B) The other possibility is that any holographic split of a soul disrupts its coherence below the level needed to focus consciousness. Souls would then become scarce commodities for the Thing, which it would retain as long as possible. Once the Thing splits, either the soul is retained in one of the one or more masses large enough to hold it, or, if no such mass is available, the soul is split into useless incoherence. At that point, the "perfect imitation" can no longer be mounted, and the soul, we imagine, would either escape or be trapped in limbo. The Thing always, however, retains the DNA of its victims, which can be holographically duplicated without loss of coherence, allowing it to imitate the vulgar external forms of its victims.

[2] Support for theories can come from unexpected directions. The existence of souls is, strangely enough, supported by the empirical fact of a flying saucer arriving from outer space. The flying saucer which the men found, which had to come from off-Earth and (by all we know) from outside our solar system, therefore in all likelihood broke the light-barrier. To explain this paradox, we must debunk Newtonian-Einsteinian space-time, which posits singular space-time, whether absolute or relative. If instead we posit Leibnizian space-time, which is manifold, then we have a situation where each monad in the universe projects its own relative space-time. Thus, each monad contains the reflection of every other monad, and therefore of the entire universe. Each monad is non-causally linked to every other, acting in harmonious contingency, without influencing each other. Therefore, regardless of technical problems, metaphysical limitations to exceeding light speed do not exist, because space-time per se is an illusion, projected by the monads themselves. This also helps explain the well-documented, so-called "spooky action at a distance," in which particles appear to react to one another, even though communication between them would have to exceed the speed of light. With non-causal harmony, this is entirely possible.

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