A bath-time conversation:
Younger offspring: The water is pretty warm.
Dr. Free-Ride: Is it too hot? I could add some more cold water.
Younger offspring: No, it’s good. I’m just going to ooze in, like a snail oozing into its shell.
Dr. Free-Ride: Because easing in would be too conventional.
Five minutes later, the younger Free-Ride offspring had still not quite achieved submersion in the bath.
Dr. Free-Ride: You know, if you’re going to finish getting bathed tonight — in time for bedtime stories — you’re going to have to move it along. Either “ooze” all the way in now, or let me add some more cold water to the bath.
Younger offspring: Don’t get mad at me. It’s my body that doesn’t want to get all the way in the water.
Dr. Free-Ride: (turning on the cold water and swishing it through the tub) That’s an interesting change from what you normally tell me.
Younger offspring: What do you mean?
Dr. Free-Ride: When you don’t do your homework right after school, you tell me I shouldn’t blame you because it’s your mind that forgot.
Younger offspring: Uh huh.
Dr. Free-Ride: But now you’re telling me not to blame you for not getting all the way into the bath because it’s your body that doesn’t want to.
Younger offspring: Uh huh.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, if your mind isn’t “you” (for the purposes of blame), and your body isn’t “you,” what exactly are you?
Younger offspring: I’m me.
Dr. Free-Ride: But what’s your relation to your mind and your body?
Younger offspring: I have a mind and I have a body.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do you have anything else in your “you”?
Younger offspring: No.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, what I find interesting in this is that you don’t fully identify with your mind or your body. And I don’t know what else you could identify as yourself beyond your mind and your body.
Younger offspring: I’m my mind and my body.
Dr. Free-Ride: But they don’t always do what you want them to? That’s what it seems like you’re saying when you tell me not to blame you because it’s your mind that did something or your body that won’t do something.
Younger offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: Fascinating. Does that mean that your body and mind only feel like “you” when you can get them to behave a certain way you want them to?
Younger offspring: Uh …
Dr. Free-Ride: Or when they’re acting in a certain unified way rather than acting in different directions?
Younger offspring: Mmm …
Dr. Free-Ride: What’s you theory on this? Can you explain it to me?
Younger offspring: You know, I’m in the water now, and I should get washed soon so there will be time for stories.
Dr. Free-Ride: Fine. Keep your novel theory of the mind-body relationship to yourself.
Younger offspring: Don’t blame me! I didn’t set bedtime.