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Oh happy day, the butterflies have arrived!
This morning two of the eight chrysalides hanging - literally - around my daughter's back yard,
The chrysalides this morning:
I've never before thought excessively about butterflies, even less about how they turn into what - or maybe who - they are. But now that I know more about the process and was personally involved with the care and nurturing of these particular butterflies when they were among the cadre of hungry little caterpillars eating their way through my daughter's garden (See yesterday's post, "The Buttas"),
Think about it: The caterpillar is living its life when its body is invaded from inside by this growing green thing that destroys the caterpillar's body and sloughs it off like dead skin. But here's what has set me to pondering: What happens during metamorphosis to the caterpillar's consciousness, essence, spirit, whatever you want to call it? I suppose we could call it the caterpillar's mind, that immaterial thing that in humans makes us who we are, gives of us our unique individuality and is a function of our brain.
So what does happen to the caterpillar's mind during and after its metamorphosis? Does the chrysalis start growing around the caterpillar's brain, in which case the caterpillar would still be itself as a chrysalis and later as a butterfly? This would make sense, I suppose, as the caterpillar voluntarily hangs itself upside down,
So are the chrysalis and the butterfly the same individual - this is, have the same mind - as the caterpillar they started out as?
Or is it possible that the butterfly ends up a different individual - that is to say, with a different mind - from the caterpillar?
While the chrysalis is destroying the caterpillar's body, might the caterpillar's mind exist in both the caterpillar and the chrysalis? Or does the chrysalis have its own mind that will be the mind of the butterfly when it is born? In which case, does the caterpillar's mind die along with its body?
But here's the most mind-churning question of all for me: If the caterpillar and the subsequent butterfly are the same individual but the caterpillar's mind dies when its body does - as minds generally do - how does the caterpillar's identity re-emerge in the butterfly's body?
I don't know whether it's a question for science or theology.