Industrial Cathedral

Industrial Cathedral
"Industrial Cathedral" charcoal drawing on paper 131 x 131 cm Jane Bennett. This drawing was a finalist in the 1998 Dobell Prize for Drawing (Art Gallery of N.S.W.) ; Finalist in 1998 Blake Prize for Religious Art ; Winner of 1998 Hunter's Hill Open Art Prize

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ghost in the machine


I've been painting ghost signs in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, as one by one, the relics of the past slowly vanish.
plein air oil painting of 'ghost sign' in the Large Erecting Shop of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
E119 'Ghost sign in the Large' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 15cm
$330
There are faded sepia warning signs so old that they are handwritten.
Fire extinguishers have kept a quiet vigil, like forgotten sentries post battle.
plein air oil painting of 'ghost sign' in the Large Erecting Shop of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
E119A 'Ghost sign in the Large 2' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 15cm
$330
 
So, what is the 'Ghost in the machine' ?
This phrase, so often used, yet little understood, was coined by the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle to describe the Cartesian dualist account of the mind–body relationship. One of the underlying assumptions within the famous maxim of the French 17th century philosopher René Descartes, 'Cogito ergo sum' ('I think, therefore I am') is the notion that the mind is not only distinct, but actually separable from the body.

According to the philosopher John Locke (1632–1704), a person can be defined as ‘an intelligent being, having reason and reflection, which can consider itself in different times and places.’ By this definition, someone is defined as a person if they can think about themselves in the past, future, and conditional, and in a variety of different places. 
If a person has this quality of self-conscious recognition, what is the cause? Does consciousness reside in their body, their brain, or their ‘soul’? If that person has had a serious accident rendering them unconscious and without brain function -so that the body is still alive but the mind is no longer self-conscious nor could ever be again-Is the body still to be regarded as a person? If not, then how can the physical body alone be that which makes them a person?
If the Eveleigh Railway Workshops are emptied of most of their machines and other heritage items, how can they still be considered to be the Eveleigh Railway Workshops? How much can be removed, before it becomes an empty shell? When the contents of a container are removed, is it still a container?
What is a body without a mind or a soul?

More paintings of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops can be seen at my Eveleigh page on this blog.

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