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Concept of a homunculus

The concept of a homunculus is often used to illustrate the functioning of a system. In the scientific sense of an unknowable prime actor, it can be viewed as an entity or agent.

The term appears to have been first used by the alchemist Paracelsus. He once claimed that he had created a false human being that he referred to as the homunculus. The creature was to have stood no more than 12 inches tall, and did the work usually associated with a golem. However, after a short time, the homunculus turned on its creator and ran away. The recipes, sperm, skin fragments and hair from any animal of which the homunculus would be a hybrid. This was to be laid in the ground surrounded by horse manure for forty days, at which point the embryo would form.

Needless to say, this procedure does not actually produce a viable homunculus, nor do the variants cited by other alchemists. One such variant involved the use of the mandrake. Popular belief held that this plant grew where semen ejaculated by hanged men (during the last convulsive spasms before death) fell to the ground, and its roots vaguely resemble a human form to varying degrees. The root was to be picked before dawn on a Friday morning by a black dog, then washed an with milk and honey and, in some prescriptions, blood, whereupon it would fully develop into a miniature human which would guard and protect its owner. Yet a third method, cited by ity of Giessen during the 18th century, was to take an egg laid by a black hen, poke a tiny hole thro of the March lunar cycle. A miniature humanoid would emerge from the egg after thirty days, which would help and protect its creator in return for a steady diet of lavender seeds and earthworms.The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth. Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the sperm of humans and other animals. Some claimed that the sperm was in fact a "little man" that was placed inside a womaes of conception . However it was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus must have sperm of its own. This led to a reductio ad absurdum, with a chain of homunculi "all the way down".Today the term is used in a number of ways to describe systems that are thought of as being run by a "little man" inside. For instance, the homunculus continues be considered as one of the major theories on torigin of consciousness, that there is a part (in the brain whose purpose is to be "you". The homunculus is often invoked in cybernetics as well, for similar reasons.

The sensory and motor homunculics
The homunculus is also commonly used to describe the distorted human figure drawn to reflect the relative sensory space our body parts occupy on the cerebral cortex. The lips, hands, feet and sex organs are considerably more sensitive than other parts of the body, so the homunculus has grossly large lips, hands and genitals. Well known in the field of neurology, this is also commonly called 'the little man inside the brain.'Dr Wilder Penfield used a similar image to depict the body according to the areas of the motor cortex controlling it in voluntary movement. Sometimes thought to be the brain's map of the body, the motor homunculus is really a map of the proportionate association of the cortex with body members. It also reflects kinesthetic proprioception, the body an with certain types of brain damage. Like the sensory homunculus, the motor homunculus looks distorted. For example the thumb which is used in thousands of cotivities appears much larger than the thigh with its relatively simple movement. The motor homunculus develops over time and differs from one person to the next. The hand in the brain of an infant is different to the hand in the brain of a concert pianist. This kind of difference is open to introspection. You can probably flex and extend the end of your thumb at will. Most people can do this fairly easily, but relatively few can make analogous movements with any of their other fingers. The difference is due to differences in the functional organization of associated areas of the brain

The homunculus argument in philosophy of mind
A Homunculus argument accounts for a phenomenon in terms of the very phenomenon that it is supposed to explain Homunculus arguments are always fallacious. In the psychology and philosophy of mind 'homunculus arguments' are extremely useful for detecting where theories of mind fail or are incomplete.Homunculus arguments are common in the theory of vision. Imagine a person watching a movie. They see the images as something separate from them, projected on the screen. How is this done? A simple theory might propose that the light from the screen forms an image on the retinas in the eyes and something in the at these as if they are the screen. The Homunculus Argument shows this is not a full explanation because all that has been done is to place an entire person, or homunculus, behind the eye who gazes at the retinas. A more sophisticated argument might propose that the images on the retinas are transferred to the visual cortex where it is scanned. Again this cannot be a full explanation because all that has been dto place a little person in the brain behind the cortex. In the theory of vision the Homunculus Argument invalidates theories that do not explain 'projection', the experience that the viewing point is separate from the things that are seen.

Very few people would propose that there actually is a little man in the brain looking at brain activity. However, this proposal has been used as a 'straw man' in theories of mind. Gilbert Ryle proposed that the human mind is known by its intelligent acts. He argued that if there is an inner being inside the brain that could steer its own thoughts then this would lead to an absurd repetitive cycle or 'regress':

"According to the legend, whenever an agent does anything intelligently, his act is preceded and steered by another internal act of considering a regulative proposition appropriate to his practical problem.""Must we then say that for the ..].. reflections how to act to be intelligent he must first reflect how best to reflect how to act? The endlessness of this implied regress shows that the application of the appropriateness does not entail the occurrence of a process of considering this criterion."Ryle is proposing that if inner reflection were a process then it would be an endless activity if it occurred wholly within the brain .However, if the argument is applied rigorously it should be phrased in such a way is always that if a homunculus is required then the theory is wrong. After all, homunculi do not exist.The homunculus argument applied to Ryle's theory would be phrased in terms of whether the mental attribute of 'reflecting upon things internally' can beby the theory that the mind is 'intelligent acts' without the appearance of a homunculus. The answer, provided by Ryle's own logic, is that internal reflection would require a homunculus to prevent it from becoming an infinite regress. Therefore with these assumptions the Homunculus Argument does not support the theory that mind is wholly due to intelligent acts.The example of Ryle's theory demonstrates another Homunculus Argument in which it is possible to attribute to the mind various properties such as 'internal reflection' that are not universally accepted and use these contentiously to declare that a theory of mind is invalid.

Representtions of the homunculus
In the classic horror film Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein's old teacher, Dr. Praetorius, shows him his own creations, a series of miniature humanoids kept in specimen jars, including a bishop, a king, a queen, a ballerina, a mermaid, and a devil. These are clearly intended to be forms of homunculi. In his source study of original novel upon which the film was based, Prof. Radu Florescu notes that her father, William Godwin was quite familiar with the lives and works of alchemists like Paracelsus and others, and their theories on the creation of the homunculus. Florescu also notes that Konrad Dippel, an alchemist whom he believes may have been the inspiration for Dr. Frankenstein, was a student of Dr. David Christianus.

German horror writer Hanns Heinz Ewers used the mandrake method for creating a homunculus as the inspiration for his 1911 novel Alraune, in which a prostitute is impregnated with semen from a hanged murderer to create a woman devoid of morals or conscience. Several cinematic adaptations of Alraune have been made othe years, the most recent in on Stroheim. The film Species also appears to draw some inspiration from this variation on the homunculus legend.The Japanese manga graphic novel Homunculus by Hideo Yamamoto refered to sensory homunculus from neurology in meaning for explain about their human experimental.In the American film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad the homunculus is portrayed as a miniature winged gargoyle looking creature, who is the nemesis of Sinbad.

In various works of fantasy and science fiction, the term "homunculus" describes any man-made humans or humanoid creatures that are created via alchemy or magic. Such hounculi feature in the comedy film The League of ins) and play a significant part in the story's plot. Homunculi are the product of failed attempts to resurrect humans who have died. Not possessinouls, they kill without restraint. A homunculamed Roger figures greatly into some of the Hellboy comic books. In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, wizard can use a spell to make a homunculus. In the Magic: the Gathering card game, tw creatures exist with "homunculus" in their name. Both are blue creatures, blue being the color of artificial creation and illusion, among other things. In the Enix console role-playing game Valkyrie Profile, the alchemist Lezard Valeth experiments with homonculi. Among them are his minion Bellion, and numerous female elven-like forms kept in large glass tubes.
Other uses of the name "homunculus"

In the video game Shadow of Memories, Homunculus is the name of an entity that obviously has a great understanding of space and time, and he seems to be helping the main character in the game to escape his death. He seems to be a real homunculus, as his roots seem to be in the age of the alchemists. Very little is knownbout his past. However, he dresses dark and so are his intentions seemingly.In the intendo DS game Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, A Homonculus is portrayed as an aquatic, human-like creature with greyish-greenish body and a purple face, and is attached to a pink umbillical cord. It attacks by flailing its arms around violently, and can be destroyed by attacking it after it shows its face. It can also be destroyed if you let it come after you andave the screen , a Homunculus is a unique shield used by the Necromancer class of characters. Itmbles a shrunken head and bears the title "Hierophant Trophy", but no direct information concerning the relation of Homunculus the shield to the literal meaning of Homunculus is given.

Homunculas in phylosophy of mind pharmacy products medical products


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