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What is the Self?
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Posted 11/29/06 , edited 11/29/06
Background info:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-personal/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/person-i.htm
Many Academic papers: http://consc.net/online2.html#self

I'm writing a paper on personal identity, so I figured it would be interesting to see the various views that people have on this forum.

The question is basically this: What makes one the person one is?

It is often helpful to look at this question by considering time. What makes you the same person yesterday as you are today? What persists over time? Another helpful way to consider the question is by performing thought experiments. That is, imagining scenarios that test the limits of what it means to be one self. Imagine you go though a cloning machine, and two copies are made, talking particles from the original. Is one you, or both, or did you die?

The two major ways this falls out in current philosophy is that the self persists either though psychological critera (conciousness, memory) or by physical criteria (body).
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Posted 11/29/06
How the person thinks, or personality, no one personality, or thought, matches exactly to another.

''Imagine you go though a cloning machine, and two copies are made, talking particles from the original. Is one you, or both, or did you die?"

To do that they would have to copy your DNA, while they might act like you, the cloning process could have just killed you, or one might be you I guess, one just a clone...
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Posted 11/29/06
I am not going to include many psychological or sociological ideas here because I would like to focus more on the philosophical facet of the question.

This problems involves 4 questions:
1. What is it to be a person?
2. What is identity?
3. What is personal identity?
* How is survival possible given the problems of the 3 previous questions? ( This last question deals mainly with the the issue of life after death, and what if any is the relationship of personal identity and immortality. But this a big subject that should be dealt separately)

1. What is it to be a person?

What is it that sets us human beings off as having special value, as being entities with serious moral rights? John Locke defines personhood in terms of our ability to reason and make moral choices; to him a person is defined as "a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places; which it does not only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and it seems to me, essential to it" What i believe Locke is saying is that our ability to reason, introspect, and survey our memories sets us apart from other animals. On the other hand, David Hume argued that the notion of the self (soul) is a fiction. "I" am merely a bundle of perceptions. So there is consciousness of a continuing succession of experiences but not of a continuing experiencer. This view is compatible with the idea that we are only a bunch of brain events and that's pretty much it.

I am not going to give my answer to this question, because even I am not satisfied with it. I think that I need to learn and refine my views more specifically about consciousness and that subject is a big one.

2. What is identity?
( If you think this is a stupid question, think again. Never assume the obvious is true)

identity as a formal definition could be illustrated by simply saying A=A. But when identity is tied to the self, the question becomes What is identity over time?
what is it to be the same thing over time?

I have several situations where identity becomes problematic, ( a river that dries up every summer and comes back every spring is one of them) But the best one I've encountered so far is the tale of Theseus's Ship:

http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~phils4/theseus.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_and_change

3. What is personal identity?
These are related questions I previously posted here on CR but got ignored:

Are you the same person you were when you were one year old? 16 years old?
Almost all cells of your body change every 7 years. Do we become a new person every 7 years? If you cut the corpus callosum (the fibers that unite the two hemispheres of the brain), Two different centers of consciousness can be created. People who have accidents where half the brain is damaged, can still survive with the other half. Suppose brain transplant were possible, what if each half of your brain were put into a different body, are you the same person? or two different persons? or neither?

The psychological criterion basically says that our memories constitute our identity over time. But there are some problems, our memories are not continuous in our consciousness ( consider sleep and partial amnesia; in both of those cases, do we cease to be who we are?)

What about split/multiple personalities ( there is a famous case of an individual having 16 different personalities each with different types of memories) If you think that a good objection to these questions is that this could not be because we have the same body the entire time, remember that the body has nothing to do with psychological states criterion.

The body criterion has also problems because the body can have radical changes and we would still consider that person the same person.

There is a third criterion Eros, it is the brain criterion of personal identity. Our memories are within our brain so having the same brain constitutes the same person, but this view is also flawed. (consider my previous question on cutting the corpus-callosum and the possibility of having a brain transplant into two different bodies) these questions were made by Derik Parfit, he specializes in Personal Identity so reading his ideas would really help in your paper Eros.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Parfit

This is pretty much all I know about this, and as you can see all these approaches are not really satisfactory because they are full of puzzles and paradoxes, but hey that's what Philosophy is all about.








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Posted 11/29/06

Eros wrote:

Background info:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-personal/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/person-i.htm
Many Academic papers: http://consc.net/online2.html#self

I'm writing a paper on personal identity, so I figured it would be interesting to see the various views that people have on this forum.

The question is basically this: What makes one the person one is?

It is often helpful to look at this question by considering time. What makes you the same person yesterday as you are today? What persists over time? Another helpful way to consider the question is by performing thought experiments. That is, imagining scenarios that test the limits of what it means to be one self. Imagine you go though a cloning machine, and two copies are made, talking particles from the original. Is one you, or both, or did you die?

The two major ways this falls out in current philosophy is that the self persists either though psychological critera (conciousness, memory) or by physical criteria (body).


lol its like the most common question for englsih..i have that too...lol but what i wrote down is that self is made up of principles and morals...nd not jsut abstract elements but also about what they do and such...what their character is....

but if u ask me its basically ur mind. whats in ur mind is who u are...what u are...it is what defines urself cuz thats ur very essence and core...lol sounds korny
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Posted 11/29/06

Eros wrote:

Background info:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-personal/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/person-i.htm
Many Academic papers: http://consc.net/online2.html#self

I'm writing a paper on personal identity, so I figured it would be interesting to see the various views that people have on this forum.

The question is basically this: What makes one the person one is?

It is often helpful to look at this question by considering time. What makes you the same person yesterday as you are today? What persists over time? Another helpful way to consider the question is by performing thought experiments. That is, imagining scenarios that test the limits of what it means to be one self. Imagine you go though a cloning machine, and two copies are made, talking particles from the original. Is one you, or both, or did you die?

The two major ways this falls out in current philosophy is that the self persists either though psychological critera (conciousness, memory) or by physical criteria (body).


Self is paradoxical, it is a nature that defines character of one complete individuality. I believe when we were young, as our character develops it is slowly being built by the influences that surrounds us. Our parents most importantly are the ones that is responsible in contributing to our self awareness and self-esteem. we relate not only to our parents but also to others to realise the perspectives of self and of other people. Through Interactions self emerges, therefore its social in character but also individual.


Self is complex but organised, but self must be different reflecting truism that self reflects society. Thats why some people quotes " Everyone you meet is your mirror".
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Posted 11/29/06
Where did you copy paste that from

EDIT I tried reading some of it but its tooo long so I am going to read that tommorow and comment on this I like this topic though
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Posted 11/29/06
I'm not that arrogant to say that I know what the self is, however I will not resign myself to not even trying to form a definition. I too will come back to this topic once I do a little more reading on this subject.
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Posted 11/29/06
bellus, could you elaborate more on that previous post. maybe get more to the core of what you think self is?
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Posted 11/29/06

logain wrote:

Where did you copy paste that from

EDIT I tried reading some of it but its tooo long so I am going to read that tommorow and comment on this I like this topic though :)


Thats my own definition. so i copy it from my brain and pasted it here.

mauz15 wrote:

bellus, could you elaborate more on that previous post. maybe get more to the core of what you think self is?


I dun plan writing an essay here.

edit*
In summarisation of previous post, ive written what i think how "self" develops and what influences ones character and how interactivity with society contributes to people's self-esteem and character.

Like i mentioned before. I think Self is paradoxical. We are all different but we are also the same.
We are the same because we are all human beings and we have rights that we all share, we are different because we posses many different qualities such as cultures,upbringing,attitudes, beliefs, mannerism,favoritism etc and many of all these things influences and shapes of who we are.

You may or may not agree of what i think Self is, but thats just one example that differentiate me to everyone.
This is what i think what self is, and there is no right or wrong answers because everyone will have their own definition of Self and their answers no doubt will reflect to who they are.

And may i add, that society is a great contributor to who we are. Our parents are the first ones or should be the one helping their children build their own character. I think it is essential for them to help their kids build self-awareness and and self esteem. Afterall Us kids defines/reflects the character or personality of our parents and vice versa.

Even (a) Friend(s) plays an important role to Self realisation. Im sure we all know the saying " Tell me who your friends are and Ill tell you who you are" This sounds a lil judgmental, but Im sure youll come to realise that it is true. Bad friends destroys good character afterall.


So In my own words,Self is what differentiates you from everyone,it is distinct in nature, and an individual character with different qualities and corporeal entity.

Thank you. *bow
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Posted 11/29/06
I did not ask for an essay ( and why not? can't handle an small essay on this?....just kidding ), just a bit more of justification for your previous posts. Or maybe leave some questions for the thread.


EDIT:

bellus-vae wrote:
Thank you. *bow


No, thank you *Applause*
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Posted 11/29/06
oooh interesting topic... too bad I my next two days are booked (stupid tests)... I'd liked to have read up more before jumping in to it
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Posted 11/30/06
On a whole it is where they grew up. True in most cases you will have a percent that is diffrent, but the question would be how much diffrent. The answer is simple and so basic you are who you are because you live. Meaning life experense shape who you are.
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Posted 11/30/06
Grin, this is the kinda topic that makes me wish I didnt drop out of my philosophy course at Uni.

Lemme find some notes first
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Posted 11/30/06
^ Funny, I dropped my Social Science the other day. Money and time down the drain.
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28 / M / "Podunk USA" Brun...
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Posted 11/30/06
"I think, therefore I am." I left it at that, but that has always been a dissatisfying and overly simplistic definition for me.

This thread is going to be good, but finals are coming up.
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