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What is the Self?
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Posted 11/30/06
well i mean thats the only way to explain ones self. You can do all the studies you want but everyone is diffrent. Altough they may agree on a thing but only that thing. There views on the subject they agree will be diffrent.

Its the only real thing that makes this world intresting is that fact. I mean if you decated you whole life to studying people. You could understand the race of humans and maybe ones self. Altough you could not understand what tottaly diffenes everyperson unless you meat them.
Posted 11/30/06
I personally think "one self" is in the mind.

You asked "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?"

Both clones would not be you because your mind always changes. Sure, clones can be copies of you're Dna and such but they only copy the mind that once was. If the original no longer existed, then you've died.

No - one has a self ( Innerself some may call it ) only a sense of self which is basically built upon who you are mentally and like I said, the mind always changes even if it's just abit even if it takes many years.
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Posted 11/30/06
Re mauz15,

You did a good job making some key distinctions that are easy to understand, and thus may help other to formulate a response. My fault for being half-assed on the starter.

While I am interested In all four questions, my paper will deal with personal identity. Note that Stanford encyclopedia states that many of those questions that you mentioned fall under the topic of personal identity. Whatever, a matter of categorizing. It is #3 that I am interested in mainly at the moment, but in some way this includes the matter of identity, and the matter of person hood which makes it particularity difficult. Whatever the case I already told my teacher I would focus on the psychological account of personal identity, with the tentative conclusion being that somethign is amiss with our concept of personal identity because of issues I find with this account.

At the moment I have in front of me Perry's "Personal identity" which is a collection of essays which will by my main look. I have partift's book reasons and persons, but i doubt ill get into reading it much, so i will likely just provide it as an alternative at some point. Another resource is a chapter in a book by norman swartz. Well I have more but because of limited time (1week, 10pages) I'm focusing on above.

I have consciousness explained in front of me so allow me to give a rough look at that. Dennett denys the Cartesian theater, that there is somethign that all experiences go though. I.e. the penal gland for Descartes. As dennet says consciousness is based on fame in the brain. Somewhere later dennett states that if we could see two selves vie for control over a body we will get a better idea of what a self is. Self is the center of narrative gravity. This outlook is probably compatible with Richard Barron's article "the self is unreal," which is largely why I am tentative in coming to conclusions about the self. That can be found here: http://uk.geocities.com/rbphilo/recentpapers.pdf

So yea I've got to come up with some kind of game plan, and catch up on tons of reading, ugh. But first to finish the doomsday code doc. Too little time, too much to do, and too little motivation. ~_~
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Posted 11/30/06
Tell me about it, I have a cold, and tomorrow I have a math exam, Chemistry and Bio finals coming up next week and a 10 page business report which is the most boring class I've ever had. The Thanksgiving break did not help either, it only made me more lazy.
Make sure to let me have a look at your paper once is finished. (by e-mail perhaps?)
My campus is really weak when it comes to philosophy classes, they only offer introductory courses, so my philosophical compass is getting weaker and weaker.
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Posted 12/1/06
I'm going to give a rough idea of the thought process of Bernard Williams article "the self and the future" in this post. I really want to get a move on and perhaps this will help me, and others can follow the ideas presented as well. This could be take some time, so forgive me for my mile long post, or if i stop mid-essay.

Consider a bodily exchange between two people. How could we be convinced that when we were presented with the bodies of person A and B, that when we look at A's body we understand it to be person B?

Memory introduced as a necessary identity. However, there must be some link now between this new body and the experiences of the first.

Shoemaker: Lets say their brains are switched, which takes care of the physical criteria.

This is not need though. Imagine we can extract the information from both brains and transplant that information in the other. Distinction made between 3 ways we can have knowledge of our own past, recalling(no new info), being reminded(some new info), and learning again(all new info).

A and B enter a machine in order to switch persons. I am presented with A-bodyperson and B-body person. The experiment will leave it open which (if either) A and B the A-body person is, and vice versa. We assmue that Abody person actually becomes B.

Before the experiment they are asked to pick which Body person(a or b) will undergo torture, while the other will get $$$.

I think this is a good a place to stop and get some feedback. If you are A (having Abody) would you pick Abody or Bbody to get the $$$ after this switch of memory or personality. Bbody clearly right?

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Posted 12/1/06
I just discovered something cool in my notes:

Suppose every year neurologists could transplant half your brain into another body, in which a new half would duplicate the present state of the transferred half. in this way, a tree like operation would spread successors of yourself as though by psychological parthenogenesis. You would survive in a sense, but it would make no sense to speak of personal identity ( ac concept that Parfit wants to eliminate). We could also imagine a neurological game where half your brain is merged with half of someone else's brain in a 3RD person's head.

The brains of haddon, bellus, Eros, Do0mAid, and others are split every year or so and the hemispheres joined inside different heads. In one year, half of bellus' brain is joined with half of haddon's, and half of Do0mAid's brain is joined with Eros's. The next year they split again, and different halves are joined by the corpus callosum in a different head. Suppose you were one of these brain branching people. You could continue the game every year so that you might even get re-emerged with your other half at some future-time. You'd have so much to talk about with each other!

Parfit's point is that we are going through significant changes all the time, so that as we have new experiences, we take on new self-hood. Something in us survives but with a difference
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Posted 12/1/06
Yes yes, parfits points are certainly very important dealing with the problem of fission. Perhaps I'll make the next line of thought about the case of fision, as it is very important to the psychological view of personal identity. What I am considering now is a case of switching bodies though.
Continued...
Say that A chooses that Bbody person gets the $$$, and that Bbody gets the torture. Person B chooses for Abody person to get the $$$.

As a side note - just how unpleasant would it be to watch your old body being tortured?

So the experiment happens, and straws are picked, and Bbody person(personA) is tortured. Abody person(personb) is happy that he got the longer straw.

One conclusion that can be reached is that this experiment shows that to care about what happens to me in the future is not necessarily to care about what happens to the body one has at the moment. This goes to show that Descartes bifurcation of the universe into mind and body is perhaps correct in some sense.

Considering the other choices A and B could have made it seems clear that there is a difference between A and Abody, and B and Bbody.

Now, lets consider the question of A and B's willingness to even take part in the experiment. What the other persons body was like (healthy, tall, etc) is like would certainly be important. If health all well and good, but imagine if the survivor ended up with a pegleg he was displeased with.

Another important consideration for these people is the psychological aspect. What if they wanted to get rid of some aspect of the memories of personality. Disappointed though, the general outcome seems consistent. There is a difference between psychology and body. Time to consider something new...(7pages down, 13togo)
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Posted 12/1/06
ive always wondered, and this is a legitimate thought

if two incredibly beautiful people had a child, would the kid necessarily be beautiful as well?
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Posted 12/1/06
No. And at least post something related to the thread please. I know you're smart
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Posted 12/1/06
^i know, i know

but you were talking about half of one brain and half of another, and this bubbled to the surface of my mind

sorry, just post around it then
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Posted 12/1/06
at what point is one conscious of one's own identity? I was just thinking of this because I think the key to the question about the self may hinge on the answer.
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Posted 12/1/06
That is interesting certainly. There is a more or less clear point where this occurs as I understand it though. Note that children often call themselves by what they are called, and it takes some time for them to realize that they have subjective experience and an "I." For instance, babes often have trouble separating their feelings with others. They see a baby cry they likely start crying, as ive heard.

Just how the self hinges on this I am unsure. But, like dennet and baron state the self in unreal, "the center of narrative gravity" as dennet wrote. This center of narrative gravity certainly seems to have a shift at this point of self realization, or does "it" not really exist before then.

Continued...
Imagine a friend told you that you were going to be tortured tomorrow. Your friend adds, when the time comes, you won't remember being told that this was going to happen to you, since shortly before the torture something else will be done to you which will make you forget the
announcement. He adds, that you shall not remember any of the things you are now in the position to remember. Lastly, you will not remember the things you can now, but will have a different set of impressions of your past.

The following account is considered over 10pages. There are two key differences between the stories, the torture is presented as happening to you, and the the other man is not mentioned. Ones fears can perhaps extend to future pains whatever psychological changes precede it. I will spare you more then that, but if anyone cares to read the thing and discuss it ill be willing. Here it is: http://www.jstor.org/view/00318108/di981259/98p0098d/0

Basically the author is leading toward the point that the first story is loaded and very leading, and is just one of many possible outcomes.

While agree with this conclusion, I believe it is perfectly intelligible to talk about people switching bodies and minds. Indeed certain philosophers such as dennett belief that machines can be conscious, and that ones mental life could be stored on something other then a brain. Certainly an odd way to continue to be you though, which is an usual way of things being connected, but as baron says, there is nothing special about what makes up mental life . Seen this way, your mental life or psychological aspects of who you are now seem much more important then any particular physical aspect of yourself. If you were in an experiment in which brains were transfered, assuming it is successful, you would clearly want the brain you had and not a new one, if you wanted to be more youlike(yes i made word up). Though, In a way has not part of what made you you has changed considerably, as you clearly have a different body which reacts differently?

bellus-vae was typing about what I would call the individualization of a person. What makes one person different then another, how ones self conception develops, and so on. What I am chiefly interested in is what it means to be a person. Is there a unified being that we can pin down and call a person?

For instance people often say of themselves that they have brown hair, or they are angry, or they are very smart. What is this "I" that can be considered to have brown hair, be angry, and be very smart. See, it seems we have physical properties such as brown hair, and mental properties such as angry and smart.

Now a days, this idea of the self is largely looked at reductionary and deflationary, which I have already gotten into somewhat. To review - the self is an illusion of the organism. Allow me to provide a different view though which spawns off the difficulties of dualism, like reductionism.

I have recently read one and skimmed another article on the philosopher Peter Strawsons (RIP) conception of the self. We commonly say that someone is short and fat, clever and mean. We would typically say that the first two belong to the body, the second two belong to the mind. Strawson would say that all four belong to a person. Our concept of a person is primitive (logically). Imagine a cave man," you get wood", "you no be angry", etc. Its a mistake to look at it as two one sided things. We should look at it as one two sided thing. Person is what there is, mind and body are just secondary ways of talking about this one thing. I'm not sure if this leaves us any place satisfactory though, so I admit that I find reductionism more compelling.
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Posted 12/3/06
Are you referring to reductive materialism?
And that last statement somehow reminds me of C.S Lewis "nothing buttery"
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Posted 12/3/06
Just reductionism and deflationism in a general sense in bringing things down to their component parts and that there is nothing greater then the relation of these parts.

I've heard the phrase but I don't know much about it, so I'm not sure what your getting at.



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Posted 12/3/06
dan denett calls it greedy reductionism which relates to 'nothing buttery' i think
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