Personal identity-"The Self"

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Aragwen
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Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Aragwen » August 23rd, 2018, 3:53 pm

Just about to start my next module and my first assignment is all about what is personal identity or is there a continuing self?

I have read some works on the subject by Locke, Hume and Parfitt and I don't know whether I am misunderstanding but there seems to be something missing from all their theories.

Certainly Locke appears to be stating that our sense of self is based on our consciousness and memories as do Parfitt to a lesser extent when he talks about his thought experiments of your body- Parfit asks the reader to imagine entering a "teletransporter", a machine that puts you to sleep, then destroys you, breaking you down into atoms, copying the information and relaying it to Mars at the speed of light. On Mars, another machine re-creates you (from local stores of carbon, hydrogen, and so on), each atom in exactly the same relative position. Parfit poses the question of whether or not the teletransporter is a method of travel—is the person on Mars the same person as the person who entered the teletransporter on Earth? Certainly, when waking up on Mars, you would feel like being you, you would remember entering the teletransporter in order to travel to Mars, you would even feel the cut on your upper lip from shaving this morning. Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons (1987).

My question would be even if you had the same body, a consciousness and the same memories what if there is a unique self/soul/essence that can't be transported so one had no emotional responses to those memories. Couldn't the same argument be used to Locke's belief that it is our memories that make us what we are whereas maybe it is our response to those memories that make us what we are.

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Hereandnow
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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Hereandnow » August 24th, 2018, 10:16 am

As to responses to experience making us what we are, this would require an analysis of our responses. There are two kinds I would bring in: reflexive and interrogative. In the former, you simply continue on in the same vein as you did prior to the "transportation" and in the latter, you would inquire as to how well things went, and, given that you likely know the process, am I still me? When we think in established and continuous patterns, and do not stop to inquire, we are those memories you speak of, an unchallenged stream of consciousness anticipating the future and thinking and acting accordingly. But when inquiry rises, there is a reflection, and this, I would argue, interferes with the process of being "you" much like when your computer software fails, it stops some program from being what it is (as well as the continuity within you that is at the basis for your acknowledging it as software of a particular kind).
It is, this argument has it, the continuity that makes you, you. Inquiry always steals this away makes a self a problematic entity, and, if you will, rewrites your programming, redefines you. As to possible continuities that underlie, or rather, are apart form this view of "you", that is another far more interesting argument.

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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Hereandnow » August 24th, 2018, 10:25 am

Another way to look at this is as a paradox of sorites. Is the self just a mass of experiences, and with no one essential, such that to remove it does deny what the self is? But the mass, this is you, but where does the self begin in the amassing, since there is no one memory in experience is decisive?

Incidentally, this kind thing is behind all "thick" theories of what it is to be a person, and is found in bioethics, discussions about euthanasia, abortion, and the like.

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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Fooloso4 » August 24th, 2018, 5:28 pm

Another famous example is the ship of Theseus in which over time every piece of the original ship must be replaced for repair. At what point is it no longer the same ship?

Parfit’s example is similar although every “piece” or atom is replaced at the same time.

I think such examples point to problems with the notion of the self and the relationship between the body and self, but in the end perhaps succeed only in pointing to the conceptual difficulties of the ‘self’ and the idea that it names an entity.

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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Consul » August 25th, 2018, 9:47 am

Aragwen wrote:
August 23rd, 2018, 3:53 pm
I have read some works on the subject by Locke, Hume and Parfitt…
The name is "Parfit"—one "t" only.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Aragwen
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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Aragwen » August 25th, 2018, 2:16 pm

Consul wrote:
August 25th, 2018, 9:47 am
Aragwen wrote:
August 23rd, 2018, 3:53 pm
I have read some works on the subject by Locke, Hume and Parfitt…
The name is "Parfit"—one "t" only.
Yes of course, it's having a son-in-law with a name ending in double t, habits and so forth.

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Re: Personal identity-"The Self"

Post by Hereandnow » August 26th, 2018, 10:27 pm

Then there is the entirely other way to look at the self: it's invisible. It is a kind of nothing to the observer, for it is the self that "observes'.

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