Does the self persist through time?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Doreen, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not saying they give evidence of persistent selfhood.
    If anything they provide the individual with a sense of self that can at best only be assumed - and Occam would sort out the rest.
    But Occam indicates rationality, not proof.
    i.e. memories enable us to conclude rationally that we are the same person - that our own "I" persists.

    Whether our own self persists - we have to define clearly what we mean/refer to by "self" as there's possibly some fuzziness about what is being considered.
    Sure, personality, the way we operate and store our memories etc might change - i.e. what I would see as the clothes our "self" wears. But throughout there is still the sense of "I" or "self".
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
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  3. Gustav Banned Banned

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    no. why would i?
    see no one has explained satisfactorily how a neural network can develop a consciousness with apparent free will apart from offering the usual arguments based on complexity of design

    furthermore there appear to be nothing even analogous in the sciences that come close to demonstrating how such circuits can be built to demonstrate the type of sentience evinced in animals.

    at the very least give me a workable hypotheses


    i suppose then you are in a position to educate me with some hard facts rather than some promissory materialism and perhaps an appeal to...credulity, yes?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
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  5. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    No. But I do think you're taking an impersonal comment in a philosophical discussion rather personally.

    I simply believe that we have a tendency to make rather more out of the phenomena of consciousness and self than they are due. (Don't worry, I'm not singling you out. I have this tendency too.) Assigning it a special status because it's difficult to determine what is occurring from within the process. I find the arguments that minds have special properties that other things don't possess mostly unconvincing and unnecessary.

    ~Raithere
     
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  7. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    As opposed to what? The speculation of some magical form of nonphysical substance that occurs only in the brain (or body or wherever it has its existent non-existence) of certain objects on a mundane planet in an average solar system?

    ~Raithere
     
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Well, your comment smacked of incredulity, and given that you offered nothing to support your claim of incompatibility than the apparent incredulity - I had to ask.

    Ah - so you're one of the "not yet demonstrated = impossible" brigade?

    Which animals in particular would convince you? Ants? Birds? Small mammals? Humans?

    For what?
    All you have so far done is say words to the effect of "this is incompatible" - without actually explaining anything other than expressing your incredulity.
    Please detail the issue you have, as I asked, and then perhaps we can have that discussion. But presently you are looking for me to guess the issues you have with it.

    Again - please state the nature of the issues you have with the compatability instead of just expressing your incredulity.
     
  9. Gustav Banned Banned

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    i assert no such thing
    i however feel the same way when you guys assert that a physical system will magically produce mental events given sufficient complexity

    i mean where are the precedents for such a claim?
     
  10. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    for me this is problematic because it seems to be interminably self-referential, in the same way that defining "self" as phenomenal experience* is:

    an emergent property of the processes of the brain (and the body, insofar as the body effects the processes (and vice versa), and everything else insofar as everything else effects the body (and vice versa))--but what is a "property"? an aspect (or property) of the processes of the brain (and the... which retains it's "identity," regardless of...


    * the phenomenal experience of the phenomenal experience of the ... of said entity.
     
  11. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    I think the best way to put it is not a clear definition, but rather more like a kind of promise.

    Will it be me who experiences my birthday party in twenty years or will it simply be a matter of tradition and habit that we refer to this person as 'the same'.

    I really can see little room for an empirical materialist to think the consciousness will be the same one. Since there are no immaterial things and all the material has changed -not to mention the volume, nerve connections, behaviors, levels of various hormones and other chemicals in the blood, lymph, cells, opinions, memories, etc. - there is no reason to assume or even think it is the same experiencer, the same consciousness.

    As you say above the personality is the clothes the self wears. Well, this changes and so does the body in the clothes.

    What is this self made of that persists?
     
  12. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Good point!
    Which raises the issue of internal relations. Does it make any difference to identity if all our relations change? It certainly feels like it does, but generally if the changes are slow enough, we tend not to go into shock. But if we look back 20 years, many if not most of the ways we relate to the world have changed - and yet it is the same 'I'. This means we are taking the stance that relations are external to identity.
     
  13. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Not in people's experience, which is what a lot of this is coming down to so far, ironically from empirical materialists. Would you be the same person without your genitals? But then there are subtler issues...if you adrenal glands started acting differently radical changes in your sense of self could take place - and you would seem a different person to others.

    I agree, why stop at the skin, which raises even more challenges to the persistent self since our relations and interactions change radically - generally at least. See my post above on the issue of internal relations.
     
  14. takethewarhome midnatt klarhet Registered Senior Member

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    Where are you attempting to go with all of this?
     
  15. Dub_ Strange loop Registered Senior Member

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    What, in your view, is usually intended by "conscious"? I was under the impression that consciousness referred to, well, phenomenal experience. Leaving the "conscious aspect" out of that doesn't make sense to me.

    I don't see how this leads to an infinite regress. As you say, what is mine is what is a property of my experience... is there any reason why it shouldn't end right there? What requires us to take that next step?

    Right. Is this a problem for you...?

    To clarify, when I say that it has "intuitive" appeal, I admittedly mean it in a sort of unusual sense. Rather than meaning something like "it seems obvious on the surface," I gave the example of alien hand syndrome to point out that, in order for something like this syndrome to exist at all, people in general must have some sort of implicit, intuitive theory of what self is that is more-or-less in line with what I've explicated. Even if they've never given a moment's thought to what it means to be, once part of their physical body divorces itself from their conscious intentionality, they reject it as part of their self without hesitation. It is in this sense that the present definition of self is "intuitive" -- forgive me for any confusion. My background is in psychology, and when we say that something is intuitive, we typically mean something closer to "commonplace and implicit" (e.g., an intuitive theory of personality).
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  16. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    You mean aside from the observation that all such events (or at least the claims thereto) are inexorably bound to physical, biological, systems?

    ~Raithere
     
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    What is the scientific precedent for establishing this connection to the physical as inexorable?
     
  18. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Do you mean with what you quoted or with the thread and the issue?
     
  19. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    The Frog in the slowly heated up water....

    The Frog in the slowly heated up waterdoes not notice the important threshold that is crossed.....

    I think this relates directly to the issue. We change, generally very slowly, over time. So it seems like continuity, while it is not. During this time all the matter in our bodies changes, in addition to changes in pattern within this new matter.

    Perhaps this is part of the reason we sleep, so that this slow transformation is even harder to notice.

    Those of us who have gone through trauma know, however, that even on an experiential level, changes can take place so rapidly that identity issues come to the fore directly. These can be tested as there are physical corollaries in changes in organs – the adrenal glands, the brain – changes in hormone levels, changes in behavior and responses to stimuli, to such a degree that in the period of a few hours a person can radically change to where the person before the rape, torture, deaths, calamity is hard to identify with
    And can continue to be so for the rest of that person’s life.

    In these situations the water is raised to boiling fast enough for the frog to notice, but the frog is not allowed to jump out of the water. IOW there is a lid.

    Positive experiences can do this too, though generally not quite so forcefully.

    Ockam’s Razor, if agreed upon as a decent way to approach our assumptions, would suggest as a starting point we do not assume there is some incorporeal ‘thing’ that persists. Thus the experiencer at 10 is not the same experiencer as the one at 40.

    Secondly, we have huge emotional responses to the idea of the persistent self not being the case. Even so we often notice we feel like different people or refer to ourselves as not the same person, even without having gone through traumatic experiences where we are more likely to think in those terms.

    In a sense we had a big empirical questions of the existence of a being OUT THERE. Once it comes to the one, in here, people who did not balk, suddenly balk.
     
  20. takethewarhome midnatt klarhet Registered Senior Member

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    All of it.
     
  21. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    Where am I attempting to go with all of this? Attempting in italics. You know I think it would be better if you made a statement instead of asking me. I have written quite a bit in this thread. I think you have at least a couple of points. Why not just bring them in?
     
  22. takethewarhome midnatt klarhet Registered Senior Member

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    Eh, why not.
     
  23. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    So what are those points?
     

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