Why is this my body?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Cyperium, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    This question has been raised before, but deserves to be raised again.

    The question is simple; How come I am in this body instead of any other body?

    There are sub-questions; Is there something to my self that is unique to this body? How come when my self according to popular science is only a illusion? Does this mean that the illusion could change so that I am in another body? If not, then my self cannot be a illusion, but must be a reality that can only be in this body. Isn't it true that someone that is now in another body, just as well could have been in my body instead of me?
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  3. leopold Valued Senior Member

    you know, i've been given infractions for making lame ass posts.
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  5. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    You and your body are one thing, not two separate things. Why would you think otherwise? :shrug:
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I'm inclined to say that your identity is the result of, and generated by, all of your previous experiences and circumstances.

    If the circumstances and experiences were significantly different, then the one experiencing them first-person would be somebody else.

    "Popular science"?

    I guess that there's a widespread belief these days that souls don't exist. There isn't any disembodied essence of "you" that is only temporarily serving as your body's driver, but could just as easily have been steering a different body instead.

    Not if what we call "you" is your body, its name and form, its memories, feelings, cognition, circumstances, relationships and history.

    The question isn't so much whether or not your "self" is an illusion, it's whether or not it's a substance. Perhaps a better way to conceive of it is as a process.

    I don't think so. Of course, I don't believe in souls or in Cartesian-style mental substances. I think that we are our bodies, doing what our bodies do.
  8. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Actually, leopold, this is a legitimate and interesting philosophical question to explore.


    I think it makes the most sense when you imagine yourself as a property of a unique (or particular) configuration of matter. In that sense you are a unique consciousness because you are a unique biological system. In other words, when you were conceived the groundwork was laid for a collection of matter to become consciously aware, and you are that collection. If that groundwork had been laid differently, rather than being someone else (or in some other body), you would simply not exist at all. You know, kinda like how there were billions of people in the world before you were born, but you weren't any of them. There was simply no you.

    What I tend to imagine these days when I'm speculating is that the seeds of consciousness are a fundamental property of matter that hasn't been quantified yet, because I can't see any way for it to emerge if this is not the case. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that inanimate matter is conscious, only that there is something about it that is conducive to the emergence of such. And because matter is everywhere, that "something" is everywhere. It's part of the fabric of reality itself. So I tend to think of it all in a monistic sort of way. The universe is one thing, manifesting in different ways. Right now it's manifesting as you, and me, and billions of other people, and trillions of other creatures. And while you may not have existed before you were conceived, the more fundamental elements that gave rise to the experiences you call your own were always present, and they will continue to be present for as long as the fabric of reality exists (which I tend to think is eternally, in one way/form or another).

    So in a nutshell, the universe is one entity, but an entity that can configure parts of itself into unique little packages that allow it to experience, among countless other things, the illusion of being separate and distinct from everything else. Make no mistake, you are a piece of the universe becoming aware of itself. So am I. We're essentially different aspects of the same thing.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  9. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    Ok. Do you think that this is a lame ass post? Please tell me why and we can have a discussion!

    Why do I own my body? Why is it me?

    Countless of bodies haven't been me, so why this one?

    That doesn't make sense to me. I believe that I could have done differently in my life without someone replacing me - I would still be myself in my body no matter what choices I took, or what previous experiences I had. Because having experiences and making choices already assumes that I am my body.

    So what you say is that before a person has any experiences anyone could be that person? But the experiences changes throughout ones life and if that was the case then someone could replace me because the experiences fits him better? Don't think so.

    Yes, it is often mentioned in popular science. You don't agree?

    Why not? What is it to my body that only I can be the one having it? Why couldn't I have been you or someone else?

    And, again, I must ask; Why is this my body instead of anyone elses? Why couldn't anyone else have those exact properties? They aren't unknown to others either.

    Yes, but why is that process me instead of you?

    I also think we are our bodies, I just want to know why I am this particular body instead of any other body.

    Yes, but how much can that configuration change and still be me?

    Yes, now we can ask ourselves how much different I would have to be in order to not exist. Someone else would have taken my place, so what is the granularity of existence? If I was missing a toe, wouldn't it still be me?

    I agree. I'm thinking much the same thing.

    So, in essence, when we have no body then we become united with the universe?
  10. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    You are unique, just like everyone else.

    We return to wherever it is we came from. Did you exist before you were born?
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Each of us is the conscious experience of the intersection of how, what, where and when of the elements and processes that comprise the universe, in my simple opinion.

    Many species besides humans demonstrate curiosity about the world around them. This suggests to me that curiosity is an important trait toward continuance.

    Perhaps if science is able to determine the processes of curiosity, we shall gain further insight into a cognitive process that engenders so many 'why's.

    I am a gardener and I plant many identical looking seeds in controlled optimized conditions yet each seed occupies a slightly different space and so experiences small, but significant differences of existence.

    An interesting thread start, Cyperium.

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    @Rav, nice post.

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  12. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    The self sculpts the body; the social infrastructure pulls at it and tries to reclaim it in its own image—makes for difficult art. But alas, most succumb to fit wear, designer labels, vintage, etc.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  13. Big Chiller Registered Senior Member

    Re: OP

    This is indeed a legitimate and profoud philosophical question.

    I am inclined to say that there is something of the "self" that's unique to the body I don't believe "popular science" (mainstream science) has said the self is only an illusion I think mainstream science hasn't been able to answer this question. I do believe the self could be hypothetically another body and for that to be true something of the self has to be separable from the body so that it can be preserved that's how I "picture" it.​
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I should begin by saying that I think that Cyperium's question is anything but "lame ass". It's an important philosophical conundrum.

    The owners of all of those bodies probably would have referred to themselves as "me". (Or whatever the equivalent pronoun was in their language.) Were they all mistaken?

    Of course, if we asked them to expand on who they meant by "me", they would give a multitude of different names. Some would think of themselves as male, others as female. They would have different nationalities, different birth-dates, different parents, different childhood experiences, different occupations, different family and friends, different memories, different interests, different dispositions...

    So in a sense, everyone is equally "me". 'Me' appears to be a simple reflexive grammatical function. What proceeds to distinguish all the different 'me's' and establishes each one as a different person is all of the additional detail, the unique information that defines each of their individual histories and life-trajectories.

    We can imagine ourselves in counter-factual situations, imagining what might have happened had we done something different than what we actually did. We can even imagine ourselves as being somebody different than who we really are.

    Suppose that I imagine that I'm Barack Obama. I imagine that's my name, and US President is my game. Suppose that I imagine it in more and more detail. I guess that no matter how detailed it was, I still wouldn't be Obama, because none of it would be true.

    But suppose that it was true. That really was my name, I really was the President, my memories were his memories (and not my current ones), his family was my family, his beliefs and attitudes were my beliefs and attitudes. If all of it was true, then wouldn't I simply be Barack Obama and poor lame little Yazata wouldn't even be a memory? I'd still use the "I" and "me" reflexive grammatical pronouns like everyone does, but the word "I" would now be referring to a different person.

    I'm not sure when "before a person has any experiences" would hold true. Perhaps an unborn fetus or something.

    If the individuals that we are talking about haven't had any experiences, then they wouldn't have any kind of subjective "I" identity of their own. The only people ascribing a particular personal identity to them would be other people talking about them.

    Is there really an unchanging essence of each of us, located somewhere deep within ourselves, that remains the same at every instant of our lives?

    Or is temporal and causal continuity the only thing that ties together the baby, the youth and the old man?

    If you were me, then you'd be me.

    More generally, if you are imagining your mind occupying a different body, what reason would there be for thinking that it would still be your mind?

    Your subjective sense of "I'm me!" isn't enough. Presumably everyone enjoys the same feeling. The fact that you can directly intuit your own memories, experiences and thoughts isn't enough either, for the same reason, because everyone presumably do the same thing. The way that everyone's nervous systems are organized explains why every organism has privileged access to its own neurological states. If you still had your old body's memories, thoughts and attiudes, that might do it. But what if they were replaced by the memories, thoughts and attitudes appropriate to the new body?

    If your nervous system is generating a mind that has all of the properties of your present mind, what reason would anyone (even you) possibly have for thinking it might actually be somebody else's mind?

    How would somebody go about identifying and recognizing whose mind is present in somebody's head?

    As I've argued, my thinking leans towards the idea is that what identifies a mind as a particular person's is the temporal continuity of the body that generates it, the mind's own internal causal continuity in terms of memories, attitudes, skills and knowledge, and so on.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  15. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    This thread reminds me of some of the books by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein that I read years ago, especially 'I Will Fear No Evil' as it deals with some interesting aspects of what defines the limits of 'self'.

  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    If you lost all your memory, and had no one around who knew you formerly, then a different person would eventually arise from the new experiences, learning, and social interactions. Only a body continuum would be left to link the old "self" to the "reborn self". Such developed, personhood programs would only share the same body structure (even though that had always been gradually changing itself over a lifetime). The continuum of memory that once maintained the connections between past versions of you would be gone (you at age seven; at age eighteen; at thirty, etc) .

    If the "form" of your current memories and personality could somehow be abstracted from their brain and recorded, then downloaded into a completely different body later on, then you might briefly exist or function elsewhere for awhile. But the variations in chemistry and brain/body organization would eventually have that original template of you deviating from how it would have thought and behaved in the original body that created and molded the patterns. Even more the case if downloaded into a computer that didn't fully mimic the biotic structure and wetware operations of ANY brain/body.

    Intelligence and phenomenal consciousness as general possibilities -- arising under applicable conditions -- aren't dependent upon a particular human body. But "you" as a local instantiation of them was dependent upon your body and its environmental circumstances, over the course of life, "carving" that particular manner of "self".
  17. Rav Valued Senior Member

    It depends on what you mean by "me", or "you". Let's define it here not as a collection of memories or personality traits, but as an entity that is having experiences. In your case, the entity that is having your experiences instead of someone else's.

    If the self is grounded in a part of the brain stem, as at least one neuroscientist has suggested (António Damásio), then theoretically you could have the rest of your brain remapped somehow, and still be you. The quality of your experiences would be different, and you would have a new "identity", but the core self from before would be retained. It's just the things surrounding it that have changed. It's merely extended differently.

    This is speculation of course, and I suspect you'll need to ponder upon it a little to appreciate where I'm coming from, but I think that grounding the experiential core of an individual conscious entity in a particular slice of physicality has explanatory power. Damage that core (that part of the brain stem), and it vanishes. Meanwhile, billions of others persist, none of which are you.

    I also think that Yazata is correct when he suggests that it should all be conceptualized as a process. After all, no-one is exactly the same "slice" of physicality now that they were 20 years ago. But the complex physical processes from which you emerge are constrained within certain tight parameters, so even though the individual constituent elements can be swapped out with new ones, as long as those parameters remain, so do you.

    My point was essentially that since you have been fashioned out of the fabric of the universe, you are already united with it. A small part of it has become you. As a whole, it's more primary than any of us. We are simply expressions of it's quality. One day you may cease to exist, but that primal fundamental quality will remain, and will presumably continue to manifest as (among other things) an innumerable number of other conscious entities. As such I think it may be sort of silly to worry about being "gone", as if that's some sort of horrific existential nightmare, because it's not as if some portion of the fabric of universe vanishes into absolute nothingness when you die. I'm not suggesting that you, Cyperium, remain after death. Only that the substrate from which you were made persists. And if that substrate really is the fabric from which Cyperium can be made, how is it not more significant (and perhaps more profound) than our self-obsessed mentalities give it credit for?
  18. machaon Registered Senior Member

    Because if it were my body you would always use the long bar horizontally while playing tetris and never ever know why...
  19. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    I'm surprised you of all people are raising this question, Cyperium. Because of your avatar and 'slogan' I assumed you understood that your physical self is a whirlwind, a bodyless dynamo, if you will, with a constantly changing material aspect. It is said that every atom of one's body is replaced after seven years, so that after that time you are literally a different person - although that's only true in a physical sense.

    Your initial question makes no sense to me. Why are you you and not me, or Lady Gaga? Well, it's like they say, "No matter where you go - there you are'.

    "Is there something to my self [that is] unique to this body?", you ask. I would agree with the Buddhists and Hindus that your karma is unique to your body. I don't want to get into reincarnation, but your past actions in this life are part of what makes you who you are, and they are what makes you uniquely yourself. Even if you had a twin brother who was your constant companion, he might very well at sometimes behaved differently from you.

    Again I really don't understand your question:"How come when my self according to popular science is only a illusion?" Where does pop sci say that???

    I want to answer your question, but it is very confusing, and I see taht you are frankly confused. I understand and sympathize.

    There's no scientific evidence, but I think Buddhists are right in supposing that the self is an aggregate, a combination of the physical body, the five senses and the mind (which is the sixth sense in their parlance), your character which is partially inherited from you parents and ancestors, partly your past actions, and partly your circumstances (nurture/environment). Then there are your desires. But here is no atman - no soul in the Western, Christian sense. That is the illusion. Once you realize that old age, death and "offenses" to your 'person' should disturb you less.
  20. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    No, hence my self shouldn't have any unique properties that makes it fit for any one unique body. <---this is the main point.

    The only way that I could only be this body, and not any other body, is if my non-existence had unique properties. That there is a non-existence for each person.

    It wasn't a very simple opinion, in my opinion, but ok.

    Interesting pov. You're saying we are continuous because of curiosity?

    Thanks. So we are a unique body because there are slight differences? But what uniqueness did I possess before I existed? How could this be my unique body, if I weren't unique before I existed?

    Yes. This has to do with opinions and what we like, but I think I could have liked something else and still be me in my body. In fact, my interests has shifted during the years and I'm still me. Everything can change about me, but I'm still me.

    Ok. I'm trying to find a reason why this is. Science hasn't been able to answer the question, yet they often say that the self is only a illusion.

    No, but each is his own body. You do see that there is a difference between me being me, and you being me? At least there was a difference when I didn't exist, countless of people still reffered to themselves as "me" but I didn't exist so there was no "me" for me.

    Yes, but one thing is always true, they are all their own body. The different interests aren't in question here.

    Why are the characteristics of my body unique to me, when there wasn't anything unique to me when I didn't exist? Why is this my body?

    Yes, but we would still exist. We would still be our body whatever might have happened in our lives. I don't think that I would suddenly stop existing just because I had another experience in my past than what I did have. I would still be my body no matter what that body experienced.


    Yes, but do you suppose that if Barack Obama didn't win for president then he wouldn't be Barack Obama anymore? What if he didn't run for election? We probably wouldn't even know about him, yet he would still be Barack Obama in his body. Even if he had a different name, it would still be that unique self in that unique body.

    So I could have been Barack Obama if I didn't exist and he was just a fetus?

    What then was it that made me Barack Obama instead of anyone else?

    Yes. But the I comes first, the experience later, we can't have experiences without an "I". To be an "I" is a requirement of having experiences.

    I don't know, I'm trying to see.

    Yes, and you would be me. So is there a reason this wasn't so? Objectively it wouldn't matter, but subjectively it would. I would be looking at your computer screen and not mine.

    Because then I would occupy a different body. I would have a different life.

    The difference is that I'm me and you're you. No matter how much we try to make everything else the same, there is a difference between me being me, and me being you.

    Only subjectively does it make a difference, but that is also all the difference and a very important difference I must say.

    Only subjectively would we be somebody else. Objectively we wouldn't be able to tell.

    That doesn't answer the question. Why is this my body? I'm not making fun, it just doesn't answer the question. Why am I this particular person, when I didn't exist I wasn't anything particular at all. So why is this my existence?

    Will take a look at the link! Thanks for contributing.

    Yes, but I would still exist, I would still be my body. Nothing can change that.

    So then I would only temporarily exist?

    When I didn't exist I wasn't any particular manner of "self" so why is this body the body I can exist in?

    Yes, so I would still be my body. I would only perceive myself differently, perhaps have different interests and such.

    Sure, but why is that core me? When I didn't exist then there wasn't any characteristics of me, so why should I start to exist in that particular configuration? It doesn't really matter to me if that configuration is based on experiences or whatever else it is based on. I still can't see why those experiences must define me instead of anyone else.

    I still don't know why those parameters describe me instead of anyone else. There wasn't any parameters describing me when I didn't exist, so why does those parameters describe me?

    It obviously isn't significant when we don't exist. Then nothing is significant subjectively.

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    Happens to me too!

    Yes. My slogan suggests just that. So why were you surprised?

    Yes, but when I didn't exist then I had no properties that would tie me to any particular body. So I could just as well have been Lady Gaga, so why did I become this particular person instead of anyone else? I wasn't any particular when I didn't exist.

    Just because there are differences, does this mean that those particular differences is what defines me to be in my body?

    Google - the self is only a illusion

    Thank you, so if you aren't confused then please bring some sense to it!

    I think that my character could be different and I would still be my body. You say that the self is a combination of both the physical body, the five senses, and the mind. But why is that my physical body, why is it my five senses, and why is it my mind?
  21. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    How could you be anything if you didn't exist? Is a snowflake already unique before it forms? No, it's the coming into existence that creates the unique manifestation. (For lack of a better word.) :shrug:
  22. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    Yes, so why should any particular body represent me when there is nothing in particular to represent?

    Since I was nothing, then I could be anyone when I start to exist, why should there be a unique property of my body to my existence?
  23. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    On another thread, at another forum, it was explained that science does not attempt to answer the question of 'why' for 'why' is not measurable in the classic sense.

    'What happened?' Your parents met.

    'Where did this happen?' I'm sure they can supply the answer.

    'When did this occur?' Roughly nine months before the date on your birth certificate.

    'How did this happen?' See human biology and reproduction 101.

    'Why did this occur?' The potential of those vectors intersecting in time and space was realized.

    Every point is the universe has a unique address. There are an inestimable number of points in the universe. Each has the potential of becoming the starting point of life experience.

    Science still cannot satisfactorily explain how life comes about, so I can only add that I do not know any more than what I have shared and I cannot help you in finding the answer to the question 'why' for it is not a question of measure.

    The question arises within consciousness and for that reason each of us is both our own question and our own answer.

    Morning ramblings offered as I perceive them.

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