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Self

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Self

  1. 1. ‘ I’m not myself today, you see,’ Alice said to the caterpillar. ‘ I don’t see,’ said the caterpillar. Lewis Carroll
  2. 9. <ul><li>‘ every man is in some ways like all other men, in some ways like some other men, and in some ways like no other men.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophers attempting to answer the question of self identity attempt to figure out how and why this might be so. </li></ul><ul><li>Lets compare the traditional theories of Descartes, Locke, and Hume. </li></ul>
  3. 10. <ul><li>Method of doubt </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptical arguments (illusion, dreams) —> doubt of senses </li></ul>
  4. 11. <ul><li>Descartes argues self -consciousness is crucial to having a concept of one’s own individuality and an enduring self that is the same person over time. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ But what then am I? A thing which thinks. What is a thing that thinks? It is a thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels.’ </li></ul>
  5. 13. <ul><li>He claimed to show by his method of doubt that all of this might be so even if we were not to have a body at all. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ perhaps I am fooled about my ‘having’ a body just as a I might be fooled about all sorts of other things’ </li></ul><ul><li>He concludes it is not our bodies that give us our identity . </li></ul><ul><li>It follows from this that aspects of ourselves such as whether we are black, white, tall, short, handsome, ugly, strong or weak are all associated with the body and cannot be essential to our identities. </li></ul>
  6. 14. <ul><li>‘ Therefore, just because I know with certainty that I exist, and that meanwhile I do not remark that any other thing necessarily pertains to my nature or essence, excepting that I am a thinking thing, I rightly conclude that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing (or a substance whose whole essence or nature is to think). And although possibly (or rather certainly, as I shall say in a moment) I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined, yet because, on the one side, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as on the other, I possess a distinct idea of the body, inasmuch as it is only an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain hat this I (that is to say my soul by which I am what I am) is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it’ </li></ul>
  7. 15. <ul><li>Descartes is saying that self identity depends on consciousness. </li></ul><ul><li>Our identity does not depend in any way on our body remaining the same and so human identity is different from the identity of anything else in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>What is the connection between self consciousness and self identity? Do you think (some) animals are self conscious? If so do you think that they might have a self identity? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Descartes identify as the ‘self’? Is this anything unique to individuals? In what sense (if any) does it individuate you from someone else? </li></ul>
  8. 17. <ul><li>Self is unified by consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Consciousness is unified by connections between mental states </li></ul><ul><li>Memory </li></ul>
  9. 18. <ul><li>What makes me the same person I was yesterday, last week, last year? </li></ul><ul><li>What makes me me ? </li></ul>
  10. 19. <ul><li>‘ To find wherein identity consists, we must consider what a ‘person’ stands for – which I think, is 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 only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive. Thus it is always as to our present sensation and perceptions: and by this every one to himself that which he calls self’. </li></ul><ul><li>Consciousness makes personal identity. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Self is that conscious thinking thing...which is sensible or conscious of pleasure and pain, capable of happiness or misery, and so is concerned for itself, as far as that consciousness extends’. </li></ul>
  11. 20. <ul><li>Personal self identity is based upon self-consciousness, in particular upon memories about one former experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>He argues man is different from animals, whose identity is based on the continuity of the body, just as you would say you have had ‘the same car’ over the last 10 years. </li></ul><ul><li>The identity of a ‘person’ that is, ‘personal identity’ depends on self-consciousness. </li></ul><ul><li>Memory constitutes self-identity and a persons relationship to their own thoughts is unique. </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot think each others thoughts they are inherently private in nature. </li></ul><ul><li>Since memory is situated in thought it follows that people cannot remember your experiences and you cannot remember theirs. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are remembering your first day at school, you are self identical to the person who earlier had had that experience. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Locke therefore, memory provides a definite link between what we might call different ‘stages’ of a person. </li></ul><ul><li>Memory seems to guarantee the identity of the person who is now remembering with the person who was then having the experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Watch Memento – (6:50-10 and 15-24) </li></ul>
  12. 21. <ul><li>Much of what we experience, we later forget. </li></ul><ul><li>We do not remember everything that happened to us. </li></ul><ul><li>Even those with good memories cant remember what the weather was like on Jan 24 th 1996 or what they had for dinner 5years ago. </li></ul><ul><li>What are we to make of these forgotten periods in relation to our personal identity. </li></ul><ul><li>How mistaken can we be in our memories and beliefs about ourselves? </li></ul><ul><li>Furthermore our memories are not always accurate. </li></ul><ul><li>We might remember things that didn’t happen or make mistakes with regards to colour, dates, details etc </li></ul><ul><li>Another criticism concerns the way in which Locke seems to put the cart in front of the horse. </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot use the concept of memory to establish self-identity and then use the concept of self-identity to explain memory. </li></ul><ul><li>For example when a person says ‘I remember when I learned to ride my bike ‘ the truth of the statement presupposes , rather than establishes, that the person is self-identical with the little kid with scabby knees. </li></ul>
  13. 22. <ul><li>This idea would have been completely rejected by the ancient Greeks such as Aristotle. </li></ul><ul><li>He wouldn’t have understood what Descartes, Locke and Hume were all arguing about. </li></ul><ul><li>For Aristotle, self – identity was essentially bodily identity, without reference to self consciousness. </li></ul>
  14. 23. <ul><li>How does the role of consciousness differ in the accounts of self-identity of Locke and Descartes? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you think of a time when you were ‘unaware’ of your self e.g. Contrary to Locke you were not aware of your awareness and you did not perceive that you were perceiving? Describe this situation. </li></ul><ul><li>For Locke what constitutes personal identity? </li></ul>
  15. 24. <ul><li>Hume completely undercuts Descartes and Locke’s view of self-identity. </li></ul><ul><li>He believed that any idea must be derived from an impression. </li></ul><ul><li>Hume argues that when we are self-conscious we are only aware of fleeting thoughts, feelings and perceptions; we do not have an impression of the self or a thinking substance. </li></ul><ul><li>He concludes that the idea of the self is simply a fiction. </li></ul><ul><li>We are never aware of any enduring self, we are never justified in claiming we are the same person we were a year ago or a minute ago. </li></ul>
  16. 25. <ul><li>‘ There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our SELF, that we feel it’s existence and its continuance in existence is certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity......Unluckily all these positive assertions are on the contrary to that very experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of ‘self’ after the manner it is here explained. For from what impression could this idea be derived. The question is impossible to answer without a manifest contradiction and absurdity......It must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But ‘self’ or ‘person’ is not any one impression... </li></ul><ul><li>If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passion and sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of these impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived; and consequently there is no such idea. </li></ul>
  17. 26. <ul><li>“ I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. . . .” </li></ul>
  18. 27. <ul><li>They are the successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind; nor have we the most distant notion of the place, where these scenes are represented, or of the materials, of which it is compos'd.” </li></ul>
  19. 28. <ul><li>“ . . . the objects, which are variable or interrupted, and yet are suppos'd to continue the same, are such only as consist of a succession of parts, connected together by resemblance, contiguity, or causation. . . . all objects, to which we ascribe identity, without observing their invariableness and uninterruptedness, are such as consist of a succession of related objects.” </li></ul>
  20. 29. <ul><li>Hume argues we ascribe fictitious identities to persons and equally fictitious identities to things. </li></ul><ul><li>Just as we can never find an impression of the self that will explain human identity, so we can never find an impression of an object or substance to explain the identity of plants, animals and things. </li></ul><ul><li>We are never justified in claiming that a tree we see now is the same as the tree we saw 5 years ago or even 5 minutes ago. </li></ul><ul><li>The cells and parts of the tree are continuously being replaced so that at no time is it ever literally the same tree. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the case of Heraclitus. </li></ul>
  21. 30. <ul><li>Example: Heraclitus: can’t step in same river twice </li></ul>
  22. 31. <ul><li>“ The identity, which we ascribe to the mind of man, is only a fictitious one. . . .” </li></ul><ul><li>What is Hume’s theory on self – identity? </li></ul>
  23. 32. <ul><li>Hume’s argument can be summed up as follows – ‘I never can catch myself’. </li></ul><ul><li>This suffers from an obvious form of self - contradiction. </li></ul><ul><li>It appears he cant deny that that there is a self without in some sense pointing to himself in order to do it. </li></ul>
  24. 33. <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2OyiAJVcG0&feature=PlayList&p=AFFE3F6D258AE003&index=0&playnext=1 </li></ul>
  25. 34. <ul><li>Kant believed in a ‘transcendental’ enduring self. </li></ul><ul><li>Kant argued against Hume’s idea of there being a different ‘self’ at each moment of consciousness. </li></ul><ul><li>If this is the case we would not be able to perceive anything at all. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to experience an object we must be able to combine our various impressions of it in a unified consciousness. </li></ul><ul><li>Put another way – Hume talks of different sorts of relations between impressions or successions. In order for an individual to perceive two impressions as successive, these impressions must have been perceived by the same consciousness. </li></ul><ul><li>The self or ‘I’ for Kant then is the necessary logical subject of any thought, perception, feeling and so on. </li></ul><ul><li>It transcends experience and is presupposed by all experience. </li></ul><ul><li>The self is the activity of consciousness, in particular the activity of organising our various experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Kant borrows Hume’s argument and turns it around. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. True I never find a self ‘in’ my experiences but I can always find myself in that ‘I’ which has the experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Kant’s ‘self’ in other words is the act of having experiences rather than anything that we experience itself. </li></ul><ul><li>But self for Kant is not a passive recipient of experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>The self is actively organising its experiences as its own experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Synthesising the succession of perceptions and experiences into a unity. </li></ul><ul><li>To give overall clarification and understanding to what we are perceiving. </li></ul><ul><li>Self for Kant is essential to self-consciousness but it cannot be found ‘in’ self-consciousness. </li></ul>
  26. 35. <ul><li>It is transcendental as it lies hidden behind self-consciousness and cannot be known or found within it. </li></ul><ul><li>It is basic and necessary for all possible human experience. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the activity of bringing our various experiences together. </li></ul><ul><li>The difference between Hume and Kant is sometimes illustrated in this way – </li></ul><ul><li>Hume looks for the ‘self’ among our experiences and doesn’t find it; Kant agrees with Hume but argues that he looked in the wrong place. The self says Kant is the thread that ties together our various experiences. Accordingly, the self is not the bundle of our experiences; it is rather the ‘transcendental’ thread that holds them all together and is as real as any experience. </li></ul>
  27. 37. <ul><li>Jones has an emergency brain operation. His own brain is removed and replaced by the brain of Brown (who is recently deceased). ‘Jones’ still looks like Jones, still carries the same driving licence and lives in the same house, but all of his memories and personality traits are those of Brown, could you claim to be still alive in Jones’ body? </li></ul>
  28. 38. <ul><li>In the previously mentioned example the question is raised – Who would we be? Jones or Brown. </li></ul><ul><li>We would have Browns memories, personality traits and given self-consciousness ones thoughts, beliefs and feelings we would have all his mental phenomena. If its true a person goes where their brain goes it is quite clear we would be Brown. </li></ul><ul><li>Read pgs 302-303 (R. Solomon) for a fuller account of the arguments here. </li></ul><ul><li>He provides arguments against the brain as the source of self-identity and offers some good arguments in support of body theory. </li></ul>
  29. 39. <ul><li>Provides plausibility to the ‘body theory’ </li></ul><ul><li>You have been selected for a horrible torture experiment by Dr Nefarious at 5pm tomorrow </li></ul><ul><li>At 4.55pm tomorrow you will have your memory of this conversation erased </li></ul><ul><li>At 5.57 tomorrow you will have all your memories erased </li></ul><ul><li>At 4.58 tomorrow you will have George Bush’s memories implanted </li></ul><ul><li>Is it not perfectly natural to describe the situation as one in which you will undergo terrible torture, all the while believing you are George Bush – Do you not now remain concerned that you are George Bush. Do you not now remain concerned that you will experience excruciating pain and intolerable suffering </li></ul><ul><li>Michaels demonstrates the importance of our bodies to our self identity </li></ul><ul><li>It is true that we tend to identify ourselves with our thoughts, beliefs and feelings but it also true that our bodies are important to who we are and that self identity is bodily identity </li></ul>
  30. 40. <ul><li>Read A. MacIntyre’s - The Story Telling Animal – What is his understanding of a human being? </li></ul>

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