Does the self persist through time?

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

  1. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Just wanted to add here that the complexity levels have been moving down to less complex levels? Essentially animals were not considered to have these traits - by the scientific community (in their official capacity) - for a long time. But this changed in recent decades as more and more animals were granted this emergent property. Where might this trend lead?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    But it depends on how you view consciousness.

    Imagine an athlete on a run.
    Is the "running" that the athlete exhibits when they start their run the same "running" that they exhibit toward the end of their run?

    You seem to be looking at the "running" and seeing the athlete's legs in a certain location - and then seeing that from moment to moment the legs change position - and that the positions are never the same throughout the journey. Also, as the athlete tires the gait might shorten, the pace slacken etc. To you the "running" that the athlete has at one moment is different to the next - and thus the "running" does not persist.

    Some of us are looking at the "running" as a general pattern of activity - and as long as that pattern continues to occur, the "running" could be said to persist.

    Neurons, chemicals, etc. Nothing that isn't in the brain of a non-conscious working brain. The only difference is the pattern of activity that a conscious brain exhibits compared to a non-conscious one.

    Occam would therefore go with consciousness being strongly related to that pattern. And if the pattern persists - why not the "self"?

    The next issue, though, would be what happens when we are "unconscious" - e.g. asleep. Is the consciousness that kicks in when we wake up the same as when we went to sleep?

    Well, if the athlete stops for a breather and then starts running again - is this the same "running" as when they began?

    (I hope the analogy doesn't confuse?)
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Gustav Banned Banned


    why not? your "pattern of activity" merely translates to a bunch of circuitry aligning itself in particular configurations to produce a conscious experience in some mental space

    epiphenomenalism holds that physical events cause mental ones but not vice versa. therefore if this theory is true, one is not in a position to have an opinion on it. you cannot think about it. you are not in a position to even express the idea of epiphenomenalism. its truth is ineffable

    so i ask..... who am i addressing this post to?

    well? should i guess or will you elaborate?
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Gustav Banned Banned


    monism? consciousness as a fundamental force in the universe?

  8. takethewarhome midnatt klarhet Registered Senior Member


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  9. Gustav Banned Banned


    thats nothing
    watch in awe as the zombies deny the subjective experience and free will while simultaneously utilizing them. its an eminently pitiable pathology
  10. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    i simply meant the level of awareness which one can recollect, IOW your caveat re: "lapses" like sleep, etc. wouldn't have to be accounted for.

    i'm curious what you make of this: i have seizures which i recall; i have seizures which effect a sort of amnesia; and then i have seizures lasting anywhere from seconds to (on a few occasions) days, during which i carry out routines (not just the "routine" variety: i've traveled hundreds of miles, played shows, recorded--and "engineered" the basic tracks for an album, etc.), but--according to others--"i" am not there: it's not a different personality which manifests, but rather NO personality. according to dozens of neurologists i've asked specifically about this matter, i do not experience amnesia of these "episodes," rather i am not sufficiently conscious enough to even form memories. does this make sense to you? it seems a little odd, to put it mildly, to me.

    but when you say "what is mine is what is a property of my experience," isn't the "my" necessarily "what is proper to my experience," IOW
    "what is proper to what is proper to what is proper to... 'my' experience."

    obviously, it's a semantic complication--but is it just a semantic complication?

    you're referring to that part, correct? honestly, i don't know if it's a problem for me--sometimes yes, sometimes no. insofar as what one does inevitably effects one's world, and one's world inevitably effects oneself (or one's "self)--this is where it becomes problematic for me: like i said, i often identify not only with, but as my world, or aspects of my world. and i think everyone does, to one degree or another--for some more, others less--and such would be informed by whether or not one cultivates such or makes efforts to quell such--and this would be a product of one's own disposition, but also one's culture and one's language. i don't think this "identification" is simply a linguistic issue, by any means (i.e. figures of speech, for instance).

    ahhh, ok--thank you for the clarification. still though: do you think this is universally implicit? if one is brought up within a culture which considers "self" very differently, and even the language itself carries a radically different notion of what is intended by "self," i would think it might be different--IOW notions of self aren't necessarily considered with relation to conscious intentionality in all cultures or languages.

    still, it's difficult to consider such from the perspective of another with one's own language and cultural baggage. Sarkus remarked to me that in a sense, we (that is, the people posting in this thread) are all on the same page in the sense that none of us seem to be positing self as, say, a separate order of entity (spirit) accorded us by "god(s)." or, even if one is inclined to think in such a manner, no one is positing such here.
  11. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Damn. Take a day off... miss too much.

    But you can only 'wonder' in certain ways; that is, in ways that are specifically limited by one thing: you. My point was, no matter how confused you might be, or aphasic, etc., your experience is continuous.

    Ah but see, those aren't experiences of discontinuity: those are recollections.
    Of course you're not going to 'recognize' yourself in that past; we all change. However, the very fact that you can recall those experiences, and recognize that they are your experiences, serves to demonstrate the continuity of the self.

    I would hope not; that would be silly [yes, slight jab at the religious here...].

    The problem here is that you're trying to equate the self with something fixed, something that stays the same, some sort of whacked out Monist essence [I used to think along these lines myself]. The problem is, not only does such a thing not exist [not in that sense anyways...], but it is also impossible.
    What does persist in each of us [again, with certain atypical exceptions] is the fact that we are each the locus of our behaviour.

    I think you miss my point entirely.
    If the self did not persist, regardless of how well you can recollect the past [I think that was what you were getting at with the 'copies' line... ???] you would not necessarily be able to identify that past as being yours.

    'Degree' of identity??? A curious contradiction...

    Anyways, why do you think such a thing is required? All that is needed for a self to be a self is internal consistency.

    General note:

    If anyone wants me to respond to something in particular that I've missed, feel free to let me know....
    I like the way the thread is moving, and any 'late' commentary on my part would more than likely just serve to sow confusion.

  12. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    1) I have been regulary unconscious - if that was me 'sleeping'. I certainly can't refer to memory to know if it was me sleeping so I am not sure what my connection is to the sleeper. Please take this as irony, intended seriously. You could take it as similar to Berkeley's challenge to memory identity, when dealing with people who have forgotten various periods of their lives. 2) there could be breaks all the time, just as there are in films. In fact I often have the experience of coming back or arising. Don't you? 3) I do not experience my blind spot. One can be shown one has a blind spot, that the brain fills in the visual field, relatively easily. Perhaps we will hit a way to do this with persistence or the jerky nature of consciousness. I do think if one pays attention, one notices jerks, occasionally. This is essentially pointing out that we need not be experts - especially when dealing with something with powerful emotions surrounding it - about ourselves. There are a variety of test that can show people have biases they are not aware of, for example. You would think they would know they distrust black people, for example, but given the strong emotions around self-identity - in another sense than in this thread - they keep themselves unaware of their true reactions. However when rapidly shown photos of alternating races and asked evaluative questions, distortions along race lines become very clear. There is all sorts of research where people's reporting and even experience of, yes, their own experience is off.

    No, it doesn't. I could have copied memories. Which, in fact, fits with science. I have mental experiences which have been passed on, copy to copy.

    I am not making an assertion. I am countering the notion that it is the same self, the same experiencer.
    Or there are subsequent loci - repeatedly created epiphenomena, a la Sarkus - for behavior. No pronoun.

    It would seem like 'yours' in a culture where you are repeatedly told that that is what it is.
    If we don't deal in degrees we run into problems - for example, literall split brains placed in two bodies.

    I assume you mean over time not simply in a given moment.

    Is the hypothesis of the persistent self falsifiable?
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  13. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    You know I was thinking of free will in relation to this issue. If memory is the evidence of identity then are we only identitical when we remember? No, hardly is that the position. Then it must be our capability of 'calling up' memories. This capability and the calling up shows we are the same person. But capability is an illusion in a determined universe. In fact memories, like all other phenomena, simply come and go. They arise and disappear. So what connection does the entity experiencing a sneeze have to do with some entity in the past that was not sneezing and is not being remembered - I don't remember much during the time I am sneezing. I cannot see any possibility for a persistent self in a determined universe and certainly no way to check the hypothesis.
  14. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I don't think you read what you quoted correctly. He made it clear that causation was physical to mental and NOT the other way around.
  15. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Alas, it is exactly memory that you refer to that allows you to 'know' that it was you who were sleeping. It is you that just woke; you also recall what you did previous to going to sleep.

    Can't say that I do.
    However, I do agree that there are 'breaks' in our self-awareness. But as you've noted, that's all they are; perturbations in what we ordinarily take to be a smooth procession. Note that what's at question here is not the nature of one's self, but the reflexive act of recalling the self....

    I have no idea what you mean here...

    Ah. Well, then we're in agreement on the whole topic.

    Yup; that's what I was saying.

    Again, I don't understand what you're saying here.

    I was just being semantically precise: "identity" denies gradation.

    I assume you mean over time not simply in a given moment.[/QUOTE]


    Is the hypothesis of the persistent self falsifiable?[/QUOTE]

    Depends on the definition of self.
    If, as is commonly understood in the vulgar sense, one means an immutable notion of self, then the answer is yes; any deviation in this self would suffice to disprove this conception.
    If, on the other hand, we mean something different, then one simply has to attempt to devise some kind of counterfactual argument...
  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Ah - me bad.
    Epiphenomenalism is a new term to me, so I'm still trying to understand what it is. And then misreading / misunderstanding Gustav didn't help.
    Post deleted to avoid confusion

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Why not?
    What is it about "thinking" that prohibits the idea of, or is incompatible with epiphenomenalism? Is it perhaps your understanding of what "thinking" is?

    I.e. Are you suggesting that "thinking" influences the way we act?
    If you consider conscious "thinking" to be the mental ability that influences physical action then sure, epiphenomenalism is incompatible.

    If you consider conscious "thinking" to be merely an observation - a projection, if you will, of aspects that the brain is already considering - then there is no issue... epiphenomenalism allows for thought, for opinions, even about epiphenomenalism. Consciousness becomes a projection of what is going on in the brain - it is caused by but can not influence. Epiphenomenalism. Thoughts will happen irrespective of consciousness, and consciousness merely picks them up and projects them... in such a way that we have the illusion of things like free-will etc.

    So instead of rejecting a theory because you feel it is incompatible with your understanding of X, try and see the implications of the theory on your understanding of X, and how your understanding would need to change in order for them to be compatible.
    Afterall, is your understanding of X (in this case of what "thought" appears to be) infallible?
  18. Gustav Banned Banned


    of course not. it is entirely possible that my subjective take on this matter is misguided due to the emphasis placed on what intuition and commonsense (according to me) tells me to be the case. therefore perhaps you would like to share the inner workings of your mind in order for me to make a comparison?
    a thought experiment of sorts

    articulate in much detail as possible the mental/physical processes that were in play when you apprehended my quote....

  19. Gustav Banned Banned

    here is a snippet of me talking to a.l.i.c.e

    Human: how is the weather
    ALICE: Sunny.
    Human: are you cute?
    ALICE: People say I am cute.
    Human: what do you do?
    ALICE: unknown person, I talk to people on the web. What do you do?
    Human: i like to talk to bots
    ALICE: I'm not sure if I would like to do it. What's it like?
    Human: are you a robot?
    ALICE: How did you know I am a machine?
    Human: someone told me
    ALICE: Was this trustworthy information?
    Human: i like to think so
    ALICE: I think so too.
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    hmm. here's a brief extract of my conversation with the mock turtle:

    me: what else had you to learn?

    mock turtle: well, there was mystery,--mystery, ancient and modern, with seaography: then drawling--the drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: HE taught us drawling, stretching, and fainting in coils.

    me: what was THAT like?

    mock turtle: well, i can't show it you myself, i'm too stiff. and the gryphon never learnt it.
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So are you going to address the rest of my post or merely pick up on the last (albeit flippant) question?
    Or is the best we'll get from you some more of the personal incredulity that seems to be heavily entwined within your language, or perhaps you'll use the "we haven't yet been able to do it - so it's impossible" tack?

    Either way, I'd prefer it if you'd address the matters I raised with your apparent rejection of epiphenomenalism before we move on.
  22. Gustav Banned Banned

    a combative spirit/zombie
    me like

    it appears counterintuitive because of my thinking what thinking is as articulated here....


    well yes
    i thought i made that clear but it apparently that is not the case

    pardon me
    your lecture was most illuminating and i shall attempt to reconsider my approach


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Consider your position made clear on this matter - now all I ask is for you to explain what you mean by "mental" and then detail what you see as the process by which the "mental" interacts with the physical?

Share This Page