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Am I my body (e.g. brain)?

 
 
igm
 
Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2011 08:38 am
Thought experiment: A 'mad scientist' kidnaps me (imagine this is you i.e. in the first person) and has also kidnapped someone called Linda. He takes my personality (he copied my memories, beliefs, desires, fears, ambitions, goals, intentions etc…) and transfers it to Linda’s body and her personality is transferred to my body using his ‘Mind Transplant Machine’.

He then tells me he will torture Linda and starts to torture my body. I feel relief as I am in Linda’s body (of course I feel upset for Linda). What does this say about the theory of personal identity or the personality (I guess it could be the same thing.)? Does it say that it’s not part of the body? For those who believe in souls isn’t it feasible that the soul could still be in my body but my personality still be in Linda’s body? Does it feel like this scenario (were it technically possible) could be perfectly feasible i.e. intuitively it feels ok and not absurd, just technically not possible and if so where is my personality located and how is it connected to my body if at all?

Having asked your self questions like those above are you still sure you are your body e.g. brain or for those so inclined are you still sure you are your soul? What does this say about personal identity if anything?
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2011 01:19 pm
@igm,
I never thought of that particular situation, but I do expect the body's condition, genetic makeup, and physical training have more to do with exactly who we are than we usually believe.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2011 04:26 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

I never thought of that particular situation, but I do expect the body's condition, genetic makeup, and physical training have more to do with exactly who we are than we usually believe.

It appears that many believe that our personal identity resides somewhere within the brain’s structure. Yet in this thought experiment it seems that if we imagine being separate from our own body i.e. transferred into another’s body we seem to immediately find it acceptable and to easily be able to relinquish our belief that we reside within the brain’s structure. If we really believed deep down that we resided with the brain’s structure, having lived our whole life with that belief could we so easily imagine being separate from it? Especially as it isn’t clear how being separate from the brain could be even possible.

To take up your point if we continued in this other person’s body our personal identity would be shaped by that person’s body but somehow not to be intrinsic to it; like moving house and getting used to one’s new home. We think of the self as inseparable from the brain but we can so easily imagine it as not inseparable from it. We can even imagine the soul (if we believe in one) being left behind in our body and just our personality transferring to another body. Is our personal identity just linked to our personality and not to our body and or soul and if so does this shine a light on the mystery of consciousness?
Speakpigeon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Aug, 2011 08:53 am
@igm,
Does it say that the personality is not part of the body?
No, it just repeats the initial assumption. Your thought experiment already assumed that personality is not part of the body. The thought experiment's assumption that it is possible to transfer a personality to another body logically implies that the personality is not a part of the body.

It is much more realist and feasible to imagine that a mad scientist transfers your brain into another body. Presumably, all your memories, beliefs, ambitions, etc. would follow your brain. You would feel that you have the broadly same personality but not the same body. Yet, having a different body will probably change your personality. First, your memories starting from the day of transfer will be those associated with your new body, I guess that should count as a change in your personality. You may become the happy owner of a large fortune instead of being destitute living on the street. That will change your personality. People may turn out to be nicer to you once you get your new body and this may help you be happier and therefore change your personality. You may change your beliefs, your ambitions, etc.

If so, then personality is not only part of the brain but also a part of the body.
In this case, however, your soul would have stayed with your original body because God and only God, and possibly Satan, can change where your soul is, but you said 'mad scientist', not God or Satan, so the soul stays where it is.

Well, I guess this may be a problem.
EB
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Aug, 2011 09:02 am
@igm,
igm wrote:
It appears that many believe that our personal identity resides somewhere within the brain’s structure. Yet in this thought experiment it seems that if we imagine being separate from our own body i.e. transferred into another’s body we seem to immediately find it acceptable and to easily be able to relinquish our belief that we reside within the brain’s structure.

No, I don't think that's what your thought experiment means at all. But then you're not very good at this thought experiment business, are you.
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Speakpigeon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Aug, 2011 09:30 am
@igm,
People believe many different things and I don't think you know what these are.

Further, what they believe is irrelevant as long as they are not claiming that their beliefs are consistent or true, or both.

In this particular instance, the only one who seems to be claiming something is you, although I am having a hard time deciding what it is. I believe I am here but I can easily imagine to be on the moon. So what? What is your point?
EB

igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Aug, 2011 09:40 am
@Speakpigeon,
Speakpigeon wrote:

People believe many different things and I don't think you know what these are.

Further, what they believe is irrelevant as long as they are not claiming that their beliefs are consistent or true, or both.

In this particular instance, the only one who seems to be claiming something is you, although I am having a hard time deciding what it is. I believe I am here but I can easily imagine to be on the moon. So what? What is your point?
EB


This topic was an experiment in every sense of the word. I don't think it worked nor do I think it merits defending. Smile
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Sep, 2011 06:01 pm
@igm,
I have seen this experiment done before! { so to speak} it is possible to know the answer!


igm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Sep, 2011 08:20 am
@reasoning logic,
Thanks for the link. I have watched it before. It is worth watching again. When in meditation one ‘watches’ thoughts, there is a freedom that being caught up in the content of thoughts doesn't allow. In this type of meditation thoughts are seen as thoughts and the meaning of each thought is not examined. Is there more freedom in this type of meditation than in a reality where a decision was made six seconds earlier and apparently unconsciously but we think we’ve just i.e. six seconds later, made a conscious decision (for anyone who hasn't seen the clip in the post above you'll need to watch at least the last perhaps, 15 minutes of it, to understand about my reference to 'six seconds earlier')?

Do we work better without the notion of a self e.g. a tennis player doesn’t have six seconds to make a choice (decision) about what shot to play, so is there no time for an illusory self to intervene and believe it made the decision? Is this what ‘being in the zone’ means?
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