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Self Indentity: What perseveres through time?

 
 
Reverie
 
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 10:11 am
One can say that everything in the universe is going through constant change, so on a more individual level, what makes up one's personal identity if we, ourselves, are not persistent through time and in a constant flux of change?

Common sense would lead me to say the psychological connections between different life stages, as it helps me to remember my past and see myself today as the "same" person as the one thinking about the past in the present moment. But there rises an interesting problem, and that is inconsistency. Suppose when I'm geriatric with (G), I have vivid memory of my life in the middle age (M) but has no recollection whatsoever of my childhood (C). Now suppose when I was in my middle age (M), I have a vivid recollection of my childhood (C). So the problem arises when M can remember life as being C, and G can remember life being M, but G has no recollection of C.
G=M, M=C, G≠C
Similarly, it could be said about people who have a case of alzheimers, who have likely forgotten important and close people in their life. It would be inaccurate to say the person who has alzheimers (AL) who forgot about you is the same person as the person you remembered when AL remembered you.

Another problem I see are false memories, as it is well documented that memories can be deceiving (criminal cases with dramatic or shocking events, etc.). So with some missing genuine memories how can we say we current are of the same identity as the person of the past?
This makes me wonder:
Can you tell that you, right now, is the same person as the fetus in your mother's womb?
When Christians talk about life after death, and resurrection, (all hypothetical) there seems to be some discrepancy with what you experienced and what you remember? As in isn't it somewhat flawed to believe that the resurrected person is the same identity as the person at death?

Another possibility of identity would be our physical body with the same DNA and fingerprint throughout our life period, and independent of psychological continuity. But say with this idea that our physical body is our identity, we take someone has amnesia who has lost a majority of their past life experiences. According to the idea that our physical body is our identity, we would have to say the person before and after amnesia are the same individual. But wouldn't it be unorthodox to think that the person before and after the amnesia is of the same identity? I know I wouldn't say the are the same individuals.

What are your thoughts on the mysterious nature of identity?
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Enzo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 10:41 am
@Reverie,
Identity is not important, is my take on it. As the cases you showed, it simply means that it doesn't matter who we identify ourselves with. Let's say I clone you at the exact time you were born, and imparted all the knowledge that you have gone through (who you lived with, who your friends are, who your enemies are, who your partner are, your secrets). Now say I steal all your identity papers(government/ hospital/Drivers license, etc) without your knowledge and kill you in an explosion and replace your "identity" in society with the clone. To society you survived.

Conclusion: All that matter is we survive, therefore, we should care more about survival than identity, in the general sense.

That's one take on it anyway.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 11:03 am
@Reverie,
Identity is about continuity of functionality which resides in the interaction of individual with context. Some have even suggested that the social context of one's name (which as an abstract word persists by definition) is the dominant structuring agent with respect to "self-identity". As one writer ironically put, we spend our lives fulfilling promises made by some other "self". (Note also the function of alternative names to encompass different facets of "self")

From the philosophical point of view, the role of language has been considered central to concepts of "self" (E.g. Dennett) and its social acquisition. Words are no longer considered representational of "things" but instrumental in re-presenting inter-relationships. Hence yesterday's "tree" is the same as "today's "tree" insofar as the relationship between observer and observed remains consistent. And note that this is valid despite biological or physical changes in what we call both "observer" and "observed". In the case of major biological change in the observer the relationships fails, and self-identity can deconstruct.


dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 11:09 am
@Reverie,
Quote:
what makes up one's personal identity if we, ourselves, are not persistent through time and in a constant flux of change?
Rev though you're in for a lot of static that's really well put, according to the general principle that nothing is entirely anything while everything is partly something else; which clearly shows that your "soul," if you like to call it that, is defined as everything about you except your body


Quote:
Can you tell that you, right now, is the same person as the fetus in your mother's womb?
Of course not


Quote:
What are your thoughts on the mysterious nature of identity?
Not sure how to answer this without writing a book

I had considered doing so but at 82………

Thus Rev if you could place your q in more specific form…...
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 11:51 am
@Reverie,
Sorta like arguing you cannot swim in the same river twice.

In a way...it is so. But...meh! So what.
0 Replies
 
Reverie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 12:56 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Identity is about continuity of functionality which resides in the interaction of individual with context. Some have even suggested that the social context of one's name (which as an abstract word persists by definition) is the dominant structuring agent with respect to "self-identity". As one writer ironically put, we spend our lives fulfilling promises made by some other "self". (Note also the function of alternative names to encompass different facets of "self")

From the philosophical point of view, the role of language has been considered central to concepts of "self" (E.g. Dennett) and its social acquisition. Words are no longer considered representational of "things" but instrumental in re-presenting inter-relationships. Hence yesterday's "tree" is the same as "today's "tree" insofar as the relationship between observer and observed remains consistent. And note that this is valid despite biological or physical changes in what we call both "observer" and "observed". In the case of major biological change in the observer the relationships fails, and self-identity can deconstruct.





In that sense then, personal identity seems to be just the "list" of relationships everything has to oneself and one's relationship to the environment. In a way, then, this "list" of everything that is asserted about you, is then what sets you unique from everyone else. Logically being that the chances of two individuals having an equivalent "list" of assertions about themselves would be zero, or improbable.
This idea of uniqueness reminds me of Leibniz's Identity of indiscernibles: If a subject is identical to a subject at any specified point in time, then the “two” subjects are indiscernable from each other, it being the same thing.

Is that where you're getting at?

Reverie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 01:01 pm
@dalehileman,
Quote:
"Rev though you're in for a lot of static that's really well put, according to the general principle that nothing is entirely anything while everything is partly something else; which clearly shows that your "soul," if you like to call it that, is defined as everything about you except your body"

How can you justify that this judgement of the idea that the same soul through out your life identifies the same person. I mean, after all, souls are invisible, nonphysical element that can not be tested. How can you verify that you have the same soul as last year, or as yesterday, or as a decade ago.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 01:10 pm
@Reverie,
Quote:
How can you justify that this judgement of the idea that the same soul through out your life identifies the same person.
Depends upon what you mean by "same"

Quote:
I mean, after all, souls are invisible, nonphysical element that can not be tested.
That's not so, Rev, as it violates the general principle that "….nothing is entirely anything, while……"

Thus the soul is not entirely metaphysical and not entirely "real." Certainly your birth, the memory of your existence, and everything you've accomplished are very real

Quote:
How can you verify that you have the same soul as last year, or as yesterday, or as a decade ago.
Sorry Rev if I wasn't clear. Your soul includes past, present, and future, in a continual state of flux until the next Big Crunch
0 Replies
 
Reverie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 01:23 pm
@Enzo,
Interesting that you question the importance of identity.
I'm not convinced by the idea that identity is not important.
It seems you're taking a reductionist approach to create a straw dummy to impale. If I can be cloned once, I can be cloned thousand times, and thus existing forever, but what does that really say about my identity? The problem is that you're pushing the boundaries of the meaning of identity beyond that which you have actually shown to be true, considering that you're suggesting (if I'm understanding you clearly) that no sort of continuity matters.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 01:25 pm
@Reverie,
Rev, Enzo, it seems the problem isn't one of logic but semantics
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Dec, 2012 02:07 pm
@Reverie,
In a sense this is correct. However note the co-extension of "similarity" and "difference". Trivially any two "items" are functionally "similar" by virtue of them being both the objects of comparison, but they are also "different" because there are two of them. What matters is the functional basis on which "the list" might be composed, but note that "itemization" already implies an "observer" to establish functional categories.

If you have followed that paradox, it implies that "traditional logic" is useless in solving identity issues because being based on set theory, set membership per se is beyond logic's jurisdiction.

Note that whatever psychological issues there are with "self identity", the significant ones are social. (Duty, culpability...being in one's right mind...fidelity ...recognition of family ...etc). This point adds weight to the argument that "self" is a social construct. Note too that when social constraints are removed as in dreams, the "self" that operates therein is rarely recognizable.
0 Replies
 
 

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