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What is IT that makes Us, Us?

 
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2004 04:16 pm
I hope this is not too off topic....

I recently read "Mothering Without A Map" about how women who grew up without mothers, learn to become mothers.

One intrigueing aspect of attachment theory is that infants who have negligent or absentee moms often are very "charming". They smile more, cry less and attempt to draw people in as a way of self preservation. This tendency to charm often stays with the person throughout their life although the process doesn't involve contrivence or memory of any sort.
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extra medium
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2004 04:44 pm
boomerang wrote:
I hope this is not too off topic....

I recently read "Mothering Without A Map" about how women who grew up without mothers, learn to become mothers.

One intrigueing aspect of attachment theory is that infants who have negligent or absentee moms often are very "charming". They smile more, cry less and attempt to draw people in as a way of self preservation. This tendency to charm often stays with the person throughout their life although the process doesn't involve contrivence or memory of any sort.


Hmmm...yes, where would this come from?...so this almost seems to bring in a 3rd factor...instinct?

Is part of what makes us, us, instinct?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2004 05:43 pm
I would think self preservation is the most basic human instinct - or, really, the most basic animal instinct.

Perhaps such needs just hardwire our brains differently. I don't know the name of that tiny little, way interior, animal part of the brain but I imagine that it comes into play.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Aug, 2004 09:41 pm
This question seems very familiar. Here is the answer I gave on the other thread.

rosborne979 wrote:
extra medium wrote:
What makes us, us? What keeps you the same person, in spite of all your atoms being replaced? If all the atoms in our bodies have been replaced, what is the common thread that keeps us, us?


Memory. It is the intangible thread which transcends the exchange of atoms and the discharge of neurons. Our ability to remember what we thought we were, makes us what we are.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 09:20 am
Quote:
What is it, outside of atoms & cells, that somehow maintains our identity.


Quote:
Memory. It is the intangible thread which transcends the exchange of atoms and the discharge of neurons. Our ability to remember what we thought we were, makes us what we are.


As one who doesn't believe in any sort of soul that is distinct from the corporal body, I'd say it is precisely the arrangement of cells (and their constituent parts) that is who we are. Memories, personality, inclinations, hopes, fears -- everything is stored in that arrangement. It must be, if there is nothing else. (Which begs the question that there is nothing else, of course.)

It occurs to me that this question can be asked and answered from two different points of view. I can say what makes me me from my point of view, or I can say what makes you you -- and they aren't necessarily the same answers. I only know a person through their behavior, their speech, and the apparent continuity of their voice and body, which I can recognize through my own memories. Which I suppose leads to a discussion of the social construction of the self, which is a whole other bag of candy...


Of course, a flippant immunologist might define you as the negative space carved out by everything your immune system recognizes and attacks.
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Lekatt
 
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Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 07:36 pm
I don't believe much is known about the brain or the function is serves. I think it is very interesting to study abnormal brain function because it tells us about normal brains. Below are some links that are very interesting.

http://www.alternativescience.com/no_brainer.htm

http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/lorber-references.html

http://www.mysteries.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/6,2.htm


Love
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rue
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 09:07 pm
what about neurons? aren't they irreplacable?
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tcis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Aug, 2004 09:24 pm
rue wrote:
what about neurons? aren't they irreplacable?


true, in a way, the neurons are not replaced. But everything making up the neurons, all the atoms that compose the neurons, will be swapped out in a few years.
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Sep, 2005 11:40 am
this sound similar to tm.
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John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Sep, 2005 02:19 pm
Re: What is IT that makes Us, Us?
extra medium wrote:
Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced.

Thus, within a few years from now, all the current atoms in your body will have been replaced. Yet you will still be the same you.

Looking a few years into the past, none of the atoms that now make up your body were present.

Yet, you are still you. (or are you?)

What makes us, us? What keeps you the same person, in spite of all your atoms being replaced? If all the atoms in our bodies have been replaced, what is the common thread that keeps us, us? Is this "proof" of a soul-like entity?

If it doesn't prove that a soul exists, it appears to prove, at the very least, that "we are not our bodies." What is this common thread, this thing animating our bodies of ever-changing atoms? Discuss?

partially inspired by g's ship in ports question


So let me get this straight. The 2% thinks differently to the 98%?
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Sep, 2005 03:03 pm
no one's mentioned an important factor: genes. they're unique to each individual, and identical in every cell, except gametes & red blood cells. the body won't long survive if they mutate to any significant degree.

an interesting analogy that comes to mind is computer software & data. take a2k for instance. you can access it from any computer that has a browser and an internet connection. each computer has its own electrons, but there's only one a2k. but if the computer has a virus, a2k may not launch; that loosely corresponds to a mutated, cancerous cell. mind you, i'm not claiming it's a close analogy, just an interesting one.
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Sep, 2005 03:06 pm
actually JJ,

I think his paper was really great....I mean, how DO you maintain all your knowledge, memories, etc if you're constantly being recyled.

I can understand it better the way he explained it.....using the word "mind" to mean the soul.

HEY!

Where did his post go!!!!???

dammit!

actually, I had hoped intially it was extra medium coming back....I miss him.
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John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Sep, 2005 01:12 pm
Chai Tea wrote:
actually JJ,

I think his paper was really great....I mean, how DO you maintain all your knowledge, memories, etc if you're constantly being recyled.

I can understand it better the way he explained it.....using the word "mind" to mean the soul.

HEY!

Where did his post go!!!!???

dammit!

actually, I had hoped intially it was extra medium coming back....I miss him.


Here's an answer to that question, which materialism obviously must be struggling with:
All identical things are the same or undifferentiated. So, for example, all electrons are the same, undifferentiated, and indeed uncountable. One electron is indistinguishable from many. In fact, we can't even logically say 'all electrons are the same' for the elctron has nothing to distinguish one from another or one from many.
Therefore, it is not true that we are 'recycled'.
I thank you.
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rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Sep, 2005 02:45 pm
John Jones wrote:
for example, all electrons are the same, undifferentiated, and indeed uncountable. One electron is indistinguishable from many. In fact, we can't even logically say 'all electrons are the same' for the elctron has nothing to distinguish one from another or one from many.


Electrons may have identical structures, just as atoms do, but they are all distinguishable by their location within space. An electron which is "here" may be identical to one which is "there", but they are not the "same" electron.
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John Jones
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Sep, 2005 02:48 pm
rosborne979 wrote:
John Jones wrote:
for example, all electrons are the same, undifferentiated, and indeed uncountable. One electron is indistinguishable from many. In fact, we can't even logically say 'all electrons are the same' for the elctron has nothing to distinguish one from another or one from many.


Electrons may have identical structures, just as atoms do, but they are all distinguishable by their location within space. An electron which is "here" may be identical to one which is "there", but they are not the "same" electron.


Yes, space gives a framework for counting. But within the electron itself (or better, if we regard the electron without a framework such as space that allows us to count), there is nothing to distinguish one from another, or one from many.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2005 06:58 pm
extra medium wrote:
So it looks like maybe its a combination. We are our memories. But there may be a particular part of our brain that sort of stores, organizes, etc. our memories, and helps to regulate and create our "selves."
Yes, according to Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens), it is a continuously reactivated network based on convergence zones which are located in the temporal and the frontal higher-order cortices, as well as subcortical nuclei such as those in the amygdala. Coordinated activation of this multisite network is paced by the thalamic nuclei, while holding reiterated components for extended periods of time requires support of prefrontal cortices involved in working memory.

Without memory we would be limited to the simple awareness (core consciousness) generated by the brainstem and thalamus and would have no more sense of self than a lizard.

Quote:
What is it that enables us to remain the same person, even though all the atoms have been replaced in this portion of the brain. What is it, outside of atoms & cells, that somehow maintains our identity. Memories? What are memories? (thats another thread) Somehow memories, then, must be transferred from old atoms to new atoms at some point. Now this is interesting. Memories & our identity being transmitted from old atoms to new atoms. Atoms mixing together, somehow communicating to one another, to ensure that our identity & memories remain somewhat consistent over time. Atoms telling each other: "Hey, I see you're new around here. I'm about ready to be replaced. Here, take my part of what this dude is all about. Got it? Good. I'm outta here." Interesting.
As several people pointed out, it is not true that 98% of atoms are replaced each year. In any case, memory and the sense of self do not reside in atoms, but in neural networks. The brain produces its sense of self or identity by activating neural networks to recreate memories of past experiences that comprise the autobiographical history that tells us who we are, were, and might become. Even if individual atoms are replaced, the proteins and other cellular components of each neuron remain essentially unchanged.

Memories (and therefore the sense of self) do change over time. A neuron may have thousands of connections, and every new experience adds or strengthens connections. Unused connections may fade away and the data they represent is no longer accessible. But individual atoms have nothing to do with the continuity of memory.
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flushd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2005 09:30 pm
WHAT?!!

I disagree with all that I've read so far! Maybe that's just 'me' Smile

I am not my memories ( if my mind was wiped out I'd still be me).
I am not my body ( I have a new body every day, different body would still be me).
I am not electrons or atoms or neurons or a brain (I'd still be me).
I am not my spirit or soul or fire (I'd still be me. But this is the closest to anything elemental I can say is me).

I am a million things and more; and I am nothing. I am ever evolving, I am nothing. If I eat sausage for breakfast, I am sausage. If I breathe air that comes from your breath, I am you. If I see red sky, I am red. If I hear Mozart, I am the configuration of Mozart.

What is the self? Whatever I say it is! An inexhaustable string of words could not map it, describe it: That me would be dead already.

Whoever wrote what you are reading is dead: but the name flushd will carry on.
Laughing
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zeroh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2005 09:59 pm
So humans are made of atoms? can someone explain me this in detail?
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2005 07:03 am
patiodog wrote:
It occurs to me that this question can be asked and answered from two different points of view. I can say what makes me me from my point of view, or I can say what makes you you -- and they aren't necessarily the same answers. I only know a person through their behavior, their speech, and the apparent continuity of their voice and body, which I can recognize through my own memories. Which I suppose leads to a discussion of the social construction of the self, which is a whole other bag of candy...

I think patiodog has made a very important distinction here. I think it highlights the difference between me/you as an object/structure, and me/you as an experiencing thing.

I'm interested in what I am as a thing that experiences. I'll just list a few questions that interest me:

I remember experiencing events in my past, but did 'the thing that is currently experiencing' (me, I guess) actually experience them? (Not did they really happen, but did whatever is feeling now feel them?). For example, say up until 5 minutes ago, that which is currently experiencing being (in) this body (my body) was experiencing being in a totally different body. I would, presumably, never know the difference, because the memories in this brain are all of the experiences of this body. (I'm not suggesting that experience actually jumps from body to body, only that we have no way of knowing to what extent it is actually confined to a particular body).

Why do I experience at all?

Does experience emerge from the brain construct, or does it pre-exist it and is instead shaped by the brain construct?

Apologies for bubbling into metaphysics here, but then it does seem that sort of thread...
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2005 09:14 am
Terry wrote:


Memories (and therefore the sense of self) do change over time. A neuron may have thousands of connections, and every new experience adds or strengthens connections. Unused connections may fade away and the data they represent is no longer accessible. But individual atoms have nothing to do with the continuity of memory.



yes - I can see that,
interesting terry.
thanks
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