Wednesday, October 4, 2017

677: Philosophers can be so tiring.....

A philosopher can be very tiring. Like Gemma loves to say: when you appear to have found an answer, a philosopher has found new questions.
I find the discourse about personal identity a typical example of this philosophical feature.
Intuitively we say, paging through our photo album, that little boy is me and there I was 21 and this is me now at 68.
We also see the enormous changes of the up growing body, but the feeling of “This is ME” doesn’t disappear.
But then there is this philosopher who say…..yes, but what when your brain is transplanted in another body? Is it then still you?
You might object…You can not transplant a brain. Way to complicated. Not yet says the philosopher, but suppose it COULD be done….

Philosophers love this game which these days is called a “thought-experiment”.  Totally ridiculous name, suggesting it is something scientific…you know..experiment.
But there is yet some truth in it. You may regard the  philosopher annoying with his questions, but that is the point. A philosopher calls you to the stand….and that is a good thing. 
Fortunately John Locke (1632 - 1704) didn’t focus on bodily continuity, but on mental continuity.

For Locke, memories are both sufficient and necessary condition for personal identity. They constitute a sufficient condition for personal identity 
because my memory of my former 'self' automatically makes me identical to that person. 
They form a necessary condition for personal identity because I only and can only be a person if I actually do things to myself remember.
But of course there is a philosopher again with that question. Suppose you are 20 and still have vivid memories of your childhood.
Then you are 68 and still have vivid memories of when you were 20, but no memories anymore from your childhood.
That would mean that the person of 68 does not share a personal identity with the person who was 7. Big deal ! ^_^
It took another philosopher to settle THIS issue. It was Derek Parfit (1942 - 2017).  He argues, that you should not take this continuity of memories that literally.
There is a psychological continuity. Five years ago you still remembered a lot of details from your childhood.
Now, 20 years later, you have forgotten about your childhood but still remember who  you were 20 years ago.
Thus personal identity according to Parfit is established by overlapping sets of memories of different time periods in a human life.
But what makes this issue so important for philosophers? Why are we waisting our precious thoughts on this matter?
The quintessence of the story is, that we belief that there is some constant in us through time. You meet this constant in statements like this:
When I was 6 I really was…..but at 12 that was over. I really changed when I was 20…and so on. There is some “steady observer” in this personal narrative.
That is the philosopher’s question. Who is this “I”. And there is another reason why we HAVE to philosophise about this matter: for  instance, War criminals.
If we have no clear and convincing arguments about personal identity and its continuity through time,
how can we be justified to sentence people who committed atrocities against mankind ten or more years ago.
Suppose Assad would say…having used chemical weapons against people. No…. no, that wasn’t me how I am now. Wouldn’t think of such a thing now.
That boms thrower was a different me. I do no longer recognise myself in that person, so you are not justified to sentence me for war crimes.
I guess the present philosophical situation is like this. This “steadily observer” of ourselves, exists. We all know our first-person statements,

but when “I look at myself” it really is a puzzle to figure out the ontological status of the “I”
Thank you for your attention….. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:17] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): how can we forget our early years if being 7?
[13:17] herman Bergson: The floor is yours....^_^
[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): interesting steady observer
[13:18] herman Bergson: We haven’t the slightest memories of when we were two, Beertje
[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): 4 yes
[13:18] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): not 2 but 3 I have
[13:18] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...I love that idea too :-))
[13:18] CB Axel: I don't think it's enough for a war criminal to say "That's not who I am now." If they committed a crime, and especially if they remember doing it, they should still be held responsible.
[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i do too
[13:19] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): the problem is cb a lot were just following orders in order to stay alive i think
[13:19] herman Bergson: Ahh CB...there you hit bull's eye....the continuity of memories....
[13:19] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): how do you figure that out
[13:20] CB Axel: Yes, but I'm just talking about memory not motive.
[13:20] herman Bergson: they remember that they were following orders and knew they were immoral....if they had a conscious
[13:20] CB Axel: We can argue motive some other time. °͜°
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's easy to say " it wasn’t me"
[13:21] herman Bergson: motive inst relevant in this context
[13:22] herman Bergson: It is difficult to grasp but there IS a Self...
[13:22] herman Bergson: I can LOOK at "!" and "myself" can not be identical....can not be one and the same....
[13:23] herman Bergson: but I am just ONE  mind yet
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): gets worse
[13:23] herman Bergson: I am not schizo....Gemma :-))
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): oh Gemma :))
[13:24] herman Bergson: There is another funny  thing.....
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: to get anything done a body must be set in motion. who does it - it does not matter if the one who set it in motion in the past is no loner there - if there is prove that body was "doing it" even the new person in that body must take responsibility somehow
[13:24] herman Bergson: Suppose you say...OMG "I am going crazy"
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: the more difficult thing is to define how to take responsibility htere.
[13:25] herman Bergson: And THAT Ciska hasn’t been the case....
[13:25] herman Bergson: the sleep walker killer was not convicted....
[13:26] herman Bergson: his "body" did the killing....not he himself
[13:26] herman Bergson: So..the body does not establish personal identity...
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: ys but he wasn't not convicted because his body did not do it - but because the consciousness which would be needed for being responsible was not there.
[13:26] herman Bergson: in our society we assume the mind does
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and then the issue of drugs enters in too
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: so the body is still convicted
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): mind altering drugs
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: but the "soul" is not
[13:27] herman Bergson: ahh yes....drugs and acts under influence of drugs...
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): interesting ideas fir sure
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: yes but drugs on has to take
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: thats different then sleep walking
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: u cannot stop a person from sleeping
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes...I agree...
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: when the person knows sleep = trouble he or she is responsible to take action in all forms possible
[13:29] herman Bergson: the responsibility starts from the moment you took the drugs...
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: but drugs is a conscious choice
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: at one point
[13:29] herman Bergson: that you can not say of a sleep walker
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but a drug taker does not intend to lose self
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): which happens
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: no but he takes the risk when taking drugs
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: thats a conscious action
[13:30] herman Bergson: no..he even hopes to experience a better Self...
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: the vw guys took the risk of lying about the diesel too
[13:30] herman Bergson: I agree Ciska...
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: and they got caught
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: of course they are responsible
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or he wants to escape from himself
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: ( to use a more "mild" form)
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes Beertje....
[13:32] herman Bergson: but he still is responsible  for his choice
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:33] CB Axel: I think only the sleepwalker is not responsible. But even then, once diagnosed with a REM behavior disorder, he is responsible for taking precautions.
[13:33] herman Bergson: you see..personal identity is yet an important concept...
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:34] herman Bergson: yes indeed CB
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:35] herman Bergson whispers: Guess we need to meet someone who tells us that there isn’t a Self at all  :-)
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh dear
[13:35] herman Bergson: Nice subject for next Tuesday ^_^
[13:35] CB Axel: That's a possibility, too.
[13:35] CB Axel: We could all just be figments of someone's imagination.
[13:35] CB Axel: °͜°
[13:35] herman Bergson: Welll...we have come close to it today...
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: I am just a figment of your ⓘⓜⓐⓖⓘⓝⓐⓣⓘⓞⓝ 
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:36] CB Axel: LOL
[[13:36] herman Bergson: if we assume that the Self is just the flow of our memories...
[13:36] herman Bergson: So be prepared for next lecture ^_^
[13:37] herman Bergson: It might be about nothing..:-))
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh boy
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:37] herman Bergson: Thank you all for  your participation :-)
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): who ever you are
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): runs to the coffeeshop......
[13:37] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: thanx all
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu all
[13:37] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you all:-)
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): was nice again
[13:38] CB Axel: So we should be prepared to find out we don't exist at all?
[13:38] herman Bergson: \o/.... weekend !
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ohhoh

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