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> Who Am I?, How is a person defined?
maximus242
post Jan 24, 2006, 06:48 PM
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Okay we all have self views of who we are, but how did we reach those views? Obviously outsiders have done their fair share, from T.V to Schools everyone we interact with seems to influence our views of ourselves. But are we defined by our memories? our early childhood experiences? their are many influences that define who we are but now I would like to ask the question.

What if you woke up one morning in a completly diffrent location than where you live with memories that went back a lifetime (or a fairly long ways) that fitted the new location, how could you ever know the diffrence? and more importantly how would you know this has not happened already. In fact it is possible that the very sentence you are reading right now is a memory instead of an event. Also what if you woke up in a diffrent place with your old memories but people told you that you are a diffrent person, eventually overtime many would accept the new reality (a basic human ability to adapt to their environment), so do you think you would accept this reality that everyone tells you? have you already?

I have seen some limited use of this idea in hypnosis. The idea is to make the person believe they are a diffrent person entirely. One example is to take several adults and tell them they are adolecent children, that they are in a classroom and whats more disturbing is how quickly they accept the new changes to their environment. Now I am pretty sure I will get some people claming that hypnosis is a scam, you cant influence people on that level, ect. Well it isnt really important which technique you use to change the memories and interpretation of the environment as is the actual changes and how the subject reacts to those changes. You can always use other psychological methods to change their memories and/or opinions. Another idea to investigate is subjects who have undergone amnesia, either temporary or long lasting. Lastly an easy way of viewing how memories can be changed is in dreams, in a dream you may remember bits and pieces of who you are but several key facts may be changed such as where you live, what your name is and various aspects of reality (floating ect).

So is telling who I am even possible? or just an ever changing, fairly influencable, self view?
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Shawn
post Jan 24, 2006, 07:06 PM
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very interesting, thought-provoking post. Welcome to our forum, maximus. Ancient Indian philosophy (as contained in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads) has long maintained that the Self is one and the same in each of us, and that individuality is an illusion. We are all one and the same Self, we are the Universe conscious of Itself, but many people believe otherwise due to conditioning and memories. One of my favorite quotes from Einstein nicely states this view :

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."


If we really are the universe conscious of itself (individuality and the ego being an illusion), and if the universe is infinite (an infinite multiverse, universes within universes ad infinitum), then what does that say about consciousness and the true identity of 'I'?


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maximus242
post Jan 24, 2006, 07:38 PM
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hmm, Individuality has long been a thing of great Illusion for some. I have studied many cases of people being manipulated sub conciously and have believed the entire time that they were making their own individual decisions.

However, the notion that we have no individual thought is an intresting one, but ask yourself this, if we all think in the same way, belonging to one entity how efficent is it? Instead of having one entity preform all thought is it not more feasible to have trillions of entities preform individual thoughts in order to allow for creativity and an evolution of thought? A singular minded being would then have to waste its time preforming meaningless tasks instead of focusing itself on more useful ones, just like how we have cells to manage our body do we exist to manage this entity? Prehaps humans could even be seen as a virus rather than a cell?

The problem with this is it is a very possible and somewhat distubing idea that we may all just be connected to one. A perfect example is a computer with a neural network that has multiple lifeforms within it, each lifeform has its own thoughts and on a very basic level, memories. So is it then possible that we are all apart of one giant entity, each with our own thoughts and memories but are still contained within this entity? We may also be no more than puppets on a string but if so why bother giving us thoughts at all?

"Welcome to our forum, maximus" hehe thanks ive been looking for a good philosophy forum and it looks like ive found it biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by maximus242: Jan 24, 2006, 07:48 PM
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Rick
post Jan 25, 2006, 10:30 AM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ Jan 24, 07:38 PM) *

... a very possible and somewhat distubing idea that we may all just be connected to one. ...


It's not so much that there is some kind of "connection" in a physical (or metaphysical) sense, but that as a result of the identity principle (we are essentially indistinguishable), we are the same thing. According to the identity principle, when two things cannot be distinguished, then they are the same thing. When all structure is stripped from consciousness, what remains, pure consciousness, is indistinguishible from the pure consciousness of another. Therefore, by the identity principle, we are the same thing, just as two electrons cannot be distinguished from each other.
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Culture
post Jan 26, 2006, 07:57 AM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Jan 25, 10:30 AM) *

QUOTE(maximus242 @ Jan 24, 07:38 PM) *

... a very possible and somewhat distubing idea that we may all just be connected to one. ...


It's not so much that there is some kind of "connection" in a physical (or metaphysical) sense, but that as a result of the identity principle (we are essentially indistinguishable), we are the same thing. According to the identity principle, when two things cannot be distinguished, then they are the same thing. When all structure is stripped from consciousness, what remains, pure consciousness, is indistinguishible from the pure consciousness of another. Therefore, by the identity principle, we are the same thing, just as two electrons cannot be distinguished from each other.


<stepping onto unknown ground here>

The classic view is that we are all neurons right or thats what it comes down to?

If we were to have our brains removed and subsequently have the brain stimulated perhaps electrically and kept functioning then it would be plausible that the brain could be tricked in a sense that the brain will not be able to register that the reality its registering is not real.

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lucid_dream
post Jan 26, 2006, 08:09 AM
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QUOTE(Culture @ Jan 26, 07:57 AM) *

QUOTE(Rick @ Jan 25, 10:30 AM) *

QUOTE(maximus242 @ Jan 24, 07:38 PM) *

... a very possible and somewhat distubing idea that we may all just be connected to one. ...


It's not so much that there is some kind of "connection" in a physical (or metaphysical) sense, but that as a result of the identity principle (we are essentially indistinguishable), we are the same thing. According to the identity principle, when two things cannot be distinguished, then they are the same thing. When all structure is stripped from consciousness, what remains, pure consciousness, is indistinguishible from the pure consciousness of another. Therefore, by the identity principle, we are the same thing, just as two electrons cannot be distinguished from each other.


<stepping onto unknown ground here>

The classic view is that we are all neurons right or thats what it comes down to?

If we were to have our brains removed and subsequently have the brain stimulated perhaps electrically and kept functioning then it would be plausible that the brain could be tricked in a sense that the brain will not be able to register that the reality its registering is not real.



but there is no reality we will ever register as "real" since everything we register and experience is a creation of the mind/brain. What we register when awake is the same as what we register when we dream. Is "real life" just a long dream? Who can tell?
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lucid_dream
post Jan 26, 2006, 08:25 AM
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Rick, you hit onto an interesting analogy. Unfortunately analogies are easily wrong. We could just as easily make the analogy of each persons identity being separate and unique like a fingerprint or a persons DNA
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Rick
post Jan 26, 2006, 10:49 AM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 08:25 AM) *

Rick, you hit onto an interesting analogy. Unfortunately analogies are easily wrong. We could just as easily make the analogy of each persons identity being separate and unique like a fingerprint or a persons DNA

No doubt individual minds and personalities are unique in their structure. When the information is stripped from mind, pure substance remains. The mind-stuff (consciousness) we are made of (the substance of our experience) is the same (identical) for all conscious beings.
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lucid_dream
post Jan 26, 2006, 11:29 AM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Jan 26, 10:49 AM) *

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 08:25 AM) *

Rick, you hit onto an interesting analogy. Unfortunately analogies are easily wrong. We could just as easily make the analogy of each persons identity being separate and unique like a fingerprint or a persons DNA

No doubt individual minds and personalities are unique in their structure. When the information is stripped from mind, pure substance remains. The mind-stuff (consciousness) we are made of (the substance of our experience) is the same (identical) for all conscious beings.


I understand the argument. It's persuasive, but so is sophistry. Perhaps it would pay to question our assumptions, play devil's advocate just for kicks.
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Rick
post Jan 26, 2006, 05:03 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 11:29 AM) *

I understand the argument. It's persuasive, but so is sophistry. Perhaps it would pay to question our assumptions, play devil's advocate just for kicks.

Sure, go ahead. Question an assumption.

Properly dismantled, the arguments of sophists have little impact.
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lucid_dream
post Jan 26, 2006, 08:33 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Jan 26, 05:03 PM) *

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 11:29 AM) *

I understand the argument. It's persuasive, but so is sophistry. Perhaps it would pay to question our assumptions, play devil's advocate just for kicks.

Sure, go ahead. Question an assumption.

Properly dismantled, the arguments of sophists have little impact.


I question your assumption that "indistinguishable" implies "identical". If a color-blind person cannot distinguish between two colors, does that imply they're identical? Believing in the identity of everyone's pure consciousness, or self, or whatever you choose to call it, is a "belief", which seems little different from other beliefs that serve as crutches, such as belief in afterlife. Is it really that hard to accept that we each are ephemeral? Why do most people have to cling to the belief in immortality in one form or another? Why not accept our transience? Life, our sentient life, is a gift to us, one which we use for a little while, and then give back. Why should I be inclined to believe that my gift is the same as anyone elses? Why should I be inclined to believe that anyone else is identical to me at some level of consciousness? In fact, even your electron example I question. Sure, modern physics treats all electrons as the same, as identical, because they are indistinguishable, but physics also used to treat electrons bound to a nucleus as planets orbiting a sun, and we know today that is not true. So why should we take today's physics as some absolute truth when history teaches us that physics says different things at different times, and that it does not contain absolute truths. For all we know, tomorrow, physicists may start telling us that electrons really are distinguishable and that you can not treat them as identical, that each electron has it's own unique identity. If that were the case, and it's certainly a possibility, then what does that say about the indistinguishability at some level of our self or consciousness? Sure, today we may feel inclined to accept that some "underlying self" in each of us is the same and identical, but tomorrow, we may find evidence to suggest otherwise. Since the identity of this underlying consciousness and its distinguishability is thus brought into question, and doubts raised against it, there is no compelling reason to accept it as true, unless it is because some people choose to use that belief as a crutch, in leiu of a christian god offering eternal life, as an alternative way to achieve the same thing. This motivation alone should render the belief as suspect.

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Rick
post Jan 27, 2006, 12:13 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 08:33 PM) *

... Sure, today we may feel inclined to accept that some "underlying self" in each of us is the same and identical, but tomorrow, we may find evidence to suggest otherwise. Since the identity of this underlying consciousness and its distinguishability is thus brought into question, and doubts raised against it, there is no compelling reason to accept it as true, unless it is because some people choose to use that belief as a crutch, in leiu of a christian god offering eternal life, as an alternative way to achieve the same thing. This motivation alone should render the belief as suspect. ...

The term "eternal life" (or similar) does not appear in my posts above in this thread. A motivation for false construction is your assumption. The identity argument is intended to establish a rational basis for ethics. While there is no compulsion to accept it as true, there has been presented no evidence to show it is false.

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 08:33 PM) *

... I question your assumption that "indistinguishable" implies "identical". ...

The identity principle is standard in philosophy. Naturally, if incomplete evidence or faulty perception should be later discovered, the conclusion of identicalness should be modified accordingly.

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 08:33 PM) *

... Believing in the identity of everyone's pure consciousness, or self, or whatever you choose to call it, is a "belief", which seems little different from other beliefs that serve as crutches, such as belief in afterlife. ...

The arguments I presented to support the identity conclusion do not fit the form of unsubstantiated belief. As an exercise, let's consider the opposite argument, that consciousness is of a unique character (has unique properties) in each individual. This would be similar to suggesting that electrons come in an infinite number of flavors. If the fundamental properties of consciousness differ from person to person, then there ought to be some consciousness research or psychological evidence to support it. The well-known properties of consciousness reported by researchers to date (non-locality, privacy, etc. (see David Chalmers, etc.)) do not indicate non-generality.

This post has been edited by Rick: Jan 27, 2006, 12:15 PM
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maximus242
post Jan 28, 2006, 05:25 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 10:33 PM) *

QUOTE(Rick @ Jan 26, 05:03 PM) *

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Jan 26, 11:29 AM) *

I understand the argument. It's persuasive, but so is sophistry. Perhaps it would pay to question our assumptions, play devil's advocate just for kicks.

Sure, go ahead. Question an assumption.

Properly dismantled, the arguments of sophists have little impact.


I question your assumption that "indistinguishable" implies "identical". If a color-blind person cannot distinguish between two colors, does that imply they're identical? Believing in the identity of everyone's pure consciousness, or self, or whatever you choose to call it, is a "belief", which seems little different from other beliefs that serve as crutches, such as belief in afterlife. Is it really that hard to accept that we each are ephemeral? Why do most people have to cling to the belief in immortality in one form or another? Why not accept our transience? Life, our sentient life, is a gift to us, one which we use for a little while, and then give back. Why should I be inclined to believe that my gift is the same as anyone elses? Why should I be inclined to believe that anyone else is identical to me at some level of consciousness? In fact, even your electron example I question. Sure, modern physics treats all electrons as the same, as identical, because they are indistinguishable, but physics also used to treat electrons bound to a nucleus as planets orbiting a sun, and we know today that is not true. So why should we take today's physics as some absolute truth when history teaches us that physics says different things at different times, and that it does not contain absolute truths. For all we know, tomorrow, physicists may start telling us that electrons really are distinguishable and that you can not treat them as identical, that each electron has it's own unique identity. If that were the case, and it's certainly a possibility, then what does that say about the indistinguishability at some level of our self or consciousness? Sure, today we may feel inclined to accept that some "underlying self" in each of us is the same and identical, but tomorrow, we may find evidence to suggest otherwise. Since the identity of this underlying consciousness and its distinguishability is thus brought into question, and doubts raised against it, there is no compelling reason to accept it as true, unless it is because some people choose to use that belief as a crutch, in leiu of a christian god offering eternal life, as an alternative way to achieve the same thing. This motivation alone should render the belief as suspect.


I agree, in every age of science people have assumed that their beliefs are correct, I think it would be very arrogant for todays scientists to assume that they are 100% correct. In regards to the comment on things being identical and thus they are the same, if identical twins are born are they not physically identical? of course I am assuming that they do not have any marks, scars ect. However the twins would be argued that they are not the same, they have individual minds, although I do realize this is more of a result of enviromental aspects but this is just an example. Another point is if two electrons are identical they however are not in the same point in space, even if you have two identical electrons they are still distinguishable by their realtive location to everything else. As we all know the environment around us can influence animate and inanimate objects, so if you have one electron that say.. recieves more radiation from the sun, then you have a diffrent and distinguishable electron again. Finally when you have two identical substances you have twice the weight as one so.. how could they be the same?

This post has been edited by maximus242: Jan 28, 2006, 05:41 PM
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