Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

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UhOH
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Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by UhOH » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:55 pm

It seems like the whole of personal identity philosophy consists of relating our intuitions to thought experiments. To challenge my theory of personal identity I am given a thought experiment which supposedly separates 'myself' from my definition of myself, however it is always possible to bite the bullet in these cases. Suppose someone claims to defend a body theory of personal identity and I challenge them with a brain transplant thought experiment, the body theorist may simply respond that they remain their body throughout the transplant. Personal identity seems completely dependant upon subjective intuions. How we decide whether something is the same over time seems to come down to entirely subjective intuitions.

In saying this identity must exist, an object must be numerically identical to itself, the question is how we are to know the persistence conditions of a given object. However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?

Obvious Leo
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Obvious Leo » Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:38 pm

UhOH wrote:the question is how we are to know the persistence conditions of a given object.
An object has no persistence conditions beyond those ascribed to it by the observer of it. In a strictly physical sense an "object" is only definable in the language of its changes and since the "self" is first and foremost a physical entity the same truth must be applicable. I might choose to regard myself as the same bloke as I was yesterday but in a literal sense this cannot possibly be true.

UhOH
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by UhOH » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:48 am

Obvious Leo wrote: An object has no persistence conditions beyond those ascribed to it by the observer of it. In a strictly physical sense an "object" is only definable in the language of its changes and since the "self" is first and foremost a physical entity the same truth must be applicable. I might choose to regard myself as the same bloke as I was yesterday but in a literal sense this cannot possibly be true.
I am of course assuming that the way we divide the world into objects is correct. However I see no reason why an object cannot persist through time, since any change can simply be conceived in the form of a relational property to a particular time, for example if a blue car is painted red at a particular rather than saying it is a different car it can simply be said that the car always had the property of being red at that particular time. Assuming objects are real things, they could easily have persistence conditions beyond our knowledge. And even if we do not assume that the way we define objects is correct then if any true definition of an object exists then these true objects may have their own persistence conditions. Simply remarking that the the existence of objects is completely subjective is not to rule out the possibility that in reality their are true definitions of objects which we simply do not know of.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:09 am

UhOH wrote:It seems like the whole of personal identity philosophy consists of relating our intuitions to thought experiments. To challenge my theory of personal identity I am given a thought experiment which supposedly separates 'myself' from my definition of myself, however it is always possible to bite the bullet in these cases. Suppose someone claims to defend a body theory of personal identity and I challenge them with a brain transplant thought experiment, the body theorist may simply respond that they remain their body throughout the transplant. Personal identity seems completely dependant upon subjective intuions. How we decide whether something is the same over time seems to come down to entirely subjective intuitions.

In saying this identity must exist, an object must be numerically identical to itself, the question is how we are to know the persistence conditions of a given object. However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?

You've launched into this question without ever bothering to define your terms.
But you seem to be making a primitive fundamental error; objective good, subjective bad for which you have no warrant.
I'm not even sure if the object subject distinction is important here. I think it likely that the natural/cultural distinction might be more important

Why not start with some sort of investigation to see if our terms are meaningful?
What does it mean to identify yourself as: American, White, Male, Human, Joe Bloggs?

UhOH
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by UhOH » Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:22 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote: You've launched into this question without ever bothering to define your terms.
But you seem to be making a primitive fundamental error; objective good, subjective bad for which you have no warrant.
I'm not even sure if the object subject distinction is important here. I think it likely that the natural/cultural distinction might be more important

Why not start with some sort of investigation to see if our terms are meaningful?
What does it mean to identify yourself as: American, White, Male, Human, Joe Bloggs?
I apologise for any lack of definitional clarity. In terms of the objective subjective distinction, if our only method of understanding personal identity is subjective intuition then our adoption of different identity criteria is not in fact based on features of the real world.

In terms of the first 4 properties these simply consist in stating qualities that one has the final claim can be interperated as simply stating what one is called or making a larger identity claim referring to the totality of one's form.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:48 pm

UhOH wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote: You've launched into this question without ever bothering to define your terms.
But you seem to be making a primitive fundamental error; objective good, subjective bad for which you have no warrant.
I'm not even sure if the object subject distinction is important here. I think it likely that the natural/cultural distinction might be more important

Why not start with some sort of investigation to see if our terms are meaningful?
What does it mean to identify yourself as: American, White, Male, Human, Joe Bloggs?
I apologise for any lack of definitional clarity. In terms of the objective subjective distinction, if our only method of understanding personal identity is subjective intuition then our adoption of different identity criteria is not in fact based on features of the real world.

In terms of the first 4 properties these simply consist in stating qualities that one has the final claim can be interperated as simply stating what one is called or making a larger identity claim referring to the totality of one's form.
Para 1. The old chestnut of the solipsistic perception. So what?
Para 2. You've said nothing here- Try and parse it.
Since you've framed it in the object/subject analysis. What makes you think "USA" is part of the real world, and not just a collection of subjective ideas loosely shared by people with the mis-fortune to be born in the same geographical area?
What does "white identity" signify, what preconceptions come with that?

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:12 pm

What makes me, 'me'?

Is it continuity of the flesh, of the mind that extends out from the workings of the flesh, of memory (a working of the flesh)?

Hell if I know.

Best I can do is recognize 'I' am a cluster of on-going, idiosyncratic, processes occurring consistently, coherently, within a particular brain embedded in a particular body embedded in the world. The processes, or actions, I designate as 'I' or my 'self' persist across a wide variety of circumstances, and are resistant to significant change.

Every morning, I recognize 'me'...I never seem to be new or different, no matter where or when I am.

So, as subject, I seem to have continuity, coherence, particularness, and 'structural' durability, while as object, I may seem malleable, a chameleon to other folks who I, of course, view as objects.

Is personal identity arbitrary? It doesn't seem that way to me, as i self-interrogate, but then - again - I can't really tell you what I am to begin with.

Impenitent
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Impenitent » Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:44 pm

Dionysian momentary creations ...

get ripped...

-Imp

UhOH
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by UhOH » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:19 am

Hobbes' Choice wrote: Para 1. The old chestnut of the solipsistic perception. So what?
Para 2. You've said nothing here- Try and parse it.
Since you've framed it in the object/subject analysis. What makes you think "USA" is part of the real world, and not just a collection of subjective ideas loosely shared by people with the mis-fortune to be born in the same geographical area?
What does "white identity" signify, what preconceptions come with that?
1. I presume we want a method of understanding personal identity which coheres to physical facts.

Instead of asking questions I think it would be more effective for you to simply tell me your opinion.

duszek
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Re:

Post by duszek » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:00 am

henry quirk wrote: Every morning, I recognize 'me'...I never seem to be new or different, no matter where or when I am.
Imagine that you convert to a very different religion, like Zen buddhism, would you still be the same ?

Can no circumstances at all make you new or different ?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:49 am

UhOH wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote: Para 1. The old chestnut of the solipsistic perception. So what?
Para 2. You've said nothing here- Try and parse it.
Since you've framed it in the object/subject analysis. What makes you think "USA" is part of the real world, and not just a collection of subjective ideas loosely shared by people with the mis-fortune to be born in the same geographical area?
What does "white identity" signify, what preconceptions come with that?
1. I presume we want a method of understanding personal identity which coheres to physical facts.

Instead of asking questions I think it would be more effective for you to simply tell me your opinion.
When the questions asked are ridiculous, holding an opinion about their answer is silly.
Your questions:" However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?"

What the fuck is 'numerical identity"?
I won't bother to address the second question, being to absurd to even be a question.

Identity inhabits the realm of ideas, it has no basis in physical reality except where the definitions inhere in them. These are sufficient but not necessary connections.
For example, although there is a physical component to "France", there is no physical necessity to identify as "French", but being French involves the individual in having to achieve certain criteria.

But from your approach you seem to have consciousness confused with identity, and you would do well to make a distinction between them.

UhOH
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by UhOH » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:32 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
When the questions asked are ridiculous, holding an opinion about their answer is silly.
Your questions:" However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?"

What the fuck is 'numerical identity"?
I won't bother to address the second question, being to absurd to even be a question.

Identity inhabits the realm of ideas, it has no basis in physical reality except where the definitions inhere in them. These are sufficient but not necessary connections.
For example, although there is a physical component to "France", there is no physical necessity to identify as "French", but being French involves the individual in having to achieve certain criteria.

But from your approach you seem to have consciousness confused with identity, and you would do well to make a distinction between them.
Numerical identity is the identity a thing holds with itself rather than qualitative identity which is a matter of degree and is what makes too things similar. The second paragraph of the introduction to the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on identity explains this in more depth.

Assuming a table is a thing, then a table must be the same as itself so it has numerical identity to itself.

The absurdity of my second question is determined by whether or not we have a reliable criteria for determining numerical identity over time.

Consciousness is a process of the brain involving the experiencing of mental states, identity is the relationship a thing holds to itself.

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HexHammer
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by HexHammer » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:04 pm

UhOH wrote:It seems like the whole of personal identity philosophy consists of relating our intuitions to thought experiments. To challenge my theory of personal identity I am given a thought experiment which supposedly separates 'myself' from my definition of myself, however it is always possible to bite the bullet in these cases. Suppose someone claims to defend a body theory of personal identity and I challenge them with a brain transplant thought experiment, the body theorist may simply respond that they remain their body throughout the transplant. Personal identity seems completely dependant upon subjective intuions. How we decide whether something is the same over time seems to come down to entirely subjective intuitions.

In saying this identity must exist, an object must be numerically identical to itself, the question is how we are to know the persistence conditions of a given object. However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?
This is nonsense and babble in it's purest form! ..it doesn't come more silly than this!!!

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:51 pm

"Imagine that you convert to a very different religion, like Zen buddhism, would you still be the same ?"

I think I can learn new things (add to my experiential pool) but this is not change as much as appending.

#

"Can no circumstances at all make you new or different ?"

Since 'I' am the workings of a particular brain, in a particular body, in the world, 'I' can be altered by, for example, an infusion of psychotropics. But there's seems to be a default: cease with the infusion and my flesh (brain/body) tends to restore itself to normal. So, yeah, I could be rendered new or different, but only through, in essence, blunt force and only as the blunt force can overcome my natural default.

'I'ness (or identity) seems, to me, a stubborn thing, resistant to change, and - if changed - quick (mebbe even eager) to reassert itself.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Is Personal Identity Arbitrary?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:21 pm

UhOH wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
When the questions asked are ridiculous, holding an opinion about their answer is silly.
Your questions:" However the above seems to indicate that we can't, besides our intuitions how are we to gauge numerical identity? And if personal identity is unknown it is possible that a human being could 'cease to exist' at an unpredictable time?"

What the fuck is 'numerical identity"?
I won't bother to address the second question, being to absurd to even be a question.

Identity inhabits the realm of ideas, it has no basis in physical reality except where the definitions inhere in them. These are sufficient but not necessary connections.
For example, although there is a physical component to "France", there is no physical necessity to identify as "French", but being French involves the individual in having to achieve certain criteria.

But from your approach you seem to have consciousness confused with identity, and you would do well to make a distinction between them.
Numerical identity is the identity a thing holds with itself rather than qualitative identity which is a matter of degree and is what makes too things similar. The second paragraph of the introduction to the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on identity explains this in more depth.

Assuming a table is a thing, then a table must be the same as itself so it has numerical identity to itself.

The absurdity of my second question is determined by whether or not we have a reliable criteria for determining numerical identity over time.

Consciousness is a process of the brain involving the experiencing of mental states, identity is the relationship a thing holds to itself.
"Identity" is a set of ideas that a human hold of itself. A "table" has no identity of itself. It can only have an identity in the minds of humans.
Anything beyond this seems idiotic to me.
From the source given. It would seem that numerical identity is the quality of uniqueness. Why append the world 'numerical" is odd.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity/

No matter. So what makes you think it arbitrary?

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