The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

So what's really going on?

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Dimebag
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Re: The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

Post by Dimebag »

Think about what makes you, you. It is your memories, it is your instinctual reactions and emotional responses, it is your particular habits.

When you wake up each morning, you arise as a result of the potential of your brain. You are slightly different as each moment passes, and yet you feel like the same person. But stop for a moment, and think back to your childhood. What were you like when you were young? What were you interested in? What did you know? What could you do and what couldn't you do?

My point is, compared to that child, you, what makes up you, is vastly different. And although who you are now emerged from the same changing structure as that original child, it is not the same brain. It shares some memories, of which some may be accurate, and others inaccurate and misremembered. So much of 'you' as a child has changed compared to the 'you' you are now. so why do you feel like the same person? The Change was a slow one. Bit by bit, so that the identity, or that feeling of who you are, remained attached to the you within every moment. All you know is who you are now, and memories of how you were. You can compare the two and find them to be different among different categories and traits, but the changes were so slow and so gradual, that you never felt like you were becoming something 'not you'. And when you recognised something different about yourself, it became the new normal. There must exist a kind of homeostasis of the self, which allows you to feel as if you are not changing but any changes are ignored or explained away.

Now this exists for every person. What makes every person feel as if they have a unique point of view is due to their particular experiences and their particular brains and memories and everything previously described. If you were to be born into another body, you would have nothing in common with the you of now. No memories, no predispositions, you would be a totally different person.

Now as to having half of your brain removed, there are many assumptions you are making, like can one hemisphere be removed and relocated to an entirely different brain? Almost certainly not, unless the brain it is being attached to is almost exactly the same as the one it was removed from. It is fairly well understood that the two hemispheres (I assume you are only removing the cortexes, now the lower portions) are associated with a myriad of functions. If you remove one hemisphere, that hemisphere will then take with it all the associated functions it provides, for instance, you might only have half a visual field of experience, you might only be able to move one half of your body, you might only have knowledge of abstract concepts contained within the present hemisphere. You might not have an entirely intact understanding of language.

You see what I'm getting at here? If you remove one half, what you are left with is half the functions of a normal brain, that is, if you are still conscious. I have t even mentioned the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in awareness. With half a prefrontal cortex, you will almost certainly not be aware in the way a normally functioning person is. You will likely not be able to think properly, if at all, or plan actions.

edit: What I am getting at here is this. The mind is not a single thing, it is a combination of many different functions operating at once. Take away half of those functions and you are left with half a functional mind.

The two halves of the brain need each other. They are there for a reason.
thought addict
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:47 am

Re: The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

Post by thought addict »

Dimebag wrote: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:02 pm Think about what makes you, you. It is your memories, it is your instinctual reactions and emotional responses, it is your particular habits.

When you wake up each morning, you arise as a result of the potential of your brain. You are slightly different as each moment passes, and yet you feel like the same person. But stop for a moment, and think back to your childhood. What were you like when you were young? What were you interested in? What did you know? What could you do and what couldn't you do?

My point is, compared to that child, you, what makes up you, is vastly different. And although who you are now emerged from the same changing structure as that original child, it is not the same brain. It shares some memories, of which some may be accurate, and others inaccurate and misremembered. So much of 'you' as a child has changed compared to the 'you' you are now. so why do you feel like the same person? The Change was a slow one. Bit by bit, so that the identity, or that feeling of who you are, remained attached to the you within every moment. All you know is who you are now, and memories of how you were. You can compare the two and find them to be different among different categories and traits, but the changes were so slow and so gradual, that you never felt like you were becoming something 'not you'. And when you recognised something different about yourself, it became the new normal. There must exist a kind of homeostasis of the self, which allows you to feel as if you are not changing but any changes are ignored or explained away.
You're right but you don't even know that you really were you in the past. Someone else could have been experiencing life through your eyes or you could have been a philosophical zombie in the past, with no first person perspective at all. It's impossible to tell.
Dimebag wrote: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:02 pm Now this exists for every person. What makes every person feel as if they have a unique point of view is due to their particular experiences and their particular brains and memories and everything previously described.
What you say is true but much more importantly, everyone that is conscious really does have a unique point of view in that in the moment they have a unique first person perspective of their own brain, which no-one else has, and a non-unique third person perspective of billions of other people's brains.
Dimebag wrote: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:02 pm If you were to be born into another body, you would have nothing in common with the you of now. No memories, no predispositions, you would be a totally different person.
Agreed, and materialism gives no clear definition of this concept of being born into one body or another. This is a flaw of materialism that it cannot give a coherent answer why you should have a first person perspective of one particular brain rather than another.
Dimebag wrote: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:02 pm Now as to having half of your brain removed, there are many assumptions you are making, like can one hemisphere be removed and relocated to an entirely different brain? Almost certainly not, unless the brain it is being attached to is almost exactly the same as the one it was removed from. It is fairly well understood that the two hemispheres (I assume you are only removing the cortexes, now the lower portions) are associated with a myriad of functions. If you remove one hemisphere, that hemisphere will then take with it all the associated functions it provides, for instance, you might only have half a visual field of experience, you might only be able to move one half of your body, you might only have knowledge of abstract concepts contained within the present hemisphere. You might not have an entirely intact understanding of language.

You see what I'm getting at here? If you remove one half, what you are left with is half the functions of a normal brain, that is, if you are still conscious. I have t even mentioned the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in awareness. With half a prefrontal cortex, you will almost certainly not be aware in the way a normally functioning person is. You will likely not be able to think properly, if at all, or plan actions.

edit: What I am getting at here is this. The mind is not a single thing, it is a combination of many different functions operating at once. Take away half of those functions and you are left with half a functional mind.

The two halves of the brain need each other. They are there for a reason.
All of these last four paragraphs are addressing biological and psychological issues rather than philosophical ones. It would be more helpful to focus on the core thought experiment. The biggest puzzle is if you are split in two, what mechanism exists within materialism to roll dice and decide which half brain you find yourself in? Or perhaps you would cease to be conscious and two new consciousnesses would take your place, analagous to your death followed by two births. No-one seems able to offer any theory within materialism to answer one way or another what would happen.

Unless you're a philosophical zombie, the continued existence of your own first person consciousness does matter. If it didn't you'd be 100% comfortable if you were to be replaced by a clone of yourself with copied memories. After all, no-one else would ever notice and you'd be dead. See, the first person point of view does matter, even if you're a hardcore materialist.
Last edited by thought addict on Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
thought addict
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:47 am

Re: The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

Post by thought addict »

surreptitious57 wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:56 am No I have never stopped to wonder why I am in my body and you are in your body
Why not?
Dimebag
Posts: 261
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:12 am

Re: The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

Post by Dimebag »

thought addict wrote: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:35 am All of these last four paragraphs are addressing biological and psychological issues rather than philosophical ones. It would be more helpful to focus on the core thought experiment. The biggest puzzle is if you are split in two, what mechanism exists within materialism to roll dice and decide which half brain you find yourself in? Or perhaps you would cease to be conscious and two new consciousnesses would take your place, analagous to your death followed by two births. No-one seems able to offer any theory within materialism to answer one way or another what would happen.

Unless you're a philosophical zombie, the continued existence of your own first person consciousness does matter. If it didn't you'd be 100% comfortable if you were to be replaced by a clone of yourself with copied memories. After all, no-one else would ever notice and you'd be dead. See, the first person point of view does matter, even if you're a hardcore materialist.
What I was trying to show is when you focus on those biological issues, you come to realise that what we call the self, and experience, is actually not a singular thing, but many different parts interacting and combining, so you can see that it is really not an issue to divide the self, but not into two exact things, but into the separate parts which exist between the two dividing lines, that is, minus the functions which exist due to the interaction of the two halves, which would be deemed an emergent function or property, not wholly existing in either half.

It might just not be the be the case that, were the experiment be carried out successfully, that you would have a chance to exist within either of the two halves, firstly, we don't know where the self resides or emerges from, it could be that to have an experience of self, you require the functions of both halves in tandem, so in the case of the experiment, no self would exist. Or it might be the case, that two "half selves" would emerge, afforded with only the functions of their hemisphere. What "you" would experience is rather irrelevant, as "you" would no longer be "you", but rather less than you were, and so, different.
thought addict
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:47 am

Re: The Bizzarreness of Split Lives and Consciousness

Post by thought addict »

Dimebag wrote: Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:18 am What I was trying to show is when you focus on those biological issues, you come to realise that what we call the self, and experience, is actually not a singular thing, but many different parts interacting and combining, so you can see that it is really not an issue to divide the self, but not into two exact things, but into the separate parts which exist between the two dividing lines, that is, minus the functions which exist due to the interaction of the two halves, which would be deemed an emergent function or property, not wholly existing in either half.

It might just not be the be the case that, were the experiment be carried out successfully, that you would have a chance to exist within either of the two halves, firstly, we don't know where the self resides or emerges from, it could be that to have an experience of self, you require the functions of both halves in tandem, so in the case of the experiment, no self would exist. Or it might be the case, that two "half selves" would emerge, afforded with only the functions of their hemisphere. What "you" would experience is rather irrelevant, as "you" would no longer be "you", but rather less than you were, and so, different.
Ah yes I see what you mean. And it goes some way towards solving the riddle if there are already numerous conscious selves within one person simultaneously that just go their separate ways when a split occurs.* All the same, I still have a hunch that the more extreme flavors of eliminativist materialism aren't equipped to answer which one of your scenarios would be true.


*Wouldn't it be even stranger if the world somehow "knew" ahead of time how many splits will occur and already furnished the body with exactly the right number of conscious first person perspectives from birth for the split to occur with every part carrying a consciousness!
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