• unenlightened
    ... it strikes me that big P Psychology might be a whole matrix of everyone's theories about other people.mcdoodle

    Yes, or perhaps I could say that everyone has a psychological theory, and the big P stands for Power; the power to impose my psychology on others.

    But on a deeper ontological level there's a need to at least examine the possibility that there is an anonymous self that precedes the narrative.photographer

    One can readily observe what I will call a 'personality'; in dogs for example, one is nervous, one is profligate with affection, one is suspicious of strangers, and so on. Such dispositions are persistent through time, though modifiable through experience. Such are the identifications we might make of dogs, that have an ontological, behavioural basis. We can make them of humans as well.

    But there is nothing much different here to the identifications we might make of a rock or a tree, that it is hard or heavy or graceful. It is the reflexive turn to self identification that I think is the topic. One has, or better perhaps, one is a personality, that is semi stable, and semi developing, but one makes a self-identification of that personality which becomes one's identity.

    Identity is made of memories. 'I didn't like those greens' becomes 'I don't like greens', with the implication that I won't like them tomorrow. and this is no longer a mere habit, not to eat greens, but who I am, and therefore a matter of life or death. To eat greens is to become someone else and so to die.

    I'd rather die than lose my identity. And so the world of thought and memory becomes more important than reality.
  • Wosret
    Objection! You all have theories, I have facts... that's my theory.
  • Janus
    And that's why they don't allow philosophical testimony in court, and also why the amoeba people wouldn't have a legal system recognizable to us. I did in fact perform my past actions. It all rests on the legal definition of identity, not the mathematical one, nor the qualitative one.noAxioms

    I think it all rests on the fact that we remember our lives. That re-membering forms the locus of identity. I am responsible for a past act because I can remember doing it, and why I did it. It is in virtue of this most primary fact about us that the "legal definition of identity" is given, understood and accepted.
  • noAxioms
    For humans, it rests on that memory, yes. Without it, there'd be no acts for which we can be held responsible. But the amoeba people (sentient, but reproduction by mitosis) share memories. The life remembered (including the act for which responsibility seems to need to be taken) is not unique to any individual. Perhaps 17 of them remember doing it, so did they? Did they all? Hence my claim of their lack of the concept legal identity.
    I think people reproduce that way via Hilbert space, but so does the act, so the definition is not shaken. All 17 of us actually did it, and must individually be held accountable. All 17 get to keep their job. Numeric identity is in shambles, but the legal one works for humans.
  • Moliere
    Two particular aspects are particularly significant for questions of identity: (1) the dimensionality of one's schema, and (2) the 'distance' between oneself and one's ideal.

    I can say a bit more if anyone is interested

    Please do. :)

    , but it is the 'meta' aspect that I want to draw immediate attention to. To identify is to differentiate; to have an identity is to identify and distinguish others also. It is, therefore, to already have a theory of mind.

  • Moliere
    I think talk of identity is so embedded in language that things start becoming circular when we try to discuss it (or just dead-end in ontology which is apt to be no more than posturing).Mongrel

    What do you mean by "identity is so embedded in language", and how does that relate to circularity?

    It's better to aim at it with fiction or poetry. Or some other strange artform like the movie Synecdoche, New York. Anybody see that?

    I saw it, but it's been awhile. I remember liking it. By recollection I seem to remember it being mostly about mortality.
  • Moliere
    Something of a recap:

    I see a number of different kinds or parts of identity being presented by the fine folks of the forum:

    There's the personal identity vs. a social identity. There is one's moral identity, and tied to that but distinct from it the identity of continuity. There is an identity based on differences from others. There is the self (perhaps distinct from identity?) being posited as a possible undergirding to the social-construct identity I've largely put forward. I see an identity based on our core, a values-based identity. And then there's the identity of memory, where we are who we are based on what we our (collective?) memories recall. And also, the notion that identity isn't amenable to a philosophical or psychological analyses, but is something found through other activities like art. (I think I caught everything on offer)

    It seems to me that, overall, people are much more in favor of an identity which is unchanging :D. But perhaps to put the question of identity in terms of change is to evade the question of identity. Some change, some don't -- but how does it get there in the first place, whether it changes or no? Or perhaps that's just an evasion, too, or a misstep into a genealogy of identity. Maybe a better question is: What are we doing when we identify?
  • Moliere
    I think I can grant the assumption, at least on the basis that a pre-narrative self is possible. Sure. But granting the assumption -- would a pre-narrative self amount to an identity?
  • unenlightened
    Please do. :)Moliere



    Here is a two dimensional construct of political views. There are other possibilities, but according to this way of looking, everyone is located somewhere on the map, and their position identifies the essentials of their politics. The assumption is that there are two independent variables, lets call them 'left/right' and 'hard/soft' and this can be confirmed if one finds people distributed all over the map. But to the extent that one finds, say, that everyone left is more or less soft, and everyone right is more or less hard, one's view turns out to be one-dimensional after all.

    A one dimensional view of politics gives one a limited understanding of the various alliances and conflicts and movements. Perhaps a three or four dimensional view would be possible?

    Here is a 4 dimensional construct of personality. Folks will be familiar with it. This is a full-blown psychological theory of some respectability in it's own right, and this illustrates the way that construct theory is metapsychology. Jung was a three dimensional theorist; Briggs Myers a four dimensional theorist.

    God, according to some, is a one dimensional, or worse, a simple binary theorist of personality, there are the saved and the dammed.

    What's your theory? Suppose someone has internalised both of the above examples. The techniques of construct theory can be be used to overlay the personality and political theories and determine the combined dimensionality. It could give a six dimensional result, or it could be that some of the dimensions are not orthogonal but aligned - that softies are more or less always intuitive and or extroverts are always hard. In such case, the number of dimensions would be 4 or 5. It could even be that although one subscribes to the theories in principle, in practice one thinks about people in a one or two dimensional way.

    Distance' between oneself and one's ideal

    Personal identity is where one places oneself on one's own map of however many dimensions one has. This is typically some distance from where one feels one would ideally be. And these two locations are both interesting as is their relation. Are you in the middle of your own map, or off in a corner, and where is the best place to be? Such considerations give rise to a metapsychological construction, but since one does not have a meta-identity, they feed back into dimensions of one's personal constructs. One might label them as dimensions of self-satisfaction ( distance from the ideal) and normality/extremism (distance from the centre).

    I'll stop here. I think it's probably confusing enough already.
  • Mongrel
    What do you mean by "identity is so embedded in language", and how does that relate to circularity?Moliere
    Existence without essence is something one can point to... obviously it can't be described. So most speech we encounter about identity is about essence. The identity train has already left the station. It would be a waste of time to peer into all that yapping looking for an origin story.

    I saw it, but it's been awhile. I remember liking it. By recollection I seem to remember it being mostly about mortality. — Moliere
    Yep. Mortality is a ripe angle from which to ponder identity. Sitting at a funeral, one of the characters in the movie says, "I used to be a baby."
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