• Relativist
    342

    "A popular question. Why am I me? Why am I not the person next to me? When I die, will I be another person in the past or future? Was I another person before I was born? If so, why am I not everyone?"
    The answer depends on one's positions on identity and essentialism.

    Does a car maintain the same identity over time? Is it the same car if the oil gets changed? New tires? New engine and transmission? What, if anything, is essential to the car's identity?

    Similarly, what is essential to a human's identity? DNA doesn't even stay constant over time?
  • Sam26
    1k
    Part of what makes you, you, are your unique experiences and memories.
  • Andrew4Handel
    638
    Here.Banno

    I agree with you. But I don't know where that is.

    I don't know where I am in the universe or in a body or a material word.

    We are probably on separate sides of this world wherever it is but maybe we are actually on separate planets light years away?
  • JupiterJess
    110
    Your conscious phenomenal experience is a special snowflake. People have different phenomenal features to you. I never thought this was a difficult question for materialism. The harder question is addressing how it appears binded together.
  • Limitless Science
    17
    My topic about why is there anything at all could help you out at this. If you understand it of course!
  • Eden-Amador
    10
    Even if the story if who one is might be determined by social and psychological conditions, to describe it in such simplistic terms crushes the soul.

    Everyone has a story to tell. But if we make sense of our stories in ways that radically change the way we behave and reach into the "universals of the historical moment" (totally just made that phrase up, email me if you want to know what I think I mean when I say this) then our stories reach out to others in similar circumstances and open up options and ways of beings which hadn't existed before consciousness.
  • bert1
    155
    Can you make sense of this? "In some possible world, Bert is not Bert"?Banno

    Crucially, that's not what I said! I said that I might not be bert1. This is exactly what is at stake, whether the words 'I' and 'bert1' have the same meaning, or perhaps referent, or not, and under what circumstances. And whether this is a grammatical or metaphysical issue.

    Metaphysically, I take the view that consciousness (bear with me with the 'c' word, this is relevant) is not complex. There are not different kinds of it. By contrast, the content of consciousness, namely what we are aware of, admits of limitless complexity and variety. In my metaphysics there is a duality between the observer and the observed; they are not the same thing. The observer is not an object in the world. I know you don't agree with this and I'm not trying to argue for it here. The point is that there is a metaphysical assumption behind my language use, such that the referent of 'I' and 'bert1' can be separated under some circumstances. For the purpose of this thread, a question like 'Why am I bert1?' can be made sense of by separating the referents of 'I' and 'bert1', such that I do not gibber. By 'I' I mean consciousness (in this context) and by 'bert1' I mean a certain set of content to that consciousness.

    However, if you take a different metaphysical view, in which there is no separation between observer and observed, and no metaphysical difference between the referent of 'I' (when bert1 is speaking) and 'bert1', then indeed, any such questions such as 'Why am I bert1?' is rendered vacuous, based on a grammatical muddle. And I take it this is your view.

    Do you agree, then, that there is a metaphysical element to this issue, not just a grammatical one?

    Perhaps you think that the grammatical error causes the metaphysical error?

    (I don't want to persuade you you are wrong about the metaphysics, just that you are wrong to say this is a grammatical problem rather than a metaphysical one).

    That is not to say that people who ask such questions are never muddled about grammar, they might be I suppose, but I think it far more likely that they simply have different metaphysical assumptions that make sense of their utterances.
  • Pattern-chaser
    461
    Why am I me? Why am I not the person next to me?JohnLocke

    Luck; a dice roll; random chance? :chin:
  • Blue Lux
    583
    Why am I me?
    Because nobody else is.
  • TWI
    26
    False ego - We think we are what we think others think we are.

    But we don't realise it.
  • Blue Lux
    583
    Because I am what I am not, and am not what I am. I do not know myself but I know Others, which are Other because of their radical alterity of being, inaccessible as an object of conscious absorption, knowledge or identification. I know that I am because I understand that I am nobody else. I realize nobody else is me, and thus I am, but am always escaping this tendency or inclination to define, and encircling experience itself to be me. I am the principle of the series of manifestations and expressions, the alterity of that which it is capable of having an effect upon.
  • Blue Lux
    583
    but what we are is neither what we we think we are nor what anyone thinks we are.
  • Jake
    516
    Because everybody else was already taken.Bitter Crank

    :smile: :smile:
  • Blue Lux
    583
    thats an Oscar Wilde quote
  • Banno
    3.4k
    Thank you for such a considered post.

    (I don't want to persuade you you are wrong about the metaphysics, just that you are wrong to say this is a grammatical problem rather than a metaphysical one).bert1

    I will maintain that the issue is grammatical.

    Consider what would happen if you were not Bert1, but were Bert2. Then, you suppose, "Why am I Bert 2, and not Bert1?" would be a genuine metaphysical question. Indeed, for any n, "Why am I Bert(n)?" must for you be a genuine metaphysical question.

    However, it just follows from being Bert(n), that you are Bert(n). There is nothing here to explain.
  • Banno
    3.4k
    The point is that there is a metaphysical assumption behind my language use, such that the referent of 'I' and 'bert1' can be separated under some circumstances.bert1

    Can we seperate the consciousness of Bert1 from Bert1? I don't understand how. The suggestion is that the Bert1's consciousness is seperate from Bert1's experiences. This involves somehow extracting an essence of Bert1's consciousness from what Bert experiences.

    A side line, worth considering, is that consciousness admits of degree, from deep sleep through dreams and wakefulness to being utterly focused...

    Indeed, I'm not sure how one could conceive of consciousness apart from being conscious of such-and-such. How to move from consciousness of this or that, to consciousness itself?

    Deep meditative states might appear to be an obvious example; but I will maintain that a deep meditative state is not consciousness of nothing, but consciousness of being conscious.

    Indeed, we all experience consciousness of nothing - Deep sleep; but this is not being conscious, it is just the opposite - being unconscious.
  • Banno
    3.4k
    The observer is not an object in the world.bert1

    Well, the observer is not an object in the way of a chair or a tree.

    But consider what it might mean to claim that the observer is not in the world...

    An observation-less observer?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    760
    You merely assume you're you. You may not be. You must first establish you're you before you ask why you're you.
    Sorry. Mistake. Don't know how to delete.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    760
    You merely assume you're you. You may not be. You must first establish you're you before you can ask why you're you.
  • Relativist
    342
    "You may not be you" is equivalent to saying "the law of non-contradiction may be false". i.e you=you is necessarily true.

    At any rate, the concept of identity needs to be well defined before any analysis can be done.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    760
    My little comment was meant for JohnLocke, not you. And it was intended to be silly, I'm afraid.
  • bert1
    155
    However, it just follows from being Bert(n), that you are Bert(n). There is nothing here to explain.Banno

    Sure, but only with certain assumptions. The assumptions are that 'Bert1' or 'Bert2' is not vague and does not vary in its meaning, nor the entity that it designates, which may be fine assumptions for most purposes. But for many speakers these assumptions are not always made in certain contexts. Consider Barney, who believes in reincarnation. Barney says "Phew, I might have been a snail. I could have been a snail had I not done that good deed in a previous life. I am Barney, rather than Sammy the Snail, because I did the right thing."

    Barney night be mistaken or deluded in his metaphysics, but is he literally gibbering? I think not. He is making perfectly good sense on the assumption that his most essential self is his soul and his body is more of a happy accident. You understand what he means don't you?
  • Banno
    3.4k
    Barney says "Phew, I might have been a snail. I could have been a snail had I not done that good deed in a previous life. I am Barney, rather than Sammy the Snail, because I did the right thing."bert1

    This is a real problem for reincarnation. The unanswered question is, what is it that was reincarnated as barney, and not as a snail? There is no reasonable answer to this, and so much the worse for the notion of reincarnation. Hence:

    ...his most essential self is his soul...bert1

    What does that mean? His soul is his soul? His most essential self is his most essential self?

    The notion of an "essential self" remains too vague, too full of wishful thinking. Gibberish - well, if it isn't, explain soul?
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