a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:46 pm

Saving the Self
Raymond Tallis defends personal identity from those who say the self is an illusion.

Towards a Positive Account of the Self

We need also to develop a positive idea of the self. At the very heart of the notion of a self worth having is that of an accountable agent enduring over time. This has different aspects. We want an intelligible account of our feeling that we have temporal depth, that we are truly connected with the past, that we are essentially the same entities over time, that we have memories that are truly of experiences we have had, that there were certain events that were our actions for which we remain answerable, that we have prudential concern for a future that is our future.


Okay, as an intellectual scaffold, this all makes sense. There are clearly facts in your past precipitating facts about your present that will propel you into the facts embedded in the future that either exist "in reality" or reality itself is on par with a sim world, a dream world, a world in which what you think is true about the past, present and future is really just an illusion. Or wholly embedded in a determined universe.

There is just no getting around how, in many crucial respects, "I" is anything but a figment of our imagination.

But how do we go about accounting for what we account for in others when the discussions shift into accountability as a moral judgment? We can point to something that someone has done and hold her accountable in the sense that she is responsible for the consequences involved. But if we can't agree on whether the consequences themselves are necessarily, inherently good or bad then accountability itself becomes a subjective assessment rooted in, well, that which I suggest or that which you suggest.

There are many other aspects of selfhood – in particular those related to the identifying marks (of physical appearance, of traits, of knowledge, of office, of relationships) by which others recognise us and entertain expectations with respect to us.


Well, they will do pertaining to certain aspects of our interactions able to be pinned down as true for all of us. But other aspects are rooted in moral and political prejudices that are always subject to change given new experiences in our lives. Here expectations can be entirely problematic depending on the circumstances over time.

At the heart of the sense of the self is a kind of tautology, an existential iteration: ‘That I am’; or ‘That I am [this]’. This Existential Intuition is connected with the intuition ‘That I am the same thing over time’; and ‘That I am of such and such a nature’. All three are woven into the notion of personal identity.


Here, for someone like me, the gap between this as an intellectual assessment of "I" and "I" out in a world bursting at the seams existentially with contingency, chance and change always puts the tautological "I" in a situation/state where it is ever poised to reconfigure with regard to that which is of particular importance in our lives: the behaviors we choose.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Tue Mar 17, 2020 4:16 pm

Saving the Self
Raymond Tallis defends personal identity from those who say the self is an illusion.

There are two main ways in which the self is being understood at present in English-speaking philosophy: as an enduring mind; and as an enduring body. For most contemporary philosophers, the enduring mind is not a substance or a soul but is built up out of experiences and the memory of experiences.


The mind and the body endure, but if the enduring mind is not a soul it may well be but an ineffable extension of the brain inherently intertwined in the evolution of life on Earth going back to the explanation of existence itself.

What we know...as close to objectively as we may ever be able to get...is that both the mind and the body endure for, on average, 75 to 80 years.

Only philosophers [English speaking or otherwise] are not all that prone to examining "I" as, in part, a collection of physical/biological "things" going about the business of interacting in the either/or world from the cradle to the grave, and, in part, mental, emotional and psychological "states" [in an autonomous world] in which "I" is anything but comprehendible in full.

The most celebrated attempt to construe the self psychologically is that of Derek Parfit (Reasons and Persons). He works in the spirit of John Locke who, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding argued that identity lay in our consciousness. What endured, however, was not some individual item, such as an overarching master perception, but a continuity resulting from the internal connectedness of consciousness. This connectedness was secured most obviously, though not exclusively, through memory: the memory of our own experiences.


Try to think this through. Try to reach the point where you are comfortably convinced that you have come closest to the one true "you".

Identity may "lay in consciousness" but what does that lay in? How are we to explain how the conscious "I" interacts with the subconscious and unconscious "I" intertwined [somehow] with the rest of the brain such that we can pin down with any degree of certainty why we chose this instead of that?

As though memory itself is not embedded in the same "soup" of ingredients...only somewhat within our grasp and control.

And that's before you get to the "I" parts that most interest me in the is/ought world.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:18 pm

Saving the Self
Raymond Tallis defends personal identity from those who say the self is an illusion.

Locke’s account has powerful intuitive attractions. Continuity of memory seems to underpin so many other continuities: my enduring understanding of what, where, who; the familiarity that makes the world my world and guides me through my life; my sense of commitment to my commitments; my responsibility for delivering on my promises; and, most directly, my sense of having temporal depth. Psychological continuity seems like the inner truth within the external facts of my constancy, reliability, predictability; the private, essential ‘take’ on the framework that gives stable sense to my life, and enables me to make sense of myself and others to make sense of, and to recognise, me.


You might even call this the "common sense" description of human identity. Most of us will read this and clearly understand what he is talking about. We can relate it to the lives that we live from day to day. Whether it was before the world ever heard of the novel coronavirus because it didn't exist, or our understanding and reactions to it now, it still involves all of the components of "I" that allow us to sustain a discussion without it without people scratching their heads as though such a discussion were gibberish. And even for those who have not heard about it yet there are enough facts able to be communicated to bring them up to speed.

The only imaginable way in which to grasp "I" here otherwise is if one assumes we all exist in a simulated reality or in a dream world.

But it has many problems. The one that Parfit has addressed most directly is this: our memory has limited reach. I cannot recall very precisely the ten year old Raymond Tallis, and yet I have no doubt that the child and I are the same person. Parfit therefore replaces the notion of direct psychological connectedness with that of continuity: a partial overlap of memories and traits from year to year. As in a rope, there is no single thread going from end to end but overlapping threads that ensure the impression of continuity.


On the other hand, the memories that allow for continuity in sustaining "I" over the years are no less subject to distortion and subjective interpretation. And they are no less differentiating things that can in fact be demonstrated to have happened from things that cannot. And even if we were somehow able to acquire a perfect memory of every single thing from the day that we were born, it doesn't make the arguments I raise about the is/ought world go away.

Or, rather, no one of late has convinced me of that.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: a man amidst mankind: back again to dasein

Postby iambiguous » Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:59 pm

Saving the Self
Raymond Tallis defends personal identity from those who say the self is an illusion.

There are many other problems with the self being identified either as a stand-alone psyche or a body uninhabited by a psyche. The most profound is that both theories focus on the self as enduring over time: the psychological theory gives the subjective dimension of continuity; and bodily theory gives its outer face.


And yet until assessments of this sort are used in descriptions of human interactions that most of us can relate to, what do words of worlds like this actually mean.

Again, you get into a discussion of the covid-19 pandemic. In particular the controversy that swirled around conflicting arguments that swirl around the governments response to it. Go back to normal and let the virus run its course or lockdown everything that possibly can be locked down to flatten the curve.

How might one's "stand-alone psyche" be differentiated from a "body uninhabited by a psyche" here? Isn't this sort of discussion imperative in order to illustrate the text in order to clarlify what "for all practical purposes" the two contending arguments are suggesting in regard to the lives that we live and the behaviors that we choose?

But the notion of personal identity over time must surely be secondary to that of identity at a given time. The psychological stream may be internally stitched by memory but it seems not only ownerless but untethered – disconnected from here and now. It seems ungrounded, without substance. And while the body is obviously substantial, and holds together over time, being relatively stable, considered merely as a living organism it lacks ownership of itself at a particular time.


Secondary perhaps, but, in my view, regarding the self in the is/ought world, nothing is more fundamental than connecting the dots between "I" as a child and "I" in the here and now. There are just so many interactions and connections made in those "formative years". After all, how can 10 to 15 years of indoctrination from others not have a profound impact on how you view yourself out in a particular world in a particular time and place.

Imagine how profoundly impacted the subconscious and the unconscious mind must be with others consistently shoving their own reality into your brain. Here there are simply countless variables either beyond your fully comprehending or controlling. Think about it: How many children actually give much thought at all to how this is unfolding through such components as dasein, conflicting goods and political power. Did these things cross your mind much in your own formative years? They certainly didn't cross mine. And while there are clearly distinctions to be made between the psychological "I" and the biological "me", "ownership" in the realms most important to me seem clearly to be more an existential contraption than something that can be pinned down by philosophers and ethicists.

Neither bodiless psychology nor a body without psychology provides any grounding for the sense of identity at a particular time and this must have priority over the sense of identity over time, the sense that one is the same self at successive, or widely separated, moments.


In any event, it is invariably intellectual contraptions of this sort that make discussions of identity obtuse to me. There are those parts of "I" that fit more snuggly in the either/or world. And those parts that are considerably more problematic when how we construe what the world around us is comes into conflict with those who construe it differently, precipitate behaviors that come into conflict in regard to either the coronavirus [e.g. the role of government, ethical dilemmas, personal choices etc.] or any other conflicting good.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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