ForumsWEPRWhat is the self?

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09philj
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09philj
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There are several theories as to what "you" are.

Firstly, there is the idea that we have souls, which arw connected to our bodies, but are not part of them. This is Dualism.

Secondly, there is Brain Theory, which states that the self is part of, or is housed in the brain.

Thirdly, there is Memory Theory, which states that the self is the sum of our experiences.

I believe the third theory to be the most likely, as it has no obvious scientific flaws. However, it raises the point that there is no "self," as new memories are constantly created, so we are not the same second by second.

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HahiHa
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HahiHa
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The third theory would be a subset of the second, as memories are housed in the brain. To me, the self is the result of the functioning brain. But I agree that we are constantly changing little by little. My "self" of, say, ten years ago I can truly consider dead.

partydevil
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we do not have self. we have multiple selves. there is love, there is hate, desire, carelessness, annoyance, etc. etc. we act different with different people. we act different in different moods. we act different when we're hungry or not.

it isn't the 1st cause... well it isn't.. (dont wanna go into there)
it isn't the 2nd cause... it would mean our personality is completed when we are born.. and it clearly isnt like that. as we know from practice.
and it isn't the 3rd cause... it would mean that we are born without a personality... and we surely do...

it is that we are born with a basic personality that can/will change by the experiences we have. + the experiences we are having right . having bad experience makes you act different in the present, then having good experience with the same thing..

edit:
and that is just our acting part. going into the personality of the mind will take a much longer post that i'm not having the time for

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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we do not have self. we have multiple selves. there is love, there is hate, desire, carelessness, annoyance, etc. etc. we act different with different people. we act different in different moods. we act different when we're hungry or not.

Our reactions are situation dependent, as you pointed out, but that does not exclude having one 'self' nor does it mean we have several of them. All those emotions are part of our personality. The way we react to a situation is just one part of it.

it isn't the 2nd cause... it would mean our personality is completed when we are born.. and it clearly isnt like that. as we know from practice.

Clearly the brain is NOT complete when we are born, so your conclusion is wrong.
FishPreferred
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FishPreferred
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Clearly the brain is NOT complete when we are born, so your conclusion is wrong.


That's exactly what he was saying, so it isn't.

I have to agree with partydevil on this. The 'self' is not an inert or well-defined thing. It is more accurately described as the state that the brain is in at any given time.
Moegreche
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What a wonderful question!

It may help, though, to clarify a bit the notion we want to capture. Typically, when we talk about the self (at least in philosophy) we are picking out some entity that is distinct from other similar entities. With this in mind, here are some important intuitions:

1) The notion of 'self' is indexical. That is, when each of us refers to the self, we are each referring to a different entity. So my self is distinct from (though perhaps similar in many respects) to your self.

2) An individual's identity (or self) is something that refers to the same entity over an extended period of time - perhaps the entire life of the individual.

So in our answer, we should either try to 1) accommodate these intuitions, or 2) explain why these intuitions are wrong. There are other, more contentious, claims about the self or personal identity. But things start to get complicated and can quickly enter into questions in the philosophy of mind.

HahiHa
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That's exactly what he was saying, so it isn't.

Yes it is. The way he worded his phrase indicates that he thinks the brain is set and complete at birth.
09philj
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09philj
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2) An individual's identity (or self) is something that refers to the same entity over an extended period of time - perhaps the entire life of the individual.

This can be examined with this example:
If an exact copy is made of you, right down to the memories, are they the same self as you?

Soul theory says it isn't because a soul is unique.
Brain theory says it is, because it's brain is the same as yours.
Memory theory says it isn't, because it's memories will immediately become different to yours.

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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Soul theory says it isn't because a soul is unique.
Brain theory says it is, because it's brain is the same as yours.
Memory theory says it isn't, because it's memories will immediately become different to yours.

Again, memory is a function of the brain. For memory to become different, the brain has to change.
MageGrayWolf
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I pretty much agree with what Hahiha said in his first post. I consider "self" as an emergent property from the various electrochemical interactions of the brain.

09philj
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@HahiHa Brain theory is actually closer to soul theory than memory theory, in that it suggests that it is the brain itself that houses our self, and a brain with replaced memories is the same self as before.

Moegreche
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Moegreche
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Although this is some technical ground (as I mentioned previously) there are some important notions to keep distinct.

So when thinking about this question (besides the considerations I listed earlier) consider this: is this 'self' just the same things as consciousness?

Many of the comments here I'm reading as a straightforward 'yes' to that question. But things may not be so simple. Though it does seem that the OP's three theories under consideration fall within the ambit of philosophy of mind. This further complicated things as it questions what the mind is and what it means for an entity to have a mind.

So to further complicate things: is having consciousness just having a mind?; is the self just this stream of consciousness, or is it equivalent to an agent's mind? These are all interesting and difficult questions, but it's important to just focus tightly on one of them.

EDIT: It's also worth noting that (again, from a technical point of view) this brain theory you mention is, in fact, closer to what you call memory theory. The reason for this is that they are both compatible with physicalism - whereas soul theory (or dualism) is not.
I don't mean this as a criticism or that you're wrong. Instead, I just intend it as an invitation for us to be a bit clearer about what we're talking about. Plus, it's a nice example of how treacherous this terrain is!

MageGrayWolf
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Maybe a bit of wiki will help pin down some of these ideas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self

So when thinking about this question (besides the considerations I listed earlier) consider this: is this 'self' just the same things as consciousness?


Consciousness would at the very least be a component of it.
HahiHa
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So to further complicate things: is having consciousness just having a mind?; is the self just this stream of consciousness, or is it equivalent to an agent's mind?

Soooo. Now we have different terms: consciousness; mind; self; and maybe also agent. And we have to find out how they are defined and whether they are the same or not?

I'll follow an intuition and ask a question: If two separate people have an identic consciousness, are they the same self or do they have individual selves? If one were to choose option two, one would have to explain what justifies the different selves.
Kennethhartanto
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Anyway, after reading the wiki, if we are talking about definitions i kinda agree with the psychological notion of "self", which is a vessel of ones's identity and it's "soul".

is this 'self' just the same things as consciousness?


In my opinion, it is a no, In my opinion, in order to become a "self", one must have an "identity" that can be distinguished from others. An entity does not need to be wide awake or conscious to be a "self". This is where i got this idea. So, I believe that consciousness is a part of self, but self is not consciousness

is the self just this stream of consciousness, or is it equivalent to an agent's mind?


equivalent to it's identity and perhaps, its "mind"?

If two separate people have an identical consciousness, are they the same self or do they have individual selves?


different selves, because even if they have the same consciousness, they have different identities because of them being two different ( not exact copies ) entities. these identity sets them apart from each other, and cause them to become different selves.
HahiHa
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According to the first philosophy definition in Kenneths link, that it is the 'ego', that would coincide with the brain origin, because desire and all that originate form the brain.

But the idea of individuality is also interesting because it encompasses more than what is in all three theories mentioned in the OP; it involves also the whole body, if I understand you right. And it's true; your body is part of your identity, and the way you perceive yourself can even influence certain traits of your consciousness, so it at the very least is part of the equation.

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