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1/8/07 7:37 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 08-Jan-07
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Having done a course on Personal Identity this semester I feel its one of the most interesting topics in metaphysics besides determinism/free will. So what are your views on personal identity? Some good introductory reading by Theodore Sider on PI from his "Riddle of Existence" with Earl Conee: http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/sider/riddles/personal_identity.pdf (Introduction to their book: http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/sider/riddles/Introduction.pdf) Greets, I.
1/8/07 4:27 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 08-Jan-07 04:28 PM
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My view on metaphysics (I.E. macroscopic 'objects' are something of an illusion) supersedes the existence of personal identity in my philosophy. I took a class like that too. It was quite interesting. -doug-
1/10/07 5:31 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 10-Jan-07
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Explain further Vermonter...
1/12/07 2:43 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 12-Jan-07
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Do you know the ship of Thesius paradox? (My answer to your question comes from my view on material constitution) The extended version: Scenario 1: The ships planks are replaced over time (the old ones destroyed), until none of the original planks exist. Is it still the same ship? Scenario 2: The ship is entirely dismantled and then put back together. Is it still the same ship? Scenario 3: The ships planks are replaced over time, but the old ones are not destroyed. Eventually, once all the planks are replaced, you take all the old planks and reassemble them perfectly (This is essentially the same as 1 and 2 put together). Now you have two ships. Which one is the real one and why? My answer to this problem is that there are no ships, only 'planks.' (There are only 'simples' as van Inwagen calls them, and i think that larger composite objects are just illusions of the low resolution of thought and sensory capability.) As such, there are no people, only the subatomic bits and perhaps laws of nature. In my philosophy, this idea sort of wrecks personal identity. When the professor posed Thesius' paradox in class he wrote down all the options (ship A, ship B, both ships, neither ship) and asked us to pick one and why. I raised my hand and he smiled (he knew what i would say). I remarked that "there's an option missing... There are no ships." When he later applied the paradox to human constituion, i remarked "If there are no ships, then there no human bodies or brains." Since i'm a materialist of some sort, i dont think that a person could be an abstract object (identiy can't be abstract), and if there are no bodies or brains, there are no people at all. I wrote that super fast, be kind to me! -doug-
1/13/07 5:10 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 13-Jan-07
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Yeah we discussed this a lot via David Wiggins´s argument. But then again I think I completely disagree with you depending on what you mean by "there are no ships, only planks". In one sense I can agree with you as long as the matter of constitution goes. "Ships" are made of planks. Human bodies are made of bits of matter. On the other sense there really are ships out there. Some collections of planks can be used for sailing and some can´t. There really are persons out there, you are one and in your everyday experience you hold that there are many others as well. The divide seems to be what is the question of objecthood or identity a question of. Is it a question of REAL metaphysics = are there metaphysical persons or metaphysical objects ships etc. Then your point of view might make sense. For me it is a question about our concepts. We have a concept of personal identity which we use and have mastery of but which is not completely luminous to us. So when we do that when we ask questions about identity we do conceptual analysis about our concepts. And in this sense you really cannot deny that there are "persons" and "ships". About bodies and brains. If you view it as a conceptual question then it is pretty clear to me that no Brain or Bodily criterion doesn´t pin down our concept. Rather it is a mixture of a psychological criterion (memory continuity) with something of treating someone as a center of agency (the seeds of my own view). Greets, Indrek
1/15/07 1:57 PM
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Dogbert
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Edited: 15-Jan-07
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I think it´s on of the biggest problem one faces when making a theory of intergenerational justice. Since, as Parfit observed, what humans are born depends on what s done, we need a way to make comparisons. I don#t know how.
1/15/07 8:56 PM
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Subadie
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Edited: 15-Jan-07
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interesting Doug, but it raises the question of what a "plank" is, especially with the advances in chemistry and biology and physics since Thesius.
1/16/07 3:42 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 16-Jan-07
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No Subadie it doesn´t. That was the point of my post. A plank is a plank. It doesn´t matter that you can reduce it to small particles of matter. You can do that with almost anything. The point is that we have a concept plank and we know what things stand for it. Similarly with ships. The reduction point doesn´t really matter if we are doing conceptual analysis and not aiming for the essences (this is best left for sciences anyway).
1/16/07 3:43 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 16-Jan-07 04:03 PM
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Subadie, Indrek is right. Saying "There are no ships, just planks" is more of a metaphor for: "Complex objects (objects comprised of more than one thing) are generally confusing in a metaphysical sense." Indrek, How about this: In some senses i agree with you, and some i dont :) If there aren't things like ships out there in the world, then what do i mean when i say ship, or when i apply adjectives or verbs like "sailing" that can't properly be applied to things like simples? This is pretty confusing, especially since, when i say "that ship is sailing" you certainly seem to know pretty well what i mean even if you don't 'believe' in ships. Beyond this, my philosophy isn't particularly well developed. I have written several papers on the topic, attempting to address what things in the world my concepts 'point' to, or that my words express. I can only say two things in my defense here: 1. I just believe it, even if it isn't very developed at this stage. 2. Things are exceptionally complex in the world, whether i'm right or wrong. I feel as though this complexity could account for some of the fuzziness at where you and i describe the border between object, and concept of the object; or constitution and identity. I do understand what you're striving at, but know that i think that our concepts can't be to more than physical objects themselves, so trying to state that my concept of a boat is actually "out there" (as you put it, but i'm not sure you really meant it this way...) seems in some ways to me that you are simply pointing at a different 'object,' say, a concept-of-a-boat, rather than a boat. So when you say that i can't deny that that there are 'persons' and 'ships' it still seems as though i can, because those concepts-of-boats, and concepts-of-persons, are those very same objects which i deny as well. However, once you get into the realm of concepts, again, i have to agree that things get sticky, and i've got no good discussion are argument to support my contention. The matter in which i disagree, i suppose (at least so far), is i'm not sure what you would find interesting in discussing about the concept of personal identity divorced from material constitution. (Maybe it's just me... i really don't know what would be left of PI without my body and brain.) However, should there be something there, how do you actually identify it as real? We talk about Santa Claus too, and have concepts of him to boot, but that doesnt mean we've engaged in a worthwhile pursuit about 'real' things by arguing, say, that santa wears a black or brown belt. It seems similar to the problem of Lois's concepts of superman and clark. She has two very different concepts about one single man. Which one is the right one? How do we know that it isn't two men, as she believes? Invariably we have to take a look, as you say, at whats left for the sciences. We know that Lois's seperate concepts are flawed, because they are about the same man, and we know this by testing the world (or at least appealing to it in some way, i'd hate to commit myself to 'testability'). So my question to you is, what is the value of PI without material constitution, and how can we possibly know anything about it, especially since we will almost certainly run into a brick wall of Theseus-like proportions? Just some quick thoughts. Wish i had more time to really think about the issues, because i love these topics! Thanks for the discussion! Dogbert, Would you say that my last question to Indrek has some similarity to your quandry? -doug-
1/16/07 6:21 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 16-Jan-07 06:23 PM
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I didn't read the introductory guides you posted Indrek. So maybe this is covered, but I fail to see how any of this is more than a language/semantic game/problem. Didn't Wittgenstein cover all of this in Philosophical Investigations? Our language does not map perfectly onto the world. There is no exact definition of a ship and we use WORDS to help guide us in our interactions. Let's give the ship in Vermonter's example the name Betty. And say I OWN Betty. Betty will always be the same ship as long as I CALL it Betty and I have the legal rights to that ship etc. Whether all the planks have been replaced to all new planks doesn't matter in the case of ownership. The word SAME is also a word of 'use'. A ship is a ship if we call it a ship and it's the same ship if we continue to call it and act as if it is the same ship.
1/16/07 6:32 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 16-Jan-07
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Hmm..I was just thinking about what I wrote and whether or not that applies to human beings. Am I only the same person I was because people treat me and call me by the same name? What about my memories ..doesn't that give pertinence to me being the same person even if EVERYONE else started calling my and treating me as a different person and what if I awoke from amnesia and everyone else indoctrinated me into this new identity of someone called Jack? But then again I would have the same genes and DNA etc... I guess the real answer would be there was this collection of genes,molecules and other physical matter that once thought himself to be Sanguine Cynic and then got amnesia and now thinks he's some person by the name of Jack. Therefore I don't think my answer falls apart. There is the physical reality and then our imperfect language that MAPS the world...in our mapping of the world..there is the concept of Sanguine Cynic and of Jack but these are just concepts of convenience and use..
1/16/07 8:40 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 16-Jan-07 08:43 PM
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"I fail to see how any of this is more than a language/semantic game/problem. " Because when you say the language doesnt map onto the world, you've got me wrong i think. My point is (regardless of language), can there be a bunch of smaller objects that can somehow glom together to form a greater single object? Such a thing could theoretically exist with or without people and language. I'm saying that such things don't exist. If that's so, then people don't exist. And if people don't exist, then what is personal identity? I was never very good at Wittgenstein though, so maybe i'm misunderstanding you! I wouldnt be surprised, lol. -doug-
1/17/07 12:19 AM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 17-Jan-07
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Vermonter, My response wasn't really directed at your theory but more of just what my response was to the original Ship paradox. However in response to your theory... Let's take a look at the sun..The sun is giant ball of burning gas made up of atoms/electrons/protons/quarks etc. But everytime we go around talking about the sun we can' say "hey Vermonter that giant ball made up of 948329483948298 quarks clumped together 93 million miles away is really bright today! It is much more economical to assign it a name..I.E "the sun". "The Sun is bright today"...How many quarks there are or the exact distance of the sun or the fact that the sun is slightly changing or aging everday is inconsequential. When I say the sun is bright today, you know what I mean. And that's all that matters. That is how we use language, as an economical energy saving method of talking about reality. So then lets take your claim...The Sun doesn't exist. That would be saying that there is NOT an X amount of Quarks in a giant sphere giving off incredible heat 93 million miles away
1/17/07 3:59 PM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 17-Jan-07
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Things are getting interesting around here. I´ll try to take it piece by piece: VERMONTER: What do you mean our concepts can´t be more than physical objects. You might hold something like this true if you are a reductionist physicalist but even physicalists agree that in some sense concepts are all of what we as human beings have to set against the world. "So when you say that i can't deny that that there are 'persons' and 'ships' it still seems as though i can, because those concepts-of-boats, and concepts-of-persons, are those very same objects which i deny as well." How come? You have mastery of the concept of a ship, you have mastery of a concept of a person. You use those concepts in your everyday practices. "The matter in which i disagree, i suppose (at least so far), is i'm not sure what you would find interesting in discussing about the concept of personal identity divorced from material constitution. (Maybe it's just me... i really don't know what would be left of PI without my body and brain.) However, should there be something there, how do you actually identify it as real? We talk about Santa Claus too, and have concepts of him to boot, but that doesnt mean we've engaged in a worthwhile pursuit about 'real' things by arguing, say, that santa wears a black or brown belt." The case with Santa is different. Santa is in a sense an empty concept. There are no real Santas. Are you also saying that there is no psychology, agency and we couldn´t individuate persons in virtue of that. "It seems similar to the problem of Lois's concepts of superman and clark. She has two very different concepts about one single man. Which one is the right one? How do we know that it isn't two men, as she believes? Invariably we have to take a look, as you say, at whats left for the sciences. We know that Lois's seperate concepts are flawed, because they are about the same man, and we know this by testing the world (or at least appealing to it in some way, i'd hate to commit myself to 'testability'). So my question to you is, what is the value of PI without material constitution, and how can we possibly know anything about it, especially since we will almost certainly run into a brick wall of Theseus-like proportions?" Concepts cannot be right or wrong. Concepts can have something that corresponds to them or they can be empty. In the case of Lois there are two concepts, both about the same man and both conceps have something that corresponds to them in one case superman in the other Clarke. Superman and Clarke are of course identical in one sense. But so are a half-full and a half-empty glass - the concepts half-full, half-empty are still different. I.
1/17/07 5:51 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 17-Jan-07 07:29 PM
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SC, "My response wasn't really directed at your theory but more of just what my response was to the original Ship paradox." Sorry man, i get a little overzealous at times. I am going to continue with the boat example when talking about your points because even if i were to assume that the sun was a single object (as well as many smaller obects), i would still have to admit that the boundries of it are pretty fuzzy at best. Hopefully you dont mind. If there is an advantage to the sun example, then by all means, let's talk about it. (Dont want to step on any toes!) "The sun is giant ball of burning gas made up of atoms/electrons/protons/quarks etc. But everytime we go around talking about the sun we can' say "hey Vermonter that giant ball made up of 948329483948298 quarks clumped together 93 million miles away is really bright today!" Correct. And this goes for boats and just about other aggregate of things. I'm on board so far :) (Well, for the most part.... when you describe the simples in the first sentence, you use the terms 'ball' and 'sun' which are sometimes meant to refer to single objects, and not aggregates of things, but i think i smell what you're stepping in here, so i wont fuss over it.) "It is much more economical to assign it a name..I.E "the sun"." You say assign "it" here. Does 'it' mean to refer to an aggregate of things? This is just for my clarity, as 'it' implies a singlular object, that object being named "sun," (or "boat" or whatever) but i assume you mean here that the name "sun" actually only refers to an aggregate of things. "How many quarks there are or the exact distance of the sun or the fact that the sun is slightly changing or aging everday is inconsequential." OK, here is where we diverge i think. The fact that Theseus's boat changes over time (analagous to the "sun" changing over time) is of the utmost consequence for several reasons: 1. Firstly, when you say "change" things get super complicated in my mind. It seems that in order to apply the word change to the boat, i MUST be refering to one of two scenarios: A. The boat is one object. It "changes" in the sense that it's parts are not always consistent over time. Your position that we are refering to groups of things refutes this example of change. B. The boat is a collection of objects (and nothing more). When i say that a collection of things change, its not as evident to me that i have the same collection. What makes it the "same" collection? If Theseus's boat is nothing over and above these one hundred planks, and i remove a plank, what can i point to that posesses sameness? I think the prevailing issue here, is that in order for an aggregate to be the same over time, it must possess something similar to what an object over time would posses (some type of aggregate-of-planks-relation, that we could then apply adjectives like "spherical" or "boat shaped"). I'm not sure that we can say the plank aggregate changes over time because there's nothing to apply that change to. So if indeed "boat" refers to a collection of planks, it seems that you can't say that adding and subtracting objects to it is inconsequential. 2. If "boat" refers to an aggregate of planks, then you have a new boat every time a plank changes. This point is sort of an offshoot of point 1B. I think that most people would say that if any members of an aggregate are removed or added in, you have a new aggregate, and not the same aggregate with new members, since the "same aggregate" would be giving the aggregate something similar to objecthood, which i cannot accept. Some people might say that a stamp collection is an counterexample to my point here, but i don't think so. It seems that any time something stays the same over time despite its own change, its parts must stand in abstract relation which i deny. "When I say the sun is bright today, you know what I mean. And that's all that matters." That's all that matter in conversation. I think there is more to it in metaphysics, however. "So then lets take your claim...The Sun doesn't exist. That would be saying that there is NOT an X amount of Quarks in a giant sphere giving off incredible heat 93 million miles away" Saying "The sun doesn't exist" is not the same as saying saying "There is not an aggregate of quarks 93 million miles away." It depends on what i mean by "sun." You are assuming that, when i say "boat" i am refering to an aggregate of planks. However, i have several misgivings about this: 1. I have given a few arguments above that i think cast doubt on the consistency of a few of your claims, particularly that aggregates can possess change. This is so, because if aggregates can change while maintaining some sense of sameness, they become, again, subject to Theseus's paradox, and you haven't made any headway, and if i indeed want to make all your claims, then my words refer to paradoxical things. 2. I dont think people actually intend to refer to "aggregate of planks" when they say boat. I think most people are purposely trying to refer to a single object out there, which is why Theseus's paradox is so perplexing. You say that our name "boat" refers to particular collections of planks, and maybe they do, but i really don't think people are trying to refer to collections of planks. I think they are trying to refer to 'boats'. Single things that persist over time despite having the ability to remove/replace every single one of their parts. So my point is that, if people really do mean 'boat' when they say "boat," then i can comfortably say that 'boats' don't exist. 'Boats,' after all, are the referent for the name "boat," in ordinary language (as it seems to me). -doug-
1/17/07 6:27 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 17-Jan-07 06:33 PM
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Indrek, Yes, i am a reductionist. I enjoy things being simple :) As far as being a physicalist, i dont know. I'm some kind of materialist, yes, but the terms are not familiar enough to me to be more specific. "even physicalists agree that in some sense concepts are all of what we as human beings have to set against the world." I dont really know what you mean here. I think that concepts are physical (E.G. 'brain-states'), which are subject to the same reduction that boats are. That's where my answer to the Ship of Theseus came from, and why i don't think that people exist per se for the same reason (because i think that 'people' are nothing more than collections of smaller things). "You have mastery of the concept of a ship" This sentence is very confusing to me! Please help me break it down!! "You:" Does this refer to my body and brain? These can't be refered to in my position, since they dont exist (Unless, as an offshoot of the SC post, you wish to contend that i intend to refer only to aggregates of things, but this position seems EXTREMELY unintuitive to me). "Mastery:" This is the word i understand the least. It sounds to me like saying combustion has mastery over wood, as it oxidizes. I think it's just 'stuff going on' rather than 'mastery' in any sense of the word that i am thinking of. "Concept of a ship:" I think that a concept-of-a-ship would have to be a large physical object composed of an aggregate of smaller things with a superimposed concept-of-a-ship-relation, which, as a materialist, i must deny. Anyway, this could certainly be my confusion alone. LOL. I can be pretty inept sometimes, so be gentle with me! "The case with Santa is different. Santa is in a sense an empty concept. There are no real Santas." In my position, a boat is as empty of a concept as santa is. When i look at the Ship of Theseus problem, i see that, if boats actually existed, groups of simples themselves contain no property that tells me what boat they are a part of, or even that they are a boat at all. For them to be a boat, they must stand in a boat-relation to one another. In fact they must stand in a boat-of-theseus-relation for that particular boat. This relation is what persists through time, despite the gaining and losing of chunks of matter. But as a materialist, boat-relations are unacceptable to me, and i think that the Theseus paradox only goes to demonstrate that i'm correct. (To my amature philosopher mind, that is ;).) So to restate the point of the last paragraph, if no boat-relations exist, then no boats exist per se, and the concepts that allegedly correspond to them must be empty. "Are you also saying that there is no psychology, agency and we couldn´t individuate persons in virtue of that." We have agency like boats can sail ;) "Concepts cannot be right or wrong. " I should have said "correct" i guess. Which of Lois concepts actually refer to that guy she works with would be the best way to put it. But you go on to address this anyway :) "Concepts can have something that corresponds to them or they can be empty." OK. So in the Ship of Theseus problem, which ship in scenario three is the ship of Theseus that my concept can refer to? To answer this, you have to figure out what it is that persists through time that prevents my concept from being empty, and the problem itself shows us that that thing i'm refering to isn't a plank or a collection of planks. So my concept is refering to something abstract, since i cannot be refering to physical things when i say "boat" (otherwise the boats in all three scenarios would be different every single time a plank was removed and/or replaced, right?). As a materialist, abstract objects of reference make me feel funny inside, so i try to avoid them. I agree though, this is a fun discussion. Hopefully i'm not being too boneheaded.... If so, just smack me!! -doug-
1/17/07 11:46 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 17-Jan-07
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Doug, Doug Wrote: "You say assign "it" here. Does 'it' mean to refer to an aggregate of things? This is just for my clarity, as 'it' implies a singlular object, that object being named "sun," (or "boat" or whatever) but i assume you mean here that the name "sun" actually only refers to an aggregate of things. " My Reply:The "sun" refers to an aggregate of things and when lumped together due all the things that the sun does. I.E gives off immense light, is very dense and has incredible amount of gravitational pull. Ok, I guess I haven't made myself clearly understood(no surprise). I'll try again In physical reality there is nothing more than quarks(or whatever subatomic particle, or perhaps there is string theory and everything is tied together) and aggregate of quarks. But we humans don't see the world this way. All we see is what is necessary for us to see for our species to have survived this long. For instance we don't see infrared. We can't see subatomic particles with our bare eyes so we divide the world into what we can see and we give clumps of particles names so that we can better identify them and meaningfully talk about them. As Wittgenstein said, the definition of a word is its use in language Well I think this applies to objects as well The definition of an object is how use it in language. A boat is a boat if we say its a boat. A chair is a chair if we say its a chair.
1/18/07 5:39 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 18-Jan-07
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VERMONTER: I kinda get you in a way. But in a different way I think you are being a bit stubborn ;) The point is that you don´t see your everyday world the way you describe your DEEP ontology. And the question about personal identity is a question about our concept of personal identity that we use in our everyday practices. Its just a question on a completely different level of talking and thus it doesn´t really matter that we are all reducible to material particles. "You have mastery of the concept of a ship" The point is that you know what ships are, you can individuate them and so on in your everyday practice. So there is a concept you can use adequately according to the standard of the linguistic practice - hence "mastery". Similarly like most people have mastery of colour terms etc. You refers to you as an intentional agent. The point is that you cannot deny macroscopic objects in one sense. You can reduce them but you cannot deny them since your own existence and being-in-the-world (and denying them) all depend on there being such objects in a certain sense. "In my position, a boat is as empty of a concept as santa is. When i look at the Ship of Theseus problem, i see that, if boats actually existed, groups of simples themselves contain no property that tells me what boat they are a part of, or even that they are a boat at all. For them to be a boat, they must stand in a boat-relation to one another. In fact they must stand in a boat-of-theseus-relation for that particular boat. This relation is what persists through time, despite the gaining and losing of chunks of matter. But as a materialist, boat-relations are unacceptable to me, and i think that the Theseus paradox only goes to demonstrate that i'm correct. (To my amature philosopher mind, that is ;).)" I think that you place too much weight on the world and too little on our conceptual schemes. We make our world in a certain way with our concepts - the boat-relations are between our concepts in our schemes and they do not have to be in the world, strictly speaking. "OK. So in the Ship of Theseus problem, which ship in scenario three is the ship of Theseus that my concept can refer to? To answer this, you have to figure out what it is that persists through time that prevents my concept from being empty, and the problem itself shows us that that thing i'm refering to isn't a plank or a collection of planks. So my concept is refering to something abstract, since i cannot be refering to physical things when i say "boat" (otherwise the boats in all three scenarios would be different every single time a plank was removed and/or replaced, right?). As a materialist, abstract objects of reference make me feel funny inside, so i try to avoid them. " Why must there be an abstract object? There is just our concept which tries to refer to a specific part of the world. In a sense you are referring to a functional collection of planks when you are referring to a ship. And of course you can go on and reduce plank and so on. But does this really matter for your everyday practice? By the way I recommend two nice books by two heavyweights I´ve read lately: Peter Strawson "Analysis and Metaphysics" Frank Jackson "From Metaphysics to Ethics: A defence of Conceptual analysis"
1/18/07 5:48 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 18-Jan-07
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SANGUINE: "Hmm..I was just thinking about what I wrote and whether or not that applies to human beings. Am I only the same person I was because people treat me and call me by the same name? What about my memories ..doesn't that give pertinence to me being the same person even if EVERYONE else started calling my and treating me as a different person and what if I awoke from amnesia and everyone else indoctrinated me into this new identity of someone called Jack?" But what if you weren´t indoctrinated. Everyone would call you and hold you to be Jack but you would feel like Sanguine? "Therefore I don't think my answer falls apart. There is the physical reality and then our imperfect language that MAPS the world...in our mapping of the world..there is the concept of Sanguine Cynic and of Jack but these are just concepts of convenience and use.." I don´t buy Wittgenstein (yet). But anyway. The point is that we have a concept of personal identity that is embedded into our practices (legal, moral, self-concern, everyday etc.). And the problem of personal identity is to pin down this concept and list the nec. and suff. conditions to understand how we really individuate persons. Simple as that. Because its not a metaphysical question about "REALITY" but rather a question about our concept we can do all sorts of Sci-Fi Star Trek thought experiments to pin down this concept. It doesn´t matter whether or not such things are possible in reality. Greets, Indrek
1/18/07 5:51 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 18-Jan-07
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BODILY&BRAIN CRITERION (these parts are from my notes from a lecture with my teacher Daniel Cohnitz): Bodily Criterion: PI is constituted by bodily identity: P2 at time t2 is the same person as P1 at time t1 if and only if P2 has the same body as P1 had. Refined Bodily Criterion: P2 at time t2 is the same person (is part of the same person) as P1 at time t1 if and only if the matter constituting P2 has resulted from that constituting P1 by a series of more or less gradual replacements in such a way that it is correct to say that the body of P2 at t2 is identical with the body of P1 at t1. This conforms nicely to our ordinary experience and it also puts persons into the natural order of things. But there is a good counterexample by a thought experiment against this: Consider a terrible accident. Mr Brown and Mr Johnson had a serious crash with their cars on Tallinn-Tartu highway. Brown, driving to Tallinn was trying to take over a bus, when Johnson, heading to Tartu was at the same time talking to his wife on the cell phone. Brown and a can of beer that he was just taking a sip from, are rocketed out of the car – Brown crashes against a tree, the can shoots through Johnson's window and perforates his head. The arriving ambulance confirms that Johnson's brain is pretty much destroyed and useless, whereas Brown's brain is still intact - although the rest of his body is severely deformed after the meeting with the tree. In the Tallinn hospital, to which both are immediately taken, the still functioning brain of Brown gets implanted into Johnson's body. After the surgery, the patient, let's call him 'Brownson', awakens. Brownson remembers Brown's past, although he looks to everyone just like Johnson (with a whole in the head). Who is Brownson? Most philosophers who have reflected on the matter believe that Brownson is Brown and that this wasn't a case of brain transplantation (like a kidney or heart transplantation), but rather a skull and body transplantation. But then the Bodily Criterion cannot be correct. It seems neither sufficient nor necessary to have the same body, rather the persistence of brain is what is important. --------------- So we come to the brain criterion: The Brain Criterion: P2 at time t2 is the same person (is part of the same person) as P1 at time t1 if and only if P2 at t2 has the same brain as P1 at t1. Here the counterexample comes from divided brains. The point is that a person can lose half of his brain and still survive and be the same person (and this is a real, not only logical possibility) – so we don´t need the exact same brain, but only a part of it. But the Brain Criterion can be amended and it will become: The Physical Criterion: P2 at time t2 is the same person (is part of the same person) as P1 at time t1 if and only if enough of the brain of P1 at t1 survives in P2 at t2 to be the brain of a living person. This is called the physical criterion by tradition because it is the best physical criterion that someone has been able to come up with. But there is a problem with this criterion also. Imagine a brain back-up as in the movie Freejack. As I remember from the description of the movie, bodies were snatched from the past and then they were used as hardware (body) and hard drives (brain). A person with a dying body could take this new body and insert all of his psychological info into the brain so that he could continue his existence in a new body. Brain is in that case just an information processing device and the information in the brain is what matters for personal identity not the identity of the physical object, the brain, itself. If the brain back-up is a way to survive as a person the death of your body, then all physical accounts must be wrong. Greets, Indrek
1/18/07 12:27 PM
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sanguine cynic
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Edited: 18-Jan-07
Member Since: 06/13/2004
Posts: 1618
"I don?t buy Wittgenstein (yet). But anyway. The point is that we have a concept of personal identity that is embedded into our practices (legal, moral, self-concern, everyday etc.). And the problem of personal identity is to pin down this concept and list the nec. and suff. conditions to understand how we really individuate persons. Simple as that. Because its not a metaphysical question about "REALITY" but rather a question about our concept we can do all sorts of Sci-Fi Star Trek thought experiments to pin down this concept. It doesn?t matter whether or not such things are possible in reality. " I agree with you. That this is an argument of concepts and not of reality.
1/19/07 2:28 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 19-Jan-07
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i want to respond so badly, but i have so much to do ;) Keep an eye out for this thread, i'll be back soon! -doug-
1/20/07 7:23 PM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 20-Jan-07
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;)
1/28/07 8:55 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 28-Jan-07
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Where is your response Vermonter :)
2/1/07 2:52 PM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 01-Feb-07
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Posts: 1561
Still waiting... :)

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