Brain Bisection and Personal Identity
Gillett (Grant)
Source: Mind, New Series, Vol. 95, No. 378 (Apr., 1986), pp. 224-229
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. It has been argued that 'brain bisection1' data leads us to abandon our traditional conception of personal identity.
  2. Nagel2 & Parfit3 have adopted similar positions, contending that patients with 'split brains' become two separate 'streams of consciousness' and thus that our normal sense of personal identity, or at least 'what matters4' about personal identity is constituted by psychological relations between connected conscious experiences.
  3. It is claimed that in 'split brain' patients certain of the relations are disrupted and that we thus see clearly that the nature of the unity that is normally present does not reside in a single subject with a given identity, but in the connectedness5 and continuity that normally obtains.
  4. Parfit6 draws on two sources of support for these contentions:
    1. the first is the actual events that transpire after a human being is submitted to the operation of sectioning the corpus callosum (or 'brain bisection'), and
    2. the second is the imaginative consideration of various scenarios involving graded mental and physical discontinuity, and the 'fission7' and 'fusion8' of persons.
  5. I shall do little more than argue that the actual data will not sustain the interpretation put on them.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2: Footnote 3:

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