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Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
(Text as at 05/04/2016 23:19:41)
(For other versions of this Note, see the tables at the end)
- The topic “personal identity” has historically presupposed that we are (in the sense of “identical to”, or “most fundamentally”) persons, whereas I (along with other animalists) claim that we are identical to human animals.
- “We” requires explanation. This chapter attempts to sort out the topic of discussion for the Thesis as a whole.
- I need to address the concept of a SOUL as souls are the major counter-claim to the persisting entity being an animal; or at least popularly so. The same goes for SELVES, and also for HUMAN BEINGS, insofar as these are supposed to be distinct from HUMAN ANIMALs.
- I also need to have some discussion of what is meant by the various other possibilities of what we are, but leave explications of PERSONs, BODIES and ANIMALs / ORGANISMs until later Chapters.
- I’m not quite sure where the possibility that we are BRAINs ought to go, but for the time being it’s here; and this leads on to the possibility (tacitly assumed in some TEs) that we might be individual CEREBRA.
- Follow this Link1 for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
- The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
- Follow this Link2 for my progress dashboard on these tasks.
- Progress on this Chapter is unusual in that it was the sample Chapter on which I was working with my Supervisor when registered for the PhD at Birkbeck.
- This Chapter has the title “What Are We?”. The “We” is of some significance, as we will see in the course of this Thesis when we consider the social and reciprocal aspects of what it is to be a person. Nonetheless, should we not start with the singular, maybe even solipsist, question “What Am I?”, and expand out from there into the collective question? How we phrase our initial question has an impact on the course of our investigations, and may reflect our deepest presuppositions. The first-person question adopts the Cartesian stance of looking from the inside out, whereas the third-person question considers “us” collectively. The first-person question may presuppose that the answer to the question is that I am primarily a psychological being, whereas the third-person question may assume or expect the answer that I am fundamentally physical.
- Some of the potential answers to the question will be the same whether we phrase the question in the singular or the plural.
- Taking it in the plural for now, we need to distinguish, as candidates for what we might be on the physical side, (prefixing “human-” passim):-
- Beings, and
- On the psychological side, I might be a self or, more popularly, a person. I might even be a non-essentially-embodied entity like a soul.
- I will consider all these options in due course; with the exception of a detailed discussion of the concept PERSON (which is reserved for the next Chapter3), I will do so later in this chapter.
- Olson4 also considers whether we might be Humean bundles of mental states and events, and even the nihilist view that we don’t exist at all. I’m not sure I’ll have space for these, but need to remain aware of the possibilities and motivations for these positions.
- However, for the moment I want to consider some themes connecting the possible answers to our question. Firstly, does there have to be a single answer? I know that I, and presume that my readers also, fall happily under the concepts HUMAN ANIMAL, HUMAN ORGANISM and HUMAN BEING. I at least have a human body and a human brain, though I would initially feel reluctant to say that I am one of either of these things. I would certainly claim to be a SELF, and also a PERSON, as no doubt would my reader. So, cannot all these answers be correct?
- This raises the question of what I mean by saying what I am (or we are) something. In saying that I am any of these things, what sort of relation is the “am”? Am I using am in the sense of an identity relation, a constitution relation, ascribing a predicate, or have some other sense in mind?
- There are two kinds of questions I want to ask. Firstly, what sort of being am I identical to? Secondly, what sort of properties do I have; both metaphysically essential properties (those without which I would cease to exist), and those I merely consider essential (that is, “very important”, though I would continue to exist without them)?
- Any “is” that does duty for the identity relation inherits the formal properties of an equivalence relation; in particular, it is a transitive relation. Additionally, the “two” identical entities either side of the copula must satisfy Leibniz’s law; “they” share (at a time) all their properties; actual and modal, intrinsic and relational. So, if I am identical to a human animal, and also identical to a human person, then that human animal must be identical to that human person. This would mean that these “two” entities are really one. They co-exist at all times in all possible worlds where either of “them” exists, and share all their properties and relations, at any time and world. Everything that happens to “one” at a world and time happens to the “other” at those coordinates. This places strong logical constraints on how much cake I can have and eat. I may want to say that I am identical both to a human animal, and to a human person, yet claim that a human person has certain mental properties essentially, but deny that a human animal does. However, I am then claiming what is logically impossible, at least for the classical logic of identity that denies that such notions as relative identity are coherent. As we will see, this point is essential to the animalist case that we are not identical to human persons (given the claim that we are identical to human animals).
- My thesis addresses the topic of personal identity, but we might claim that what we’re really interested in is in our identity. Not that we have doubts as individuals as to which particular individual we are (as though I, as Bill Clinton, don’t know whether I am Bill Clinton or George W. Bush), but what sort of individual we are, together with worries about our persistence (how long we are going to last, and in what form). Historically, it has been a standard presupposition that what we are most fundamentally is persons, or at least that’s all we care about. So, concern about our identity has been elided with concern for personal identity, almost as though we thought that the two questions are the same. Animalists argue that the two questions are indeed different, but for convenience, and the historical continuity of the general topic under discussion, still say they are talking about personal identity.
- To be supplied.
Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed5
- For this Chapter I have already worked on the various papers or book chapters under supervisory control. Where this is the case, for ease of reference, the analytical Note for each reference is hyperlinked directly.
- Additionally, I may need to consider other papers or book chapters in the following lists (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going. Some that I have considered have been culled or reserved for later.
- The General Question:-
- "Baillie (James) - What Am I?". See Note (Draft6, Review Comments7). Baillie
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - What Am I?". See Note (Draft8, Review Comments9). Baker.
- "Brandom (Robert) - Toward a Normative Pragmatics", sections I:1-3. See Note (Draft10, Review Comments11). Brandom12
- "Chisholm (Roderick) - Which Physical Thing Am I? An Excerpt from 'Is There a Mind-Body Problem?'". See (Draft13, Review Comments14). Chisholm15
- "DeGrazia (David) - Are we essentially persons? Olson, Baker, and a reply". See Skeleton Note16, DeGrazia
- "Lakoff (George) & Johnson (Mark) - Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought", Lakoff&Johnson
- "Le Fanu (James) - Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves", LeFanu17
- "Olson (Eric) - The Nature of People". Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We?". See Note (Draft18, Review Comments – First Half19, Second Half20). Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology", Olson21, expecially22 …
- "Parfit (Derek) - What We Believe Ourselves To Be". See Skeleton Note25. Parfit
- "Pollock (John L.) - What Am I? Virtual Machines and the Mind/Body Problem", Pollock
- "Porter (Roy) - Flesh in the Age of Reason - The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul", Porter26
- "Rorty (Amélie Oksenberg) - Characters, Persons, Selves, Individuals", Rorty
- "Swinburne (Richard) - Personal Identity: The Dualist Theory". See Skeleton Note27, Swinburne.
- Brains / Cerebra
- "Brennan (Andrew) - Persons and their Brains", Brennan
- "Green (Michael) & Wikler (Daniel) - Brain Death and Personal Identity", Green&Wikler
- "Lockwood (Michael) - When Does a Life Begin?", Lockwood28
- "Murphy (Nancey) - I Cerebrate Myself: Is there a little man inside your brain?", Murphy29
- "Noe (Alva) - Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness", Noe
→ "Manninen (Tuomas) - Review of Alva Noe's 'Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain'", Manninen
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Brains", Olson
- "Puccetti (Roland) - Brain Transplants and Personal Identity", Puccetti30
- "Puccetti (Roland) - Mr. Brennan on Person's Brains", Puccetti
- "Puccetti (Roland) - Two Brains, Two Minds? Wigan's Theory of Mental Duality", Puccetti
- "Puccetti (Roland) - The Conquest of Death", Puccetti
- "Robinson (Daniel) - What Sort of Persons Are Hemispheres? Another Look at 'Split-Brain' Man", Robinson
- "Steineck (Christian) - Brain Death, Death, and Personal Identity", Steineck
- "Steinhart (Eric) - Persons Versus Brains: Biological Intelligence in Human Organisms", Steinhart
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Plantinga’s Replacement Argument", Van Inwagen
- "Wilkerson (T.E.) - Minds, Brains and People", Wilkerson
- Neurological Background
- "Andrewes (David) - Neuropsychology: From Theory to Practice", Andrewes
- "Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Neuroscience", Bear&Connors&Paradiso
- "Bennett (M.R.) & Hacker (P.M.S.) - Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience", Bennett&Hacker
- "DeMyer (William) - Neuroanatomy", DeMyer
- "Churchland (Patricia) - Brain-wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy", Churchland
- "Churchland (Patricia) - Neurophilosophy - Towards a Unified Science of the Mind/Brain", Churchland
- "Graham (George) & Stephens (G. Lynn) - Philosophical Psychopathology", Graham&Stephens
- "Restak (Richard) - The Modular Brain", Restak
- "Russell (Robert John), Murphy (Nancey), Meyering (Theo C.), Arbib (Michael A.) - Neuroscience and the Person", Russell etc.
- Human Beings
- "Becker (Lawrence) - Human Being: The Boundaries of the Concept", Becker
- "Cockburn (David), Ed. - Human Beings", Cockburn
- "Graham (Gordon) - Review of David Cockburn's 'Human Beings'", Graham
- "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings". See Skeleton Note31, Johnston.
- "Johnston (Mark) - 'Human Beings' Revisited: My Body is Not an Animal", Johnston
- "Oderberg (David) - Johnston on Human Beings", Oderberg
- "Parfit (Derek) - We Are Not Human Beings", Parfit
- "Robinson (Denis) - Human Beings, Human Animals, and Mentalistic Survival", Robinson
- "Alexander (Ronald) - The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity", Alexander33
- "Brennan (Andrew) - Fragmented Selves and the Problem of Ownership", Brennan
- "Campbell (John) - Past, Space and Self", Campbell
- "Cassam (Quassim) - Kant and Reductionism", Cassam
- "Cassam (Quassim) - Self and World", Cassam
- "Dennett (Daniel) - The Self as a Center of Narrative Gravity", Dennett
- "Churchland (Patricia) - Self and Self-Knowledge", Churchland
- "Dennett (Daniel) - The Reality of Selves", Dennett
- "Feinberg (Todd) - Altered Egos: How the Brain Creates the Self", Feinberg
- "Gallagher (Shaun) & Shear (Jonathan), Eds. - Models of the Self", Gallagher
- "Harre (Rom) - Persons and Selves", Harre
- "Jenkins (Phil) - Review of Galen Strawson's 'Selves'", Jenkins
- "Korsgaard (Christine) - Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity", Korsgaard
- "Lowe (E.J.) - Substance and Selfhood", Lowe
- "Ludwig (Arnold) - How do we Know who we are? A Biography of the Self", Ludwig
- "Madell (Geoffrey) - The Identity of the Self", Madell
- "Martin (Raymond) - Self-Concern: An Experiential Approach to what Matters in Survival", Martin
- "McGinn (Colin) - The Self", McGinn
- "Metzinger (Thomas) - Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity", Metzinger
- "Metzinger (Thomas) - The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self", Metzinger
→ "Godelek (Kamuran) - Review of Thomas Metzinger's 'The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self'", Godelek
- "Nagel (Thomas) - Mind and Body", Nagel
- "Nagel (Thomas) - Subjective and Objective", Nagel
- "Nagel (Thomas) - The Objective Self", Nagel
- "Perry (John) - The Self", Perry
- "Schechtman (Marya) - The Constitution of Selves", Schechtman
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity", Shoemaker
- "Strawson (Galen) - The Self", Strawson_G
- "Valberg (J.J.) - Dream, Death, and the Self", Valberg
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Self: the Incredulous Stare Articulated", Van Inwagen
- "Williams (Bernard) - Problems of the Self", Williams
- "Wolf (Susan) - Self-Interest and Interest in Selves", Wolf
- "Wright (Crispin) - The Problem of Self-Knowledge (I)", Wright
- "Zahavi (Dan) - Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective", Zahavi
- "Blackmore (Susan) - Beyond the Body", Blackmore
- "Brown (Warren), Murphy (Nancey) & Malony (H. Newton), Eds. - Whatever Happened to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature", Brown
- "Chisholm (Roderick) - On the Simplicity of the Soul", Chisholm
- "Chopra (Deepak) & Hameroff (Stuart) - Can science explain the soul?", Chopra&Hameroff
- "Cooper (John) - Body, Soul and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-dualism Debate", Cooper
- "Corcoran (Kevin), Ed. - Soul, Body and Survival: Essays on the Metaphysics of Human Persons", Corcoran
- "Crabbe (James), Ed. - From Soul to Self", Crabbe
- "Carruthers (Peter) - The Nature of the Mind: Identity and the Soul", Carruthers
- "Geach (Peter) - God and the Soul (Analytical ToC)", Geach
- "Hoffman (Joshua) & Rosenkrantz (Gary) - Are Souls Unintelligible?", Hoffman&Rosenkrantz
- "Moreland (J.P.) & Rae (Scott) - Body & Soul - Human Nature and the Crisis in Ethics", Moreland&Rae
- "Murphy (Nancey) - Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?", Murphy
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Souls", Olson
- "Peters (Ted) - Resurrection of the Very Embodied Soul?", Peters
- "Quinton (Anthony) - The Soul", Quinton
- "Rosenberg (Jay) - Bodies and Souls I - The Limits of Theorizing", Rosenberg
- "Sosa (Ernest) - Subjects Among Other Things", Sosa
- "Swinburne (Richard) - The Evolution of the Soul", Swinburne
- "Unger (Peter) - Why We Really May Be Immaterial Souls", Unger
- "Wright (N.T.) - Mind, Spirit, Soul and Body: All for One and One for All - Reflections on Paul’s Anthropology in his Complex Contexts", Wright
- Many aspects of these papers will need to be left for later chapters.
- There had already been a lot of cutting in the various selections of the original reading list – the reading lists attached to the Notes run on and on – and these items just represent the works in my possession (though I have sought out all that I’ve heard of that look relevant).
- However, the items in the lists following were given some attention, and have been culled – at least temporarily – from the lists above, where they originally appeared. I’ve not always given a reason as I’ve not studied them sufficiently closely. But, you have to draw a line somewhere.
- The General Question
- "Bloom (Paul) - Descartes' Baby: How Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human", Bloom35
- "Bourgeois (Warren) - Persons: What Philosophers Say about You", Bourgeois36
- "Chitty (Andrew) - First Person Plural Ontology and Praxis", Chitty
- "Doepke (Frederick) - Introduction: What Are We?", Doepke
- "Doepke (Frederick) - What We Are", Doepke
- "Ford (Norman) - When Did I Begin: Conception of the Human Individual in History, Philosophy and Science", Ford
- "Stevenson (Leslie) & Haberman (David) - Ten Theories of Human Nature", Stevenson&Haberman
- "Trigg (Roger) - Ideas of Human Nature: An Historical Introduction", Trigg
- "Trupp (Andreas) - Why We Are Not What We Think We Are: A New Approach to the Nature of Personal Identity and of Time", Trupp
- Brains / Cerebra
- Human Beings
Links to Notes
- For an out-of-date skeleton giving a fuller reading list, follow this link37.
- Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter:-
- Candidates for what we are, considered in later Chapters:-
- This is work in progress48.
In-Page FootnotesFootnote 4: In "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology"
Footnote 12: The excerpt from Brandom raises some questions about the community we call “we”.
- See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
- The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 15: Baker often expresses indebtedness to Roderick Chisholm, who is reviewed on that account.
Footnote 17: An annoying book, but one I ought to study.
Footnote 21: The book. From my perspective, probably the most important source for this Chapter.
Footnote 22: See also the Chapters on Brains and Souls in the subsequent reading-lists.
Footnote 26: Useful historical background, maybe!
Footnote 28: Lockwood might deny that this is his view, but he seems committed to it, as far as I can see.
Footnote 29: This maybe ought to be categorised as an “anti-soul” view.
Footnote 30: Some of the papers by Puccetti will be reconsidered in (or maybe reserved for – a couple already have been) Chapter 10.
Footnote 33: Alexander thinks that we are Selves, and that Selves are tropes – abstract particulars – which by my lights is about as far from the truth as you can get, so I need to consider his arguments carefully.
- This list is rather long, and contains many whole books. I may have to cull several of these further down the line.
- However, the Self is important, as it’s the root of Baker’s FPP, and the motivator for all psychological theories of PI, so understanding just what it is supposed to be is central to my concerns.
Footnote 35: This looks interesting, but is somewhat off-topic for a priority reading-list.
- The comment about the prolixity of the reading list applies even more to Souls than Selves, without the positive connection my primary thesis.
- However, if we were to be souls, this would solve the resurrection problem; so I need to thoroughly understand the reasons why we might be – but most likely are not – souls.
Footnote 36: This is rather elementary, and ought to have been reviewed in Chapter 01.
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