The Thinking Self

Who am I It is weird to ask such question, especially since everyone knows that I am myself. Yet, in philosophy this question is something that raises debates and several theories. Some of the curious thinkers that engaged in this subject were Derek Parfit and Godfrey Vesey in an article Brain Transplants and Personal Identity. Another author was Daniel Dennet who wrote a short contemplative story entitled Where am I Both of the articles focus on the idea of identity. Thus, it is appropriate to present a reaction base on this concept.

Intrinsically, identity is the thinking self. I believe that this is so because a blind person (since birth) could not identify his physical self but still has the concept of identity. After reading the conversation between Parfit and Vesey, I was intrigued by the manner in which Parfit defend his concept of psychological continuity. I perceive that this concept is the same as my concept of the thinking self. Parfit explained that if a persons brain would be transferred to another mans body and if the original body dies then the persons identity would depend on which psychological continuity survived.
 Practically, I believe this situation is impossible. However, for the sake of argument, I would agree that the surviving person is indeed the one whos memories continue to exist. Nevertheless, the psychological continuation would not be too long. I believe that it would change or adapt on the new body with its new circumstances. For example, the body has suffered from paralysis of the limbs. This would drive the existing psychological continuity to act differently. Thus, the psychological continuity would change in perspective and might follow the same reactions that the former body has.

More importantly, who would recognize the psychological continuity if it is equated with identity If the new body was an escaped criminal, how would the psychological continuity react and defend itself. If the court recognize that the psychological identity of the body is not the criminal. It would produce a slippery slope that would be very destructive for the judicial system. Thus, the best way would be to treat the matter in such manner as one would treat a person with schizophrenia. Anyways, the actual criminal was already dead when his psychological identity ceased to exist.

In connection to this, Daniel Dennet presented a story about brain, body and the self. In the story, these three remained connected by virtue of some scientific interventions. According to the story, the nerves were merely stretched through transmitters. So the brain can see, the body can see and the identity is somewhere in between. I said that this is so because the thinking self is still connected to the body. In such a manner that the thinking self could decide whether he wants to see through the body or through the brain. The brain could see, I suppose, due to the transmitters.   Indeed I agree that the location of the point of view is the location of the person. Given that by person, it refers to the thinking self.

In general, identity is connected to the mind. The mind is affected by the senses and the perception received by the body. Nonetheless, the mind process information through the brain. Therefore, the mind is a combination of the body experiences and the thought process of the brain. The identity of the person is largely presented by the body because the body is the one that collects outside information that the identity could process. In a sense, this implies that the mind do not contain anything prior to experience. In such case, the identity could change if the bodily circumstances changes. Given that in Dennetts story, the brain was separated from the body and that the brain perceives differently from the body. It is inevitable that the mind would have a different thinking self than the body.


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