Djcnor’s Weblog

World Philosophy Day: Question 2

Posted on: November 20, 2008

2) You are not the person who started reading this post

Hey! First of all, that’s not a question. It’s a debating  position.

The real question (posed in a gruesome swapped brains type of way [worse, posed with swapping mine with George Bush’s which is REALLY distasteful]) is: Where is the you of you located?

My answer comes from a saying I read somewhere but don’t know the source of: To be perfect is to change often. That is, since what is perfect at a particular time may be different from what is perfect at another time (fairly obvious to me, though I suppose you could debate it), to remain perfect you must change.

The me of me is the part with shared history and memories. If I give that lobe of my liver to my friend, it is now hers, but it also remains mine as well.

At the end of this post, I remain perfectly myself, as I was perfectly myself at the beginning, even though miniscule bits of me changed in the meanwhile.

To me, it seemed that one was easier than the first.


3 Responses to "World Philosophy Day: Question 2"

“The me of me is the part with shared history and memories.”

So if you had amnesia you’re no longer you – even if it’s only temporary.

I know my memories not perfect too – does that make me less of me because I don’t remember my fifth birthday?

Your consciousness might be “perfect” in this sense – but your body, the cells of your brain, your surrounds are more like a river – and you can’t step in the same river twice.

Ah, I shall have to reveal that I have a background in biochemistry. From what I know of neuroscience, except when the amnesia is due to physical damage to the brain, the memories are still there, and even if the amnesia is complete and permanent, the history remains the same. It is very interesting that, not considering the philosophy at all, friends and family that have known someone who suffers physical damage that destroys the memory often say “He’s not the same person he was.” Of course, they say that when other things have happened too, but I don’t think they mean it as literally.

As for your fifth birthday, you would be less you if some days you remembered your fifth birthday and some days you didn’t. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the scary things about approaching old age.

Last, again it’s interesting that indeed the cells of my brain are very much the ones I’ve had all along, unlike those of the rest of my body. In general, in the brain, there is a weeding out of neurons over time, but not a turnover. Also, if you call the neurons the wiring, there are changes in the insulation, but the brain is not rewired except under extraordinary circumstances, and again we’re talking major injury.

I think I’ve remembered all this correctly. I shall now go and check and post again if I’m not.

Apparently, new neurons are sometimes born in cerain areas of the brain. Let’s see if I manage to place this link which talks about that.

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