Cory Ruda Survival of Identity Over Time At some point, for many people, an idea springs into their

minds. It is the idea of “What if?” This “What if?” can, and does, take many forms, ranging from the simple, “What if I went right instead of left?” to “What if I woke up tomorrow as someone or something else,” such as the predicament presented by Franz Kafka in his book, Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist awakens one day to find that he has been transformed into a beetle. The question, however, in its most basic form seems to be, “How can we remain with the same identity as time passes? How do we not just change our very essence, whatever that may be, and become, literally, someone new?” I argue that we cannot become someone new, and, what makes a person himself, is physical continuity as well as a complete and unobstructed series of causation. To do this I will examine the views of philosophers passed, and respond to other forms of “Identity Theories.” Firstly, a very important, yet relatively simple law must be explained: the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity states that an object is the same as itself, and only shares that relation, identity, with itself. Following such, identity itself as it will be used here must be explained. There are two separate types of identity will be referred to within this paper, namely that of qualitative and numerical identity. Qualitative identity refers only to what describes us as we currently exist, meaning it only describes person X. It could change moment by moment, and yet never effect the person for whom it is describing. For example, John could put on or take off a tie, or get a hair cut without changing his true identity. He

could even go so far as getting a tattoo, or having an appendage severed. John, however, would (assumedly) still be the same person before and after all of the above changes. On the other hand, numerical identity is that of our true identity. It is who we are, and can only change if we are not who (or what) we had been previously. No superficial change can occur to change numerical identity. Thus, the identity referred to in the law of identity above is that of numerical identity. “An object is numerically the same as itself, and can not share the same quality, numerical identity, with any other thing.” The question, then, is what constitutes the ability to change numerical identity? This also follows with the existence of items. If one were to buy a pack of one dozen red ink pens, which were all manufactured from the same factory with the same templates, they would look very much identical. Alas, they are but qualitatively identical to each other, and only each individual pen has numerical identity to itself. A possible theory is that of Derek Parfit, who is identified as a reductionist on his view of personal identity. Before looking into his view, that of the basic reductionist must be presented. A reductionist views and explains things as nothing more than a sum of smaller, less complex parts, especially if there is no complete, over-riding explanation for the greater whole system. Derek Parfit's view will be the example of reductionism: Since there is no complete and accurate theory of personal identity, it must then be reduced to its component parts. Thus. Parfit concludes, there is no true existence of personal identity. There is nothing but the components, which he describes as being an R-relation, or a mixture of what he calls “psychological connectedness,” and overlapping “chains” of connectivity.

Psychological connectedness could be described best as one's memory. Memory holds the person's past events, which, most importantly, includes their knowledge of personal identity, their name and such. The “chains” of connectivity are in reference to memory overlap, which requires a correct version of causation. Derek Parfit explains in general terms what the “Correct Versions” are, but it is basically that, somewhere along the line, as long as a memory is kept of an experience, and that you now have this memory from a first person perspective, the survival of the person who had the memory is safe. Therefor, we should not worry about personal identity and longevity of life and existence as long as our RRelation is kept safe in someone's mind. Identity is not what matters, or what we should care about. Survival is the only thing needed, and, which should be yearned for. A main problem with Parfit's views is that he really doesn't address how one survives, and how the R-Relation gains continued personal existence, but more so, explains something along the lines of, “It would be nicer if someone maintained my ideas and experiences.” What we does is create a person who is, in some ways, qualitatively alike when it comes to their minds and experiences. Furthermore, even if our R-Relation were held, it would give no reason whatsoever why we as an individual would continue existing. Consider this: One day, you die. Eventually it will happen, anyway, so just imagine it is today. Eight months later, however, a man named Tom Baker is walking along, and all of a sudden, all of your previous experiences and memories from before you died someone pop into his mind so that he believes he experienced them all at some point himself. To Parfit, he would now be you. Is he you? Will your perspective shift so that you are seeing out of his eyes too? If you die, will you

transfer to his life, and not die? No, there's no reason to believe that, therefor, you will not continue your existence, although, there is now someone who thinks, acts, and seems exactly like you. However, to David Lewis, this would indeed get personal survival, and would qualify as being it's own continued identity. To him, what matters in survival is mental continuity and “connectedess.” What he wants in continuity is that his thoughts, experiences, beliefs, desires, and character traits should continue in the mind of another. To achieve this, he wants to have multiple and gradual steps of continuity bonding, so that the change doesn't happen all at once. This, more specifically, is him wanting an unbroken, continued line of causation from brain state to brain state, so that his brain states never end from one to the other, and so one is the immediate causation of the one previous to it. Lewis, therefor, holds the exact opposite view than Parfit. Survival is not what is necessary or wanted, identity is all that matters. I must also, however, deem this problematic and incomplete as to the complete survival of identity and person existence. Again, I'll say, consider this: A scientist, Doctor Arbitrary, creates a human body, which is fully functional, but devoid of any thoughts, emotions, or anything as such, it was just waiting for someone's thoughts and memories to be transferred into it, as that it why it was created. Dr. A Then uses a machine to copy every neural pattern from your brain and “pastes” it all to the empty bodies brain. All of your memories, personality, etc. are now grafted into the brain of the empty body, and now he is walking around, acting and talking just as you are. As said previously with Parfit, this person Lewis has created is only qualitatively similar in his mind, but does not reach numerical identity. Even if this new body were perfectly similar to yours, he

would still only achieve qualitative similarity. This may seem an interesting idea, and you'll have a fantastic game of chess out of it, but it doesn't explain how, when you die physically, you're going to continue living through this other body. Even imagine that your mind is wiped just as the new body is finished with the grafting procedure so that one brain state in the old body follows to the next brain state in the new body. You still have no good reason to believe that you're not going to die if the old body were shot. Your perspective would remain the same throughout, and you would, indeed, cease to exist. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Peter Unger's view of identity and survival. It is his belief that, what matters in personal survival is not psychological in nature, but physical. The brain is what controls and maintains a person, and, as long as that continued unscathed, the person would continue. So, whatever it is in the brain that physically houses the persons characteristics and psychology is what the person is, and as long as that remains intact and living, the person will continue as he had previously. This is not only close to my person beliefs on the matter, but follows along quite nicely with the advent and rise of neuroscience and the information we have currently. To Unger, as long as the brain is intact, and doesn't change too dramatically at once, it will survive. This allows for a brain transplant, for loss of parts of the brain, and even for a bionic brain and body to be integrated, assuming the process took place over a long enough period of time, and with only very small percentages of the brain being removed and replaced at once. It is with this view that I must agree, and compound onto. For all the information we have at hand currently, it seems like who we are and what we could be, in relation to

as it is above, comes, without fraction, with the brain. It is not, as I believe it, a fact that only the parts of the brain which retain your emotions, memories, etc. are you, but the brain itself makes you. One could indeed imagine that Dr. Arbitrary came along as wiped out all the patterns of the brain that you had previously, then pasted someone else's neural patterns onto you. Would this mean that you are a new person? No, as you would continue on with the same perspective. If someone said, “I'm going to inflict a massive amount of pain onto this body, but only after Dr. A did his procedure,” then you would still be upset about this. What this means is that physical continuity is what matters in a person. Identity is only secondary to it, if it really matters at all. We, as egotistical humans, may want our identity to continue, but that's only because we think that that is important. When it comes to survival of the self and the perspective however, it doesn't. To clarify, I have referred to perspective multiple times throughout this bit of writing. What I have meant is, basically, the understanding of the brain (and thus, the person,) as it exists, continues to live, and retains experience, either from the sensory inputs of the body, or its own mental creations, such as thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. It could therefor be said that what we want in survival of the person is the true, unbroken continuity of the “perspective.” How this “perspective” operates, and what is needed to create a single unified being is beyond me, as I am no neuroscientist. I can not explain how a split-brain patient could suddenly come to have, what it seems like, at least, two “people” operate inside of them. I will say, however, that the two “people” are not two people at all. They are just different parts of a single “person,” reacting to stimuli separately. It is not to say

that there are two brains, but a single brain which has been “broken.” Thus, where an unbroken brain may work together to put out a unified answer, the broken brain can not work together, as such, but, to “function properly” it still wants to respond to sensory input with output, each side creates a response and sends it as output because it is doing what it exists to do. A “person,” then, is ultimately just a brain existing to do what it exists to do. It is taking sensory input, storing it, and reacting to it in a way that is both: A) Correct as to what it has been “programmed,” to do through the stored experiences previously, and B) Normally, at least, reacting in a way that is linear to how it reacted previously. There is no separate thing that is “personhood,” only the collection and progress of the programming of the brain. Finally, in response to those who would question how a brain alone could create a mind, I respond, I have no idea, and that any other theory floating along currently has similar, if not, the exact problem as well.

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