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Consciousness & Self
Renmin University
Beijing China July 8, 2015
Owen Flanagan
James B. Duke University Professor of Philosophy,
Duke University
SELF
PERSON
IDENTITY
‘I’
‘Me’
‘Myself’
CONSCIOUSNESS
SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS
“The quale-consciousness is not confined to simple sensations.
There is a particular quale to purple, though it be only a mixture of
red and blue. There is a distinctive quale to every combination of
sensations – There is a distinctive quale to every work of art – a
distinctive quale to this moment as it is to me – a peculiar quale to
every day and every week – a peculiar quale to my whole personal
consciousness. I appeal to your introspection to bear me out (C. S.
Peirce, 1898, par. 223).”
SELF =
Qualitative SELF =
What it is Like to be Me
Human Q-Selves = Person
Experience Principle: Whatever it is that
make a person WHO he or she is first
personally (his/her Q-SELF) whatever it is
that makes for one’s sense of self and
identity (presumably this is absolutely
unique), it involves necessarily (and likely
in a major way) each individual’s
experiences, past & present.
Causes v. Constituents of
Self/Person/Identity
Causes of MY Q- SELF -- whatever q-experiences & non-experiences
(e.g., genes, fetal environment) make me seem to myself the way I am
(these might not be remembered or known by me at all).
Constituents of MY Q-SELF-- what I in fact (subjectively & sincerely)
see/think/feel/know makes me who and what I am. What it is that it is
like (more-or-less) reliably to be me – both what I remember 1st
personally and what it is like to feel as I do, as the embodied heartmind (xin) I am .
PERSONLocke
“For it being the same
consciousness that makes a
man be himself to himself,
personal identity depends on
that only.”
John Locke, Section 10, Chapter 27 of the 2nd
edition Essay
Person, as I take it, is the name for this self…It is a
forensic term, appropriating actions and their
merit…The personality extends itself beyond present
existence to what is past, only by consciousness,
whereby it becomes concerned and accountable, owns
and imputes to itself past actions, just upon the same
ground and for the same reason that it does the
present…And therefore whatever past actions it
cannot reconcile or appropriate to that present self
by consciousness, it can be no more concerned in
than if they had never been done.
(John Locke Section 26:
1. Homo Sapiens = “Man”
Biological Criterion
2. PERSON
Psychological Criterion
conscious continuity
&
conscious connectedness
3. PERSONLocke
Psychological Continuity & Connectedness
(of the autobiographical memory sort)
allow/entail/constitute?
Moral & Legal & Theological
Responsibility/Accountability
Tortoises, Elephants, Monkeys?
1. SELF-REPRESENTED IDENTITY
(Memories of my deeds, doings,
events in my life)
=
SUBJECTIVE IDENTITY
&
2. ACTUAL FULL IDENTITY
=
OBJECTIVE IDENTITY
[F]or supposing a man punished now for what he
had done in another life, whereof he could be
made to have no consciousness at all, what
difference is there between that punishment, and
being created miserable? And, therefore,
conformable to this, the apostle tells us, that, at the
great day, when every one shall “receive
according to his doings, the secrets of all hearts
shall be laid open.” The sentence shall be
justified by the consciousness all persons
shall have, that they themselves, in what bodies
soever they appear, or what substances soever
that consciousness adheres to, are the same that
committed those actions, and deserve the
punishment for them.
Df. AFI = TRUE & COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF
WHO ONE IS
Question: WHO KNOWS OR TELLS OR CAN (in principle)
DESCRIBE AFI?
(NOTE: Describe =/Have; Senses of “Capture;” 3rd
person v. 1st person))
GOD?
NEUROSCIENCE? (neural level)
PHYSICS? (quantum physics)
IIT? (Pythagorean-Euclidean)
Community
QUESTION:
Did Mother Nature select for LOCKEAN Q-SELFHOOD because it
was fitness-enhancing in which case it is a biological function?
Is having or being a LOCKEAN Q-SELF just an interesting side
effect (by product) of having a certain kind of (pretty) good
memory which was then culturally selected for (to produce
accountability)?
WORRY(ies):
Lockean Q-Self is too heavily linguistic
Isn’t there more to one’s Q-self than what
is/can be remembered in autobiographical
memory?
Isn’t self-experienced identity (SEI) > selfrepresented identity SRI
PERSONJames
We ought to say a feeling of and, a feeling of if, a
feeling of but, and a feeling of by, quite as readily as
we say a feeling of blue or a feeling of cold. Yet we
do not: so inveterate has our habit become of
recognizing the existence of the substantive parts
alone, that language almost refuses to lend itself to
any other use....
Every definite image in the mind is steeped and dyed in the free water
that flows round it. With it goes the sense of its relations, near and
remote, the dying echo of whence it came to us, the dawning sense of
whither it is to lead. The significance, the value, of the image
is all in this halo or penumbra that surrounds and escorts it, -or rather that is fused into one with it and has become bone of its
bone and flesh of its flesh…Let us call the consciousness of this
halo of relations around the image by the name of 'psychic overtone’
or 'fringe.'
SOME FAMILIAR SELF
CONSTITUTING PHENOMENAL/
QUALITATIVE HALOS
l
Social/Historical
Feeling/Being Chinese or American
Temperamental
Being Shy or Novelty Seeking or Meticulous or
Episodic v. Diachronic
Feeling Normal/”Like Oneself”
Sex/Gender/Sexual Orientation
GALEN STRAWSON VS. UNIVERSALITY OF LOCKEAN
PERSONS
“The basic form of Diachronic self-experience is that
[D] one naturally figures oneself, considered as a self,
as something that was there in the (further) past and
will be there in the (further) future.”
“If one is Episodic, by contrast,
[E] one does not figure oneself, considered as a self,
as something that was there in the (further) past and
will be there in the (further) future.” (2004, 430).
PART 2:
Narrative Selves
“A self is probably the most impressive work of art we ever
produce, surely the most intricate. For we create not just
one self-making story but many of them, rather like T.S.
Eliot’s rhyme “We prepare a face to meet/the faces that
we meet.” The job is to get them all into one identity, and
to get them lined up over time.”
Jerome Bruner Making Stories
“We are virtuoso novelists, who find ourselves engaged
in all sorts of behavior, more or less unified, but
Sometimes disunified, and we always put the best
“faces” on we can…that story is our autobiography, the
chief fictional character at the center of the story is one’s
self.” (D.C. Dennett)
Classical Norms of Personhood
• Know Thyself
• Speak Truthfully about Your Self (Truth)
• Be True to Yourself (Authenticity)
• Make Something Interesting/Worthwhile/Decent of/with
Yourself
Question: How much does satisfying these
norms require Q-CONSCIOUSNESS?
Standard Features of Narratives
1.
Pinned on Culturally Available/Endorsed Narrative Hooks (Normal)
2.
Responsive to/Tracks the Important Facts, “What really matters.”
3.
Open-ended (epistemically). One doesn╩╝t know
how things will turn out. But the direction of the narrative, the future, is
structured/constrained by antecedent intentions, plans, and
projects. (“I will always be there for my children;” “I promise to
have and to hold…”)
4. Filled with post facto revising, reinterpretation. (“I never loved her anyway;”
“She was important in my life, but not as important as I once thought.”)
5. Narratively Complete Up-Until-Now: I can (barring dementia)
tell/write it as it is from the beginning to the present (the
standard is “what really matters,” not everything
Question:
Can Q-Selves be explained
naturalistically?
Three Thesis
1. Token Neurophysicalism: in this actual world,
experiences supervene only on embodied beings with nervous
systems topped off by brains, i.e.,, experiences occur only in
and to creatures with nervous systems of certain
sorts.
2. The Varieties/Heterogenity Thesis The ITEMS of experience
are many and various, explained by long history of
organism-environment adaptation and accomodation.
3. Subjective realism for creatures that have experiences, that is,
creatures with the right kinds of nervous systems, experiences are had,
experienced, or possessed only by the creature that has, is constituted by,
or is attached to that particular nervous system. Experiencers have their
own and only their own experiences. Things or systems that lack nervous
systems do not have experiences, and thus there is nothing it is like to be
them, nothing at all. For things or systems that are not experiencers, all
facts about them are, in principle, accessible from the objective point of
view, ergo, objective realism for tables, chairs, bosons, fermions, etc.
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