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Meditation Center Shows Part 11 of Mind-Body Philosophy series

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By Frank Simons

What precisely is the “sense of self”—is it an element added to experience, or is it built into the structure of our experience? What counts as the same person over time?

Episode 11 of The Great Courses series, Mind-Body Philosophy, entitled “Self-Consciousness and the Self,” being shown on March 22 at the Meditation Center, attempts to answer these questions.

What is it that makes someone the same person over time? Locke believes it is continuity of memory not identity of bodies. He offers the thought-experiment of implanting the consciousness of a prince into the body of a cobbler. Who will that person be? Locke answers, without doubt, it is the prince. It is continuity of memory that makes a person the same over time.

Derek Parfit is a contemporary philosopher who has explored questions of memory and personal identity in great depth, using some strange and wonderful thought experiments. Let’s say a transporter from Star Trek can take a complete map of your brain and body, disassemble your atoms, and send them to a receiver, where identical atoms are assembled to recreate you. Is that copy you? Did you not cease to exist when you were disassembled? What if the transporter sends the signal to two different places, making two copies of you?

Parfit thinks this thought experiment shows that being the same person isn’t always a matter of yes or no. He calls someone who thinks that selves come in discrete yes-or-no packages an ego theorist. He rejects ego theory. There just aren’t individual selves in the way we intuitively think they are.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Patrick Grim has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Grim was awarded the universities Presidential and Chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars. There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video. Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Mind-Body Philosophy Part 11: “Self-Consciousness and the Self”

Thu, Mar 22, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950




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