Roderick M. Chishlom uses several similar examples in order to showcase his mindset concerning one of the oldest philosophical topics regarding identity. Notion that everything is changing and constantly transforming has been explored both on philosophical and scientific levels. Constant recycling of materialistic particulars is a process that is happening on everyday bases. Even though the fact of transformation is pretty well known there is still an enigma surrounding on what is helping those transforming objects to keep there identity as they remain on specific consistent spatiotemporal tangent of universe.
Ship of Theseus is one of the famous examples that showcases the ideology behind the problem of identity and is also used by Chisholm to start of his main theme of the piece which tackles directly with ‘loose’ and ‘strict’ sense of identity. Idea of the puzzle is that the Ship of Theseus, which was originally made out of wood, started to undergo constant change of parts and by the time it reached the aimed destination, aluminum parts replaced every chunk of the old ship that was once made out of wooden components.
Now lets imagine a hypothetical ship that can be constructed directly from the disposed parts to the point where we end up with two identical ships, one made out of aluminum and one from original wooden parts. The puzzle makes us wonder which ship can be considered original. To supplement this puzzle with more mystery lets suppose that the captain of the ship vowed that if his original ship would ever sink to the bottom of the water he would go down with it. We have to wonder which ship he would choose assuming that we ended up with two hypothetically identical ships, one with original parts and other with newly acquired aluminum parts.
In order to grapple with this puzzle one has to understand some idea behind ‘loose’ and ‘strict’ identities. Chishlom uses suggestion that was posed by Bishop Butler in which he spoke on the idea of loose and popular sense of reality versus strict and philosophical. Those two notions dictate two schools of thoughts that can be used in order to tackle with the puzzle. Strictly speaking everything undergoes some sort of change weather it is change of parts or change of personal characteristics, herefore in a very straight forward philosophical sense nothing remains the same in relation to its previous self, even if the change is slightest. Having said that it will be linguistically inconvenient to start identifying every particular thing with different name after every transformation that happens to the thing. For example if I had specific set of qualities 6 years ago that now I don’t posses should not necessarily imply that I am not the same substance based person that I was before, rather loosely speaking I am a successor of someone that I was specific years ago.
Connection can be varied in degrees depending how much change I underwent since those years. Important point that comes out of this, is that language becomes more convenient when one is speaking loosely because it will be almost impossible to name every previous self of me after every single change that I underwent therefore making communication of thoughts and perceived reality more complicated. Chishlom therefore forms his own view on what Buttler meant when saying ‘loose and popular sense of identity compare to strict and philosophical.
From his understanding if an object or a person follows a strict spatiotemporal road it does not matter how many changes this thing might undergo, what remains the same is that hypothetical trace that it is leaving which is helping that object to retain itself through time and change. Chishlom poses his own example involving a table. Lets assume that we have a table consisting of parts A and B. Lets suppose that on Monday that table involved original A and B parts, but on Tuesday A part was replaced by C part and than on Wednesday the B part was replaced by D part therefore ending up with three different tables, ab, bc, and cd.
Successive nature of those tables enables us to look at this issue from either loose or strict point of perspective. If one decides to look at it strict philosophic context, it can be argued that there were three tables on three different days occupying same exact space, hence if one decides to look at this from loose point of perspective it can be said that the table remains the same despite the fact that table CD has zero original parts, but even though it might not have original parts it still is a successor of table AB and a direct successor of table BC which is a direct successor of table AB. his undefined link that all three tables share through time helps it to retain its given identity. Going back to original problem of the Ship of Theseus it becomes apparent that loosely speaking the ship that was going from point A to point B is still the same ship even though it underwent plethora of changes to the point that it lost all of its original parts.
On personal bases I don’t object this interpretation because it does not deny the fact that change is happening rather in order to tackle with this issue one has to properly express his thoughts via linguistic medium, therefore saying that the ship of Theseus on point A is not the same ship that it became after arriving on point B is true on strict bases but loosely speaking it is same to its original counterpart due to following a designated hidden universal track and chain of direct connections, therefore retaining its identity. 1.
Describe and assess Derek Parfit’s account of personal identity. Questions and proposals regarding personal identity can be considered as one of oldest and most controversial topics that have been floating in human consciousness. Plethora of philosophers emitted there views regarding what makes one who he is, weather if it is some sort of a substance, also know as soul or weather it is something more liquid that can be easily split or fused. Derek Parfit is a contemporary British philosopher who projected his analyses regarding human identity through reductionist point of view.
His main thesis consists of discounting a notion of a third party entity such as soul, and rather putting major emphasis on brain psychology, specifically relations of degree, and the ways that it shapes an “identity” of a person through space and time. Parfit kicks of the essay by using an example involving shattering the bridge between opposing brain hemispheres, a practice that was used in order to treat brain epilepsy. This procedure often times resulted formation of two, co-existing minds inhabiting the same body.
To build a more hypothetical and yet easier understandable example Parfit renders a situation in which two opposing parts of brain are transplanted into two different bodies, allegedly resulting formation of identical continues consciousness existing at the same exact time. This farther removes Parfit from the notion of a substance holding identity together rather than psychological continuity and psychological connectedness. For example two individuals who derived from the same brain would be psychologically continues with the original starting point of the operation, having said that after decades of fulfilling and eveloping new motivations/aspirations those two individuals won’t only be different from another but also from the original being. This showcases that psychological continuity is not an only concept that should be used while describing human identity rather psychological connectedness. Psychological connectedness is a degree of connectedness between two self’s that are most closely related with each other. In order to get a better understanding of psychological connectedness we can use expressions such as following: “my most recent self” “one of my earlier self’s” one of my distant self’s and etc.
We can supplement those examples farther by posing a hypothetical situation. If I had to translate last year of my life into a mathematical axis and put a point after every day that passed therefore drawing out 365 points I can somewhat end up with alleged metaphysical tangent of my 365 days of existence. Roughly speaking closest self that I can relate to out of all the numbered dots, would be the one before the day that the tangent was made (point 364), expression such as ‘my most recent self’ can be linked in order to for me to describe my degree of relation with that point.
Those points can be labeled psychologically connected with each other. Overall connectedness between points can be labeled as psychological continuity. Psychological continuity is something that one is following, which is helping that individual to stay centered throughout the trip. Therefore one can assume that what becomes important to keep the transformation going is survival and everything else such as characteristics, cosmetics and other parts of self is meant to change after specific points of time. Parfit uses idea of q-memories to farther showcase his views regarding identity not being the core plate in ones existence.
Parfit discusses how memories don’t necessarily have to contain strong emotional bond with current present self, that in times memories arrive through system of beliefs rather than full experience of the past self therefore farther isolating the two parts from each other. In addition Parfit speaks how if a separate hypothetical q-memories are somehow buffered in someone’s consciousness that person would not only thinking of past experience but on addition would also think who’s experience it was, point being that memories can be viewed unstable and liquid and should not be allowed to directly presuppose identity.
From my understanding Parfit is inclined towards more strict and philosophical definition of identity in a sense that he seems to be fine with a notion of infinite flowing advancement of consciousness to the point where person who was existing at age of 12 is not directly same as the same person who supposedly existed at age of 70 rather they share same psychological trace, but not direct connectedness. Therefore Parfit does not exclude the idea of the duplication of consciousness because there is no soul substance disabling this action to become realistic.
Having said that those two consciousness’s after certain amount of time would be drastically different from one another progressing like branches of trees, thus still being connected to the original starting point. This is telling us just because we have a voice over singular consciousness that does not mean it is adamant to the point where it can reflect identity to the fullest, rather most important part remains going through those short connected stages with emphasis of survival and overall consistent balance in reality.
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