Re: [Fwd: NDPR David Shoemaker, Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction]

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 16:52:05 +0100

On 23 Feb 2009, at 17:15, Quentin Anciaux wrote:

> 2009/2/23 Bruno Marchal <>
> The copy could be you in the deeper sense that it could be you even in
> the case where he loses some memory, all memories, or in case he got
> new memories, including false souvenirs. But then it is like in the
> movie "the prestige", your brother can be you. This path leads to the
> idea that we are already all the same person. It is "not being the
> other" which is an illusion in that case. I don't insist on this
> because we don't need to see that arithmetic is the theory of
> everything (and that physics comes from there). But it is needed for
> the "other hypostases" and the whole theological point.
> Bruno
> If the "copy" has no memory of being me then It's not me...

Memory is very important, and play an important role about what is to
have a normal personal life and history. But it could be that it is
not a necessary (nor sufficient criteria of personal identity. After
all, when someone get amnesic after a car crash, we don't say that
such a person has died, but we say he or she has lost his or her memory.

> or you mean there is something which is not memory but which is
> "me" (and render memory useless as primary property of the self) ?

I think this is possible. I think the answer does not depend of comp.
Comp is consistent with many incompatible answer. Actually I believe
that personal identity is a very deeply personal matter. I identify
myself more with moral values and attitudes, not really with memories,
which are useful for many practical things, indeed capable of
implementing those values, but the values are more eternal than their
relative local and contingent incarnation or implementation.

> It is a matter of semantic but if you accept that memory is not what
> can be ascribe to "you" then "you/I/..." doesn't mean anything... in
> that sense you are me and vice-versa, and everyone is everyone but I
> don't see this as a theory of self identity.

Personal identity and memory could be a useful fiction for living.
Here I was alluding to possible deeper sense of the self, which makes
me conceive that indeed there is only one person playing a trick to
itself. Like if our bodies where just disconnected windows giving to
that unique person the ability to have a sort of stereoscopic view on

In some dreams, I have very different memories, yet "I" was there, and
"I" was me. To get amnesic, even irreversibly, is not dying, even if
it is a big impediment in practical life, and it should be avoided,
unless it is reversible (and then it procure an interesting experience
(the main reason i am fascinated by nocturnal dreams, and since
recently, in salvia reports).

Memories, like body and brain are things we possess, and this means, I
think, that we can still survive without them.

Suppose that I die tomorrow, and that sometimes after someone find a
backup of "me" at the age of five, so that "I" am reconstituted from
that backup. Would you say I am dead, or would you say that I have
survived, only with a severe sort of amnesy ?



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Received on Thu Feb 26 2009 - 10:53:41 PST

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