Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 16:04:19 +1000

John Mikes writes (quoting Brent Meeker):

> > Well that's the question isn't it. Is there
> > something besides memories and personality that
> > makes you you...
> But how much do we (already???) know about our
> memories
> which for sure is a concoction with our personality,
> of which we just as well know very little.
> Different people have different memories of the same
> event (not only the biased eyewitnesses). \
> Never ask a psych-professional because he may be just
> as biased in "knowing his profession" as you are with
> yours. (Stathis, no hard feelings, please, you have
> disclosed a lot of thinking beyond your learned
> topics)
> We have a crude fractional picture of who we are and
> what we know (or don't) and "memory" is a big mystery.
> Bigger only is "personality".

We can't be sure that our memories are accurate. This puts us in a similar position when we consider our own past as when we consider someone else's past: we think that we know what it was like to be five years old, but our brains may have changed so much in the intervening years that this recollection may be little more vivid or accurate than if we were imagining what someone else's childhood was like after reading a book about it. There is no reason why every other mental quality, including the sense of identity, might not also change greatly over decades, with the only reason we think we remain the same person being that this change is gradual.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Jun 28 2006 - 02:05:20 PDT

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