One of the biggest fundamental questions in philosophy has to do with ourselves and what exactly makes us, us. What makes a person a person? What is personal identity? Personal identity is the question of “who am I?” Am I just a brain that controls the chemical and electrical impulses in my body? Or am I a mind that controls all of my thoughts and feelings? Or am I a combination of both? Philosophy strives to answer these questions, and study the theories of existence and reality. The question of personal identity and self are really at the root of philosophical theorization. Many philosophical arguments stem from this topic, and it is no surprise that ancient philosophers such as Descartes and Locke spent many days and nights pondering the …show more content…
More importantly, how can we know for sure that we exist? Rene Descartes was a mathematician and philosopher. He is sometimes hailed as the “father of modern philosophy” (Rene Descartes Biography). Descartes’ ideas were revolutionary in his time period. While the topics that he explored weren’t new, his way of approaching and dealing with the topics was something that had never been seen before. Before Rene Descartes’s philosophy, humans were believed to be spiritual beings, and the mind, body, and soul were all tied together. Descartes argued that while we, as humans, are fully capable of understanding our mental faculties, it is harder for us to fully understand our bodies. Descartes had a theory that he called Mind Body Dualism (sometimes referred to as ‘Cartesian Dualism’). Mind Body Dualism is the theory that the mind and body are “distinct kinds of substances or natures” (Mind-Body Dualism). This suggests that the mind and body are two entities that function separately from one another, and there is not a possibility of unity between the two …show more content…
The phrase roughly translates into “I think, therefore I am.” (Cogito, ergo sum. 2015). In other words, Descartes is saying that our minds and our thoughts are how we prove that we exist. Therefore, self can be defined with the mind. Descartes tied consciousness to thought. Descartes believed that a “thought is something ‘in us’ of which we are conscious.” (Jorgensen). Idea of sub-consciousness was not invented yet in Descartes
The seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes is considered by many to be the founding father of modern philosophy. The seventeenth-century marked a turning point in history, Europeans began to explore the world by sea in search of new trade routes and moved away from the traditional Catholic Church to focus on scientific discoveries. One of Descartes most famous pieces of work was the Meditations on the First Philosophy, published in 1641. The Meditation on the First philosophy, which comprises of six meditations, is essentially summarizing a collection of thoughts Descartes had previously written about in his earlier text, the Discourse on Method.
The mind and body, if still only connected by the penial gland, are not completely distinct if connected in this way. The consequences of this problem are very serious for Descartes, because it undermines his claim to have a clear and distinct understanding of the mind without the body. For humans to have sensations and voluntarily move some of their bodily limbs requires a surface and contact. Since the mind must have a surface and a capacity for motion, the mind must also be extended and, therefore, mind and body are not completely separate. This means the “clear and distinct” ideas of mind and body, as mutually exclusive natures, must be false in order for mind-body causal interaction to occur.
He reasons that the idea of the body is the ideas of something extended like shape and size. This predicts the mind and body dualism, and the regulation of essential and supplementary qualities. Descartes found the essence of the mind which is to think; and the embodiment of matter, which is to be expanded. He also infers that despite his underlying beliefs, the psyche is a far superior knower than the body and that it is more realistic than the material world. Descartes infers that he must know his mind more than anything.
He noticed while he was doubting everything including his own knowledge, he was doubting. In order to doubt, you need to think, and henceforth he came to the knowledge that he was looking for which is in order to Doubt you need to think. That "breakthrough" was convinced him that the proof of his existence was the fact he was a thinking entity. Thus: I think therefore I am. Descartes' mistake was he used this fact for a bigger target which is his attempt to prove the existence of
He believes that if the mind and body are distinct from one another, the soul can outlive the death of the body. However, Descartes’ argument for substance dualism is invalid. In the selection of Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes argues that the body and mind are two distinct things. He has three steps for
It questions our existence of who we are and how we change overtime. The issue of personal identity has been a contemporary issue for many philosophers over recent years. Many philosophers including Descartes and Plato believed that we are all immaterial souls or pure egos and firmly believed that we can exist after
Our identity is what we think of ourselves to be combined with how we choose to express it and further coupled with what others think is the best way of expressing ourselves. It is a thread of overlapping psychological states while being located in different locations. Creation of the self is always an active ongoing process where in, the answer to the question “Who am I?” is given by the story we tell about ourselves which highlights the interaction of the interior development of an individual’s personality and participation in society by internalising the cultural norms, acquiring different statuses and playing various roles in a particular context. It is a combination of our values, beliefs and our personality.
Derek Parfit is a British philosopher who specialises in problems of personal identity and he proposes that we separate the notions of identity and survival. He is one of the most prominent philosophers in the struggle to define the self. Parfit’s 1971 essay “Personal Identity” targets two common beliefs which are central to the earliest conversations about personal identity. The first belief is about the nature of personal identity; all questions regarding this must have an answer. Between now and any future time, it is either the case that “I shall exist or I shall not”.
2.1.1 Self and identity The connectivity between the self and identity is the primary attention in many of the current literature, as they attempt to determine the complex interplay of both. In contrast to seeing self as a separate, stable entity in isolation of contexts, the growing studies consider the self as ‘maker of meaning’ (Rodgers & Scott, 2008). In defining identity, Gee (2000) expresses that self as “core identity that holds more uniformly, for ourselves and others, across contexts” (p. 99). It could be understood then, the coherence in meaning made from different contextual experiences are held together by self to make the identity.
In saying “I think, therefore I am”, Descartes is at the same time presupposing that there is actual thought processes going into stating that statement. However, it may actually not be the case. Consider this. A computer engineer has randomly and unintentionally invented a computer code that, when executed, would cause the computer to say, “I think, therefore I am”. If so, to whom should we ascribe existence to?
Identity is social construct that many have mistaken for something an individual is born with. There are many aspects of identity that one can inherit like genes that can drive a certain type of character and certain aspects of identity a person can adopt and build for themselves. However the most part of one’s identity is consistent of what the person wants and adopts for themselves and what the society/the people around him/her choose to give him/her. Identity is a said to not remain unchanged once established.
“Identity is never a priori, nor a ﬁnished product; it is only ever the problematic process of access to an image of totality” (Bhabha 1994:51). Identities have many traits, characteristics, group memberships, relations with others which define who a person is. Identities can be related to the past, present or future depending on what a person was what a person is and what a person wishes to be. Together, identities make up one 's self concept variously described as what comes to mind when one thinks of oneself (Neisser, 1993 ; Stets & Burke, 2003; St ryker, 1980 ; Tajfcl, 1981 ), one 's theory of one 's personality (Markus & Cross, 1990) , and what one believes is true of oneself ( B a umeister, 199 8 ; Forgas & Williams, 2002). Identity plays an important role in everyday life.
Identity is an abstruse idea. Personal Identity is answering the question what makes us who we are in two different times. Personal identity has been discussed since the origins of Western philosophy. But, the problem with personal identity is, there is no consistency in the theories to prove the idea of personal identity. Many Philosophers said Identity is mind or bodily existence; some said it’s a harmony of both.
Cartesian Dualism With the “new” Method of Doubt, Descartes arrived at the conclusion, that he can doubt everything except the existence of his own mind. And it is important to understand that he can doubt his physical body but not his mind, therefore he argues that there is a significant difference between Mind and Body. Modern science has shown how the brain is, simplified stated, a machine which causes thinking. For Descartes this was not his understanding of the brain. He rather thought that the brain can be understood as the connecting organ between the physical body and the immaterial mind.
“I find it hard to talk about myself. I am always tripped up by the eternal “who am I?” paradox. Sure, no one knows as much pure data about me as me. But when I talk about myself, all sorts of other factors -values, standards, my own limitations as an observer- make me, the narrator, select and eliminate things about me.