at what point does a person become another person?

Discuss the philosophy found in the various incarnations of Ghost in the Shell

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Freitag
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Post by Freitag »

Aoi wrote:"At what point does a person become another person?"

Every second.

I suppose the most clear definition of "person" would be one of the following:
(a) brain (conglomerate of cells)
(b) mind (what the brain does)
(c) soul (in a mind/body independence theory)
(d) personality (traits which describe how you behave)

In (a), (b), and (d), a person never remains in existence but always changes. I don't believe (c) has any credibility and is an obsolete notion, especially in today's time. Anyway, (c) is ambiguous and wouldn't answer the question.
Actually if you are a person that believes c, then it is not ambiguous and does answer the question.

I would also postulate
(e) body (similar to brain, but since you don't usually see your brain on a day to day basis your identity is based on the parts that you can observe)

And I think that if you believe in e that you will have the most difficulty with prosthetic in general and one that change your appearance significantly. Something like a fake tooth is designed to appear as original as possible, but you know that it is fake and it doesn't work quite as well the original - so there is a constant reminder that is it not you.

Even if a prosthetic worked better than the original and you could do new things, there is still the reminder that it is 'not you'

My brother has a repaired ankle. The injury and repair were long enough ago that the scars are practically gone. But he can no longer run and it also changes his walk. He can also tell when a storm is coming. Because of this change in his body, his life is changed every day.

But he also is a believer in c above, and so while he makes allowances for things that have to be done differently, it does not change how he thinks of his identity. And because of his specific beliefs, he is anticipating a new body that will be better than the original one ever was.

So it really seems that identity is subjective. What we really need are two people to talk about each other that know each other very well, but each has a very different definition of identity.

Then we can compare the I of one of them to the You from the other and see where the differences lie.


Older me to Younger me: Get into more fights

Younger me to Older me: Don't move to places (whole long list) where you can't climb trees, ride bikes, take hikes.
People tend to look at you a little strangely when they know you stuff voodoo dolls full of Ex-Lax.
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Freitag
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Post by Freitag »

People tend to look at you a little strangely when they know you stuff voodoo dolls full of Ex-Lax.
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Torukey
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Re: at what point does a person become another person?

Post by Torukey »

Elmo_Redux wrote:This is a question that several famous philosophers have asked before in reference to typewriters, pipes and in one episode of only fools and horses a broom. But it gains another dimension when we talk about it in terms of people.
Are you claiming to be the first person to ask this question, in regards to humans?
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Elmo_Redux
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Post by Elmo_Redux »

Nope it's a fairly common question these days often asked in connection to the whole idea that the human body is supposedly comprised of entirely new cells from those it had seven years ago. Fairly old question too, the oldest recorded version is probably the ship of Theseus paradox written down by Plutarch in about 70 AD give or take a few years. If you want an example of someone asking the question in terms of a human then the earliest I can think of right now is actually in the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which the Tinman character is a lumberjack who has had his limbs, torso and then head replaced with mechanical substitutes and yet remains the same person.

But no matter what the context or when it is being asked it essentially comes down to a question of shared identity, does an object or person have an identity which is more than the sum of it's parts and can be maintained dispite it's component parts' gradual replacement?

This of course raises other questions like; what does it mean for a person or object to have this identity if that object or person changes over time?(is Batou the same as Batou+1hour?) or indeed, does a constant personal identity even exist?

Personally I find that these days I'm inclined to think that it's just a matter of semantics. A part of the human need to categorize things as a shared identity with seperateness from things outside that identity and a sameness with similar incarnations of that collection of components in the past or future (be those components the parts that make up a Ship or the thoughts that make up a mind).

It's an interesting thought experiment though. :)
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Ciero9
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Post by Ciero9 »

I suppose the clearest definition of "person" would be one of the following:
(a) brain (conglomerate of cells)
(b) mind (what the brain does)
(c) soul (in a mind/body independence theory)
(d) personality (traits which describe how you behave)
You're on to something Aoi, but because the definition of a person is context-sensitive, it could actually be many things, just not referenced at the same time! The way you get around this paradox of the self-being multiple separate definitions is by treating the whole lot as part of a hierarchy.

(1) body (the lowest form, referring to the various parts including internal organs)
(2) bodily functions (sleeping, eating, breathing)
(3a) mind (thoughts, both conscious and unconscious)
(3b) personality (behavioral traits)
(4) soul/eternal self (highest form, see below)

Now (1) through (3a) should make enough sense, as each lower self is necessarily causal of the next self. e.g. you can't have bodily functions without a body, nor can you have a mind without bodily functions. The reason (3b) is separate from (3a) is this: a personality can be completely separate from one's body. People can, and do, judge others and "assign" personalities even though they've never met. So in this sense, only the personalities you enact are truly internal to the body, the rest are external.

The soul or eternal self is the most complex yet versatile form of identity. (1) through (3b) identify your movement through the physical realm, but cannot identify your relationship with the rest of the world. (4) can do this. It can identify who you're in love with, what house you own, what GITS websites you're a member of. :wink: (4) exists after you die and (if you believe in reincarnation, I don't) before you're born. I think because the idea of an eternal self is so vast and complex (along with being corrupted by a variety of groups) it is difficult for many people to accept this level of existence.

Anyways, that’s my two cents! :roll:
It all balances out ... in the end.
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Torukey
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Post by Torukey »

Something else to consider when it comes to identity...
Anyone else here ever looked into DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder)? It is more commonly known as "multiple personality disorder". It's actual existence is debatable, but let's suppose it did exist for a moment.
If you define a person by their bodies, then a human with DID would be a single person. This is how most people define a person, though few people into stuff like GiTS would agree 100% with this. If you define a person by their brain matter and functions, then a human with DID would also be considered one person. Probably. However, if you defined a person by personality and behavioral traits, a human with DID would be considered multiple persons.
Identity is a very complex philosophical subject, and I'm not really sure how to think about it. I do find myself believing more and more that a person's identity is defined extrinsically though. A GiTS episode dedicated to DID and prosthetic bodies would be awesome...
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Post by GhostLine »

yeah, but isn't DID a coping mechanism? But I suppose natural selection is a an entire system of evoling coping mechanisms....
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Torukey
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Post by Torukey »

GhostLine wrote:yeah, but isn't DID a coping mechanism? But I suppose natural selection is a an entire system of evoling coping mechanisms....
DID is a sort of coping mechanism, but it's more complex than that. It's a constant state of alternating personalities... There isn't a time when it's turned on or off, despite what mainstream media has portrayed it as. People with DID will occasionally have episodes or "fits" when faced with a hostile situation and will subsequently change personalities, but even when they're not experiencing an episode they are still considered to have DID. In other words... think of it as a noun rather than a verb.
From what I've read about it, when someone has DID, elements of their entire personality and their memories shine through the other personalities like light through a prism.
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Post by Epiphany »

I dont think you ever become another person. To quote the Pigkiller from Beyond Thunderdome " No matter where you go, There you are " No matter what appearance changes you make you are always stuck with who you are
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Post by Plug&Play »

This is a very hard point to discuss about. Because there are so many variables to fill with values, like in example "person" and the definition of change.

At first I will refer to a philosopher from your human history...the fabloulus Descartes. While he was on the search for something that is axiomatic right he developed a method to cancel may theories by doubing nearly everything. The only declaration which restisted this system of doubt was "I Think so I am" (I am sorry if I mistranslated this from the german words "Ich denke also bin ich"..but this is the best i could make out of it, if anybody know the words of Descards axiom and can advance this phrase: You are welcome to do so!)...I think this is a good evidence, that there is something I us that answers to the name of "you".

This "you" seems to be changed by nearly everything that happens; Your enviornment changes, so the "you" changes too, in order to fit in the evironment. This "you" is influenced by neraly everything, but there is something that remains constant:
On a lower level of our self perception there is an instance that still calls your person/charakter "ME". Even if you change your point of view completely, a part of you accepts this new point of view as YOUR point of view.
And the fact that our personality is always connected with this core (I can´t say if this is the soul, or anything like it), it is abolutely impossible to become another person, because the core alway stays the same, accepts every change and still accepts your changed personality as "myself"...

But if we talk about change of people as it is perceived in society, we are, like the coastline, always changing...
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Post by GhostLine »

A canister of natural oil goes to Plug&Play! Well said!

In English, it is widely accepted as "I think therefore I am."
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cong06
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Post by cong06 »

Plug&Play wrote:This "you" seems to be changed by nearly everything that happens; Your enviornment changes, so the "you" changes too, in order to fit in the evironment.
You make a good point. The "self", the "you", seems to change constantly. I'm not nearly the same person I was a year ago, and yet I still like to think of that as me. Maybe it wasn't me. Can I still call it me while being so drastically different?

Dollhouse is playing with the idea that you are basically memories. When these memories and the underlying personality change, then you change.
Plug&Play wrote:And the fact that our personality is always connected with this core (I can´t say if this is the soul, or anything like it), it is abolutely impossible to become another person, because the core alway stays the same, accepts every change and still accepts your changed personality as "myself"
If one is to believe in the Eternal Soul, then it makes it quite a bit harder to accept the ideas behind Dollhouse as truth. In order for there to be a soul...
Well the Soul basically preserves this idea of self being constant, and each time a character gets a "wipe" in Dollhouse, their "soul" changes, or gets destroyed... (or is proven to not exist).[/url]
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Freitag
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Post by Freitag »

Actually I think Dollhouse premise is that the identity/soul transcends memory.

Echo has been wiped and had fake memories implanted dozens of times. And yet she is the same every time.

In one episode they even explored the idea that it was her unfulfilled need that was causing her to break her conditioning.
People tend to look at you a little strangely when they know you stuff voodoo dolls full of Ex-Lax.
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