e-book Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life

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Staying Alive - Personal Identity, Practical Concerns and the Unity of a Life (Book)

Please note the delivery estimate is greater than 10 business days. Start of add to list layer. Add to Watchlist Add to wish list. Sign in for more lists. Jul 10, PDT. Visit eBay's page on international trade. It deserves to be investigated very carefully. Marya Schechtman is a professor of philosophy and member of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


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She is the author of The Constitution of Selves Cornell University Press as well as numerous articles on personal identity, bioethics, and philosophy of mind. She also has interests in practical reasoning and Existentialism. Introduction ; 1. Locke and the Psychological Continuity Theorists ; 2.

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Division of Labor ; 3. The Expanded Practical and the Problem of Multiplicity ; 4. Complexity and Individual Unity ; 5. The Person Life View ; 6. Personal Identity ; 7. Ontology ; Conclusion ; Index. But, who would say it was, in Locke's term, the same man, i. With this thought experiment, Locke suggests that persons, unlike human animals, are only contingently connected to bodies. Therefore, Locke and his modern day successors establish that wherever your mental life goes, that is where you as a person go as well.

Apart from thought experiments, in real life we might consider the case of permanent vegetative state patients to support Locke's thought experiment, inasmuch as it shows that psychological continuity and bodily continuity do not always coincide. Psychological continuity is not necessarily in place whenever a human organism is around.

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This assertion does not, of course, imply any dualistic assumptions of immaterial sources of psychological continuity; it merely states that not every form of biological continuity of a human organism is sufficient to support psychological continuity. For all we know now, permanent vegetative state patients lack any higher-order mental features that could possibly constitute psychological continuity, albeit, they are biologically alive. Therefore, according to the psychological criterion of personal identity, there is no identity relation between a conscious person that later becomes a vegetative state patient.

Advocates of the bodily criterion see things differently. In their view the identity relation still holds because there continues to be bodily continuity between the person that once had a mental life and the human organism that is now in a permanent vegetative state. Despite all the difficulties within Locke's view, which cannot be discussed, let alone resolved here, the aforementioned puzzle cases, as well as the permanent vegetative state example, support the widely advocated psychological continuity theories of personal identity.

The different psychological continuity theories, however, share a severe problem. Unlike identity, psychological continuity is not necessarily a one-one relation. For example, fission scenarios, either based on purely hypothetical cases or based on brain bisection Corpus Callosotomy , as put forward, among others, by Thomas Nagel, show that psychological continuity does not follow the logic of an identity relation Nagel, It is possible in principle, and in accordance with empirical evidence, that psychological continuity divides, and thus, that it holds to more than one person.

Albeit, as David Lewis and others pointed out, identity is necessarily a one-one relation that can by definition only hold to itself; whereas psychological continuity is only contingently a one-one relation and may become one-many Lewis, Therefore, as Bernard Williams took issue with, psychological continuity is unable to meet the metaphysical requirements of an account of personal identity, unless a non-branching clause is added which ensures that psychological continuity is a one-one relation Williams, Nevertheless, the addition of such a non-branching clause is not fully convincing either.

This is so, because, as Derek Parfit claimed, a non-branching clause has no impact on the intrinsic features of psychological continuity, and is therefore unable to preserve what we believe to be important in identity Parfit, An identity relation can by definition apply to only one person. It seems to be entirely dependent on psychological continuity, which, as mentioned before, is logically not an identity relation. When we are concerned with our survival, what we really should care about is, in Parfit's view, psychological continuity, whether or not it coincides with identity.

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For a thoughtful critical discussion of Parfit's criterion see Teichert ]. Hereafter, we will put forward the hypothesis that habits can serve to bridge the gap between synchronic and diachronic aspects of a person's life. In order to give a prospect of this hypothesis, we will briefly summarize the core points of personhood and personal identity that have been discussed up to this point.

As an interim result from the discussion of the constitutive features of personhood, it can be drawn the conclusion that a person is regarded as an agent that has certain mental, rather than singularly human features, wherein rationality is seen as the most fundamental feature. The discussion of the different theories of personal identity suggests that a form of psychological continuity, characterized by overlapping chains of psychological connections, is indispensable to account for the persistence of persons through time. Even though it can not account for all the metaphysical difficulties, in the relevant sense of everyday life, personal identity over time is created by links between present and past provided by autobiographical experience memories and other mental states.

Marya Schechtman, “Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of …

These links are seen as providing connections between two discrete, well-defined moments of consciousness. It is beyond the scope of this paper to make an attempt to resolve the ongoing debate on which criterion of personal identity is the most plausible. However, as the brief discussion has shown, we are sympathetic to the reductionist psychological approach which is a widely-held and well-defended view.

It becomes evident that in the discussion of personhood and personal identity a gap remains between the synchronic and the diachronic dimension of a person's life. Although psychological theories of personal identity are based on the assumption that it is a person, rather than a mere biological organism without mental states, who's identity over time is in question, it remains largely unclear how the transition between these timescales—that is, being a person at a discrete point in time, and persisting as a person through time—is mediated, both conceptually and empirically.

In order to shed light on this temporal transition, we hereafter focus on habits and decision-making, and argue that therein a conceptually and empirically plausible bridge between personhood and personal identity is to be found. What are habits? An important feature that distinguishes habits from compulsive behavior is that, in the case of habitual behavior, the person has control over whether or not to perform the habitual action.

Based on this conception, habits can explain a vast amount of actions; even more than we would usually assume.

This becomes obvious when we think about how much of our lives we spend exercising habits rather than subjecting our actions to deliberation. Starting each day with specific routines, for example getting dressed, brushing teeth, making coffee and so forth.

What characterizes habitual behavior is its repetitiveness and automaticity. However, unlike reflexes—for which the same general characteristics apply—habits involve a previous and as the case may be more or less conscious and voluntary acquisition. That is to say, a habit is not something that just passively happens to a person; but rather it is a particular pattern of actions that once has been actively initiated by the person.

In light of this, habits can conceptually be seen as a form of actions rather than mere movements. Needless to say, that the level of activeness in the acquisition of different habitual behaviors varies greatly. To illustrate the different criteria of habitual behavior, let us consider an example of how habits develop accordingly to the above definition. In the case of running, both if performed professionally as well as in leisure sports, there is a conscious component to the acquisition of the habit to run.