Book

I Am You: The Metaphysical Foundations for Global Ethics

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Abstract

Borders enclose and separate us. We assign to them tremendous significance. Along them we draw supposedly uncrossable boundaries within which we believe our individual identities begin and end, erecting the metaphysical dividing walls that enclose each one of us into numerically identical, numerically distinct, entities: persons. Do the borders between us—physical, psychological, neurological, causal, spatial, temporal, etc.—merit the metaphysical significance ordinarily accorded them? The central thesis of I Am You is that our borders do not signify boundaries between persons. We are all the same person. Variations on this heretical theme have been voiced periodically throughout the ages (the Upanishads, Averroës, Giordano Bruno, Josiah Royce, Schrödinger, Fred Hoyle, Freeman Dyson). In presenting his arguments, the author relies on detailed analyses of recent formal work on personal identity, especially that of Derek Parfit, Sydney Shoemaker, Robert Nozick, David Wiggins, Daniel C. Dennett and Thomas Nagel, while incorporating the views of Descartes, Leibniz, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Kant, Husserl and Brouwer. His development of the implied moral theory is inspired by, and draws on, Rawls, Sidgwick, Kant and again Parfit. The traditional, commonsense view that we are each a separate person numerically identical to ourselves over time, i.e., that personal identity is closed under known individuating and identifying borders—what the author calls Closed Individualism—is shown to be incoherent. The demonstration that personal identity is not closed but open points collectively in one of two new directions: either there are no continuously existing, self-identical persons over time in the sense ordinarily understood—the sort of view developed by philosophers as diverse as Buddha, Hume and most recently Derek Parfit, what the author calls Empty Individualism—or else you are everyone, i.e., personal identity is not closed under known individuating and identifying borders, what the author calls Open Individualism. In making his case, the author: * offers a new explanation both of consciousness and of self-consciousness * constructs a new theory of Self * explains psychopathologies (e.g. multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia) * shows Open Individualism to be the best competing explanation of who we are * provides the metaphysical foundations for global ethics. The book is intended for philosophers and the philosophically inclined—physicists, mathematicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, linguists, computer scientists, economists, and communication theorists. It is accessible to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

Chapters (11)

Borders enclose and separate us. We assign to them tremendous significance. Along them we draw supposedly uncrossable boundaries within which we believe our individual identities begin and end, erecting the metaphysical dividing walls that enclose each one of us into numerically identical, numerically distinct, entities: persons. Do the borders between us merit the metaphysical significance ordinarily accorded to them? They do not. Our borders do not signify boundaries between persons. We are all the same person. “How many persons are there in the world?” To ask this question is to acknowledge our borders. To answer “one,” as I do, is not to deny our borders but merely to deny their significance—to deny that our borders are absolute metaphysical boundaries.
The proverbial man on the street, more than likely, believes that the seemingly obvious, common-sense distinction implied by concept pairs like “me and you,” “inner world and outer world,” “subject and object,” “self and other,” and so on, based on his apparent ability to control immediately certain borders directly in his experience at the exclusion of others necessarily precludes the possibility that he is everyone. Is this belief correct?
Let us begin by seeing in what way some other versions of the Physiological Boundary are merely apparent excluders of the Open Individual View of Personal Identity.
We can now begin to see what, given the various types of (real) Physical Border between us, it would mean to say that you and I are the same person. Recall John Locke’s distinction, which he illustrates with his prince/cobbler example,1 between the identity of a man (i.e., of a human being, an animal) and the identity of a person. A particular human being’s identity involves, according to Locke, the identity of an animal; a particular person’s identity does not. Thus, the particular human being that gets the conscious memories of the prince is according to Locke the same person, but not the same human being, as the prince. In other words, Locke would agree that the physical borders individuating one particular human being from another do not themselves signify the metaphysical boundaries (the identities) of persons; that is, without specifying what a person is, we can with Locke claim that the individuation of physical bodies is not metaphysically equivalent to the individuation of persons (without thereby necessarily accepting Locke’s positive thesis). Thus we can say without absurdity that even though I, a person, from my present point of view exist within the borders of this physical organism which I call, “my body,” I am not necessarily bound by these borders because it is not contradictory to hold that a person is a physical human body and yet is not identical to a physical body.
According to Parfit, Nozick, Shoemaker, and other Empty Individual View theorists (but especially Parfit), each of whom in his own way is willing to lower the significance ordinarily accorded to the metaphysical boundaries between us (i.e., “open up,” metaphysically speaking), the remaining boundary—if we are willing to deny, as they are, the survival and identity assumption (the traditional Closed Individual View condition that a person survives only as long as there exists a temporally continuous entity identical to that person, i.e., that personal identity is closed under individuation and identification by such known borders)—should, or can most reasonably be drawn (i.e., closed) along our psychological borders. But the metaphysical (and metapsychological) significance of the Psychological Boundary can also be dissolved, further clearing the path to our Open Individual View of Personal Identity.
One possibility, which we have not yet considered, is that what makes it possible for there to be personal identity across the various Boundary Dissolves we have thus far considered is causal continuity. That is, perhaps whatever changes I undergo, there is an underlying causal connection that makes them mine. This causal connection does not exist between you and me and this is why you and I are different persons. Thus, the Causal Border is another apparent excluder of Open Individualism.
We now turn briefly to the possible objection that our Border Dissolves would not work in real life in the way we have supposed because, in actuality, personal identity resides in some sort of metaphysical substance. Someone who subscribed to such a view could claim that the BST or teletransporter examples, for instance, would not really preserve personal identity because such devices would not make copies of, let us say, for instance, one’s “immaterial soul.”
Thus far we have seen that (1) the Fact of Exclusive Conjoinment Border, (2) the Alter Subject Identification Border, (3) the various types of Physiological Border, (4) the Spatial Border, (5) the various types of Psychological Border (6) the Unity of Consciousness Border (7) the Causal Border and (8) the Metaphysical Substance (e.g. Soul) Border, are not necessarily boundaries between persons—they are merely apparent excluders of Open Individualism, both individually and collectively. Therefore the existence of these borders is not adequate to show that Open Individualism is false: the borders that have traditionally been used to separate people from people are not, necessarily, Boundaries between persons. And it is this that we set out to show—namely, how Open Individualism could be possible in light of its apparent excluders.
Showing how the borders that people have traditionally used to separate people from people are not necessarily boundaries between persons, our philosophical explanation of how it is possible that we are all the same person—how Open Individualism can be true in spite of its many apparent excluders—lessens the significance of the various borders between us while enhancing the significance of what we all have in common, within us: the I of personal identity, our ubiquitous fulcrum of consciousness.
There is little doubt that throughout the space of the Cosmic Ocean, our universe, there flow a multitude of ephemeral individuations that in varying degrees sustain their borders over time—a myriad swarm of waves within waves of perceptible patterns identified into countless arrays of objects and entities: galaxies, stars, planets, atoms, quarks …. Somewhere between the ceaselessly disintegrating and integrating chaotic microscopic waves of complexes and the ceaselessly fluctuating macroscopic waves of complexes there emerge from out of the flux the bundles which we find ourselves identified as—“the faces myriad yet curiously identical in their lack of individual identity,” to borrow Faulkner’s words—living human beings, themselves whirlpools of ever-changing patterns through whose borders flow the amorphous experiences and conceptions in which the conscious contemplation of this entire Cosmic array consists.
Under traditional Closed Individualism to accord to something or someone, x, the status of person is, in addition to other things, to make a certain sort of moral claim on behalf of x. Why? Because it is to claim, in addition to whatever else is being claimed, that x has certain rights. We might not agree as to what these rights are or whether they apply in some particular instance, but nevertheless the implication is that to be a person is to be accorded, among other things, freedom from interference by others when such interference is in opposition to one’s well being, interests, needs, and so on, provided that these are themselves conscripted within accepted moral bounds. Thus, for instance, you are not infringing upon my rights if you interfere with my nap as I float in a canoe toward Niagara Falls. Nor are you infringing upon my rights if you stop me from driving drunk in a speeding car through a school zone. You are however infringing upon my rights if because you want my seat on the park bench you kill me. Whereas if you interfere in this same ultimate way not with a man but with a fly by killing it with a flick of a newspaper so you can sit undisturbed on the bench, you have not infringed upon anyone’s rights1 because the fly is not a person.
... How then can the addition of another subject, C, in an adjoining dark room destroy B's existence? Is that not also counter-intuitive, in fact at least as if not more so than to suppose, as I argue in my book, (Kolak 2004, see especially the chapter " Identity Borders " ) that identity has in the branch-line case been preserved, and that what the example shows is not what cannot be conceived but, rather, in that very conception, reveals what prior to that example we had insufficient evidence to show, namely, the possibility of one and the same person existing simultaneously as multiple numerically distinct human beings not just over time but at the same time, over space (my nonlocality condition (Kolak 2004)). The real culprit here is not two different intuitions but the same intuition sans philosophical theory (of consciousness) trying to do the impossible job of double mutually conflicting identifications . ...
... How then can the addition of another subject, C, in an adjoining dark room destroy B's existence? Is that not also counter-intuitive, in fact at least as if not more so than to suppose, as I argue in my book, (Kolak 2004, see especially the chapter " Identity Borders " ) that identity has in the branch-line case been preserved, and that what the example shows is not what cannot be conceived but, rather, in that very conception, reveals what prior to that example we had insufficient evidence to show, namely, the possibility of one and the same person existing simultaneously as multiple numerically distinct human beings not just over time but at the same time, over space (my nonlocality condition (Kolak 2004)). The real culprit here is not two different intuitions but the same intuition sans philosophical theory (of consciousness) trying to do the impossible job of double mutually conflicting identifications . ...
Article
Sydney Shoemaker leads today’s “neo-Lockean” liberation of persons from the conservative animalist charge of “neo-Aristotelians” such as Eric Olson, according to whom persons are biological entities and who challenge all neo-Lockean views on grounds that abstracting from strictly physical, or bodily, criteria plays fast and loose with our identities. There is a fundamental mistake on both sides: a false dichotomy between bodily continuity versus psychological continuity theories of personal identity. Neo-Lockeans, like everyone else today who relies on Locke’s analysis of personal identity, including Derek Parfit, have either completely distorted or not understood Locke’s actual view. Shoemaker’s defense, which uses a “package deal” definition that relies on internal relations of synchronic and diachronic unity and employs the Ramsey–Lewis account to define personal identity, leaves far less room for psychological continuity views than for my own view, which, independently of its radical implications, is that (a) consciousness makes personal identity, and (b) in consciousness alone personal identity consists—which happens to be also Locke’s actual view. Moreover, the ubiquitous Fregean conception of borders and the so-called “ambiguity of is” collapse in the light of what Hintikka has called the “Frege trichotomy.” The Ramsey–Lewis account, due to the problematic way Shoemaker tries to bind the variables, makes it impossible for the neo-Lockean ala Shoemaker to fulfill the uniqueness clause required by all such Lewis style definitions; such attempts avoid circularity only at the expense of mistaking isomorphism with identity. Contrary to what virtually all philosophers writing on the topic assume, fission does not destroy personal identity. A proper analysis of public versus perspectival identification, derived using actual case studies from neuropsychiatry, provides the scientific, mathematical and logical frameworks for a new theory of self-reference, wherein “consciousness,” “self-consciousness,” and the “I,” can be precisely defined in terms of the subject and the subject-in-itself.
... Григорьев описывают интуицию, с одной стороны, как продукт неосознаваемого «локального» восприятия, мышления и накопленного опыта решения подобных задач, с другой -как продукт «нелокального» восприятия, связанного со сверхчувствительностью в ноосфере по В.И. Вернадскому [5], с открытым индивидуализмом по Д. Колак [21], с синхронистичностью по К.Г. Юнгу [18], а также с пространственными или временными вариантами реализации квантовой запутанности. ...
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The article is devoted to the study of pedagogical intuition, its interconnection with the ideas of man about intellect and personality. Pedagogical intuition is frequently used in teachers' work, but the concept of pedagogical intuition and ways of its development is not clear. At the same time, developed pedagogical intuition, as an ability of a teacher to make quick decisions in their professional activity, allows them to simplify and speed up the process of solving professional issues, which is especially important for modern Russian teachers. Due to the high level of bureaucratization of education and a large teaching load, teachers in Russia are very time-bounded in their work.The article suggests that pedagogical intuition can be developed through the development of other personal characteristics. This study examined the relationship of intuitive abilities on the one hand, and the implicit theories of the personality, its learning objectives - on the other. To confirm this thesis, 50 senior students of the pedagogical university of Naberezhnye Chelny were interviewed. Since the sample was not large, the author of this article does not deny the possible error in the results of the study. However, it should be noted that the sample of the study will be increased several times to confirm the results obtained.As a result of the study, significant results were obtained on two scales of the questionnaire of implicit theories and learning objectives by C. Dweck and the questionnaire of the intuitive style of S. Epstein.
... See Kolak (2004).3 SeeDennett and Kolak (2000), p. 339.4 SeeKolak (2004), p. 51. ...
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Daniel Kolak’s theory of synchronic consciousness according to which the entire range of dissociative phenomena, from pathologies such as MPD and schizophrenia to normal dream states, are best explained in terms of consciousness becoming simultaneously identified as many selves, has revolutionary therapeutic implications for neurology and psychiatry. All these selves, according to Kolak—even the purely imaginary ones that exist as such only in our dreams—are not just conscious but also self-conscious, with beliefs, intentions, living lives informed by memories (confabulatory, in the case of the fictional ones) and personal histories. Kolak’s derivation of psychiatrically relevant aspects of his theory—a neurological rendition of a Kantian transcendental argument—can be given a straightforward neurological, and therefore open to scientific scrutiny, interpretation that would then more easily lend itself to the clinical setting in which these perplexing phenomena, along with their purveyors, must live and cope. This will be the main focus of this paper.
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Among theories of personal identity over time, the simple view has not been popular among philosophers, but it nevertheless remains the default view among non-philosophers. It may be construed either as the view that nothing grounds a claim of personal identity over time, or that something quite simple (a soul perhaps) is the ground. If the former construal is accepted, a conspicuous difficulty is that the condition of causal dependence between person-stages is absent. But this leaves such a view open to an objection from the failure to provide a condition of individuation. If, on the other hand something like a soul is said to ground personal identity over time, such an account turns out to be more suited to a kind of continuity view.
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In this paper I shall attempt to argue for the simple view of personal identity. I shall first argue that we often do have warrant for our beliefs that we exist as continuing subjects of experience, and that these beliefs are justified independently of any reductionist analysis of what it means to be a person. This has two important implications that are relevant to the ongoing debate concerning the number of persons that are in existence throughout any duration in time: (1) the lack of logically or metaphysically necessary and sufficient conditions for distinguishing one person from another should imply neither that there is only one person nor that personhood is not individuative; and (2) the lack of such universally applicable identity criteria should not imply that the term ‘person’ is a folk term with no real application. In other words, lack of reductionist analysis does not entail lack of existence.
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