4 dimensional personal identity, personal analogies


Argun Abrek (METU, Turkey): Persons occupy space and persist through time, according to three-dimensionalists. But this seems to conflict with relativists physics which argues that time and space cannot be disentangled. Hence four-dimensionalists exist persons have temporal dimensions. Bt persons do not exist at any point in time; only person-slices.

Contra Heraclitus, we can walk through the same river twice, but not the same river-slice. Temporally distant and spatially distant objects are both equally real. Also “here” and “now” can both be used indexically. This shows that there are similarities between time and space.

According to Locke, memory is necessary and sufficient for persistent personal identity. The transitive nature of personal identity provides a solution (via overlapping memories) to the obvious objection that we inevitably lose memories. So, argues Abrek, memory is essential to personal identity. But we can only have memories of temporal parts of objects. If I contain temporal parts of other persons, then I am truly a social being.

Simon Smith (Haslemere): We are fundamentally parts of an active universe. Consciousness in physically embodied and socially extended.

Metaphysical Revision: Einstein and Whitehead redefined the universe as composed of energy and process, not solid state entities. We can only have epistemic awareness of objects that “interfere” with us in some way. See the famous Schrodinger Cat thought experiment. The cat is both dead and alive until an observer collapses the history of the cat into one state or the other. Smith generalizes this to include all objects: Everything is what it is in part because of our observation of it.

We understand other human agents by analogy with ourselves as human agents, and we upgrade or downgrade this reason depending on the complexity of the phenomenon being observed.

Piaget says this sort of childlike anthropomorphism is universal and is a dialectic, not merely a psychological projection. Over time, we learn not to adopt the intentional stance towards non-intentional objects.

We do not impose unity on the universe, nor does the universe impose its unity on us. Rather, the universe’s unity is achieved through our interaction with it. By doing this finite minds become infinite. Reference to Sagan saying something like we are the cosmos’s way of understanding itself.


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