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7/01/2018 1:08 pm  #41


Re: What are your thoughts on the problem of personal identity?

Have you ever read Diogenes Laertius's satire of Pyrrho in his Life of Pyrrho? He says that he was only able to live because his less skeptical friends intervened to keep him from getting hit by carts, and falling off cliffs, and the like. It's an interesting question whether we can respond to these things—whether we can live—without adopting beliefs.

David Hume has a famous quote about this:

A Stoic or Epicurean displays principles, which may not be durable, but which have an effect on conduct and behaviour. But a Pyrrhonian cannot expect, that his philosophy will have any constant influence on the mind: or if it had, that its influence would be beneficial to society. On the contrary, he must acknowledge, if he will acknowledge anything, that all human life must perish, were his principles universally and steadily to prevail. All discourse, all action would immediately cease; and men remain in a total lethargy, till the necessities of nature, unsatisfied, put an end to their miserable existence. It is true; so fatal an event is very little to be dreaded. Nature is always too strong for principle. And though a Pyrrhonian may throw himself or others into a momentary amazement and confusion by his profound reasonings; the first and most trivial event in life will put to flight all his doubts and scruples, and leave him the same, in every point of action and speculation, with the philosophers of every other sect, or with those who never concerned themselves in any philosophical researches. When he awakes from his dream, he will be the first to join in the laugh against himself, and to confess, that all his objections are mere amusement, and can have no other tendency than to show the whimsical condition of mankind, who must act and reason and believe; though they are not able, by their most diligent enquiry, to satisfy themselves concerning the foundation of these operations, or to remove the objections, which may be raised against them. (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Sec. XII, 128)

Anyway, I'll be writing an article about this question (which was frequently raised in ancient times) and the responses to it in the not too distant future.

 

7/01/2018 1:12 pm  #42


Re: What are your thoughts on the problem of personal identity?

I would still worry that the Moorean approach is giving an undeserved privilege to certain "unquestionable" facts

I don't see Moorean facts as unquestionable. (Nor did Moore.) I just also don't see them as suffering from the same skeptical problems as complicated philosophical theses.

What can we say about people who follow contemplative disciplines for decades? Their minds come to work differently and an immaterial mind might be as utterly real to them as the existence of other minds is to us.

The same could be said about people who drop huge amounts of acid. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

(This is a version of one of Aenesidemus's ten skeptical modes. I give versions of some of the others in a brief post here.)

 

7/01/2018 1:15 pm  #43


Re: What are your thoughts on the problem of personal identity?

Anyway, I don't want to derail Miguel's thread, so if you want to continue the conversation perhaps drop me a PM and I'll start a new, skeptical thread.

 

7/02/2018 7:51 pm  #44


Re: What are your thoughts on the problem of personal identity?

​Oh, my problem is not the skepticism. I'm just a crotchety postmodernist who is skeptical of the notion of "epistemic justification" in general. This is why I bring up things like mysticism (though drugs works too)--unless you deny that anything could ever been epistemically justified, I don't know how you can escape a certain subjectivism.

Back on subject, it's been a while since I read Berkeley. Is there any way that subjective idealism can account for individuality, or must it ultimately deny it? If all is mental, then what differentiates my mind from anyone else's? 

 

7/02/2018 10:10 pm  #45


Re: What are your thoughts on the problem of personal identity?

Hypatia wrote:

​Back on subject, it's been a while since I read Berkeley. Is there any way that subjective idealism can account for individuality, or must it ultimately deny it? If all is mental, then what differentiates my mind from anyone else's? 

They can individuate minds from each other by assaying experiences as primitively individuated tropes, or nominalist blobs, or complexes involving bare particulars (and whatever else).

 

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