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Who am I?

Discussions and debates on philosophies and beliefs

by hal » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:44 pm

“I” is my self-consciousness, the sum of my experiences, memories, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, all my subjectivity and awareness.

My “I” is completely private, as is yours. I assume yours is like mine, but I have no way of knowing whether that is true.

My feeling about “I” is that it is the same “I” I have experienced throughout my life, and yet I recognize it is constantly changing in ways I understand and in ways I don’t.

Seeking to understand just what “I” is called (by philosophers and neuroscientists) the hard problem of consciousness. See http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Hard_problem_of_consciousness . By comparison, other problems of brain and mind are easy.

The shortest period of time we can perceive is .01 second; I will call that the Present. Because we cannot distinguish these small blocks of time, we perceive time as continuous. “I” of necessity always lives in the Present; this is as true of dreams as of waking consciousness. During dreamless sleep, by definition, there is no consciousness, so “I” does not exist then. Of course, I am alive during dreamless sleep. So, strictly speaking, the presence of “I” is not necessary for me to be alive.

For a month during my hospitalization earlier this year, I experienced vivid subjective activity, while to the outside world I was mostly unresponsive. In some ways these experiences were similar to dreams, in other ways not, especially in the fact that, unlike dreams, I still remember them in detail.

I very nearly died then, and this has left me thinking about death a lot. According to mortality tables, I can expect to live another 11 years. Then what will become of “I”?
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
-- Tennyson
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by Jemane » Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:00 pm

Great pondering.
I’ve gone from believing ‘I’ is a creation of God and that I will live for eternity to believing that ‘I’ am just a biological being with an incredible neurobiological network that will cease to exist when I am gone.
Funny thing is, I feel more comfortable about the concept of death now than I did when I believed I would live forever.
I suppose ‘I’ am a biological being, evolved to be the complex organism I now am. That’s where I’m at. It might change.
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
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by hal » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:42 am

I've often wondered how I will feel/react when the time comes near. Fear? Calm? As a general rule, I savor experiences. What about that one, as it approaches?
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
-- Tennyson
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by Spm24 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:52 am

I think for me it would all depend of the circumstances leading up to it. Certain circumstances it would be a relief. Other circumstances it could be a surprise.

Somedays I feel that I would be calm and at ease. Other days I think I might be frenzied, worrying about everything that I had no control what so ever.

My belief is that we have a certain amount of time here. It's hard one I believe in God but I do not believe in after life. Strange I know...
Snowflakes gently floating from the sky just dusting the ground. Then it picks up bigger fatter flakes cascading from space at a faster rate. From a dusting to a trace. Then the deluge comes. Oh what joy. Watching everything slow to a crawl, then a stop. Step outside and even with things moving it is quiet. It is a giant muffler the earth is wearing. Causing everything to be muted.To be calm.
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by hal » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:20 pm

I’m thinking of “Me” as different from “I.” “Me” is all of my qualities, characteristics, temporary or permanent, visible to others or not. What’s “Me” are things that point outward from “I”: personal traits, identifications, what I belong to, what I do or have done.

What I “am.” I am tall, I am blond, I am young, I am an introvert. I am female, I am a lawyer, I am Catholic. I am French, I am married, I am a mother.

I like fast cars, I like loud music, I don’t like football.

You can see “Me,” and for that matter “I” is usually focused more on “Me” than on “I.” “I” is preoccupied with “Me” from an internal point of view, as projecting “Me” out into the world, and as receiving feedback.
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
-- Tennyson
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by hal » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:35 pm

“Me” will be remembered and praised in my obituary and at my funeral, but “I” will not be mentioned, because “I” was never known to anyone else, and “I” will not be there. Assuming “I” is not the same thing as my immortal soul (which I don’t believe in), “I” will have disappeared and it will be as if “I” never existed.

But “I” did. And given that every moment is a Present moment, lived in those .01 second blocks, and that one moment is as good as another, those many moments “I” existed were as good as any other, and worth it, and sufficient.
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
-- Tennyson
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by AvantGarde » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:15 pm

Seems like we tend to identify ourselves, or our "Me" as what others percieve of us and it becomes incredibly difficult to make up our own minds about what we really think of ourselves, without comparison. Often those ideas, what we percieve as others' ideas about ourselves and even the world, translate into dreams and waking conscious in a myriad of ways. For instance, I had a dream I was always depressed and clingy to those around me the other day, because that's the way I percieve myself through others' eyes, it's far from the truth in reality and it's not what others think of me as well (I asked :lol:), led me to think about the idea I have of myself that is often skewed by interpretation and why that is.

Meaning that if I feel down, not appropriate or in any way more vulnerable, I will try to put on barriers that (aside from the other obvious side effects) narrow my interpretation of how others percieve me, and more importantly how I percieve myself and my reality around me.

Those with a more reality based self esteem probably don't have so much trouble with this as I do, I figure. I tend to base my ideas of myself or my "I" on what I think others' would think, which isn't at all healthy I suppose.
The work I'm doing now in therapy is find my sense of self worth in ordinary living, being by cooking or by laughing, the small things that make me happy. We tend to be better people when we're happier.

Another thing is the idea of good and evil inside of us, worthy or unworthy (which I suppose is an idea much based on religion). Some of us did some mistakes and carry the burdens of that guilt, even if it's hardly any fault of our own, and turn to the idea that we need to turn our backs on the ideas of being worthy or unworthy, or on another hand make ourselves worth it. It's a very subsconscious process, do we deserve pain and suffering? How does this affect our sense of self? Do others think less of us if we're suffering? Etc.

As to easy problems vs hard problems, I see only one issue. Who says we all think the same, even though our brains are wired in a similar fashion? We aren't all Einsteins or Prousts even though we have the same brain functions and neuropathways. Well, cognition differs is what I think. We can't be put in the same box, lined up. That's the major issue with mental health, hinders advances in neuroscience, I figure. I read an article maybe a month ago, that in the future health will be personalized, since we're all different. It's a complicated thing to achieve but not impossible, if human resources are used correctly.
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