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comment by lil
lil  ·  3531 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Mystery of Personal Identity

I read the article and paused when I came upon the quote you chose. I thought, "The child I was is not so different from the person I am. In fact, I am that child, even the prelinguistic one. I am also the adult and all the points in between."

Each realization of earlier-me was built on and developed so that now-me cannot be 100% sure when an idea originated. I see in earlier-me's thoughts, the seeds of all the major ideas and philosphies of now-me.

I feel this strongly. I look at pictures of earlier-me and recognize the pictures and feel the feelings of earlier-me. I still hold within me the traumas of earlier-me. I am mostly over most of them, but the earlier-me that is still part of me is still working on those traumas, large and small. The traumas hold some small place in our cells. The joys do too. The joys keep the traumas at bay, give strength, hold one together.

    And if our bodies are dissimilar, our points of view are even more so. Mine would be as inaccessible to her … as hers is now to me. Her thought processes, prelinguistic, would largely elude me.
I don't think so. I understand her and feel her feelings.

I am 7 wanting a cuddle from my mother. She says she's busy.

I am 10 and my father discovers my stash of comic books and rips them all up.

I am 12 and sitting on the floor of the middle school hall crying that I was not chosen to be a library helper. The injustice of it!!

I am adult and crouched underneath a desk in a college where I worked, in despair that a love-target refuses an embrace.

All of those losses seem very real to now-me.

But maybe I'm a mostly integrated self -- at least for now.





CrazyEyeJoe  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think you're missing the "prelinguistic" part. That is, before you learned how to speak. Those thought processes probably WOULD elude you.

lil  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hi CEJoe, I understand the prelinguistic part and you make a valid point. I'm aware of the theories that we cannot remember birth or early childhood because without language, we had no way of categorizing or describing experiences. This would include prenatal experiences as well.

I am suggesting, though, that "I" had a prenatal, neonatal, and prelinguistic life and some part of me experienced that even though I cannot consciously remember those experiences.

The article argues that we are unlike our childhood selves, that the "very atoms that composed her body no longer compose mine." This might be true - I don't know. Nonetheless, the experiences, both remembered and unremembered, are somehow stored in my brain tissue and even if the molecules of the brain tissue have been renewed and are no longer the same as they were (mk, b_b Is that possible?), the "memory" of language or experience exists somewhere in "me."

b_b  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes, we have a constant turnover in molecules, ions, atoms, and it doesn't seem to degrade our memories.

As to "where" a memory is stored, I think that question is part neuroscience and part philosophy. Nobody knows the answer (or if one even exists), but it certainly isn't molecule specific.

mk  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My understanding of memory is limited. I am going to shout out to someone that knows much more on the subject, who might be able to enlighten us: rcvf

AFAIK, memory has more to do with physical connections between cells, and preferred potentiation of those networks. That is, a certain cluster of neurons cells may excite in a specific pattern, which represents memory. I would guess that that pattern is a transformable reflection of the initial experience.

So in terms of long-term storage that extends beyond the cycling of atoms, I believe it is the same car, however most of the parts have been changed one by one. It might physically be a different car, but it drives the same, and that's the functionality that we are concerned with.

lil  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I love the car metaphor. Thanks.

CrazyEyeJoe  ·  3530 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I recommend that you listen to this episode of Radio Lab: http://www.radiolab.org/story/91725-words/

I think you'll find it quite illuminating.

Basically, it's about how language completely shapes our thought processes. I haven't listened to it in a while, but I found the evidence presented in it to be astounding, and quite convincing. A deaf, grown man without language is taught sign language. Afterwards, he can't remember what it was like to not have language.

OftenBen  ·  3531 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    "The child I was is not so different from the person I am. In fact, I am that child, even the prelinguistic one. I am also the adult and all the points in between."

I alternate between the authors view and your own. There are moments when I'm certain that I'm still the same bold 11 year old being rolled into a surgical suite to have part of his heart cut out. In others, I imagine that if a young OB could meet current OB, he would be terrified and sad at what he had become, and I can't comprehend how I got to where I am.

This needs some further examination I think :/

lil  ·  3531 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    and I can't comprehend how I got to where I am.
It's a long road OB, and yes, winding. Having a part of one's heart cut out is going to be transformative -- whether it happens medically through illness or metaphorically through the tsunamis of love relationships. In each case, we have to build ourselves up again with whatever bits of our heart we have left.
OftenBen  ·  3526 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Having a part of one's heart cut out is going to be transformative -- whether it happens medically through illness or metaphorically through the tsunamis of love relationships. In each case, we have to build ourselves up again with whatever bits of our heart we have left.

Well, this is proving prophetic.