Monday, January 14, 2013

Notes on Our First Meeting

Sorry for posting this so late in the week between our meetings. I have been caught up with other things that took more time than expected, and this first meeting was mostly a matter of laying out issues to discuss in more detail as we go on. In any case, here are some of the main issues raised in our discussion this past Tuesday:

-The self: we talked a lot about what constitutes the self (e.g., memories, genes), whether this may be contextual and/or socially constructed, and what constraints there may be on a view about the constitution of the self (e.g., numerical identity).

-Personal identity: related to issues about the self, we talked about the constraints on personal identity over time, difficult cases (e.g., fission), the importance of personal identity (e.g., as opposed to some other sense of self that might persist over time), the role of subjective experience in determining whether one persists (e.g., the experience of being trapped in what used to seem like one's own body), the importance of consciousness and whether consciousness requires an organic substrate.

-Conceptions of the future: we talked about the prevalence of dystopias in science fiction treatments of the future, whether certain technologies are coherent (e.g., the way the visitation room worked in the film) or desirable (e.g., the jewel in the short story).

These seem to me to be the main themes of our discussion, ones we came back to multiple times. The general desirability of immortality was also mentioned, and the role and relevance of normal human development was implicit in some of the discussion (e.g., the case of identical twins, the normal development of and changes in the self over time). Perhaps I missed something. Feel free to add to the list.

See you tomorrow,


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