Dennets (where am I?)

In the article where am I find the end really confusing is he saying that the ‘I’ is the mind which dwells in the human body any thoughts

He means that the I is the mind that dwells in a human body… literally. He means that the “I” that we know does not find itself in a bat, or a cat, or a house for that matter. Its a human quality that has arose through language, or as Dennett would say “memes”.

After reading the article i reached no clear conclusion as to what Dennett was trying to say in relation to ‘where is the i?’ at first i believe he thought it was in the brain when he questions his reaction to the brain in the vat. Then when he has the disembodiment experience he agrees that the ‘I’ must exist in a metaphysical non materialist state. However, it is the end that confuses me what exactly is he trying to say in this paragraph. Where does he believe the I exists now? Any thoughts

"THANK GOD! I THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER FLIP THAT SWITCH! You can’t imagine how horrible it’s been these last two weeks --but now you know; it’s your turn in purgatory. How I’ve longed for this moment! You see, about two weeks ago–excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but I’ve got to explain this to my . . . um, brother, I guess you could say, but he’s just told you the facts, so you’ll understand–about two weeks ago our two brains drifted just a bit out of synch. I don’t know whether my brain is now Hubert or Yorick, any more than you do, but in any case, the two brains drifted apart, and of course once the process started, it snowballed, for I was in a slightly different receptive state for the input we both received, a difference that was soon magnified. In no time at all the illusion that I was in control of my body–our body–was completely dissipated. There was nothing I could do–no way to call you. YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I EXISTED! It’s been like being carried around in a cage, or better, like being possessed–hearing my own voice say things I didn’t mean to say, watching in frustration as my own hands performed deeds I hadn’t intended. You’d scratch our itches, but not the way I would have, and you kept me awake, with your tossing and turning. I’ve been totally exhausted, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, carried around helplessly by your frantic round of activities, sustained only by the knowledge that some day you’d throw the switch.

He’s shown that the people aren’t identical, because of a difference in input. Having not read the rest of the article, he may be trying to demonstrate that

body+brain <> identity

or perhaps just that

identity = brain + input

Is it on the internet anywhere? I’d love to read it.

I found it, if anyone else is interested:

I think it was in “kinds of minds” that he said explicitly that body + brain= the individual. That you couldn’t seperate the two, and still maintain the self that you supposedly are. Because of the ambiguity between drawing lines. Its all transducers, and effectors…

Anyways sorry, I haven’t read the article. I have read almost all of his published works though, and I can assuredly say that at no point Dennett ever asserts that the “I” is metaphysical, non materialistic state.

I will get around to the article though… sorry but as usual I’m strapped for that ever precious commodity “time”… anyways I’ll add to the link MAtt posted…heres a link to most of Dennetts Essays free to all!!!:

Reading this particular article I think it would be more accurate to say his argument was Brain+Input = Individual.

We’ve moved on a lot since Dennett’s time, but it’s still relevant to today’s Personal Identity discussions, even if it’s just to see how we got here.

I really got into Parfit’s view that we as a person also reside in the perception of other people, so if significanlty altered we might still think of ourselves as I, but no longer does the world adhere to that particular I and it is destoyed, the I wandering around just doesn’t realise it.

Back to the article, I was briefly intrigued by Dennett’s point about faster than light travel of his identity from Hamlet to Yorick, however he seems to have forgotten to include the time lag between Yorick to Hamlet beforehand, in that any instructions from Yorick to Hamlet would have been lagged. When you include that it nullfies his entire faster than light argument. Bit of a school boy error really, I’m surprised he didn’t spot it himself.

Probably more accurate…Its hard to express his view of the ego in a single sentance like that though… but yeah Brain +input = individual. His view of the self is largely language based. Language was created, memes entered the scene, we are predisposed towards intentionality, a captain of the ship is simply useful, we’re the center of narrative gravity, which doesn’t really exist, but its useful to act as though it does, much like Newtons center of gravity.

Funny, seems to me he just published a new book. :astonished:

Nice observation by Parfit. Ohh jeeze… now another on my to read list #-o

Ahh okay… I’m breaking down. Imma sit down and read the article now… seems even though I’m quiet familiar with Dennetts views I’m going to need some context… I’ll be back :sunglasses:

He believes there is no single entity, the “I” that exists anywhere. OR to put it in his terms, there is a soul, but its made up of lots of tiny robots.

His other “brain”… who knows which one(the mechanical, or the ‘real’ brain) took over the body when he flipped the switch. Instead of the two being in sync, as they had previously been, something has happened which threw them out of sync. Thus the unity was ruined, and the Second brain no longer had the illusion of being in control of the body. The brains had become two distinct entities.

School boy error?? First off Dennett did indeed point out the instructions from Yorick to Hamlet would have been lagged, and secondly the faster then light arguement was meant to seem silly. His “school boy error” as you so wittingly put it, was the bloody point.

This seems to be the paragraph that you both are having trouble with. First of all this is a narrative, not Dennett expressing his exact views. What he is doing here is expressing the common held belief(which is counter to his own views!!!) and in the context of the story shows the fallacy of a Cartesian theatre, or a pineal based soul.

This whole paragraph seems silly in light of the story, and that is how its meant to seem. There is no “self” no “I”… no soul, as many believe there to be. The story shows that one could in fact trade his brain with a machine brain, and there would be no loss of cognition, you wouldn’t notice a thing.

This is not a tapered arguement, this is a short essay meant to serve as a intuition pump. For concrete, and critical arguements see “Conciousness Explained”… Now I hope some of the confusion has been lifted. I’ll return to my busy life now. Ttyl :stuck_out_tongue:

And there’s a lesson for everyone there in that you shouldn’t scan read! You’re quite right.

No soul, yes, no ‘self’ or I? I don’t really see that argument in there, in fact a compelling argument demonstrating there is an I at the end! I can’t remember anything of Dennett now, I think he didn’t have much of an impact on me, if this is his point of view I think he’s put it to one side for this story.

People who think there is a soul, think that it is something unique. Trading ones mind with a machine, and having no noticible effects (when they are in sync that is) I think is a very telling statement(at least in the story) of how a ‘soul’ is not unique, but just an arrangement of complex processes.

Dennett doesn’t deny that an “I” exist, he merly asserts that it is not a metaphysical soul. Sometimes he has said that there is no “I”, and “I” have just done it here. The statement ignites confusion at times. The absolute denial of the statement is supposed to be talking about a cartesian theatre.

Again, there is a soul, but its made up of lots of tiny robots.

if thats true that the soul is “made up of lots of tiny robots”.

do you mean that the soul does not evolve??

First off, do you see the paradox of a self at the helm? For if I have a tiny homunculi within my mind that is my essence, wouldn’t there need to be another tiny homunculi within him? and this would continue ad infinitum.

Couple that simple insight with our modern understanding of the brain. There is no center where an ego would sit, or be composed. Most definetly then the ego/soul is made up of parts. Different agencies in the brain are for different tasks, they are made up of different specializing neurons, which are cells composed of protiens, and nuclei.

Most certainly this soul, the one I just described, does evolve. Since every organism, or to be even more fundemental, every replicator evolves via natural selection. So yes a soul would evolve, it evolves via natural selection.