Do I have a unique identity?

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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Do "I" have a unique identity?

Since my mind "evolves" with each bit of information that enters through a sense, one might argue that my consciousness is itself a dynamic entity that by its very nature cannot have a distinct identity. Still, we tend to think of ourselves as having some unchanging quality - the soul, or at least the ID - that goes be beyond the dynamics of the mind and the senses.

Am I the same person now...as now; or do "I" only exist as a continuum of momentary identities?
 
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  • #2
Royce
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yes.....and yes.

We have a unigue identity, a character that is us and continues on thoughout our lives; however, we are constantly changing thoughout our lives. We are the same entity with the same identity but we are not the same as we were or will be. Call it soul or ego or whatever you will but as someone said the only constant is change.
 
  • #3
Bubonic Plague
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I'd say you're a continuum. This is also why i don't believe in a claim which many inspirationists use. Which is the claim that we all have a "real me", then they preach about losing sight of the "real me". I think it's just another extension of morals and ethics.
 
  • #4
Iacchus32
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What about the "you" that is conscious? For some reason that's the part that doesn't go away. :wink:
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
What about the "you" that is conscious? For some reason that's the part that doesn't go away. :wink:

Perhaps the concept of "I" is really just a notion of "the moment" combined with memory. Beyond memory, what evidence is there for the continuation of any unique identity? Couldn't this just be an illusion of the moment?
 
  • #6
Royce
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No, "I" exists and is real. "I" is the foundation or base from which we grow and experience life. Most of childhood is spent developing and establishing this "I" as unigue and separate from our parents and siblings and later from others as our world expands. Of what use would life be if there were not a unige I to experience it and respond to it.

This "I" may be part of a universal One which is interconnected to all other I's including, if you so believe, God. In this respect there is no "I" but all is One and of One. This, however is just one aspect of what "I" is and does not lessen but enhances it's unigueness. It is my thought that it is this "I" that is eternal even when eventually we return to and become one with God.
 
  • #7
selfAdjoint
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Is there a definite candle flame? Or is that an illusion? I am a process; each moment I enter a new state, but I have within me, serving as a parameter set for each new state, a (unknowably edited) memory of previous states, stretching back to when I was three or four. Thus my identity gets updated with a large slug of previous states and a small slug of the new. I have not ever experienced a consistency problem.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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Perhaps the "I" only has a wholeness in time.
 
  • #9
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Perhaps the concept of "I" is really just a notion of "the moment" combined with memory. Beyond memory, what evidence is there for the continuation of any unique identity? Couldn't this just be an illusion of the moment?
I suspect it's a lot like the radio waves we receive over the radio, where the "format" is subject to change from time to time. The radio and the equipment remain the same, but the information which is broadcast and/or received has changed. :wink:
 
  • #10
Sonty
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Originally posted by Royce
No, "I" exists and is real. "I" is the foundation or base from which we grow and experience life. Most of childhood is spent developing and establishing this "I" as unigue and separate from our parents and siblings and later from others as our world expands. Of what use would life be if there were not a unige I to experience it and respond to it.

This "I" may be part of a universal One which is interconnected to all other I's including, if you so believe, God. In this respect there is no "I" but all is One and of One. This, however is just one aspect of what "I" is and does not lessen but enhances it's unigueness. It is my thought that it is this "I" that is eternal even when eventually we return to and become one with God.

So the "I" didn't exist before my childhood? then how can I be part of the One if for a few years I didn't exist. Aren't "I" just a polymorphic virus in The One's computer?
 
  • #11
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Iacchus32
I suspect it's a lot like the radio waves we receive over the radio, where the "format" is subject to change from time to time. The radio and the equipment remain the same, but the information which is broadcast and/or received has changed. :wink:
Of course if one were to suffer from too much change, where it's either too abrupt and/or associated with some sort of trama, then I suppose it's possible to suffer from multiple personalities -- you know, like Sybil.

But then again you can take a brilliant playwright, like Shakespeare, or possibly Euripides, with his introduction to the god of the mask and theater, Dionysus, and there's no doubt these characters ran rampant through their personalities. But maybe this is how they kept from going insane, by writing about it? (and not repressing it).
 
  • #12
zoobyshoe
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Ivan,

There is a difference between hav-
ing a "distinct identity" and
having an "unchanging quality."
These are two separate questions.

When a person refers to themself
as "I" it is a reference to their
"distinct identity", meaning dis-
tinct from someone else. The ob-
vious answer to this question is
yes, you are distinct from every-
one else.

The second question is one of
imutable essence. Do the moment
by moment changes in an individual
take place around an ever intact
core?

Who wants to know? Would an ever
intact core ask such a question?

-zoob
 
  • #13
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Ivan,

There is a difference between hav-
ing a "distinct identity" and
having an "unchanging quality."
These are two separate questions.

I was really speaking only to an unchanging self.

When a person refers to themself
as "I" it is a reference to their
"distinct identity", meaning dis-
tinct from someone else. The ob-
vious answer to this question is
yes, you are distinct from every-
one else.

This does not really speak to the idea. I meant an identity that is distinct because it is unchanging.

The second question is one of
imutable essence. Do the moment
by moment changes in an individual
take place around an ever intact
core?

Who wants to know? Would an ever
intact core ask such a question?

-zoob

I think either one could; an intact or dynamic self.
 
  • #14
zoobyshoe
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Do you think an ever-intact core
thinks?
 
  • #15
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Do you think an ever-intact core
thinks?

Hmmm. I see your point.
Thinking...thinking...

An ever-intact core would seem to be self aware. Awareness is a form of thought.
 
  • #16
zoobyshoe
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Hmmm. I see your point.
Thinking...thinking...

An ever-intact core would seem to be self aware. Awareness is a form of thought.

Sound of a loud, disruptive buz-
zer.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Seeking, according
to five thousand years of Buddhist
wisdom your last statement was
incorrect."
 
  • #17
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Sound of a loud, disruptive buz-
zer.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Seeking, according
to five thousand years of Buddhist
wisdom your last statement was
incorrect."

Uh oh! I had better give them time to catch up with me.



Could you elaborate a little? What is the Buddhist belief here?
 
  • #18
zoobyshoe
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A person cannot think without being aware, but they can be
aware without thinking.

Thinking is the interior mental
modeling that humans are nearly
constantly engaged in which is
not necessarily linked to any
perception they are receiving from
the outside world at the time.

Awareness is the quality of being
conscious, sentient, and is not
dependant upon thinking for its
existence. It is dependent on perception.
-------------------

Yeah, those Buddhist masters sure
do take their time, don't they?
 
  • #19
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
A person cannot think without being aware, but they can be
aware without thinking.

Thinking is the interior mental
modeling that humans are nearly
constantly engaged in which is
not necessarily linked to any
perception they are receiving from
the outside world at the time.

Awareness is the quality of being
conscious, sentient, and is not
dependant upon thinking for its
existence. It is dependent on perception.
-------------------

Yeah, those Buddhist masters sure
do take their time, don't they?

First, I believe in a soul. So really I am citing an idea that goes against my own beliefs; unless perhaps we can talk about the "I" as having a wholeness only in time - as in the continuation of David Bohms work.

Some now argue that self awareness is merely an illusion created by the process of thought. Now I know this gets right into Descarte's evil genius, now called The Matrix, but this is what some scientists are saying. Self awarness is merely another mechanism of perception - the brain's awareness of its own activities.

Some similar ideas to those refereced:
"Experience is fundamental to existence, but it is not reality (Berkeley was wrong). Reality is the process through which Nature is constantly becoming. Our consciousness (as it manifests in our human existence) is an extension of the same holistic awareness function self-organized matter always utilized to observe itself, therefore consciousness is still - Nature observing itself."
http://cyberdyno1.tripod.com/consciousness.html [Broken]

http://cyberdyno1.tripod.com/holistic.html [Broken]

http://www.heaven-words.com/33.htm [Broken]

"Whenever the self object is part of the current image, along with another activated object X, we say that we are aware of X, or conscious of X. Consciousness is therefore a state of objects, the relation between the self object and other objects. Consciousness is not an observer, which exists on top of the objects. There is no such observer, because all entities are established as objects, and are all on the same level. The term image is misleading, there is no observer for the current image, for our current awareness. The self is not located above the objects, but aside of them. When we say ‘I am conscious of X’, that means the self object is conscios of X, that the self object has a relation to X object. The ‘I’ is the self object, there is no ‘I’ beyond that."
http://www.kurzweilai.net/mindx/frame.html?main=/mindx/show_thread.php?rootID%3D9076 [Broken]
 
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  • #20
zoobyshoe
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Ivan,

I'm not seeing a pertinent con-
nection between what I said and
the quotes you posted.
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Ivan,

I'm not seeing a pertinent con-
nection between what I said and
the quotes you posted.

Awareness is the quality of being
conscious, sentient, and is not
dependant upon thinking for its
existence

Our consciousness (as it manifests in our human existence) is an extension of the same holistic awareness function self-organized matter always utilized to observe itself, therefore consciousness is still - Nature observing itself.

Consciousness is therefore a state of objects, the relation between the self object and other objects. Consciousness is not an observer, which exists on top of the objects
 
  • #22
zoobyshoe
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Aside from the fact all quotes are
about the subject of consciousness
I still don't see the connection.
What I said is not the same as
what the others said. What I'm not
understanding is if you posted the
other quotes to support, refute,
mitigate, or something else.

First let me ask if you understood
what I was saying about being able
to be aware without thinking?
 
  • #23
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Aside from the fact all quotes are
about the subject of consciousness
I still don't see the connection.
What I said is not the same as
what the others said. What I'm not
understanding is if you posted the
other quotes to support, refute,
mitigate, or something else.

First let me ask if you understood
what I was saying about being able
to be aware without thinking?

I was really using consciousness and awareness in a similar vein. Also, I was just pointing to some discussions that relate to my question. I am exploring the topic; not pushing an agenda.

Do you believe in Buddhism?
 
  • #24
zoobyshoe
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I believe Buddhism has it more
right than any other religion, but I can't say I'm a Buddhist because the sine qua
non
of Buddhism is meditation, and I do not meditate.

I just hope you see the important
distinction between what I said
about consciousness and what the
other two quotes said. My point
was simply that a person can be
aware without thinking. We pretty
much start out that way as babies.

What I said was in contradiction
to your statement that awareness
was a form of thinking. That state
ment creates the false impression
that thinking preceeds awareness.
Awareness has to preceed because
if it didn't we could neither
percieve anything to think about
nor have a medium in which to do
the thinking.
 
  • #25
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I believe Buddhism has it more
right than any other religion, but I can't say I'm a Buddhist because the sine qua
non
of Buddhism is meditation, and I do not meditate.

I just hope you see the important
distinction between what I said
about consciousness and what the
other two quotes said. My point
was simply that a person can be
aware without thinking. We pretty
much start out that way as babies.

What I said was in contradiction
to your statement that awareness
was a form of thinking. That state
ment creates the false impression
that thinking preceeds awareness.
Awareness has to preceed because
if it didn't we could neither
percieve anything to think about
nor have a medium in which to do
the thinking.

Really, I agree with you. But some now make the counter argument under the cloak of science. I wonder if this can really be substantiated in a logical and scientific manner. Also, with the ideas from quantum mechanics, we might imagine quantizing awareness into discrete elements that each have a unique identity. I wonder what philosophical implications lie here also.

Wouldn't Buddhism favor notions of seeing the complete existence of the self [awareness] only over all of time? I must admit that although I am familiar with many eastern philosophical concepts,I often confuse which idea goes with Tauism, Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism,and other sources for these ideas.
 
  • #26
zoobyshoe
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Buddhism is anti-philosophical.
Buddhists meditate in order to
cease the interior monolog. Once
a person has managed to do that
he becomes super-aware and super-
present. Buddhists view thinking
as a kind of parasitical pathology
that only serves to divert aware-
ness from the here and now into
fruitless worry about the past
and speculation about the future.

Buddhists view the present moment
as the only reality available to
anyone: the past is gone, the future hasn't happened yet. Right
now is all there is.

That being the case they put everything they have into whatever
they are doing in the present.

So to answer your question, no,
Buddhists wouldn't view a person
in terms of all of time. In Bud-
dhist terms the quality of a persons life is measured by the
amount of effort he put into being
aware of it during the course of
the last breath he inhaled, savored, and exhaled.
 
  • #27
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Buddhists view the present moment
as the only reality available to
anyone: the past is gone, the future hasn't happened yet. Right
now is all there is.

Ah yes.

From where [what] does the continuous self [awarness] arise?

Also, in many ways this seems to suggest the idea that a continuous self [awarness] in time is really an illusion. Or is this distinction addressed directly in some other way?
 
  • #28
zoobyshoe
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One of the main tenets of Zen
Buddhism (and there aren't many
of them) is:All beings are
Buddha from the beginning


This means all sentient beings.
All beings that possesses awareness
are Buddha.

Another tenet is:All things
spring constantly from nothingness


Everything that exists is cons-
tantly being recreated moment after moment.
 
  • #29
Royce
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Originally posted by Sonty
So the "I" didn't exist before my childhood? then how can I be part of the One if for a few years I didn't exist. Aren't "I" just a polymorphic virus in The One's computer?

We are getting into semantics now or very deeply into the two separate aspects of individuality. The I tha you were before you were born is the eternal I that is part of the One. the I that you are now and have become in this life or incarnation is the I you are aware of and consider yourself now. Just as a cube has many faces or facets so do we yet we are one and one with the One. If you prefer as I do you may consider the eternal you your soul.
If we are simply a polymorphic virus on the One computer then ignore everything after DUH?.
 

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