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End Results are for Social Animals

  1. Feb 15, 2005 #1
    I think one of the most important questions facing those would adopt the Dennettian approaches of "Multiple Drafts" and "heterophenomenology" is: Why -- if there really is no "finished product" of conscious perception, no "quale", no quantized "perception" -- does it seems so intuitive to refer to our processes in these terms?

    After all, if it is intuitive, then it must be natural; and if it is natural, then doesn't that mean it's most likely right? For the answers to these questions, I want to try mix in a little Rortean philosophy....

    If we consider ourselves as we really are, social animals, the answers to these questions becomes apparent. We are social animals, concerned with relating our perceptions to others, being recognized as a member of certain societies (and, conversely, as distinct from members of other societies), and justifying our beliefs. Doesn't it make sense, within that understanding of ourselves (and our "nature") that we would want to believe in something like a "Final Draft" of consciousness? After all, we can't relate all of the process as it continues on (for numerous reasons), so why not just decide when a perception is fleshed out enough to be related to other members of our society, and then call that the "Final Draft"?

    This reasoning also helps explain the concept of self-awareness, and of what it means to be a singular self or soul. Think of it this way: We recognize all of the many (innumerable even) aspects of our personality as making up one, singular, recognizable "person". That way, we can interact with others like us, since they also appear to us as "one, singular, recognizable 'person'". IOW, it allows you to be "one of them". DID (or, if you prefer, MPD) would then be explained as someone whose many-aspects-of-personality don't try to come together sufficiently to be accepted as "one, singular, recognizable person" (ergo, a DID case cannot be accepted into society as are others, since they haven't coalesced to the point of being recognizable as "member").

    So, why does it seem intuitive to refer to "final drafts" and "single persons", if none such things exist? Because it's easier to talk about :smile:.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2005 #2
    Any thoughts?
  4. Feb 16, 2005 #3


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    I think there is another important component that is missing from this analysis. That is the fact that we are introspective animals. We not only like to purvey our impressions to others, but we also like to create internal representations of objects so that we can pick them apart mentally. I think there is a general tendency to view individual moments (or at best, small frames of continuous time) introspectively, like they are preserved in little jars for us to look at and dissect.
  5. Feb 16, 2005 #4
    Hm. Hadn't considered that.

    Do you think our desire to "pick them apart mentally" is in any way related to our social upbringing (the presenting of thoughts to others, so that they can pick them apart), or do you think it's a completely separate phenomenon?
  6. Feb 16, 2005 #5


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    To be honest, I could only speculate as to what the answer to that question would be. It sounds like a question best asked of a linguistic anthropologist. You can probably search for info to see if anything comes up, or e-mail a professor.
  7. Feb 18, 2005 #6
    Seems I always ask the wrong question, anyway. At least, that's what my fourth grade teacher told me.
  8. Feb 18, 2005 #7


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    To bring up our memories, thoughts, and sensations and analyze them ("analyze" is Greek for "pick apart")!

    Could the development of this ability be a key to our becoming conscious? For we are not born conscious, or at least we have no clear memories of mental states before a certain age (2 or 3?).
  9. Feb 21, 2005 #8
    I'm not sure...I still don't know for sure if it's a social or personal phenomenon. After all, what would be the point of a non-social animal's "picking apart" his thoughts? I can see how such a tendency would evolve in a social environment (at the personal and species levels), but I can't see why a non-social being would ever even begin to conduct analysis.
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