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Why am i me?

  1. May 23, 2005 #1
    I have a few questions that had been bothering me the past few days. First off, why am I born with this particular consciousness and why am i born this "way" as oppose to an infinite other possibilities? Is it because this is how the chemicals in my brain happened to arranged itself out of all the possible way of arranging causing my unique consciousness to observe the world?

    Hope you guys can understand what I am talking about :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2005 #2
    Who said you were born with consciouesness? Do you remember having consciousness when you were born? That would be... horrible.
  4. May 23, 2005 #3
    Do you have reasons to suggest that it could have gone in a different way? What possibilities are you talking about? Do you have an infinite amount of possible pasts?

    What's unique in regard to your consciousness?

    Some say that's where "end of the tunnel experiences" come from.
  5. May 23, 2005 #4
    I think I understand your questions perfectly, I often think the same things myself. I haven't concluded much, the following is the best I can offer:

    I find this question twofold. First there is the problem of why you were born at all, and for me the answer to that is "because I have always existed". I'm not talking about reincarnation, but I think of myself as an abstract entity, like the number 37. So I am an abstract thing, an idea.

    As to why I am this "me" and not some other "me", I think the only possible answer is: because we are all the same. There is no difference between me, you, and anyone else who exists. We are all one, and the perception that we are different is just an illusion. If I were someone else, I would still be "me" because everybody else is also "me".

    Nah, that can't possibly have anything to do with anything physical. You are an idea; ideas are abstract, they exist outside of time, as opposed to things physical.

    In a nutshell, we are who we are because we are the only thing that truly exists. That thing is usually referred to as God, but it doesn't really have a name.

    That said, I don't think any of this can be explained. In a way, all I said above has been known since the beginning of history; in another way, it's an eternal mystery.
  6. May 23, 2005 #5
    thanks for the reply guys, however I am still very confused. So faust, are you saying that every single life forms in the universe are all one connected consciousness? than how did "I" came to existence and why does everyone think differently?
  7. May 23, 2005 #6
    I'll be interested in Faust's answer to your question, Anubis. In the meantime, I'll give you my answer to it. I think every single life form in the universe is "run" or "operated" or "driven" or "animated" by one single consciousness in the same sort of way that a person might run or drive a remotely controlled vehicle. In that example, all the experience occurs to the driver and not the vehicle. Similarly, deliberate conscious choices concerning the vehicles actions are made by the free will of the driver and not by the vehicle itself.
    I think your body was "manufactured" deliberately to be driven by that consciousness, just as we manufacture cars to be driven. And not everyone thinks differently. I think Faust's statement is correct.

  8. May 24, 2005 #7
    the short answer is evolution

    You are you based on the initial conditions of the universe at the time of your conception and the threads of consciousness woven into the fabric of space and time by the union of your parents. This makes you unique as your parents coming together to align those threads to form you are also unique and those circumstances of the state of the universe at conception only pertain to you given your unique geograpihcal postion in relation to the movement of the universe at said conception.

    Notice the similarities with astrology, the difference being I think cosmic consciousness manifest itself in you at conception not at birth so you can chuck the astrology out the window ?

    Also in line with Paul Martin's postulate is that this shared cosmic consciousness within the vehicle of your physical body governs you in the early stages of life as you learn to drive your body/vehicle but as you master the controls neccessary to navigate lifes highway it (shared consciousness) becomes a passenger that you influence by way of a feedback loop and refer to as a rally driver does a co driver/navigator/passenger.

    It relays information back to you via instinct and intuition. It is possible by reason and logic to overide and assume manual control of all facets of your body/vehicle except the basic functions needed to ensure survival. But by exercising total free will at the expense of that gut feeling or little voice you possibly do so at your peril just as a rally driver would by ignoring his co driver.

    Basically no two people are concieved of the same parents at the same time in the same place and this is what makes you and the way you think different from anyone else. The strength of your particular thread of consciousness is dependent on cultural evolutionary and natural selective processes brought together by chance (or possibly not) in the union of your parents and their individual threads. The state of the universe can mean, the state of the cosmic consciousness that is constantly being updated at every shortest interval of time by input from the collective human experience and allow for a unique individual that is YOU

    So...Your own developed thread of consciousness along with your shared cosmic passenger consciousness and the state of the universe as it was when you were concieved all combine to form the unique entity that is you and as you procreate by union with another so will you perpetuate and evolve the next generation of unique entitites who will wonder the same thing except that by understanding the nature of their individuality they will be better prepeard to prosper in the future

    well that's what i think anyway, sorry if i repeated myself to often . I hope you like it and i hope it makes sense and i hope that it helps you too.
  9. May 24, 2005 #8
    That's not exactly what I said, although that may turn out to be the case. I think that is a question for poets and priests; there's only so much we can say about the universe using logic and reason.

    The way I see it, you can't really differentiate between yourself and any other conscious being; your sense of identity is not what you are. It's like looking at the surface of a perfect sphere: how do you tell one point from another, if they all look exactly the same? In a way any point in the surface of the sphere is the same point. When our conscious mind is completely devoid of thoughts we lose our identity and become like points on a sphere. If the whole universe is inhabited by minds which only exist but think about nothing, then it doesn't make sense to say there is more than one individual.

    If you use a pen to make a dot on the surface of a perfect sphere, that dot has no identity, it is simply The Dot. If you make another dot, they still lack identity, except for the fact that one is not the other; but you still can't tell which is which. Now add a third dot near the second one, and suddenly all three dots become individual, in the sense that you can spin the sphere and still recognize each of them by their relative distance to the other two.

    (I believe this is also a hint as to why we perceive the universe in three dimensions: it's the minimum number of dimensions necessary to establish the identity of objects. But that's way out of topic...)

    So, to answer your question, you did not come to existence, but rather gained an identity, and that was by mere chance. You always existed, as an undifferentiated point in the sphere, but you only gained an identity when a pen made a dot in your position - that act suddenly made you from a point to a dot which is different from all other dots.

    Why does everyone think differently? Becuase that is what makes them "them"! If they thought exactly the same thought as you, then they would be "you".

    (PS: I made a silly mistake and had to change my alias - hopefully I can still be recognized)
  10. May 24, 2005 #9
    I am neither poet nor priest, nor am I an expert in logic or reason, but it seems to me that with some clarification of some key words, we might all be saying the same thing. The main words we are stumbling over comprise half of Anubis' original question: "Why am I me?" 'I' and 'me' are two of the troublesome words.

    Faust(us) said that he/she and I spoke a slightly different language. I agree. I think that slight difference is in our respective connotations of the words 'I', 'me', 'you', 'us', 'identity', and 'conscious being'. Faust(us) drew the conclusion from what I wrote earlier that Faust and Paul were the same person. (Maybe I should also append the inclusive 'us' and call myself Paulus. Just kidding.)

    Spicerack and I have slightly disagreed in a similar manner on the identity of the 'driver' in the vehicle called the body. Our disagreement seems to be in exactly who or what is actually driving the vehicle. Is it 'me' or some outside conscious entity? Is it the pilot or the co-pilot?

    So here's my proposal to clear up this confusion. Let's consider that all these confusing terms lie on a spectrum. The ends of this spectrum are clear and distinct so that I think we will all agree with them at the outset.

    At the extreme physical end, we have the physical body. Someone here called this the PNS for 'physical neurological system' (or something like that). There are some six billion of these on earth now and each one is separate and distinct and each one has a name. So if we agree to use names like 'Paul Martin', or 'Anubis' to mean the physical body, then we will have nailed down one end of my proposed spectrum and there shouldn't be any misunderstanding when one of us refers to another by name.

    At the other extreme end of my spectrum is the 'one' all the mystics talk about. I guess we can't really say much about this 'entity', even whether it exists or not. But in the spirit of allowing ourselves to discuss concepts such as 'unicorns' which may or may not exist, let's allow ourselves to posit an entity which is singular and somehow at the basis of all of reality. I'll refer to this entity as the 'one'.

    So to begin drawing us closer together in our mutual understanding, let me suggest that the 'one' is Faustus' perfect sphere with no ink dots; it is Spicerack's co-pilot; and it is my single universal consciousness.

    Next, in the hopes that you will agree with that, let me suggest that all the troublesome words I mentioned can be thought of as being someplace on the spectrum between the two extremes. And, I think that much of our misunderstanding results from our own inconsistencies as to where we consider those words to fall on the spectrum. Here are some examples.

    When I say 'I am going to the store', I certainly mean that my body is going to the store, so I have tacitly placed the term 'I' very near to the physical end of the spectrum. When I say "I am a conscious being", it is less clear where the "'I' falls on the spectrum. In fact, in my world-view, in this usage, the 'I' falls at the extreme other end and is really the "one" itself.

    I think Faustus' accumulating ink dots on the sphere illustrate the progression from the "one" to separately individuated human beings by moving completely across the spectrum. I think that when someone meditates, the awareness of the experience moves across the spectrum in the other direction, from the awareness of the physical circumstance of the body to the awareness of the "one" itself, or at least some place on the spectrum toward that end.

    And when Spicerack talks about "me" the driver and a conscious (or was it a sub-consious?) co-pilot, I think the difference is simply how he/she chooses to identify exactly where to place the 'identity' of the 'conscious being' that is driving the car (body).

    When I read what each of you wrote in response to Anubis' question, I can make sense of, and agree with, everything you said when I interpret it using this "spectrum" idea. I think the question itself, "Why am I me?" is ambiguous until you choose where on the spectrum the 'I' falls, and where on the spectrum the 'me' falls. The question itself implicitly implies that the 'I' and the 'me' are different things, otherwise the tautology "I am me" would obviate the question.

    But, instead, I think the question is profound and is really asking, why does this particular consciousness I experience seem to be embedded in this particular body that I experience? I think the answer is dependent on where along my spectrum you consider your identity to lie. Are 'you' the 'one' at the extreme end which is driving all bodies? Or are 'you' the obvious visible body others see walking around?

  11. May 24, 2005 #10
    Hi Paulus :smile:

    I wrote a long reply to your interesting post, then read it and thought "this is nonsense" (my post, not yours). Instead I will post a brief attempt to summarize my position. It probably makes no sense either, but at least it's quicker to read.

    It's been a while since I realized I must have existed before I was born, that in fact I have existed forever in the past. I don't recall the exact steps in my reasoning, I could probably retrace it if I wanted.; in any case I have since accept that as a truism, and observed that it explains quite a lot of things for me.

    One thing that became clear for me is that, at my essence, I am not a thing, an object; I am only an idea, or rather a collection of ideas. It is only ideas that can exist forever, and it's only ideas (abstractions) that can exist in the absence of a physical universe. So I just made the jump from the unbelievable notion that atoms can be conscious to the unbelievable notion that ideas can be conscious. Somehow the jump looks reasonable to me, solely on the basis of its explanatory power.

    Now if I am a collection of ideas, what makes "I" "me", or rather why is it that I am this collection of ideas and not that other collection, I believe the only possible answer is: mere chance. You can only develop your identity as a result of mere chance. This is where the perfect sphere analogy comes in.

    If someone asks you to select a collection of points on the surface of a perfect sphere, the first point can only be chosen at random. The second point must be chosen based on the first, but other than that, it's still a random choice, with the sole exception that it cannot be the position defined by the first point (even with two points, you can't still tell one from the other - they still don't have identity). Only when the third point is chosen is the symmetry of the situation broken, and now all points have their own identity which is their relative position to the other two.

    So the first being who became conscious had no problem understanding "why am I me", since he could not be anybody else, for there was nobody else to be. The second being could conceive of being the first one, but would realize being the other and being himself are essentially the same thing, so the question "why am I me" was meaningless for him. Only from the third being on did the question of one's identity become meaningful, but it is still a meaningful question without a meaningful answer other than "mere chance". Which is why I said this was known since the beginning but at the same time it's an eternal mystery.

    That should, I hope, make it clear to you how my perfect sphere is not your "one"; my sphere was just a metaphor to convey an abstract notion, your "one" not only is real but probably the most real thing around, if not the only.

    So, back to the drawing board?
  12. May 24, 2005 #11
    Interesting. Since I have always existed, than how did i inherit this new identity? By sheer chance?

    If my question is answered already than sorry, my brain flopped over and died half way through the thread. :uhh:
  13. May 24, 2005 #12
    I think we don't have an identity before we are born, just like no point in the surface of a perfect sphere can be said to be different from all other points. You inherited a new identity by being born. Let me use an allegory:

    Imagine a huge nursery in heaven, filled with "spiritual babies" waiting to be born. The "babies" look all the same, they are all like little grains of sand, perfectly identical. The babies already have a mind, but their minds are completely devoid of any thoughts, fully blank. Now a woman's egg has just been fertilized on earth, which causes the phone in the spiritual nursery to ring:

    - Spiritual Nursery. Good eternal morning!
    - Hi. This is Angel #98723. Someone has just been conceived, please send me one of the spiritual babies so I can put it inside the fertilized egg.
    - No problem. You'll have it in 5 minutes.
    - Thanks.

    And off the spiritual nurse goes, to pick up one little grain of sand to dispatch to earth. Now there's billions of them, all exactly the same. Which one should she pick? Well, she's been in this business for an eternity and she knows there are no criteria that can be used to choose one over the other, so she just picks one at random.

    Twenty years later a young man on earth wonders why he was chosen instead of the billions who have been left behind and are still waiting to be born. But the young man will not find an answer other than "it happened to me but there's no reason why it couldn't have happened to anyone else". The key thing here is "there is no reason".

    Bottom line: never underestimate the importance of chance. That is how most things come about.

    And if it hadn't done so already, my poor literary skills would have certainly done it now :smile:
  14. May 24, 2005 #13
    Is it by mere chance though and why at birth not at conception ?

    Surely a unique thread of consciousness/template of an identity is initiated at conception ?

    I don't think it is by chance either that combinations of unique threads over time form higher evolved beings which have a purpose in the overall scheme of things.

    Was Einstein a fluke or was he predisposed by the union of his many antecedent threads towards maths/physics/higher thought and with the influence of environment and experience became what he was meant to be ?

    I'm thinking as in Dune with the kwisatz haderach/Paul Atreides and the bene gesserit program that produced him but as in that scenario we by the natue of free will can override genetic predisposition and achieve beyond our calling or disregard it completely and do our own thing

    Are you familiar with this...

    The "guff" is a term the Talmud uses to refer to the repository of all unborn souls. Literally, the word "guff" means "body."

    The Talmud says, "The Son of David (Mashiach) will not arrive until there's no more 'soul' in the 'body.' " This means that there are a certain number of souls in heaven waiting to be born. Until they are born, they wait in a heavenly repository called "the body." The Mashiach won't arrive until every single one of these souls has been born into the physical world.

    This teaches that each person is important and has a unique role which only he, with his unique soul, can fulfill. Even a newborn baby brings the Mashiach closer simply by being born.

    Interesting that it translates to "the body" and enters "our body". Same thing different name "shared consciousness" entering our uniquely inherited "thread of consciousness"
  15. May 25, 2005 #14


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    I have often thought about this question myself. Why am I who I am and not an animal, plant, bacteria, or my next door neighbor?

    As a student of astrology for 13 years, I must agree to disagree :cool: Just for the record, astrology is based on the time of birth because the baby begins to breathe completely on her own, whereas in the womb, her lungs are collapsed and she is dependent upon her mother for oxygen. With that thought, I believe that the arrangement of celestial bodies has a certain reflection (not affect) on every form of life, but we choose who we become. As to why we we are who we are, I also believe "god" is a fancy label for the constant energy flow throughout our universe/reality and the channeling to who or what it becomes is quite random.
  16. May 25, 2005 #15


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    Think about it this way: If you were someone else, would it be any different? You'd be asking the same question. They may be a virtually infinitely number of persons/entities that you could have been, and all might be equally probable. No matter which you became, you'd still be able to stand and wonder about all the other things you didn't become. The only reason you are you is because you can only be one thing.
  17. May 25, 2005 #16


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    Nope, I contain multitudes (yeah, I know it is a contradiction but Walt was right nonetheless..)
  18. May 25, 2005 #17


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    This seems (to me) an obvious enough truth (and since it is entirely pertinent) that it answers the question completely, with no room for doubt. Why am I wrong ?
  19. May 25, 2005 #18


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    Evidently true. I just paraphrased one of Walt Whitman's more memorable phrases.. ("Did I contradict myself? Oh well, I contain multitudes")
  20. May 25, 2005 #19


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    The simplest physical reason you are what you are has to do with your brain. Brains are complex bio-electrical organs. The random neuron connections made as your brain grows are as unique to an individual as your fingerprints. It is how these connections are arranged that determines your though patterns, thus your personality and your ability to learn.

    Thou it may now be a bit dated try giving GEB, The Eternal Golden Braid By Douglas Hofstadter a read. He does an very good job of explaining the fundamentals of thought processes and brain operation through an analogy with an ant colony.
  21. May 25, 2005 #20


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    The question "Why am I this human, as opposed to that animal?" only makes sense if the "I" means something other than "this human". What is meant by "I" here if it is not "this human"?

    If "I" literally means "this human" then the question reduces to asking "Why is this human this human?". "This human" is "this human" is just a tautology. It would be like asking "Why is a=a?"
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