Why are We Individuals? A Philosophical Question

  • Thread starter Kerrie
  • Start date
In summary: Originally posted by Kerrie ...I think all the different species I’ve ever watched for any length of time showed differences in personality, and I mean even spiders too, having raised several different types in a terrarium years ago. Often, especially in regards to cloning a complete human being, I hear that the clone will be different due to its environment (recall the Adolf Hitler cloned type movies). But what about family members that grew up very close to one another and shared many similar experiences. Don’t their personalities often differ radically from one to the other all the same? I’m half-suspecting that even if two people share the exact same influences they may still end up with
  • #71
Originally posted by Kerrie
a very basic question that i wonder a lot about...here we are on this earth, along with all the other forms of life, we physically must survive in the same manner - requiring sleep, food, adequate health - yet, personality wise, we are unique...why? this question is not limited to human beings either, as my roommate's dog has quite the personality for example...

The answer is very simple... entropy!

Seriously, count the number of distinguishable ways of sleeping, eating, and staying healthy. Compare this to the number of possible personalities that exist. You will find that a system of higher complexity has more variables. More variables means more unique combinations. For personality, the number of possibilities is so large that the probability of finding two that are identical is, for all practical purposes, zero.

eNtRopY
 
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  • #72
I'm not sure what it would matter if we were to discover some alien beings that had greater intelligence than ourselves. Are you suggesting we'd have to accept whatever purpose they'd want to suggest we had? It seems to me, that even then, we'd still be the ones to decide what our purpose would be in life, based on our needs and desires (assuming they don't subjugate us, which would suck). If, you mean other entities in a supernatural realm, then I still don't quite see a purpose to be had there. Even with an all powerful, all good creator, it seems to me that the idea of worship itself is immoral, and the idea of creating autonomous individuals, only to enforce your own meaning and purpose on them is evil. So, I would still expect a good god to want us to choose our own meaning and purpose.

Whoah. I'm not saying that at all. If aliens came to us we'd first have to assess intent and where we stood in relation to them. I think we will not take to subjugation or subservience well at all.for me I don't believe in God. But I'll play devil's advocate...

If there were a God, and he had a policy favoring us, he would choose a policy of non-interfence to allow man to make his own discoveries of self, and to allow free will in order to let us grow as individuals.

I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here, as I'm not into believing in aliens among us or God. So what are you getting at ? I'm saying I believe that we're not necessarily the most advance form of life in the universe, but that doesn't translate to belief in God. As for alien life, that hasn't been proven yet either.

But I agree with you that our search for truth lies within, not without.
 
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  • #73
Originally posted by M. Gaspar
So, are you saying that we should each establish our respective positions on what is "going on" with/within/or outside of the Universe before offering our "answer" to the question?

Then, we'd each be saying something like this: "I'm coming from a paradigm that holds that thus and such is true , and so within that context I believe that we are individuals because..."?

Yes, I think that would be very helpful to communication of these various concepts - right on :)

Or, are you saying that -- because of all the diverse perspectives -- our answers would be meaningful only to those who share a similar paradigm ( preaching to the choir) while the rest of us couldn't care less...so why discuss it in the first place?

Heh, well that may well prove true. For example, it's really pointless to debate abortion unless you both have the same definitions of life, rights, "person", and a whole host of other philosophic and religious foundations. It's also pointless to debate evolution until you agree on what constitutes evidence, the burden of proof, the actual facts of what evidence there are and aren't, and perhaps the reliability of biblical creation.

But there are some good reasons for discussing and sharing various beliefs, even if we haven't come to terms with each other as to the foundations of those beliefs...

1) It's fun! That's the main reason I post and read here really.

2) It is important to understand the views of others, even if you don't agree with them. That goes from the very first premises, up the tree to the very last conclusions. Along the way, it offers insight to our whole view and, if we're open minded, just might allow us to change for the better.

3) Often, people can have a resistance to an idea because they dislike what they THINK it is based on, or they fear where they THINK it may lead. Discussing other levels of the worldview may help to alleviate that concern, or at least make it more realistic. For example, I often get strong resistance from people when I debate the rationality of my atheistic position. Not in all cases, but in many I find that the force of their resistance comes, not from the facts actually being discussed, but from the fear they have that my conclusions would lead to meaninglessness and despair. Therefore, it may be helpful for me to share my humanistic beliefs with them, even though we may still disagree as to their foundations. This often shows them that there IS a secular basis for leading an ethical and meaningful life. With those concerns dealt with (at least somewhat), it is then easier to return to the atheistic debate and for both of us to focus on those facts, instead of having an irrelevant aversion or distraction based on other levels of the worldview.

But who among us could keep from arguing against each others' basic premises (let alone get to their answers) ...arguing as if we were actually going to change somebody's mind!

True, and that's why people who like debate have fun here. But although it's hard to tell the difference, there are those among us who are just here to "win the argument" and those actually exploring the issue. Because I often say my position outright and don't dilly-dally, people often mistake me for someone just out to "win". But I despise this take on debate. I once saw a book at the bookstore titled, "How to win any debate", and it was by a lawyer or salesman or something. It made me sick. The point of a debate should never be to win. If I'm wrong, I WANT to lose, but it will have to be a real loss backed up with good reasons in order to teach me anything.

When two people disagree, there are only two possibilities: one of them is wrong, or both of them are wrong. Both cannot be right in my view (note, if both merely misunderstand each other, then they may be right but they are both "wrong" in the sense that they are misunderstanding each other). Therefore, debate presents the opportunity for one or both to improve. The true winner in a debate is the loser, because s/he has had the opportunity to learn and adjust their views to what is likely more accurate. My favorite debates are the ones I lose, but that's only valuable to me if I made the other work for their victory.

Is this true? Are you "very interested" in hearing a "line of reasoning connecting the concept of individuality to our place [ or our FUNCTION?] in the Universe?"

YES! I may or may not agree with it, but I definitely want to know what arguments are out there so I can study them. For example, I could probably get on this board under a different name and have you thouroughly convinced I was a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. I could debate nearly any issue from that perspective, offering detailed rationale. That's how well we should all understand the others' positions - especially those we disagree with (like me and fundie christians).

And are you just as interested if you do not relate to the "foundational belief system"?

Yes.

I agree completely. My paradigm does not hold that "God" gave me a "purpose" but that I get to choose my own. However, Tiberius, you and I would part company at what comes next: that once we choose our purpose, the natural forces of the non-physical Universe would align with our intentions and actions to create and direct us to "openings" for our purpose to unfold. (Oops. Sorry about that. My paradigm is showing.)

Yep. No disrespect, but that sounds pretty looney tunes to me. But very intelligent and respectable people believe in things like angels and karma so you're in good company. :)

I once read somewhere that "The Meaning of Life is the Meaning We Give It" ...and this works for me.

Me too.

So, what ARE the "really important questions facing us"?

Whew! That's a lot of stuff. You know, all the issues of "applied" philosophy, such as: living ethically, getting along with one another, building a just and workable society, dealing with multicultural issues, dealing with the effects of technology on our lives, finding meaning and purpose in life, building worldviews and meaningful life philosophy we can live by, that is also in harmony with scientific facts, being happy and fulfilled, etc etc...
 
  • #74
Originally posted by Tiberius
Kerri,

1) You said you thought I was complaining about the relevancy of the topic to the forum. This is incorrect. If you go back and reread the order of the posts you will find that I never once stated anything about whether or not this topic was in the right place, until others said that MY physiological explanation does not belong in the philosophy section. In Defence of, and in response to the claim that I had "forgotten what forum I was in", I said that the question is a material one and so it was not I who had forgotten. This is the first time, and the only comments I made in this regard were in response to being accused of ME not being in the right forum.

2) What do you mean by "attitude"? How am I to phrase the assersions that I made? I submit that there was no possible way to make the claims that I did on this thread in a way that wouldn't get me accused of having an attitude. If you can find some incident where I called someone a name or attacked them personally on this thread then I'd be suprised. Otherwise, I think this is just a case of not liking the position I am taking and taking it personally that I disagree, and I can't do anything about that. Everything I have stated has been about the topic and in response to comments directed at me. These responses have been plainly factual and addressed the ideas - not the people.

3) Science isn't complete. But what there is of it should be acknowledged in philosophy - and there is a lot of it concerning "why we are individuals". Then, from that point, further speculation would be highly entertaining to read. That is my point in a nutshell and my response to the claim that my scientific explanation is out of place on this thread. I don't see what is so controversial or threatening about that, or what should invoke the attitude that claims of scientific completness have been made. That is a "straw man" argument and therefore irrelevant.

I would make a comment here about not meaning to be rude, but I tried that earlier in this thread and it was answered with "but you are" so I'll not waste time with that again.

My last response to you was my opinion:wink: You seem to take my opinion personally for such an objective outlook on why we are individuals...
 
  • #75
Originally posted by Tiberius
2) It is important to understand the views of others, even if you don't agree with them. That goes from the very first premises, up the tree to the very last conclusions. Along the way, it offers insight to our whole view and, if we're open minded, just might allow us to change for the better.

3) Often, people can have a resistance to an idea because they dislike what they THINK it is based on, or they fear where they THINK it may lead. Discussing other levels of the worldview may help to alleviate that concern, or at least make it more realistic. For example, I often get strong resistance from people when I debate the rationality of my atheistic position. Not in all cases, but in many I find that the force of their resistance comes, not from the facts actually being discussed, but from the fear they have that my conclusions would lead to meaninglessness and despair. Therefore, it may be helpful for me to share my humanistic beliefs with them, even though we may still disagree as to their foundations. This often shows them that there IS a secular basis for leading an ethical and meaningful life. With those concerns dealt with (at least somewhat), it is then easier to return to the atheistic debate and for both of us to focus on those facts, instead of having an irrelevant aversion or distraction based on other levels of the worldview.



True, and that's why people who like debate have fun here. But although it's hard to tell the difference, there are those among us who are just here to "win the argument" and those actually exploring the issue. Because I often say my position outright and don't dilly-dally, people often mistake me for someone just out to "win". But I despise this take on debate. I once saw a book at the bookstore titled, "How to win any debate", and it was by a lawyer or salesman or something. It made me sick. The point of a debate should never be to win. If I'm wrong, I WANT to lose, but it will have to be a real loss backed up with good reasons in order to teach me anything.

When two people disagree, there are only two possibilities: one of them is wrong, or both of them are wrong. Both cannot be right in my view (note, if both merely misunderstand each other, then they may be right but they are both "wrong" in the sense that they are misunderstanding each other). Therefore, debate presents the opportunity for one or both to improve. The true winner in a debate is the loser, because s/he has had the opportunity to learn and adjust their views to what is likely more accurate. My favorite debates are the ones I lose, but that's only valuable to me if I made the other work for their victory.



YES! I may or may not agree with it, but I definitely want to know what arguments are out there so I can study them. For example, I could probably get on this board under a different name and have you thouroughly convinced I was a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. I could debate nearly any issue from that perspective, offering detailed rationale. That's how well we should all understand the others' positions - especially those we disagree with (like me and fundie christians).



Yes.



Yep. No disrespect, but that sounds pretty looney tunes to me. But very intelligent and respectable people believe in things like angels and karma so you're in good company. :)



Me too.



Whew! That's a lot of stuff. You know, all the issues of "applied" philosophy, such as: living ethically, getting along with one another, building a just and workable society, dealing with multicultural issues, dealing with the effects of technology on our lives, finding meaning and purpose in life, building worldviews and meaningful life philosophy we can live by, that is also in harmony with scientific facts, being happy and fulfilled, etc etc... [/B]

comments like this can be posted in the Physics Feedback forum...let's get back on topic...
 
  • #76
Originally posted by Tiberius

3) Often, people can have a resistance to an idea because they dislike what they THINK it is based on, or they fear where they THINK it may lead. Discussing other levels of the worldview may help to alleviate that concern, or at least make it more realistic. For example, I often get strong resistance from people when I debate the rationality of my atheistic position. Not in all cases, but in many I find that the force of their resistance comes, not from the facts actually being discussed, but from the fear they have that my conclusions would lead to meaninglessness and despair. Therefore, it may be helpful for me to share my humanistic beliefs with them, even though we may still disagree as to their foundations. This often shows them that there IS a secular basis for leading an ethical and meaningful life. With those concerns dealt with (at least somewhat), it is then easier to return to the atheistic debate and for both of us to focus on those facts, instead of having an irrelevant aversion or distraction based on other levels of the worldview.

Personally I find solace in existence itsself. I don't need to be reinfornced by a "God" in order to be thankful for my life and the opportunities it presents. For some reason people seem to have trouble with the concept that we just exist and that weather it's through Universal randomness or divine intervetion, life is still life.


When two people disagree, there are only two possibilities: one of them is wrong, or both of them are wrong. Both cannot be right in my view (note, if both merely misunderstand each other, then they may be right but they are both "wrong" in the sense that they are misunderstanding each other). Therefore, debate presents the opportunity for one or both to improve. The true winner in a debate is the loser, because s/he has had the opportunity to learn and adjust their views to what is likely more accurate. My favorite debates are the ones I lose, but that's only valuable to me if I made the other work for their victory.

Not to sound prophetic, but if there is knowledge and understanding gained from a loss, then no one ever truly looses. People don't remember you when you win, but how you handle yourself when you loose.
 

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