Is That Voice Inside Your Head Really You? *spoilers*

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mjs82
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19 Feb 2010, 6:10 pm

I watched a movie called Revolver by Guy Ritchie. It was *spoilers* just awful, a terrible film - but it had an odd idea to it...


Everybody has 3 parts to their psyche. Id, Ego and Superego.

Basically this film states that in life, you really have no enemies. Bad guys, bad situations, even the Devil and hell, all of these are manifestations of your own ego. Your ego is your own worst enemy. That voice in your head - the one that you have arguments with - isn't really you and the biggest con its ever pulled is convincing you that it is.

I'm struggling to get my head around this. I frequently have conversations in my head - where I have 2 voices that take opposing sides and argue - or - I have a narrative that leads me through a mire of 'what if' scenarios like "what if this guy suddenly tries to attack me and then i hit him but then the cops come and then this and that and this" until i do my brain in. It helps with storytelling but geez its tiring.

So I guess what I want to know is:

Is that voice inside my head really me?



TheOddGoat
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19 Feb 2010, 6:57 pm

I.... Don't hear these voices.



Awesomelyglorious
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19 Feb 2010, 7:12 pm

That voice inside your head? Well, it's not you.

That think you call "you"? It's not you either. In fact, there is no set of things that can be analytically determined to be "you". Rather "you" is just a squishy category that exists so that the brain can categorize its reality. There is no essence to it though. If this seems weird, then let me ask: when did the first self emerge? And from what did it emerge?



mjs82
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19 Feb 2010, 7:32 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
That voice inside your head? Well, it's not you.

That think you call "you"? It's not you either. In fact, there is no set of things that can be analytically determined to be "you". Rather "you" is just a squishy category that exists so that the brain can categorize its reality. There is no essence to it though. If this seems weird, then let me ask: when did the first self emerge? And from what did it emerge?


If you roll the rolly robbins round the rough side rocks
Then the rabbit in the warren is wearing purple socks


I mean, I just made that up didn't *I*? More than 1 person can read it, therefore it has some tangible form. Before I thought it, it wasn't there, then I thought it and it was. No one else thought it thus I am its creator. Therefore for it exist, don't I have to also exist?

I am struggling to get my head around the concept that the voice inside your head might not be you. Does anyone else have an inner narrative in their brain? Theoddgoat said he didn't.

Saying things like "what if that girl likes me" or "i could lose a few pounds". Is this voice of - for lack of a better word - conscience - is it really you? Or are 'you' just those primal gut instincts - I like ice cream, I hate mosquitoes et al.

Awesomelyglorious, for you to post a reply to this, dont *you* need to be out there in some form or another?



Awesomelyglorious
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19 Feb 2010, 7:55 pm

mjs82 wrote:
If you roll the rolly robbins round the rough side rocks
Then the rabbit in the warren is wearing purple socks


I mean, I just made that up didn't *I*? More than 1 person can read it, therefore it has some tangible form. Before I thought it, it wasn't there, then I thought it and it was. No one else thought it thus I am its creator. Therefore for it exist, don't I have to also exist?

If it is said that the entity that made that up is you, then the decision on whether an inner voice is also you has also been made. Consciousness isn't responsible for the creation of this though, and if unconscious processes are "you" then why not the voice?

In any case, if I say "you don't exist" with a reasoning that is applicable to any person, then the notion "no one else thought it" doesn't mean that there is an "I". You are just begging the question about your own existence. A thought was generated by your brain. Is your brain the same as "you"? Not necessarily, people are naturally dualistic on these matters.

So, let's put it this way:
1) A self can be separated from the brain. (a statement of dualism)
2) A self cannot be separated from the brain. (a statement of the dependence of psychological phenomenon on a physical brain)
3) Statements 1 & 2 contradict each other.

Now, is 1 false? Well, 1 is supported by so many popular conceptions of selfhood that it seems absurd to reject it. I mean, think about survival of the soul, or mind-swapping(like in Freaky Friday), and of course the popular dualistic notions about self-hood(for instance I don't say "I am my body and brain" as quickly as I say "I have a body and I have a brain" all support 1.

Is 2 false? Well, how do you suppose that a self exists outside of the neural requirements of a self? I mean, selves are embodied and if the bodies are altered then the selves can be altered even dramatically. Rejecting 2 means rejecting a lot of our observations.

Because of this, I would have to say that 1 & 2 are both true facts about the self, and that the real issue is that selves do not exist and are not subject to the requirements of logical consistency. Many people try to reject 1 and 2 to be consistent, but 1 and 2 are too well founded, and the actual workings of the brain don't support most of our intuitive psychology.

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I am struggling to get my head around the concept that the voice inside your head might not be you. Does anyone else have an inner narrative in their brain? Theoddgoat said he didn't.

It isn't you. You don't exist.

Quote:
Saying things like "what if that girl likes me" or "i could lose a few pounds". Is this voice of - for lack of a better word - conscience - is it really you? Or are 'you' just those primal gut instincts - I like ice cream, I hate mosquitoes et al.


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Awesomelyglorious, for you to post a reply to this, dont *you* need to be out there in some form or another?

No. You are presupposing the notion of selves when other forms of processing the world can exist. Let's put it this way: for me to sit on a "chair" does a "chair" need to exist? Actually no. Chairs are a term we use for convention in labeling objects that people sit on. Chairs do not actually exist, and there is no clear demarcation for what separates a chair from a non-chair, for instance, how do you know what a "broken chair" is vs a piece of art that looks like a broken chair? When one says "sit in the chair" or "I did this", one is using the conventional mental labeling processes, which are effective, but have no insight into ontology. Thus selves do not exist, except conventionally.



mjs82
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19 Feb 2010, 8:36 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:

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Awesomelyglorious, for you to post a reply to this, dont *you* need to be out there in some form or another?

No. You are presupposing the notion of selves when other forms of processing the world can exist. Let's put it this way: for me to sit on a "chair" does a "chair" need to exist? Actually no. Chairs are a term we use for convention in labeling objects that people sit on. Chairs do not actually exist, and there is no clear demarcation for what separates a chair from a non-chair, for instance, how do you know what a "broken chair" is vs a piece of art that looks like a broken chair? When one says "sit in the chair" or "I did this", one is using the conventional mental labeling processes, which are effective, but have no insight into ontology. Thus selves do not exist, except conventionally.


Wait a sec, I'm trying to get my head around it.

Now you've said a chair doesn't need to exist to be able to sit on it - right?

Say for example you were to eat - and this is gross - but a dog poo. As you chew it you have a response to that external stimuli. You don't go - this is no different to a pizza.

?

If someone tries to drown you, you don't go - this water is the same as air - your body is drowned and dies. So they might be labels, but they have an effect don't they?

So isn't that voice that says "don't eat the poo" a valid one?



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19 Feb 2010, 10:39 pm

mjs82 wrote:
Wait a sec, I'm trying to get my head around it.

Now you've said a chair doesn't need to exist to be able to sit on it - right?

Well, a better phrasing is that I think that chairs don't exist outside of convention. That is to say that there is no such thing in reality called a chair, however, we have a tendency to label things and some things we label to be chairs. However, the group of things labeled chairs and the group of things labeled not to be chairs is arbitrarily and subjectively defined. Given that for something to exist in reality, it must exist objectively, if the category of chairs is subjective, then chairs do not exist.

Let me put it this way:
1) To exist in reality, a grouping must have objective definition/clear lines. (premise)
2) Most groupings do not objective definition or clear lines, to them. (premise)
3) Most groupings do not exist in reality. (conclusion from 1 & 2)
4) "Chairs" refers to a grouping. (premise)
5) "Chairs" is a grouping that lacks objective definition/clear lines. (premise)
6) Therefore the grouping of "chairs" does not exist in reality. (conclusion from 1 & 5)

If this seems bizarre, then let's think of it this way: You see a chair-shaped rock, is it a chair or isn't it? You could argue it is, because it has the shape of a chair. You could argue it isn't because it was not constructed to be a chair and is overly uncomfortable. The issue is that neither side of this argument can really win in this case, which suggests that there is no truth to the matter, and if there is no truth to the matter then "chairs" do not really exist in any objective sense. If they existed in an objective sense, then we should be able to hypothetically tell when we see a member of the category of "chairs" and when we do not. As it stands though, there are a number of cases where the notion of an objective category of chairs becomes questionable.

That being said, within our conventions, we refer to things as chairs. Just as we refer to bridges and trees and so on and so forth. Everything we see is just a mass density distribution, as nature, in some sense, really has no parts. The notion of a "part" is a psychological category, not a naturally occurring one(how do you derive "part"ness from nature?). So, one can sit in a chair, but chairs don't really exist. The idea being that in our conventions we can refer to chairs and all sorts of other things, but none of our conventional categories is really a reflection of nature but rather is just defined by what labellings we find useful.

I hope I am not being too hard to understand.

Quote:
Say for example you were to eat - and this is gross - but a dog poo. As you chew it you have a response to that external stimuli. You don't go - this is no different to a pizza.

No, you don't say "this is no different to a pizza". That's because a differentiation between dog poo and pizza is important for creatures such as ourselves. However, there are cases in which a person might not be able to distinguish between one thing and something very different while others would be able to distinguish between the two to a great extent. As it stands, there is a chemical called phenylthiocarbamide to some people it is completely tasteless, but to others it is incredibly bitter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenylthiocarbamide So, here's a question. If we put some of this substance in some food of yours, is there really a significant difference between that food and some without that substance? Well, it really depends on who you are. If you are sensitive, then there is a major difference, and if you are not sensitive then there is no difference. This isn't to say "reality is completely subjective", but rather that most elements of reality are subjectively isolated as important. This has major implications as this undermines a lot of our beliefs on what exists and what does not exist. Nothing exists but EVERYTHING, and we just categorize the everything into arbitrary categories that are useful at our given moment.

Quote:
If someone tries to drown you, you don't go - this water is the same as air - your body is drowned and dies. So they might be labels, but they have an effect don't they?

Well, to me, yes! Conventions matter a *LOT* to people. To the universe though? This doesn't matter at all.

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So isn't that voice that says "don't eat the poo" a valid one?

Valid in what sense? I mean, there is nothing really wrong with eating poo. There are only things about poo eating that people tend to dislike. Many animals though do eat their poo, and if human beings started on a path where we ate more and more poo, then it is possible that poo might become more desirable than pizza.



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19 Feb 2010, 11:18 pm

Damn you and your existential nihilism, AG.

mjs82 wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
That voice inside your head? Well, it's not you.

That think you call "you"? It's not you either. In fact, there is no set of things that can be analytically determined to be "you". Rather "you" is just a squishy category that exists so that the brain can categorize its reality. There is no essence to it though. If this seems weird, then let me ask: when did the first self emerge? And from what did it emerge?


If you roll the rolly robbins round the rough side rocks
Then the rabbit in the warren is wearing purple socks


I mean, I just made that up didn't *I*? More than 1 person can read it, therefore it has some tangible form. Before I thought it, it wasn't there, then I thought it and it was. No one else thought it thus I am its creator. Therefore for it exist, don't I have to also exist?

This sounds like an inelegant version of the Cogito ergo sum argument.


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19 Feb 2010, 11:26 pm

Orwell wrote:
Damn you and your existential nihilism, AG.


There's a sentiment I can agree with!



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19 Feb 2010, 11:31 pm

Orwell wrote:
Damn you and your existential nihilism, AG.

Can't be done. I'd have to exist first.

Quote:
This sounds like an inelegant version of the Cogito ergo sum argument.

It is, and it fails for the same reason. The notion "I think" presupposes the "I", thus meaning that I cannot conclude the existence of that "I". What is really needed is a psychological model, as we can certainly propose thoughts without essential existence. Let's just have a computer program linked to other computer programs, a part of a code. This particular segment might think in as much as if we held it in isolation it would compute values for variables, but it certainly has an existence that is no more essential than a somewhat larger or smaller part of the code.

The issue then is how a human being is essentially different than a computer program. If we accept the materiality of the mind, unless we are going to argue that the flesh is somehow special, it should be possible to logically diagram processes exactly like the human mind. And if that is possible then in some hypothetical computer language for some hypothetical computer system, it seems as if the human mind could potentially be made to exist through that medium. (Of course, biology is likely more efficient in many ways than a computer so this could be practically unrealistic.)



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19 Feb 2010, 11:32 pm

Master_Pedant wrote:
There's a sentiment I can agree with!

Y'know, somehow I bet you can't. :P I mean, "damn you" usually requires a form of hell.



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19 Feb 2010, 11:32 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
That voice inside your head? Well, it's not you.

That think you call "you"? It's not you either. In fact, there is no set of things that can be analytically determined to be "you". Rather "you" is just a squishy category that exists so that the brain can categorize its reality. There is no essence to it though. If this seems weird, then let me ask: when did the first self emerge? And from what did it emerge?


Are hardly think that "you" being a continnous and fuzzy concept somehow makes it fiction. "You" is "identity" - it can fragment (as in Dissassociative Identiy Disorder) and it develops gradually. But "you" refers to the interconnected affective, intentional, experiental, and behavorial states that a given brain deploys in response to the world.



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19 Feb 2010, 11:34 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Master_Pedant wrote:
There's a sentiment I can agree with!

Y'know, somehow I bet you can't. :P I mean, "damn you" usually requires a form of hell.


Let me be much more precise and clear here: DAMN YOU TO HOURS OF INFOMERCIALS AND REALITY TELEVISION.

It's really a secular, functional equivalent of hell as the worst possible fate that a rational being may conceive! :)



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19 Feb 2010, 11:42 pm

Master_Pedant wrote:
Are hardly think that "you" being a continnous and fuzzy concept somehow makes it fiction. "You" is "identity" - it can fragment (as in Dissassociative Identiy Disorder) and it develops gradually. But "you" refers to the interconnected affective, intentional, experiental, and behavorial states that a given brain deploys in response to the world.

I can accept your notion that "you" is "identity", however, there is no solid line for where this identity begins or ends. I mean, frankly, I would really think that this notion of identity could(and does) arbitrarily fluctuate. What this means though is that there is no fact of the matter for whether something is part of the identity or whether it isn't. There might be facts at given points time, but not general facts. What this means is that the phenomenon is in some sense without objective substance. This makes it a fiction. The notion of a "narrative center of gravity" is just a sign of how it *is* a fiction, as Dennett is using the term "center of gravity" to show that selfhood lacks objective elements, but rather is just a useful model.

"You" doesn't refer to brain states though. Why? Well, I already brought forward the issue with that. If I say "You have a brain", and "You" just refers to brain states, then the logical structure makes no sense. It would really be correct to say "You are emergent from a brain" but that isn't how the intuitions go. "You", "I" and other notions like that are embedded into an intuitive dualistic psychology, and dismissing that is arbitrary. It is only an attempt to maintain an intuition at the cost of honesty to fail to recognize what our language is really saying about our intuitions of selfhood.

That being said, I am only claiming that real ontology is conventional. Not that nothing exists, but rather that all things only exist by convention, except for everything. Everything always exists and will exist long after we leave. The notion of a "chair" or a "dog" will likely leave us though.



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20 Feb 2010, 12:04 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Master_Pedant wrote:
Are hardly think that "you" being a continnous and fuzzy concept somehow makes it fiction. "You" is "identity" - it can fragment (as in Dissassociative Identiy Disorder) and it develops gradually. But "you" refers to the interconnected affective, intentional, experiental, and behavorial states that a given brain deploys in response to the world.

I can accept your notion that "you" is "identity", however, there is no solid line for where this identity begins or ends. I mean, frankly, I would really think that this notion of identity could(and does) arbitrarily fluctuate. What this means though is that there is no fact of the matter for whether something is part of the identity or whether it isn't. There might be facts at given points time, but not general facts. What this means is that the phenomenon is in some sense without objective substance. This makes it a fiction. The notion of a "narrative center of gravity" is just a sign of how it *is* a fiction, as Dennett is using the term "center of gravity" to show that selfhood lacks objective elements, but rather is just a useful model.

"You" doesn't refer to brain states though. Why? Well, I already brought forward the issue with that. If I say "You have a brain", and "You" just refers to brain states, then the logical structure makes no sense. It would really be correct to say "You are emergent from a brain" but that isn't how the intuitions go. "You", "I" and other notions like that are embedded into an intuitive dualistic psychology, and dismissing that is arbitrary. It is only an attempt to maintain an intuition at the cost of honesty to fail to recognize what our language is really saying about our intuitions of selfhood.

That being said, I am only claiming that real ontology is conventional. Not that nothing exists, but rather that all things only exist by convention, except for everything. Everything always exists and will exist long after we leave. The notion of a "chair" or a "dog" will likely leave us though.


Okay, I will extend the notion.

"You" is "identity" which is "emergent upon" neural states. "You" also refers to the translation of neural states and notions to other mediums (i.e. the above post of nihilisitc writing is part of your thought).

Out of curiousity - while you're generally dismissive of grand metaphysics- what do you think of Russells notion that "events" really are the only constituents of reality. I really dislike the notion of a "neutral monism" - as it seems a bit vague - and still (perhaps viscerally) identify with physicalism, nevertheless the reality and usefulness of events as atomic blocks to reality seems undeniable.

Betrand Russell wrote:
Nevertheless modern science gives no indication whatever of the existence of the soul or mind as an entity; indeed the reasons for disbelieving in it are very much of the same kind as the reasons for disbelieving in matter. Mind and matter were something like the lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown; the end of the battle is not the victory of one or the other, but the discovery that both are only heraldic inventions. The world consists of events, not of things that endure for a long time and have changing properties. Events can be collected into groups by their causal relations. If the causal relations are of one sort, the resulting group of events may be called a physical object, and if the causal relations are of another sort, the resulting group may be called a mind. Any event that occurs inside a man's head will belong to groups of both kinds; considered as belonging to a group of one kind, it is a constituent of his brain, and considered as belonging to a group of the other kind, it is a constituent of his mind.


Excrepted from: What is the Soul?



Awesomelyglorious
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20 Feb 2010, 12:14 am

Hmm... maybe this might clarify things somewhat:

You like the "continuity and fuzziness of basic concepts"

Here I am saying that the fuzziness of categories suggests their lack of objective existence. Would you be willing to accept the proposal that the continuity and fuzziness of basic concepts is a psychological fact rather than a logical or ontological fact? Thus that basic concepts exist by the conventions that this particular species promotes, but they aren't metaphysical realities? If you accept that, then I think we might really be on a very similar page.

I just tend to take the position that most of our conventional divisions aren't objective, therefore the only thing that exists objectively is the undifferentiated mass of all physical things. It is what exists if no organizing schema is placed on top of the universe.(by undifferentiated, I only am making a statement of monism, not that outer space has the same density as the Earth's crust)