By Peter Unger
The subject of private identification has triggered a number of the liveliest and finest debates in fresh philosophy. In a desirable new contribution to the dialogue, Peter Unger provides a psychologically aimed, yet bodily established, account of our identification through the years. whereas assisting the account, he explains why many influential modern philosophers have underrated the significance of actual continuity to our survival, casting a brand new mild at the paintings of Lewis, Nagel, Nozick, Parfit, Perry, Shoemaker, and others. Deriving from his dialogue of our identification itself, Unger produces a singular yet commonsensical conception of the kinfolk among identification and a few of our private issues. In a conservative yet versatile spirit, he explores the consequences of his idea for questions of worth and of the great lifestyles.
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Extra info for Identity, Consciousness and Value
It is a logically possible option, of course, to think that the contexts of these stories are the most philosophically illuminating ones. Then we will think that, by becoming engrossed in such stories, we will learn interesting things about the survival conditions of shirts and rocks: Contrary to what at first seems appealing, it is easy for them, all of a sudden, to leave all of their matter INVESTIGATING OUR BELIEFS ABOUT OURSELVES 21 behind. But few will think this option a wise one. It is far more reasonable to suppose that, when we view or read these stories, we typically help create contexts where distorting factors come to the fore.
We also strongly respond that there is here a person who, after clearly having conscious mental activity, went through a period when she had no mental activity at all, neither conscious nor even non-conscious. We are quite confident that, in this sort of case, the person has no mental activity during the indicated period. Why are we so confident? In the most extreme version of the case, there is no physical change at all. This is very different from anything like mere sleep, wherein a person undergoes many systematic physical changes.
How might we rationally advocate the idea that, in comparison with rocks, we might require much physical continuity? We should seek an explanation of why, according to our system of attitudes, this might be so. Understood in this light, the wanted explanation comprises two main parts. The First Part: In our thought about reality, what are, for us, the most important concrete things to think about are, next to ourselves, such others as are natural and easy for us to perceive, or to employ, or to control, or even to think about.