Who Am I
Personal identification means the absolute fixation of the individuality of a person whether alive or dead. An individual personal identity evolves over a lifespan based on one’s surroundings, beliefs, and the environment they are exposed to everyday. In some instances, influencing one’s identity is out of individuals control, yet has a permanent impact on what makes up their image. In particular, an individual forming their relationship with their entire community, will influence the person’s identity. “It claims that a full account of personal identity can be given without presupposing the existence of particular persons and without imputing experiences to any particular person” (Atkins, pg. 331) that is, we can adopt the methodology that though persons exist, we could give a complete description of reality without claiming that persons exist. In order to find our identity, we must find our happiness in brief desires that make us happy. The state must allow its citizens to explore their desires to find their identity without limits in order to achieve the ultimate happiness within a civilization, while forming the type of person they desire to be based upon their surroundings and the relationships they form around them.
Theories of Personal Identity
Personal identity, simply asking for who I am. What properties make the same us as in the past and in current and why we think we are the same person as we in the day before after waking up. Some people might think personal identity is just a little case and even not present a problem. However, when it comes to the case that transferring our mind with all information into a different, far superior body and the previous body will completely be annihilated, personal identity will play an important role.
Above all, there are two main theories when considering the problem of personal identity in this situation, which is, what is called the body theory and the memory theory. These two theories both to prove we are the same person overtime for the reason of sharing some kind of same properties in a distinct time (lecture PowerPoint slide seven). Firstly, the body theory indicates that we are the same person over time if we still have the same material body, mostly because we recognize people or being recognized by our bodies and we will no longer living without our bodies. It is directly perceived and by biological or physical nature. Therefore, in the case of transferring our mind into a different body and the previous body being destroyed will enable us to lose our identity as a result of not in the same body anymore. It seems like an unacceptable consequence.
In our normal scene, it appears accurate. However, the property ‘same body’ could be ambiguous. Does ‘same body’ means we have the exact, one hundred percent the same body to be the same person over time? As we know it is impossible in the scenes of science. For example, there are replace period of our cells inside and outside our body, such as the red blood cell turnover in about 4 months, the skin epidermis cells in ten to thirty days (Cell biology by the numbers, How quickly do different cells in the body replace themselves? View 12 October 2019). Apart from the cells, hairs and nails are growing every day too, which means our body change every second and minute. Furthermore, we do not have the same body as in childhood but we will not believe we are not the same person as the child we were before. For an extreme example, assume that person X’s heart has a mental problem and receive a heart transplant surgery of a heart from a dead person Y, we will not say it is person Y revive and person X becomes person Y. Even if we transferring mind into a superior body, it would be like we are getting strong or become beautiful without working out or having plastic surgery, and we will still considering we are the same person after working out or having plastic surgery. Therefore, body theory will be incompletely to identify a person is the same over time.
Secondly, the memory theory purposed by John Locke holds that psychological continuity enables us to acknowledge we are the same person in a distinct situation or over time. (US National Library of Medicine, John Locke on Personal Identity, Namita Nimbalkar ). Psychological continuity refers to our memories, which means we confirm we are the same person over time or in different circumstances entail a coherent memory in our consciousness. Conceivably, apply this theory in the case of transferring our mind with all information into a superior body, the option would be attractive. It is because we carry all of the memory and information of mind into the new body and seem with no risk of losing our identity.
Nevertheless, the use of memory as a property to identify us would occur some problems as the body theory. The memory will occasionally be vague, missing, or even false. For instance, we will not remember or remember incorrectly what we have done last week. Moreover, people generally do not have the memory when they were baby, or in early childhood. Then, the memory will be incoherent. However, some people stand that does not mean people are not the same person as before if they forgot their memories, for the reason that there is a continuous memory chain (PowerPoint slide from lecture). This suggests that even if we forget some memory in the past, our memory will be still coherent because of the memory of our experience in the last second (lecture PowerPoint slide twelve). Nonetheless, this explanation neglected the issues of the correctness of memory. If a person X has an illusion by the influences of overtaking medicine and has a false memory of being person Y in the past and in current, will it mean person X becomes person Y? On the other hand, in the memory theory, person X would not be the same person if person X lost all his memory too. Moreover, if we considering memory as the method to identify who is a different person in our society, we could do any illegal activities with our desire by just proving we do not have the memory of doing something illegal after done something illegal. The legal framework would be collapsed and no longer work.
After considering the two main theories, it seems like the body theory and the memory theory are both contain some potential problems and incompletely deal with the problem of personal identity, also the problem of transferring our mind into the superior body with destroying our previous body. We might start to review another possible way to think through it. For the dualist, like Descartes may think the soul is the property to determine you are the same person over time. Nonetheless, we simply cannot prove whether there is a soul in our body. Besides, there are also some alternative views on the problem of personal identity. For example, David Hume claims there is no such thing ‘self’ in the world, and the self we think of is just a totality of the conscious (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, David Hume, James Fieser). Derek Parfit even said personal identity does not matter in survival and people do not exist apart from components (Wikipedia, Derek Parfit). However, it would be an alternative way to analysis by saying personal identity is not a problem when dealing with the problem of personal identity.
Society’s Effect on Presentations of Identity
Since the beginning of time, society has been the demise of self-expression and identity. Society places social pressures on individuals and individuals change themselves to feel accepted in every situation. The golden rule is beings shall not judge one based on race, gender, and sexuality yet people fear what is different and lose themselves in the forever spinning world of hate and oppression. Society’s expectation of identity compared to that of the private individual is based on situational differences and experiences.
Public presentations of identity and expression change dependent on what people face. Different situations, for example, can affect identity and how respective personalities act. The poem,” Still I Rise” depicts this confrontation,” Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise, That I dance like I’ve got diamonds, at the meeting of my thighs” (Angelou, li. 25-28). Maya Angelou was an African American poet and activist, through her writing she declares that despite what people think of her she will rise from the hate. She is her own woman, an independent individual, who is rich in experiences and confidence. Her public presentation has not changed her private identity. However not everyone who has been oppressed could stand up with that confidence, “I woke to find a blonde wig, a pink tutu, and a blonde doll…Instead, I pranced around our living room in a whirl of possibility, my parents looking at their suddenly strange child” (Trethewey, li. 10-18). Tretheway spent her childhood trying to conform to what society wishes her to be. Her blonde wig masked her dark hair while the pink tutu disguised the tone of her skin. At such a young age she was absentmindedly conforming to the public’s eye. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she realized the doll not being in her skin tone was society’s way of telling young black girls to conform to light hair and skin to be considered beautiful. The way people may present themselves it changes depending on the situations one may face. This also applies to private identity, because despite one’s acceptance individuals with different experiences will still face oppression and opposition.
Private presentations of identity remain true to the body and soul. In private people can be comfortable in their own skin and present the truths they believe. Individuals who have different experiences can affect the perception of identity between oneself and those that surround them. Those who come from different backgrounds, for example, have seen the world in a different light. This was seen in Tupac‘s poem,” Justice bumped into mutulu and trippin on geronimo pratt ut stepped right over oliver and his crooked partner ronnie” (Tupac, li. 6-8). The world will padron those who have power despite their injustice crimes. Tupac’s call for action forces people to see that the world is corrupted and because of the color of him and his father’s skin they are alienated. Those who do not follow the patriarchal white-picket-fence standard are dragged through the dirt. This shows that because of the situation he had been born into his view of the world has changed. The person he identities as is different than the average individual and society’s perception has affected his views and how others view him. Cultural experiences also affect the imbalanced relationship between social and personal identity. In the novel, Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua she explains her cultural differences between her own culture and herself,” Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one’s shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element, an ‘alien’ element” (Anzaldua, 1987). As a child, Anzaldua always rebelled. She never wanted to apply the misogyny to her own life, and she always felt compelled to leave and find her way. Despite her longing to be apart of her own culture her and many other women have been oppressed into situations and expected to act as a servant to male culture rather than an asset. Since the beginning of time, society has applied social stigmas to those of different sexuality, people of color, and women. These individuals are expected to sit back and carry the world on their backs, and allow the white male to inflict control and power. However, people like Gloria Aznulada took control. They rose up from the prejudice, and faced society’s injustices despite the stereotypes placed on their natural selves. The presentation of personal identity is always changing based on what people go through. It constantly changes from person to person. This world is a melting pot of ideas and ideology, meaning no person faces the same experiences.
The way people present their identities is dependent on the different situations and experiences all kinds of people face. People are always seeking acceptance. It is easier for individuals to apply themselves to social norms rather than rise against them. However, this has detrimental effects on humanity. Individuals are sought to feel like aliens if they do not feel to conform to the stigma. Humanity shall not place that burden on people, people shall accept everyone for who they are. Their decisions are as unique as snowflakes, humanity shall bring those differences together rather than isolate them.