Monday, December 6, 2010

Re: Remnants

I think you hit on two things of which we can pretend we have a cursory understanding. In your eariler section, I think you're calling up Heidegger's da-sein, the being that is concerned with its own being. As much as I'm enjoying "languification," we may not need that yet. I think da-sein is code for the human condition you describe, whereby we ask "what am I?" And of course, "what are you?" In that sense, I think we're not so much in the realm of phenomenology, but in basic existentialism.

We've already played something like that identity game in ethics, when Nietzsche suggests that any promise ("I will shovel the snow tomorrow") hides the unenforceable promise that my identity will not change ("I will be the same person tomorrow"). So really, if we accept this premise, then the teleporter and Spontaneously Occuring Lincoln arguments are an attempt to extend that promise paradigm (identity in some mental space) to question physical identity.


Reading back over our teleporter, Lincoln and society discussion I have had a thought. Mostly to do with socially constructed personal narratives. Your favorite.

We've addressed that identity is just another way in which people classify observed similarities; yet another symptom of the human condition (which just means human intellectualization in order to try and understand the universe. Or languagification (?)). Something like identity doesn't exists as much as something like morality doesn't exists, etc. (Which, by the way, is what I think I highjacked our teleporter conversation and turned it into. Which is probably a pretty academically dishonest thing to do. Sorry, bro.)

In any case, in regards to Spontaneously Occurring Lincoln, (yes, I do think it is a concept that deserves noun-ification) I kept shoving down your throat (fellatiating?) the idea that Lincoln for historical purposes and Lincoln for 'real' were essentially different people. Which is false. At least, from as biologically real a position as we can speak from (this caveat is probably the single thing that I wanted to justify by having most of that entire social identity discussion).

What I think part of our previous discussion elucidates, and the thing which I think is interesting, is just how flawed the term identity or even character really is. It fails to capture the changing nature of life as we understand it. Historical Lincoln being a prime example of the conceptualization of a person simultaneously creating human history and removing all distinguishing features of life.

What I want to address from examining this flaw in terminology is how it affects our personal understanding of ourselves. You may recognize, for example, that I have a tendency to self-depreciate, often choosing terms like narcissism to characterize myself. I would argue that this is a stagnant historical view of a person and not at all an appropriate view for discussing a life. There are periods of my life where I feel particularly self-involved and then I characterize myself as being a narcissist. This is certainly not a constant feeling yet we are trained to understand ourselves as being something rather than that we are beings (did I just now get phenomenology?).

So what does this mean? We as a species create categories to try and make sense and organize our universe. Unfortunately, we do not know everything and thus some categories are lacking. When you and I begin to recognize that the traditional norms from which we understand the world are arbitrary, inconsistent, imposing and limiting our faith in "categories" begins to deteriorate. We face and understand differently the idea that we are "beings" who "be" and not things which are.

Does this make sense? Is this what I was supposed to understand in Daniella's class(es) ("Understand").