X-Message-Number: 14271
Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2000 18:13:02 -0500
From: david pizer <>
Subject: Which came first, awareness or memories?

Thanks for the ideas, Thomas.  But still a couple of lingering questions.

>From: Thomas Donaldson <>
>Subject: why memories are important to identity
>Hi everyone!
>My reason for believing that memories are important is simple: if you
>lose all your memories, but somehow retain your awareness (something
>that in the end we MAY discover is impossible) then what remains may
>be a living human being, but to say that it is YOU extends that notion
>for more than it can be extended. 

>After all, self-awareness without memories, in a human body, could
>basically be ANYONE.


This all started with a discussion from Mike Perry implying that memories
are the main part of selfhood: That just does not sound right to me.  

I think this is something that we should know before future doctors start
reanimation techniques that may destroy the original awareness part of the
brain to save (or make a duplicate of) the memory part of the brain.
There is also the question of uploading techniques that may destroy the
original stuff.  All of these can have dire consequences if awareness is
the key or *just equal* to memories in defining selfhood.

I am not trying to say that awareness is *all* there is to *mature*
selfhood, but rather that Awareness (including self-awareness) is at least
as important as memories.

After all, a person is born with self-awareness and then acquires memories.
 It is hard to think of a being that is not aware that can acquire memories
the way people do.  In other words (at least as an infant) you can have
awareness without memories and still have a (very young) person. I realize
that infants are born with some instincts that are probably similar in
structure to memories.

HOWEVER: I do not know of any example where you can have memories, without
awareness, and still have a person.

Dave Pizer

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