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Thread: Request to proof read a speech

  1. #1
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Request to proof read a speech

    Hi,

    I have written a speech on philosophy of self and was wondering if anyone would be interested in proof reading it for me.

    EDIT: Don't worry about emailing me, discussion can take place in the thread.

    Thanks.

    Manee.
    Last edited by Manee; 31-08-2009 at 05:37 AM.
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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Philosophy of Mind – The Self

    Today, I will tell you things which, hopefully, will appear to be very obvious. It would appear to be a probing philosophical question to ask if the concept of self that each of you have is any different from the body in which you inhabit. Is this inner voice that chats to you, day in day out, prescribing each and every action a non physical force which defines who you are, or is it simply your brain carrying out a number of simple functions in tandem with each other.

    We must first define the idea of self in order to move forward in an organised manner. The self is a concept which denotes the internal voice that helps explain our actions and contains the forefront of our thoughts as well as the sense of our internal identity; the thought process and the sense of being that consistently reminds you that you, rather than a constantly changing mental component, perpetually exist. While exploring, philosophy regarding the self, I hope to note down enough philosophical insight from people only marginally less intelligent than me, which can forms my personal viewpoint of the self. Although certain points of view from different philosophers may seem to contradict or may be intended to contradict, I feel they can work together. Any form of contradiction can be raised in the question-and-answer session.

    Philosophy of mind originates and attempts to tackle the mind-body Problem. The mind-body problem relates to the explanation of the connection and/or relationship that relates to the mind (mental processes and thoughts) and the body (physical processes and actions). It is difficult for many people to accept that their thoughts and feelings are a result of the brain. These people would think that their consciousness is a being, in its own right, separate but yet, working in tandem with the brain. These people may agree with the idea of a ‘soul’ but others may scoff at this idea as being over religious; although heaven forbid that someone accuse me of being religious.

    As you all know, I could not begin to do a talk about philosophy of mind without mentioning Descartes. The people who agree with the idea of the consciousness/the mind being separate from the body are known as Cartesian dualists; ‘dual’ meaning two – mind and body being the two separate entities. This originated from Descartes formation of the aforementioned mind-body problem and concluded that mental faculties are to some extent, non physical.

    The main argument in favour of dualism is the idea of ‘qualia’. Qualia are raw mental feels; raw in that they cannot be explained as a physical process.

    Daniel Dennett identified four properties commonly attributed to qualia:
    - Ineffable; in that they cannot be communicated unless through direct experience
    - Intrinsic; they do not change depending on the situation of the experience
    - Private; they cannot be compared, from person to person, by nature.
    - Connected to one’s consciousness.

    Experience of the colour red, as an example of qualia, works through the criteria, systematically. It would be impossible to communicate the colour red to someone who has never experienced colour. Although analogies involving love or heat would be possible, they would serve to create a most incomplete definition. Similarly, a scientific definition of 700mm wavelength would merely describe the property of red and not the critically important mental experience of such a colour. Mary’s Room is a commonly used example to portray such an idea. Mary knows everything there is to know about the colour red without seeing it, having been brought up and born in an entirely black and white environment. Most people would agree that Mary still has something to gain from seeing the colour red and so this supports the idea of ‘qualia’, in this case, the feeling of having seen the colour red.

    If you believe that the mind and body are separate, as a dualist would, then there quite simply is a definite notion of self. The self, for you is the mind that manifests as the inner voice inside your head; that creates a specific, indefinable quality when you see a colour; that separates your mental capacity and consciousness from the brain that is given unfair credit for such.

    However, if you do not believe that the mind and body are separate but rather that consciousness and ‘the mind’ arises from increasing mental capacity of humans then the natural conclusion would be to look elsewhere for an accurate definition of self.

    Some people believe that the idea of a soul, a consciousness and an inner voice is an illusion of some kind…

    Many eastern philosophers believe that the human being as an individual is an illusion in terms of separateness from other aspects of creation. Eastern thinking, which has often been associated with meditative schools of thought, posited that the mind believes that it is individual from the world (or a mere inhabitant) but is mistaken in such a thought. The explanation for this illusion of the mind is that the sense of active participation (doing stuff) is a mechanism for ensuring the continuation of one’s life. There is some credence in this theory, in that if you stopped thinking, you would think that you have ceased to exist. As the Indian philosopher, Rene Descartes put it, “I think therefore I am” – Eastern philosophers concluded from such a notion (several centuries earlier) that the mind and notion of individual self exists to prevent you from not existing, a most troubling thought. Evolution, heralded to the public domain by the great north Indian naturalist, Charles Darwin has enforced this idea through showing how humans (as with all animals) have an intrinsic need to stay alive in order to propagate the species.

    Aristotle posited a highly convincing definition of self and one which I think may convince many of you. A bit of background is necessary in order to help explain this viewpoint. Aristotle believes that everything consists of four ‘causes’ which cause any object to exist, as it currently does. These are the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause and crucially, the final cause, which is the purpose for something existing; for a pen, it would be the process of writing. You cannot separate the writing from the pen, Aristotle argued, nor can you separate the soul from the human (until you run out of ink). The soul is not as much a ghostly occupant as an inseparable aspect of the person. The soul is a person’s highly complex essence just as the essence of a pen is to write. Aristotle argued this through the fact that there is no aspect of human life that impacts the soul but not the body; even emotions are defined by their bodily impact; anger without facial tension, raised blood pressure, clenching of the fists or a combination of such (or similar bodily functions) does not exist, for example.

    “Hence a physicist would define an affection of soul differently from a dialectician; the latter would define e.g. anger as the appetite for returning pain for pain, or something like that, while the former would define it as a boiling of the blood or warm substance surround the heart. The latter assigns the material conditions, the former the form or formulable essence; for what he states is the formulable essence of the fact, though for its actual existence there must be embodiment of it in a material such as is described by the other.”

    Daniel Dennett believes that the self is merely a narrative character, a ‘convenient fiction’ to make things make sense; “the story you tell about who you really are”. This is an attractive viewpoint for people who wish to deny the existence of a non physical aspect of the human being. The inner consciousness that is regarded as the self works similarly to the narrative and serves little more than to narrate one’s actions, thought processes and to, as mentioned above, continue one’s existence. Dennett compares it to the ‘centre of gravity’ in a hoop; the centre of gravity in a hoop is, of course, thin air, an arbitrary point!

    To conclude, most people will sum up what they’ve just said, but I have four problems with that, firstly, it wastes time, secondly, it panders to people who have not been listening, thirdly, I hate repeating myself and fourthly, I hate, that’s right, hate, repeating myself. Thank you for listening, I’m Manraj Bahra, or am I, not too sure any more…
    I am very receptive to new ideas and so please do not be too harsh on what is, essentially, a first draft.

  4. #4
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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  5. #5
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    TOK

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    Theory of Knowledge?

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manee View Post
    Theory of Knowledge?
    Indeed.

  7. #7
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    What about it? I don't know too much about the theory of knowledge, tbh, and so would appreciate more information about what it is and how it can assist me.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manee View Post
    What about it? I don't know too much about the theory of knowledge, tbh, and so would appreciate more information about what it is and how it can assist me.
    Sorry, in-joke.

    Had a subject called theory of knowledge. Was scary. Hence, am no help.

  9. #9
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    Sorry, in-joke.

    Had a subject called theory of knowledge. Was scary. Hence, am no help.
    My talk is not scary in any way, it is supposed to be incredibly simplistic, so much so that anyone listening can understand the broad message.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    However, can say that you have called Descartes Indian about midway through, and Darwin a north Indian naturalist. A novel perspective.

    Also, not sure about the audience, but

    As you all know, I could not begin to do a talk about philosophy of mind without mentioning Descartes.
    sounds a tad smart-arsey tbh.

    You cannot separate the writing from the pen, Aristotle argued, nor can you separate the soul from the human (until you run out of ink).
    stretching the metaphor too much if you meant to say this as a sort of tagged-on joke.

    I just skimmed through it - the argument was a bit hard to spot at first, but that might come through clearer in a speech. I think the main points (that this soul shouldn't be thought of as separate) could do with some more reinforcements at strategic points. Sorry to not be more specific, just glad to be finished with these things.

  11. #11
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quick glance suggests that it looks quite decent, witha bit of fine tuning I'm sure it will do the job.

  12. #12
    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    However, can say that you have called Descartes Indian about midway through, and Darwin a north Indian naturalist. A novel perspective.
    I'm quite good at delivering funny speeches and those are just filler jokes, for the moment. Of course, they are terrible atm, but I just need something there for the moment in case I really can't think of anything funny. Also, was watching some Goodness Gracious Me while writing that part of the speech.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    Also, not sure about the audience, but

    sounds a tad smart-arsey tbh.
    That is some dry humour. Of course, half the audience would not have heard of Descartes much less know his role in compiling the mind-body problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    stretching the metaphor too much if you meant to say this as a sort of tagged-on joke.
    Really? I thought that was quite clever, okay, that'll be removed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    I just skimmed through it - the argument was a bit hard to spot at first, but that might come through clearer in a speech. I think the main points (that this soul shouldn't be thought of as separate) could do with some more reinforcements at strategic points. Sorry to not be more specific, just glad to be finished with these things.
    No need to be sorry, you have been of great assistance.

    Thanks.

  13. #13
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    TOK

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    You get out, right now. Will have no part in this or anything remotely related to TOK.
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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    Quick glance suggests that it looks quite decent, witha bit of fine tuning I'm sure it will do the job.
    Agree with that assessment in general. In that explanation, I don't quite get how qualia show that there is a separate self, when all of those criteria are equally true even if there is no separate self. I'm definitely in the "Dennett" camp in terms of being fairly convinced that there is no separate self, just the chemical-electrical processes of our brain and broader body, but I've often pondered the idea that I have absolutely no way of telling whether what I perceive red to be is the same colour as everyone else perceives it to be.

    I thought the Aristotle explanation could use a little clarification as well, but that may well be what the dude said and I'm might be a bad philosophy student so if you think that's right, I'm not going to tell you you're wrong.

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    What you appear to be saying is "When you stand before the mirror of your soul you stand naked and alone.......on the other hand a bit of what you fancy does you good."
    Could do with a bit more originality.

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