Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Identity through time

A rather...odd happenstance happened to me a bit ago. Odd, perhaps, is not the best word, but a lining up of two once-occurring events in a way where they meet, due to timing. It's the internet version of walking down a path you've never taken since it's longer, just to kill 10 extra minutes, then getting hit by lightning due to your travel route. Still, uncommon events still occur, that's what makes them uncommon rather than impossible. Regardless, I digress, the point is that, ignoring the details of the boring but exceedingly unlikely event, it brought to the forefront of my mind something I think about on a semi-regular basis, but have yet to write about -- Identity through time.

Identity through time is one particularly interesting problem to me, particularly since, as a philosopher, my views are far removed from the general populous (Thankfully). However, my views even in the philosophy clique are rather uncommon, making me twice removed. However, before I delve into the vehemently anti-intuition mindset that is my own, I need to explain some things.
This is a complex topic in which you can write a PhD thesis on, so many things will be assumed, ignored, or otherwise not discussed in here. There is the psychology and physiological arguments for identity through time, a ton of variations of those, and many things that otherwise could be explained but won't, however, I'll lay out some of personal beliefs of the best accounts and go on to explain my more general view.

Personal Identity, for me, is in effect a purely psychological occurrence, that is to say physical effects can change personal identity (head wound, for example) but aren't part of it. That is to say, the biological identity of something can be non-changing, while personal identity does. For example: A person who has an accident which damages their mind such that they lose all memories and act differently completely, is still the same biological object, but the personhood has changed such that pre-accident and post-accident people are, in fact, as different as any two random people picked out the globe. Now, there can be a vigorous debate about this, but just assume it's unquestionable, so I can get to my real point.

There is a problem with small changes in a large system, a gradient problem.  In essence, it is the ship of Theseus problem. See:
Now, gradient problems like this exist in many areas of inquiry, and I can go on a whole tangent about them, but in short, I say this: I reject it as a problem. We either try to define objects into intuitive categories, (which I find inane given the human mind is a sad kludge-together of evolution  and the thought intuition and categories that we assign things somehow are a reflection of reality is absurd) or we give in and accept that each change creates something new, so that it doesn't matter how large the leap in the gradient, it is different, and no matter how small, it is different.

What this means, regarding personal identity through time as far as I'm concerned, is that each change no matter how small in effect, creates a new, different, person. Oh, of course, since the changes are in fact so minor that between two seconds we cannot detect any real change, but I'd gladly argue it is there. The changes in, twenty of thirty years, however, might be so vast that if we exclude chronological data, the same biological person is, as far as the mind is concerned, a different person. While the future me rises out of the current me, and as such is likely to be vastly similar, as time goes on each incremental change has the possibility of veering my personally in such a different direction that most similarities could even  dissipate through time, albeit the most fundamental traits will probably endure, but still, that's not nearly enough to consider them the same person, otherwise we'd have two strangers being the same person on a regular basis.

So, that is where I get removed from the norm, I consider each chronological movement to, in effect, create a new person. Unintuitive, yes, but I don't see why that's a problem logically. Of course,  people can point of problems with this, most if not all I dash with ease, or so I feel... but nonetheless, it is an odd position, I'll admit, though by no means I'll admit it is wrong. The fact is, since the two people that exist at the two closest chronological intervals are going to be so vastly similar, there is no reason to treat them any differently. That is, while in reality they are different people, there's no reason to treat them as something else, until we jump larger periods of time where the similarity to the pervious person may not be quite so similar after all. So then, a person I knew in high school may be in some if not many respects similar, he is a new person.  The idea of 'catching up' is in essence meeting the new person. Now, under normal circumstances the changes may not be so vast (though in this range, is probably most likely to be larger than normal), but other circumstances can aggravate changes as well. A kid in high school and a war vet may be six years apart, but... as far as personality goes, can be so vastly different. The person you knew exists in the past, a remnant of time, dead infinite times over, only to be reborn based on the world around them, and their deeds. Reincarnation, writ large.

Now, everything prior to this I'll gladly defend (excluding my little bit of mediocre poetic prose) and admit, the next part however is more silly, but I still find it a fun idea to toy around with, in the vein of Berkeley type bullshit philosophy. I won't go on long about it.

Let us take Plank Time: and apply it to my personal identity through time. Using a film analogy we can draw a similar conclusion. Plank time in essence cuts the universe, or at least, the stages of observing it, into absurdly small pieces, but the speed of them in rapid succession creates the illusion of a singular, constant, event. Much like with a movie, separate pictures seen in rapid succession creates the same illusion. So, then, personhood through time is an illusion as much as movement of pictures rapidly creates a scene that has movement. Perhaps time itself, at least how we see it, is the same.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Projection is an interesting concept, probably because it's the inherent way the mind tries to understand others. Being stuck in your own mind limits your ability to comprehend other mindsets, subjective experiences are just that, subjective. The key to diminishing the problems with projection is to first accept it and try to edit perceptions of people not through your own feelings in similar situations, but rather their actions. By this, I mean, you can see actions and understand the possible motivations of those actions without coloring them with your own bias. This is why, I so commonly exclaim how I cannot fathom the thought process of the average person. The logical fallacies, psychological cliches, cognitive dissonance all displayed so freely makes it impossible for me to form an image of their mind that is similar to my own.

Imagine the typical brag/taunt. There is an assumption in there. If a child taunts another child with the fact he has a bunch of candy, the presumption must be that the child with candy believes the second child also desires the candy. If the child did not want the candy, the taunt would be moot. The same sort of psychological projection happens to stick with people throughout their lives, typically, if not exclusively.

What this means, of course, is that when someone attempts to taunt someone or brag, the underlying assumption is that the person being taunted has a desire for the object held, metaphorically, over him. However, all this should go without saying, but the important part is this: Most often, what a person attempts to taunt another with is projection, and not a rational outlook of the person and finding out what he desires. In short, if someone tries to taunt you with something, it's because they put value on it, not because you do. The average person doesn't have a level of rational introspection well developed enough to realize non-idiots have different weights.

So then, imagine someone yells, “Haha, I have more jars of shit than you do!” There are two conclusions we can draw from this: The very, very, rare idea the person understands you, and knows that you, specifically, value jars of shit... or more than likely, he values jars of shit, and is projecting his value of them onto you(lets ignore the obvious satirical points for the example.) For idiots, projecting is all they can do, and since the majority of people are idiots, it works well enough, since they tend to put weight on similar objects.

From all this, we can then learn some very significant things from people by virtue of how they attempt to taunt and/or mock you. Not like they would understand, but often times the value they place on things actually mock themselves, and it's painfully obvious. The jar of shit example, of course, is hyperbole, but just barely, it would seem. Lets take another example, I've found someone, in an argument constantly reference his wife as an obvious attempt to make someone jealous. Let us be serious: getting married is in fact less impressive, statistically, than graduating a community college with a degree in interior design. Even worse, in fact. It's just as bad as trying to brag about being a community college dropout. It's no joke, significantly more people are, or have been, married then have either gotten any degree, or even enrolled and dropped out. However, this person was in fact trying to use this fact, that is so absurdly trite and unimpressive, in order to brag is a terrible reflection on him. You're more of an elite by enrolling in community college for a semester and dropping out and bragging about it. However, this person is projecting the fact they got married onto someone else as something they should be envious of... it shows such a profound lack of insight towards that the person has that you can tell they have little going on in either their mind or life.

Now, let me clarify, there's nothing wrong with being happy about being married. Nor is there anything wrong with being happy about getting a degree from a community college, or even your G.E.D. Improving your education is always good. The problem is, when you believe others, particularly people who are not in a similar situation to you, should be envious of these traits it makes a mockery of you. Someone who is unintelligent putting forth lots of effort to get a G.E.D. because they value education, despite being bad at it, deserves respect. Being more educated, or smarter than the average doesn't inherently make you a better person anymore than being taller or stronger or having better eyesight. The problem is that, by trying to mock someone the average person not only mocks themselves, but also reveals significant things about themselves, very unintentionally. Think about someone short trying to mock others by referencing that others are too tall. In this society, it is utterly inane, as being short is not a property that gives advantages, generally. Well, this behavior is commonplace when it deals with many other topics.

So, let us continue but now give some more applicable examples of people projecting their mind on to you.

Take words that you'd find on any standardized test given to 9th graders; that is high school freshmen (about 14-15years old.) If you use these words in a conversation, more so to someone who is aggravated towards you (and guaranteed on the internet) they will say things that reflect so painfully poorly on themselves it absolutely boggles me that they don't understand they're mocking themselves. Now, I know they don't understand but at the same time... I simply cannot comprehend the mindset that would not realize it. It's something that is factual, yet at the same time difficult to fathom. It is the quantum physics of the mind. So, anyhow, use words such as these in a conversation, just a couple that I've found as a first-week freshman vocab list: admonish, efface, relinquish, spurious, perennial, as a few examples. If you use these words it's all but a certainty that this person will call attention to them, proclaiming you're “looking at a thesaurus,” or “what are you, in college and think you're smart” “tryhard” “Trying to impress with big words.” Now, let me be clear. These are high school freshman words, a fourteen year old is expected to know at least 7/10 of them. Yet, these words are so out of the ordinary and impressive to these people they feel the need to call attention towards them when used.

Now, the person who says things like, “you're looking at a thesaurus” or “learned some new words today in college lolz” is really attempting to insult you, but the sad fact is they're insulting themselves and are too stupid to realize it. By speaking using words at the level of a fourteen year old child, you've impressed these people so much, they begin to project, putting themselves into a position where they would use those words. Since a 9th grade writing level is beyond them, it must be beyond others and thus, you must be putting forth significant effort by using normal, unimpressive words that simply are both the most accurate and fit the prose well. The projection is simple, “For me to write at this level, I must use a thesaurus, thus, he is using a thesaurus to write at this level.” This is one of many, many, areas where a person unwittingly reveals their lack of education and intelligence, mocks themselves while doing so and is still too stupid to realize all of that goes on.

Honestly, projection is, if anything, as much a logical fallacy as a psychological fact. It's simple, “argument from self”. I do X in position Y, therefore he does X in position Y. This is no different than any dullard committing any other fallacy, and one can spot it just as easily.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seeing someones mind.

Firstly, this is going to be a large multi-post project about me rambling on about a general topic, using how an idiot tries to insult you to understand things about them, how they psychologically project and how much they reveal about their intelligence, or lack thereof, by mocking themselves attempting to mock you. The intellectual version of trying to punch someone, tripping, knocking your head on the corner of a table and knocking yourself out. The only sad part is that stupid people suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, and don't realize how idiotic they show themselves to be. Anyhow, lets begin.

Language is an interesting construct, it is a construct intended to exchange information, emotion, ideas... but the inherent effect of this is that it also reflects strongly on the people using it, by virtue of how people attempt to use language to exchange this information.
When you use language you are in fact not simply using words but you are taking aspects of you mind, your thought processes, and everything that comes along with it and attempting to put that into the system of linguistics. So, then, when you communicate you're not only simply showing a sentence to the world but revealing significant portions of your mind.

Now, this may seem like a bit of hyperbolic and overly verbose absurdity, but it's really not. Just look at stuff like cold-reading for so called psychics, techniques that allow them to manipulate their victims because in their ignorance they reveal things and then conveniently forget, memory-edit or otherwise ignore that they freely handed all the information to the person conning them. This stuff is commonplace. People don't use words, they reveal facts. [Note: Cold Reading poor example, might edit blog to clean up later]

Now, let me give some examples, nothing too complex.

Imagine a child is angry and wishes to express his anger towards you. “You're a poopy-face” she says, in all seriousness. For a child, this is a fairly acceptable way to express anger towards a person. If an adult said that, in all seriousness (and that excludes the possibility of satire or sarcasm, or mental disability)... well, it'll give you insight to their mind. They have the belief that calling you a poopy-face is not only an expression of their anger, but one that intends to insult you.

The same example applies to any sort of random, non-empirically backed, word with a negative connotation used as an insult. The person is not using words that express a fact (Your face is made of feces) but rather, they're expressing an emotion they have and using words to do so. In reality, what “You're a poopy-face” means is 'I'm angry with you because you're a mean person.' None of the words the child uses has any factual content in it. There are 0 words that mean anything that correlate to reality. The notable part, however, is that the difference between the person saying, “You're a fag” and the child saying “You're a poopy-face” is effectively nil. The intent, an expression of anger towards someone, with a random word with a supposedly negative connotation, with no realistic grasp of the sentence's content. With the child, it's an understandable expression of anger. With an adult, it's literally someone so intellectually dead that they don't understand the sentence they're saying, quite literally, has no meaning – no truth value. It's just emotion bundled up in incorrect word usage because they're too stupid to express themselves.

Yes, the “adult” for lack of a better term, is on the same intellectual level as the child. No hyperbole, no sarcasm, it's a fact; the same inept flailing and predictable actions are there, because they're essentially the same. No factual content, no real insult. No picking a personal character flaw and bringing it forward and putting a voice to it, to cause anger, mock, hurt or cause any emotional upset to a person. Simply a random word chosen with a negative correlation, because they do not know how to express anger, and they're too ignorant to even know how to insult you.

Furthermore, the use of the word fag gives insight to a person's mind that said person uses that word in such a way they believe it has a negative connotation that it, somehow, would be scathing. Of course, anyone who isn't a dullard finds that about as offensive as... well, an adult calling you a poopy-face realistically, it's a joke. In fact, poopy-face is more hurtful, as at least there are reasons in which having a face of feces is severely negative... calling me homosexual is as hurtful as saying I'm attracted to brunettes, it's simply nonsensical to believe saying it is somehow insulting towards me. It merely mocks you, because you're stupid enough to believe it's offending and insulting me. You're calling me a poopy-face, in all seriousness and think you're insulting me instead of making me laugh at you. That's a level of stupid that's incurable.

Now, when someone says something like “You're a fag” they obviously don't intend to mock themselves, though they unwittingly do it by having the exact same wit, grace and reaction as a six year old. That, however, is the subtext of their use of language. That is one of the many facets you can peer into and see a person's mind. The belief that calling someone a poopy-face is not a mockery of themselves, but is in fact attacking the person they're directing it towards, is a significant insight into how that person thinks. Obviously, you're not mapping out a person's entire persona based on a single data point, but since everything a person does is a point of data we can gather enough information for inferences of varying accuracies rather quickly. So, when someone says something, that has no factual content, no wit, grace, prose, or even the slightest evidence and wishes that sentence to cause you offense... well... the person is beyond stupid. It is, as it often is, projection. If a person is trying to insult you by saying “You're a fag” it's most oft because they would be offended if someone said to them, “You're a fag” and I will say this: No one intelligent and witty, ever, will do anything but laugh at a person who believes that insults them.