Does philosophy change your identity?

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Twirlip
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 05:33 pm
For you (whoever is reading this), does the study of philosophy change your sense of who you are, who other people are, what the world is? Or do you remain a 'normal' person, interacting with other 'normal' people in the 'normal' world, while acquiring knowledge and skills in an academic discipline, either as an amateur or as a professional? In short: for you, is philosophy a red pill or a blue pill?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 05:43 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;126264 wrote:
For you (whoever is reading this), does the study of philosophy change your sense of who you are, who other people are, what the world is? Or do you remain a 'normal' person, interacting with other 'normal' people in the 'normal' world, while acquiring knowledge and skills in an academic discipline, either as an amateur or as a professional? In short: for you, is philosophy a red pill or a blue pill?


Why should philosophy make anyone silly? Socrates thought it would straighten people out.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 05:49 pm
@Twirlip,
Quote:
Socrates thought it would straighten people out.

And look where that got him.

---------- Post added 02-08-2010 at 11:57 PM ----------

Quote:
Why should philosophy make anyone silly?
Odd choice of word, provoking me to look it up.
seely fortunate, happy, good (obs); simple, innocent (Spenser) ... (see silly)
So, yes, I would hope that philosophy would make me seely.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 06:00 pm
@Twirlip,
Does identity change your philosophy?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 07:08 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;126264 wrote:
For you (whoever is reading this), does the study of philosophy change your sense of who you are, who other people are, what the world is? Or do you remain a 'normal' person, interacting with other 'normal' people in the 'normal' world, while acquiring knowledge and skills in an academic discipline, either as an amateur or as a professional? In short: for you, is philosophy a red pill or a blue pill?


Yes, you will at least see yourself as someone who studies philosophy. That is a change in identity, but how big a change it is depends on what that means to you and what you get out of philosophy.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 07:13 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;126283 wrote:
Yes, you will at least see yourself as someone who studies philosophy. That is a change in identity, but how big a change it is depends on what that means to you and what you get out of philosophy.


Why is that a change in identity? Is a person who studies philosophy one and the same person with the person before he studied philosophy?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 07:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;126286 wrote:
Why is that a change in identity? Is a person who studies philosophy one and the same person with the person before he studied philosophy?


Your identity is your mental model of yourself. How you comprehend your personality and characteristics can change.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 07:45 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;126264 wrote:
For you (whoever is reading this), does the study of philosophy change your sense of who you are, who other people are, what the world is? Or do you remain a 'normal' person, interacting with other 'normal' people in the 'normal' world, while acquiring knowledge and skills in an academic discipline, either as an amateur or as a professional? In short: for you, is philosophy a red pill or a blue pill?


I read philosophy because I was intensely unhappy... I hurt a lot of people, slept with a lot of women which I would consider, because it was without love to be an act of violence, and I learned a lot, collected a lot of books and various junk; but I was really unhappy... And I often asked myself, as I understood myself and others better, why it was that I had been such an esssshol before, and was no better than I was later... Then, as my father was dying he told a story that had come out of my youth, that had hurt me very deeply, then, and more later upon re-hearing it...My parents were as good as any others, but they had the wrong kid in me, and I was always a moralist even when immoral...And I was always a philosopher, and an existentialist... But, after it was over and my father was dead, and my mother too reminded me of what a butt head she could be, and that when she was as big as Andre the Giant, and hit like a semi tracker; well, I got pretty depressed, and my wife left me... I knew what I was...I questioned her leaving for about ten minutes, and then I realized what I was and what she had been putting up with for twenty five years, but still I was locked out...

Philosophy was the closest thing I ever had to a cure for myself... Then the final straw broke... I gave up on all that I had done to keep the relationship in the past...Past investment don't mean a thing in a relationship...Relationships are all about the future... I broke down in tears, having no defense, and my wife hugged me, and it brought back a moment when I was very young when I did not feel like an outsider, when I felt loved, and did not feel humiliated, and still had my self respect, and respect for others...

Suddenly I knew what all the books and philosophy were about... Suddenly I knew what my entire life struggle had been about...Suddenly I had my self respect, and I was the child I once was before I had been rottened up... I was sure of myself...I had myself...Win or lose with my wife, I have something no one will ever take away from me again...Did philosophy help??? Sure, but without the trauma I went through perhaps philosophy would have taken a million years...Without the philosophy maybe the trauma would have just made me too depressed to move...

Let me add this...It is the strangest thing to feel at times like a mere child in the old body of a fool, to have learned so much, to have done so much but to feel in your heart like a child, new to everything, able to experience happiness and unrestrained joy...

Today 2 9 2010 is the birthday of a child I helped to bring into this world who died at the age of ten of a brain aneurysm, and David was a good boy who loved his mother, and though she never wanted to bring children into this damned world, that is something she did for me, and that I did out of hope, but where could I have found such hope...My life was always more painful than hers, and what I got I gave...

From my perspective now as a child/man, I don't know where I found that hope, and yet I bear a guilt for it, for the suffering of a woman who never did me the least bit of harm, who suffers daily the loss of David, who loved her, who she brought into this world against her better judgment...And it is sweet pain to lose one who loved you, but for me there is only guilt... What we do we do not knowing what we do...It was true of Oedipus, and true of all of us, and still there is guilt...So it iis not all joy and happiness, and I hurt now as badly as ever, only now, I won't pass it on...
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 08:18 pm
@Twirlip,
It can change you if you let it. I think the original meaning of philosophy was intended as a very much a character attribute, the 'love-wisdom' which brings you to maturity and opens you up to a larger reality. I don't think many see it like that any more.

I note your use of quotes around the world normal. That says a lot in itself. I think the word 'normal' overlaps with what the bible, and the ancient sages, called 'the world' - that is the realm of convention and social morality.

For the record, I took the red one:-)
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 08:18 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;126264 wrote:
For you (whoever is reading this), does the study of philosophy change your sense of who you are, who other people are, what the world is? Or do you remain a 'normal' person, interacting with other 'normal' people in the 'normal' world, while acquiring knowledge and skills in an academic discipline, either as an amateur or as a professional? In short: for you, is philosophy a red pill or a blue pill?


If, and how much, it changes you depends on how much you embrace it. The more you actually think about the themes you study, discuss and read, the more they have the potential to change your outlook. And of course, the instant your outlook changes but one tick, your identity will be from then on, altered (if even only a smidge).

Many people philosophize as a way of describing how they feel and think; not much change here since they're focused on the self, how they feel and think. Always Ego plays a part allowing or preventing one from conceiving what else is or what might be. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is NO wisdom without humility. Humility allows one to give credit to other lines of thought, it is the one key-attribute which allows us to step back and say, "Hey, maybe this DOES have some merit!". To be humble in this context isn't to self-deprecate or obliterate the self, it's quite simply the ability to honestly accept that what YOU think (or believe) may or may not be 'true'. It's the one essential ingredient to learning pretty much anything.

But yea, the rabbit hole goes very deep indeed. The more you learn and assimilate, the higher the potential is for realizing the immense complexity found in how we learn, what we believe, the different systems of Right and Wrong, etc. To the extent that this is true: How could one's identity not be altered over time?

Good question.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 09:16 am
@Khethil,
Quote:
Always Ego plays a part allowing or preventing one from conceiving what else is or what might be. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is NO wisdom without humility. Humility allows one to give credit to other lines of thought, it is the one key-attribute which allows us to step back and say, "Hey, maybe this DOES have some merit!". To be humble in this context isn't to self-deprecate or obliterate the self, it's quite simply the ability to honestly accept that what YOU think (or believe) may or may not be 'true'. It's the one essential ingredient to learning pretty much anything.
One of a small number of obsessions I have had for about the last four years is what seems to me to be the deep mystery of how we are able to make judgements which transcend what you refer to here as "Ego". I hardly yet know what to say about this mystery, except that it is a mystery, if only to me.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 09:18 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;126288 wrote:
Your identity is your mental model of yourself. How you comprehend your personality and characteristics can change.


In one sense. But, I am the very same person before I read a philosophy as before. It may, of course, change what I think I am, to some extent. We need a concrete example. After I study someone like (say) Wittgenstein, my views about philosophy may change, but not my views about myself.

The question is too unspecific to answer, really. We have to make it more specific. Which philosophy? Chane how? What exactly changes? And so on. The virtues of analytic philosophy. Analyze the question before trying to answer it.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 09:28 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;127866 wrote:
In one sense. But, I am the very same person before I read a philosophy as before.

No kidding? Very Happy
Quote:
The question is too unspecific to answer, really. We have to make it more specific. Which philosophy? Chane how? What exactly changes? And so on. The virtues of analytic philosophy. Analyze the question before trying to answer it.
Perhaps I could express the same question better by asking whether your study of philosophy [the "you" in this "your" always being addressed to whoever is answering the question] takes place within a world, or within a tacit ontology (if that is a better word to use), which is not itself brought into question by anything that you read, or think in response to what you read.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 09:50 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;127870 wrote:
No kidding? Very Happy
Perhaps I could express the same question better by asking whether your study of philosophy [the "you" in this "your" always being addressed to whoever is answering the question] takes place within a world, or within a tacit ontology (if that is a better word to use), which is not itself brought into question by anything that you read, or think in response to what you read.


Well no, I am not kidding. And I ordinarily would not have to say such an obvious thing, except that people on this forum often miss what is obvious, because they confuse it with trivial, and think it is beneath their dignity to recognize the obvious.

Obviously lots of things I may believe are brought questioned in philosophy, and in some of what I read. Of course, that does not mean that I then think that those things are questionable, since if someone I read suggests that something I know is true is falses, I don't immediately begin to question whether what I know is true. Rather, I may examine the argument for the conclusion I know is false, in order to determine what is wrong with it.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 10:37 am
@kennethamy,
Quote:
Well no, I am not kidding.
I was, though. Read what you wrote one more time! Don't worry, I wasn't trying to say anything important about it. Smile

---------- Post added 02-13-2010 at 04:51 PM ----------

kennethamy;127877 wrote:
if someone I read suggests that something I know is true is [false], I don't immediately begin to question whether what I know is true.

In some sense, though, reason demands that even propositions we hold to be false with all our heart and soul must be entertained with full seriousness, otherwise we are only boxing with shadows, and might as well be talking to ourselves, in a monologue which only mimics a dialogue.

Also, what someone else writes may work itself insidiously into your mind by another route, which is not by contradicting what you know (or, less threateningly, what you merely hold probable), but by calling into question something whose truth, or whose existence, or whose moral or aesthetic worth, is presupposed by what you know, even if you didn't know that it was presupposed.

That could be either a good thing or a bad thing. My question was whether it was something you are prepared for, because, good or bad, it must surely change your identity, mustn't it? If, that is, you truly are rational enough to entertain in full seriousness a thought from another mind which subtly undermines what you thought was real, or true, or good. Such a serious hosting of another person's alien idea could lead to an invasion or subversion of your own mind from within, for good or ill.

Indeed, how do you know that such an invasion or subversion has not already happened, and made you what you are?

---------- Post added 02-13-2010 at 05:13 PM ----------

Quote:
Which philosophy? Chane how? What exactly changes?
I think I have given a kind of answer, however inadequate, to the second and third questions, but not the first.

In answer to the first question:

I mean the activity of philosophising, of doing philosophy, in dialogue (which may be written or spoken, or using writing almost as if it were speech, as we do here, and may be over a long time scale or a short one, or a fairly short one, as here), with other philosophers, who may be professionals or amateurs or students.

There is such a thing as "doing philosophy", in this sense, as a definite activity in which one may choose to engage, or not to engage; and in which, if and when one engages in it at all, one may engage in a variety of different ways (perhaps different ways at different times, and/or with different people). What difference does this activity make to you as a person?

Of course the question is not precise in every detail; nor need it be, so long as it is not so diffuse as to be utterly meaningless. Have I narrowed it down enough now to remove unhelpful ambiguity?
 
Lost1 phil
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 11:16 am
@Twirlip,
We are the end result of each event that has ever happened to us in our lifetime - no matter how large or how small each was a molder of our so called identity. What could be called into question is why we choose certain events to be of greater importance than others. For example, you might have replayed an event that took less than a moment over and over so many times in your mind that it has become one of the major
influences of who you believe yourself to be today (i.e. your self identity).

The other person(s) who were a part in the event might not even remember what they said, or however else took part in such a major event in your own life.

That wee bit of knowledge in the above statement was a lightbulb moment in my own life.

To answer you question the study of philosophy can have a strong influence on your life and how you see the world at large. But it can only change your self identity if you choose to allow it to do so..."Mind over matter...If you don't mind it won't matter."

It's been my own experience to note that, with the exception of those who study the philosophy of others with an open mind, it's often about finding a known philosopher who closely relates to their own way of thinking prior to their introduction to the known philospher's philosophy. "Yeah, that's what I've been thinking for years, I just had never found a means by which to put into words so well."

Keep seeking and you'll keep finding your own identity that ever changing, ever growing love of the knowledge of who you are. You'll only find yourself in trouble when you choose to believe your identity of yesterday is set in stone.

Lost1
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 11:22 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;127866 wrote:
In one sense. But, I am the very same person before I read a philosophy as before. It may, of course, change what I think I am, to some extent. We need a concrete example. After I study someone like (say) Wittgenstein, my views about philosophy may change, but not my views about myself.

The question is too unspecific to answer, really. We have to make it more specific. Which philosophy? Chane how? What exactly changes? And so on. The virtues of analytic philosophy. Analyze the question before trying to answer it.


Let's say someone reads william james, takes a leap of faith and becomes religious. Hasn't their personal identity changed?

If we analyze the question we could see a couple possibilities. One is what twirlip was asking, which is what most people are answering. Another is a semantic question about the definition of identity, which is a different subject. In psychology the subject of personal identity is well defined, that is what we have been talking about.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 01:29 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;127899 wrote:
Let's say someone reads william james, takes a leap of faith and becomes religious. Hasn't their personal identity changed?

If we analyze the question we could see a couple possibilities. One is what twirlip was asking, which is what most people are answering. Another is a semantic question about the definition of identity, which is a different subject. In psychology the subject of personal identity is well defined, that is what we have been talking about.


I suppose that if one invents a sense of "personal identity" that can be changed by taking a leap of faith, then, in that sense of personal identity, there would be a change of personal identity by taking a leap of faith, from whatever cause.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 01:39 pm
@kennethamy,
Does your concept of personal identity coincide with the concept (which I think for present purposes we may all accept as clear) of bodily identity, i.e. the persistence of a single human body from birth to death (regardless of replacement of cells, or even organs)?
 
Oliver phil
 
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2010 05:35 pm
@Twirlip,
In response to the original question; since I discovered Philosophy as a subject, and from what I have taken from it during that time, it can certainly be said that how I now observe and scrutinise myself, others, my environment and milieu is with entirely different means to that of my previous ways. It pleases me to think i can approach the questions of ones life a little less ignorantly than before. However, as a result i do seem to become increasingly detached from what one might call society's vanguards, or common everyday concerns, and by doing so, I have undeniably come to be far more socially unhooked and somewhat uninterested in avocations and conversations that would have formerly appealed to me.
I do regard myself to be the same person in certain respects, particularly in a moral sense: I am polite; I wish to do no harm to others, nice people really make me happy and i love good coffee, but then I would say that the 'I' that I refer to (or the 'Me'), is ('just' wouldn't be entirely suitable here) a result of exceptionally complicated neural activity. But many thanks indeed to Philosophy, as that neural activity is, id like to think, slightly more refined now.
 
 

 
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