A commonly discussed issue in philosophy is the problem of self. The concept of the self suggest that the self is a single unit, disconnected from other selves, and unique to each individual in terms of hopes, desires, beliefs, and so on (Rounder, 76). Searle introduces questions of the self through a series of examples, laying out a general question of how we may still identify with the same essence of self despite physical changes taking place within our bodies. According to Searle, Descartes’s famous phrase “I think therefore I am” provides little insight to what can be considered as a self; however, Dualism is able to provide for the concept of self as “identical to a mental substance” (Searle, 25). Dualism can identify the mind with the self, as each individual person possesses his or her own mind, and therefore has a self. While this doesn’t account for the physical aspects in which people attribute to their self-identity, as laid out by Searle in the example of the Ship of Theseus, the independence of the mind from the body as a way to identity the self outlines a clearer perspective of what exactly is the self. Through defending against the common challenges against dualism in the field of materialism, one can see that dualism does adequately provide for the concept of self.
From a materialism standpoint, the body is one way that most people would identify themselves. As Searle mentioned in his chapter over Identity Theory, in physicalism, the mind is defined as a consciousness created by neurons in the brain (38-42). In the example of Theseus’ Ship, each new board of the ship is laid out the same exact way as it once was originally, duplicating the ship entirely and exactly. The ...
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The separation of a non-physical mind and a physical body may initially seem outdated when trying to identify the problem of the self. Many scientific fields studying parts of the mind and brain do not account for the possibility of dualism. However, upon closer analysis, concepts in materialism obtaining to the self has many problems of its own. Arguments from physicalism, the identity theory, and behaviorism, when applied the problem of the self, seem to all in some way lead back to some sort of dualism. While dualism has its limitations, it does not include a feature that leads to other branches of thought, such as materialism, which through its inconsistencies, seem to always somehow refer back to dualism. This shows not only a supported dualist ideal definition of the self, but could also be applied to other problems that Searle has pointed out.
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