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Old 24th September 2009, 01:01 PM   #1
thadman is offline thadman  United States
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Default An Ethical Thought Experiment with respect to Dissociative Identity

Boredom brings out the philosopher in me

I encourage you to read this post. Yes, I know...It is long, however, it WILL make you think (in a good way ) and hopefully encourage you to look at issues from a variety of perspectives.

An idea widely supported by Western Thinkers and Humanists alike is the concept of "All Men are created equal".

To quote Thomas Jefferson

Quote:
Originally Posted by ”United States Declaration of Independence”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they were endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
Most would admit that “Men” in that statement is referring to distinct individuals, which are the constituents of a society (ie Men and/or Women, independent of ethnicity).

When we refer to individuals? Who are we referring to?

To quote a previous post from the thread "Who are you?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thadman
I was walking to my engineering lecture the other day, and to my surprise a different lecture was taking place. I stood confused and bothered...and proceeded to walk around campus to observe the students, which I hoped might satiate my curiosity. I thought to myself...who are these people? These are some ideas I had during that hour.

Who are you?

Someone might respond with "[insert name]".

Let's assume we have two individuals, Jan and Kyle, and a scenario results from their interaction.

Jan: Hi, WhO aRe yOu?
Kyle: I am Kyle.
Jan: O, cOoL! It'S sO NiCe To MeEt YoU, KyLe. LoL

...but what does this statement actually mean? What conclusions can we draw from "I am Kyle"? What is Kyle? We might presume he is referring to himself, but who is he?

Is Kyle material, immaterial, or a combination thereof?

Let's start with an example.

Let us assume a Scientist exists. His name is Frank and he enjoys Prime Rib occasionally. He is also a member of the Communist party. However, these things are trivial.

Let us also assume NASA (ironic?) approaches Frank with the purpose of granting him 20 billion dollars to produce a rover capable of exploring Mars and taking objective data. Frank says what the hell...I'll do it!

Frank develops a fully coupled model (thermal, mechanical, electromagnetic, etc) of his rover design and approaches optimization through implementation of various numerical optimization algorithms within a cloud computing network. Frank, being aware of the non-intuitive nature of Physics, knows his model will only approach reality, but never reach it. Once fully optimized, experiments were conducted to confirm Frank’s predictions.

Following successful testing of the prototype, he sends that bad boy to Mars.
He installed a video camera, temperature/pressure sensors, a robotic arm that can take soil samples (and can make a pretty damn good smoothie as well), and whatever else he determined as important. These things are arbitrary. We'll also assume Frank is a pretty smart guy and the rover worked when it arrived on the Red Planet.

Upon arriving on the Red Planet, the rover took video samples, temperature/pressure readings, etc (ie objective data). The rover then relayed all of this information back to Frank.

Frank then imported the objective data back into a computer to interpret the data. A physical model (mathematics) was created, wherein each degree of freedom in the system corresponded to a particular aspect of Mars’ environment. From this model, Frank was able to make several deductions about the environment on Mars.

I believe this is analogous to the human experience.

Frank is simply awareness of the rover, he is NOT the rover.

The rover represents the material body and Frank represents our awareness. Frank was never able to directly experience Mars (and thus understand absolute reality). Only through the objective information the rover relayed to him, was he able to form a model (ie subjective reality) which he hopes approaches absolute reality.

In the same way, our body receives information within its environment through its many senses. The eye measures electromagnetic radiation (ie light), the ear measures acoustic waves (ie sound), etc. The brain then interprets these waves and creates a reality (independent of absolute reality), which we exist in. This subjective reality can be reduced to a system composed of almost an infinite degrees of freedom. 3 dimensions could refer to sight, an additional dimension component could refer to time, etc. Literally our perception is our reality.

We can demonstrate this with the aid of an example. Let us assume you are in a situation that you've determined as boring (studying for a test, listening to a lecture, at work, etc). Under those circumstances, doesn't time occasionally seem to last longer?

"This lecture may only be 50 minutes long, but it feels like its going to last forever..." I have consistently been made aware of this by many students in my Mathematics classes.

Let us next assume you are in a situation that you've determined as exciting (spring break, concerts, top thrill dragster, etc). Under those circumstances, doesn't time seem to "fly" by?

From this we can establish that the dimension governing our perception of time is highly non-linear. Assuming the dimension within absolute reality that governs time is linear, how could this be true?

If we assume the position that we (awareness) cannot exist within reality, it might be logical to conclude that we exist within a subjective reality governed by our individual non-linearities (ie our perception of reality).

This allows us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves (awareness) from the total system (composed of mass/energy).

We can thus define ourselves as the specific, non-linear, subjective reality we experience relative to other persons.
From this post, it was established that the individual exists within a personal, subjective reality. The individual's existence consists of interaction within an array of non-linear dimensions distinct from absolute reality and can never directly observe absolute reality. The individual is not material, but is simply the awareness of itself.

We can further demonstrate this idea by specifically establishing that you (as an INDIVIDUAL) are not your body.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thadman
One might make the argument that their brain is their own as it is the conduit through which they indirectly experience reality and is the initial source of their cognizance.

However, if one were to choose this position, they must also assume the body as their own for the brain constitutes a finite portion of the total human biological system (ie body), which is the source of their cognizance.

Herein lies the failure of this thinking. If we are to define ourselves as the mass/energy responsible for our cognizance, we must consider all systems/networks responsible which extends to the total system (ie The Universe).

The brain is a result of the body, which is the result of a local system, which is a result of a larger macro system, which is a result of the Earth, which is a result of the Solar System, which is a result of…(and you get the idea)

We will come to the conclusion that the total system is responsible for our cognizance and we are one energy/mass, which fails our initial requirement for defining ourselves relative to other persons.
With regards to conjoined twins, would we not admit them as separate, distinct individuals possessing unique thoughts relative to each other, although in possession of the same body?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage...cle2302127.ece

Assuming the humanist perspective “All men are created equal”, would we not contradict ourselves (and thus be within an ethical dilemma) if we did not admit the conjoined twins the same rights as you or me are in possession of? Should they not each be afforded the opportunity to individually vote for their choice of president in the general election simply because they share a body?

This has some interesting implications ...specifically with regards to dissociative identity,

We can define dissociative identity as follows:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ”Definition of Dissociative Identity”
Dissociative identity describes a human which displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. It requires that at least two personalities routinely take control of the individual's behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness; in addition, symptoms cannot be due to drug use or medical condition."
Under such circumstances, would not multiple, distinct awarenesses exist (as per the definition)? If we admit this, we must also admit them as multiple, distinct individuals as we previously defined individuals as the awareness of themselves. After all, they have their own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment (ie a distinct subjective reality, a distinct awareness) as per the definition of Dissociative Identity.

I believe we can draw a direct analogy to the example of the conjoined twins, which were established as being separate individuals. Although possessing the same body, they have individual awareness.

Assuming this to be true, would not multiple individuals each be in possession of individual, inalienable rights?

Would we not contradict ourselves (and thus be within an ethical dilemma) if we did not afford them (individual awareness) the same rights as you or me or a pair of conjoined twins?
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Last edited by thadman; 24th September 2009 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 24th September 2009, 01:21 PM   #2
GK is offline GK  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thadman View Post
Assuming the humanist perspective “All men are created equal”, would we not contradict ourselves (and thus be within an ethical dilemma) if we did not admit the conjoined twins the same rights as you or me are in possession of? Should they not each be afforded the opportunity to individually vote for their choice of president in the general election simply because they share a body?

Who cares about the body? They don't share the same brain, as far as I can tell.
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Old 24th September 2009, 01:27 PM   #3
thadman is offline thadman  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G.K. View Post
Who cares about the body? They don't share the same brain, as far as I can tell.
That is not always true.

You failed to consider Craniopagus, Cephalopagus, Cephalothoracopagus, and Diprosopus conjoined twins.
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Old 24th September 2009, 01:35 PM   #4
GK is offline GK  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thadman View Post
That is not always true.

You failed to consider Craniopagus, Cephalopagus, Cephalothoracopagus, and Diprosopus conjoined twins.

I didn't, you did - I just remarked on the pair that you did consider sufficent for your example.
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Old 24th September 2009, 11:31 PM   #5
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re - " the individual exists within a personal, subjective reality" - I don't agree; the individual exists within personal, subjective realities.
e.g. when we're on DIY audio, a subset of out total brain patterns comes into play, a different subset when we're at work etc...
so, an individual isn't one, fixed, thing, rather an ever changing chameleon of consciousness. The dissociative has simply lost the ability to kepp the flow going from one state to another...???
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Old 25th September 2009, 01:51 AM   #6
GK is offline GK  Australia
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So whadabout if one is posting at DIYaudio from a computer at work?

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Old 25th September 2009, 02:14 AM   #7
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thadman View Post
An idea widely supported by Western Thinkers and Humanists alike is the concept of "All Men are created equal".
I think it is widely supported by most Thinkers that all (wo)men are NOT created equal.

We would like to think, that in a society we control, that people are born with equal OPPORTUNITIES. But that's a different statement.

People are born unequal on almost every level. For example....

Different DNA - predisposes people to different strengths, weaknesses, diseases, mental processes, compatibility with external agents...


Whether people are individuals or not is a huge topic and perhaps it could be argued to be a religious question for some - moderators beware !
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Old 25th September 2009, 02:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcK View Post
re - " the individual exists within a personal, subjective reality" - I don't agree; the individual exists within personal, subjective realities.
e.g. when we're on DIY audio, a subset of out total brain patterns comes into play, a different subset when we're at work etc...
so, an individual isn't one, fixed, thing, rather an ever changing chameleon of consciousness. The dissociative has simply lost the ability to kepp the flow going from one state to another...???
Reminds me of this.

http://glossary.cassiopaea.com/glossary.php?id=3&lsel=L

I am not sure how you make the deduction that if we consider the body the source of consciousness we must also include the entire universe.

- keantoken
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Old 25th September 2009, 03:26 AM   #9
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re -'So whadabout if one is posting at DIYaudio from a computer at work?'
then make sure the boss doesn't find out or you may become disassociated...
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Old 25th September 2009, 04:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keantoken View Post
I am not sure how you make the deduction that if we consider the body the source of consciousness we must also include the entire universe.

- keantoken
Sorry for any confusion, this was directed at the topic starter.

- keantoken
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