From the Thinking about Free Will thread:
If self is the [physical decision-making] system…and the system is all the component parts that collect sensory input etc…does that mean if I lose component parts of myself that I am no longer myself? If I lose my arms, eyesight, hearing, etc…am I somehow less of a self?
Which parts of the system are self and which parts aren’t? And why?
…In a any event, it seems to me that if one holds self is the physical system, then taking away/changing parts of the physical system would necessarily change the self in some way. One might consider an old home that is replaced one board at at time until it is completely new. In what sense is this the same home it always was? Is it the design or conception of the original home that retains the identity. But we know that in these situations the make-up of the home and some say the actual identity of the home changes. Which is why folks that remodel antique homes don’t like to “gut them.” Or one might consider a home where half of it was torn down. Is it the same home? The same questions are true for the physical self notion.
…Maybe these are not good questions… but wouldn’t a corpse have essentially the same physical configuration of atoms at least for a very short time after death? Also – what about two objects that theoretically are identical such as clones or identical twins? And would some one’s self really disappear, and then be revived, in cases where folks are revived (hearts shocked etc) back to life after say cardiac arrest. Or would they continue to exist the whole time?
And, even if a complete replacement of material, left the original design (or I guess I should say form) intact, it starts to seem to me then that the actual identify of self would reside in the form, or as you put it, configuration, rather than the particular material construction? I also am still thinking that the logical extension would also mean that if the physical components are the self then a loss of some parts of that construction necessitates a loss of self in some sense.
…in fact identity, or self, doesn’t reside in a specific form or configuration of atoms as earlier postulated – unless one includes in that conceived form a particular place in space and time.