Identify Yourself

Just a holding post for an issue that keeps cropping up in Dennett (see previous post). Who is me ?

In the sections on will and quasi-altruistic (long term enlightened) self-interest, he mentions something I’ve raised before – often in nationalism / political debates – is the me / we distinction. In considering what is in “your” interest, you can identify yourself with with the individual person or any number of different overlapping “constituencies”, my family, my gang, my team, my company, my industry, my party, my nation, my “hemisphere”, me as part of all humanity, me as part of the whole of nature, etc …

In fact this is a recurring concept with Dennett, when talking about where consciousness resides in me. If you make yourself large enough, you can internalise every issue. If you make yourself small enough, you can externalise every issue. A “control volume” issue I’ve raised before.

BTW – following up on where I’d got to in the previous post. Dennett’s debunking of the “300 millisecond moral void” seemingly illustrated by the Libet experiment as demonstrating the absence of conscious will. I rejected this earlier, for the same reason Dennett explains here. Our consciousness is distributed in space and time, is a complex multi-layered system of processes, some of which are supervisory, some are delegated, and only some of which need be in active conscious awareness at any given time. The tennis analogy, returning a very fast serve, is a good illustration of how we have pre-planned sequences set in motion almost like a reflex, which only need be modified or even stopped by the supervisory control, in higher conscious awareness, just in time. The latter sometimes parodied as “free won’t”. That’s an extreme hand-eye-body coordination example, but we couldn’t even walk and chew gum at the same time, if we had to be consciously aware of deciding every individual action.

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