Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


kirsten- inquiry of the self

Metaphysics part one:

I have chosen to do my metaphysics inquiry on the makeup of the self. I will be looking into the following three topics in order to try and find a better grasp on what my beliefs on the subject are.


Q1: how much does nature versus nurture come into play with identity?

Q2: to what degree are we identity versus biology?

Q3: is there anything beyond our biology, and is it dependent on our biology?

I am going to start off my looking into the extremes of both nature and nurture. The theory behind our behaviors and personality coming from nature, is based off of science that supports genetic, hormonal, and neurochemical explanations. This way of thinking subscribes to the idea that everything that we do is based off of the way our biology behaves, and how it interacts with the world around us. Nothing is up to choice, and simply made to be based off of what we were born with. The more behaviorist approach suggests that all actions are determined by learning through the environment through conditioning. although there are logical explanations and rationals for both sides of the argument, the truth seems to reside somewhere in between nature and nurture. This leaves me with the conundrum of existence beyond our bodies. this question would be easy to answer if i believed soulfully in biological explanations for the formation of the self. this theory implies that there would be no soul, or eternal self as our physical makeup and brain stimulation end our memories and self when our bodies perish. the other side of the spectrum does not necessarily assure the existence of a soul, but does recognize that our experiences create something more than what we are born with. both arguments provide intriguing points to the topic and i intend to look further into this.


Part two:

In our class discussions, I was paired with Katherine and Sarah to discuss the makeup of the self. Most of the topics we talked about revolved around physical versus spiritual self and identity. One of the paths we went down that truly intrigued me was along the path of neural connections. This concept explains how when we learn or are thinking new neural pathways are creating, connecting parts of our brain together. this literally changes the physiology of the brain with the changing of the mind. This provides a strong argument for the biological theory as it directly connects parts of our personality and self growth to the changing of our bodies. this also gives a reason of how we can evolve as individuals without necessarily needing something more than our biological self to change. My initial inquiry of nature versus nurture is greatly influenced by this, as the main argument that the nurture perspective has against the nature theory is that humans change through their lives with each new experience making us grow. As I stated previously the neural pathways changing explains actions often credited to the soul or self, through biology. This still leaves me to wonder if there is a part of humans that is created though something more than our physical selves, as I am not entirely convinced that humans are born and die with every piece of who they will be and were.

Part three:

My main question going into phils day off was whether physical and behavioral changes can prove or disprove the biological or behaviorist theories. Our Phils day off happened to fall on the weekend I went to the high school swimming provincials. At first, I thought this was problematic as there is little free time given to us on the trip, and the little free time we had was not going to likely be spent excitingly within the two-block perimeter boundary of our hotel in Kamloops. It was on day one of our meet when I realized that this trip was not actually a bad thing, as swimming relates directly to my questions about physical and behavioral makeup. It is my natural reflex to start swimming once I jump into a pool because my muscle memory naturally starts the motions that I have endlessly practiced throughout my life. my brain allows me to comprehend what I need to be doing to create the most effective movements that will allow me to reach optimal success for that certain type of stroke. These two things alone could not motivate me to swim. If there were not a part of me that loved just being in the water, I would have never made it to where I am. Although I may not swim to be the best, as swimming is not my main sport, I also do not only swim because it is good cardio. I swim because there is something inside of me that is drawn to the water. This love of bodies of water may be connected to some biological phenomenon I am unaware of, or even the way I was raised, but I do not believe that it is simply in my brain or muscle memory. There is something that makes us more than the physical space we consume. That may seam egotistical to assume that because we are human, there is something that makes us worth more than an eraser or other objects mutually agreed to not have immaterial aspects, but I also cannot rationalize humans having a soul to be wrong.


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