Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Katie Crompton – I Kant Think of a Title (ft. Other Painful Attempts to be Funny)

Premise: Knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

From our discussions on Epistemology, I have found that I get confused really easily (but that’s me with basically every topic in Philosophy so nothing is really new), but this is the topic that I think I fully understand (hallelujah). I started thinking about muscle memory and how we use it in our everyday lives, and I discovered how it connects to knowledge and where it is located. I then came up with this syllogism.

If memory is the faculty by which the mind stores information

And muscle memory exists in the body

And pieces of information make up knowledge

Then knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

Time to dissect this syllogism!

If memory is the faculty by which the mind stores information

I believe that the mind is the processing point for all information, but that information is then stored else where if necessary. This article from Live Science explains the different types of memory. From the definitions of these types of memory, we can see that some information would be stored in different parts of the brain, like short-term and long-term memory, while some may be stored in other parts of the body, like procedural memory.

A chart to help understand the connection between the different kinds of memory (Image by Nick Valmas / QBI)

And muscle memory exists in the body

STORY TIME! Whenever I am waiting in the wings to go on stage for a performance, my mind shuts down and I feel like I have forgotten everything. I forget my lines, my blocking, what character I’m playing, everything. I panic for a solid three minutes and sometimes I’m able to actually calm myself down and force myself to remember what I’m doing. Other times, I have to go on stage in a state of panic and have to have faith that my body knows what to do. Most of the time it does, but I do have the occasional brain fart (way to be mature, Katie). This whole scenario made me realize that it is impossible for knowledge to exist solely in the mind because if it did, I would just be staring blankly at the audience for an hour every time I get on stage (this is probably true anyway and everyone’s just lying to me but hey, at least I have support). This scenario shows not only how knowledge resides in the mind and the body, but also how the mind can deceive itself. The brain is telling me that I don’t know things that I know I know, which causes me to panic and doubt myself. Luckily, muscle memory takes over so I don’t look like a complete lunatic every time I perform.

My inner self before I go on stage (gif from Imgur)

And pieces of information make up knowledge

In Immanuel Kant’s eyes, we gain knowledge through experience as well as rational thought. If we gain knowledge through experience, then we must have some sort of physical form to help us experience things. If we gain knowledge through rational thought, we must have a mind. Therefore, I believe that a lot of the knowledge we gain through experience would reside in the body and the knowledge we gain from rational thought would reside in the mind. This can also relate to competence and propositional knowledge. Competence knowledge can be found in the body because this is the “know how” knowledge, while propositional knowledge can be found in the mind because it’s the “know what” knowledge. We can’t do anything without a physical form, so that is why I believe competence knowledge has to reside in the body. Though I believe there is some separation between the knowledge in the mind and the body, I still do believe that there is a large connection.

Then knowledge resides in both the mind and the body

Even though knowledge may exist in different parts of the body, they still work together. Your competence and propositional knowledge work together to make sure you are a completely functional human being. Rational thought and experience knowledge have worked hand in hand since you were a baby. For example, when you were a baby and your stomach was growling, your mind told you that that was because you were hungry. You also knew from prior experience that if you cried, someone would feed you. The knowledge that exists in the mind and the body are both incredibly important. Can you imagine a life with only knowledge from the mind or the body?

Image from PsychCentral

 

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Non-Physical Existence

After discussing the basics of Metaphysics in class I am very curious about the ideas of the self and existence. When it comes to the self, I believe most strongly in the theory of dualism, the idea that the self is both essence and substance, material and non-material. I also believe in David Hume’s Bundle Theory, the idea that the self is a projection of the bundle of experiences we have collected throughout our lives. However, I am curious about just how much of the self can exist as either entirely physical or entirely non-physical. In a strictly physical existence, the self can be defined as a mass of molecules and a collection of chemical reactions. But when it comes to a non-physical existence there isn’t a clear definition. I want to explore the possibility of the self existing entirely separate from the physical body and the different ways in which this could occur. For this series of blog posts I have decided to ask the question: In what capacity can the self exist outside of the physical body?

 

What is existence?

To begin to approach this question, we must first define existence. What is existence? Existence can be defined as the fact or state of living or having objective reality, continued survival, or any person’s supposed current, future, or past lives on this earth. For the purpose of my inquiry, I am going to look at existence more in terms of Heidegger’s “Being” and less in terms of basic survival or occupying physical space. In order to discuss this I hope to find or develop some sort of system for measuring the level of “Being” that an entity has in order to objectively as possible discuss the capacity at which it is existing.

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What are the components of the self?

Another important concept to explore is the different components of the self and how they in turn relate to existence. I want to further explore the connections and separations between essence and substance as well as mind, body and soul. I also want to look into the similarities and differences between how an individual perceives their own self and how others perceive it.

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How can a non-physical existence occur?

Finally I want to ask, in what ways can a non-physical existence occur? And is it possible for a person to exist without a physical body? While most of us can agree that non-physical emotions like pride and love and hate exist, is this type of existence possible for people? To start off I’ve made a mind map of the different ways in which I believe a non-physical existence can occur.

View post on imgur.com

I am really excited to look into this topic, I think it is really relevant to the current state of society where more and more of our lives and interactions are happening online. To begin to answer my questions I have turned to Rob Horning’s essay Me Meme. In the essay Horning explores the relationship between social media and the self and proposing really interesting ideas about “the makeshift identity” most of us have on social media platforms. He goes on to state that “this identity can be shared and consumed not only by others but by oneself. This brings up the idea that the self we portray on social media can be, in extreme cases, completely independent from our true self and therefore may be considered a non-physical existence. Moving forward with this inquiry, I am really interested in looking into the way social media is facilitating the creation of less and less physical existences.

 

 
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