Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Beings with Non-Physical Selfs vs Selfs of Non-Physical Beings

During the discussions on Thursday my groups talked about a broad range of topics including astral projection, freewill, the dream-verse, Being, and non-physical existence. Although the topics were very diverse they all connected to the idea of the self and the possibility of non-physical components of the self. Whether it be the ability to disconnect from the physical body and enter the dream-verse/astral plane or trying to determine if there is a predetermined destiny and plan for our lives, it all comes back to the self.  What is the self? What is it made of? Is it static or is it built up throughout the course of our lives?

After taking part in the discussions I was left with more questions and felt slightly overwhelmed by metaphysics. I was having trouble comprehending my own topic let alone other people’s questions and opinions. I had more conversations with my family and friends about my topic of non-physical existence and if it is possible to have a whole self without a substance/physical component. Then I realized that I was actually interested in the non-physical components of the self as opposed to how much of a self a non-physical “Being” can have. In order to begin to comprehend and address big metaphysical questions I believe that I must first develop a strong philosophy and understanding of the self.

Moving forward I want to continue to explore the Bundle Theory, in addition to the idea that the self is a collection and projection of experiences as well as the process through which experiences become memories. Sticking with my original focus on social media I am interested in exploring how social media facilitates the collection and sharing of experiences, the preservation of memories, and the development of the self. I am also interested in the idea of vicarious experiences and how much of an impact other people’s experiences can have on your own self. Additionally, I want to explore the idea of shared experiences. Does sharing an experience with others create identical pieces of the self among a group of people, is this the reason they feel a deeper connection to one another? Can shared experiences be interpreted differently among different people based on their past experiences?

I have a lot of questions and a slightly more focused inquiry topic now and I am excited to explore them further during my Phil’s Day Off project.

 

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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.

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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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