Who is the real you?

HeadCon ’13 Part VIII – Josh Knobe: Experimental Philosophy and the Notion of the Self from Edge Foundation on Vimeo.

“What is the field of experimental philosophy? Experimental philosophy is a relatively new field—one that just cropped up around the past ten years or so, and it’s an interdisciplinary field, uniting ideas from philosophy and psychology. In particular, what experimental philosophers tend to do is to go after questions that are traditionally associated with philosophy but to go after them using the methods that have been traditionally associated with psychology.” Joshua Knobe is an Experimental Philosopher; Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Yale University.

In this fascinating and entertaining talk Knobe not only explains the relatively new discipline of Experimental Philosophy, but also asks some very unexpected and curious questions about whether we stay the same over time; whether their is an immutable part of us that is resilient to all the inputs and influences we experience throughout our lives.

If we take any of the Harvard IAT (Implicit Associative Tests) the odds are that our automatic responses and corresponding value set or attitude is in conflict with a. What we think we think and b. What we intellectually and rationally think. Please have a go and see whether your results bare this out. The questions that Josh Knobe poses, is which self, the automatic/intuitive or the reflective / rational self is nearer to marking our true identity? Or are they both representative of true self?

From Alain De Botton’s School of Life, to the work of Lou Marinoff and the relatively new field of philosophical counselling, there seems to be a very big movement to bring philosophy up-to-date and to ensure that it is pragmatic and applicable to everyday issues and problems. Experimental Philosophy similarly looks to a more empirical, experimental process that produces evidence and proof for one philosophical stance over another.

Questions ….

  • What other traditionally separate domains could ‘fuse’ to provide novel, creative new perspectives and knowledge?
  • How do we define what the “true self” is?
  • Is our true self more defined by our immediate, emotional  and intuitive thinking and values or is it better understood as being defined by what we think and feel after considered reflection?
  • Is it always the case that the “true” self is coherent, consistent and non-contradictory both in the present, and over time?

Other resources

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