PHIL101 Discussion Question 4

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post a 200 – 250 word response to the following questions:

A) In his “Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons,” DerekParfit supports the Bundle Theory of a human being.

What is the difference between the Bundle Theory of a human being and the Ego Theory of a person? [100 words]

B) In his “Brainstorms,” Daniel Dennett describes how he,Dennett, first operated as a composition of his brain, Yorick, controlling his body–Hamlet. Later, Yorick controlled a new body–Fortinbras. After a copy of Yorick had been made (Hubert), Hubert and Yorick took turns to operate the body–Fortinbras. During the time of all these changes Dennettclamed to be the same Dennett.

How come that Dennett—the composition of Yorick andHamlet—is the same person as Dennett—the composition of Hubert and Fortinbras (a different brain and new body)? What makes Dennett “Dennett”? [150 words]

Part II

Reply to the student below response to these questions, by addressing a point, problem or offering an alternate perspective. Your reply should be 100 – 150 words in length.

  1. The Bundle Theory of a human being states that all of our life experiences are like a long string of mental states, such as thoughts and sensations, with causal relations to each other. There is no person or subject of experiences, in alignment with Buddhist philosophy that states our experiences are simply a combination of elements.. The Ego Theory, or Cartesian View, argues the exact opposite. They argue for the existence of a soul or spirit, a purely mental being, separate from the body. They argue this is who a human being truly is, the subject of experiences.
  2. Dennett, formerly a physicalist before his intense thought experiment of having his brain removed from his body and duplicated, has come to find himself as a dualist. He demonstrates how his brain can operate multiple different bodies (Hamlet and Fortinbras), yet he retains the same personality and sense of who he is. So, his “self” is separate from his body. When his brain is duplicated, he senses absolutely no change of self when switching between the original, Yorick, and the duplicate, Hubert. So, his “self” is separate from his physical brain. When his original body, Hamlet, becomes incapacitated and detached from his original brain, Yorick, he senses himself transported out of the body and into the brain almost instantly. Since this migration of his “self” does not change the mass of the body or the brain, it must be immaterial. This indicates that he is actually an immaterial soul, based on physicalist principles and premises. This immaterial soul is what makes Dennett “Dennett.”

1) Required Reading

Documents posted in Learning Module 4


Kessler: D. Parfit, “Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons,” pp. 562-567

Kessler: D. Dennett, “Brainstorms,” pp. 569-577

Voices of Wisdom, 8th edition, Kessler, Wadsworth Publishing.

ISBN# 9781111834678

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