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Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,


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Do we lose our 'self' when we lose our memory?

In Philosophy, this is the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.

Do we lose our 'self' when we lose our memory? I believe that when we lose our memory -- from a disease (Alzheimer's) or any other reason -- we have no more identity because we don't know who we are anymore -- we don't have 'self' anymore. In a way, that affirms that only the self exists. We lose our 'self', we lose everything including reality.


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  • Oct 20 2013: Aren't there different kinds of memories? An Alzheimer's patient might still know how to talk (If not talk, recognize the mother tounge), walk, eat and use the toilet to some degree. Aren't these things parts of our memory?

    We learned how to do these mentioned things in sensitive stages of our developement (Critical period), at a young age. If we never had learned those things at that stage we wouldn't develope these skills to the same degree (eg. The kids that got raised by animals since the parents left them in the nature because they didn't want them or because the child got lost). We take things that we've learned well (such as walking) so for granted that we don't even look at those skills as a part of our memory (One could argue that we learned how to do them and therefore can do it now because our body remember the procedure that must be done to walk. My friends always used to say "I hope I'll REMEMBER how to do that next time we're going to a ski resort" if they had learned something new on a snowboardtrip).

    Also, I believe we won't lose reality until we lose our senses. The way we percieve our reality might be different when we forget our memories from the past, but I don't think it'll disappear. You will taste, see, smell, feel and hear things, and based on these things you build up a reality. What will be missing though are your past experiences with your senses and feelings .. In other words you'll not be able to recall all the good memories from the past which you connected with certain feelings or senses (Which, to me, sounds quite gloomy).

    (Sorry for my english, it isn't my mother tounge)
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      Oct 21 2013: Your English is very good considering it's not your mother tongue.

      Your mention about our body remembering things is crucial to this discussion. I've read articles about that. One is that our stomach is our second brain.

      I'd rather fail to remember good feelings from our senses than forget who I am. Thanks for your feedback Jonathan.
      • Oct 21 2013: I didn't mean "Remember good feelings", rather connect the feelings and senses you have to your past experiences :-) In other words, being able to recall a memory by smelling or feeling something (eg. Smelling gasoline might bring your thoughts back to the times you spent as an adolescent in the garage, fixing your moped. Or, feeling infatuation might bring your thoughts back to the first time you fell in love).

        Senses and feelings can help us remember our past, since we throughout our life use them to perceive our reality .. thereby they also define our worldview to some degree (Our prefrontal cortex and perhaps other things also plays a role, indeed). If you one day woke up blind I bet (I can't know for certain) that your worldview would be to some degree different, what would be interesting to know is how you'd remember the memories you had when you still was able to see.

        What also came to my mind was "mental mapping", one of the best ways to prove that our senses are connected to our worldview. You simply take a paper and draw a map of the earth as you remember it without any help. The location which you have been to more often (Your home area, country etc ..) will have more details than any other places you draw on that map, because that's the location you spend the most time with your senses .. You remember the details there better than other because you've experienced that place more than any other :P
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          Oct 21 2013: I don't think sudden blindness will affect our memory negatively. In fact I've read articles proving that blind persons have sharper memories and senses.

          Now another issue arises: 'blindness of the mind' which is more dangerous and tragic than eye blindness!

          Yes. I agree that the more experience you have on one thing, the more you will remember it.

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