How many persons am I?

Karen L. Shanton
2011
Many philosophical positions depend on claims about the mind. Though it"s tempting to think that the claims that matter – at least from a philosophical perspective – are claims about the conscious mind, emerging evidence suggests that the unconscious plays a surprisingly significant role in our mental lives. Given the centrality of claims about the mind to philosophical positions, and the centrality of the unconscious to the mind, it"s important for philosophers to take account of discoveries
more » ... nt of discoveries about the unconscious. My dissertation is an attempt to do this. I use empirical findings about unconscious states and processes to investigate the nature of personhood and the relationship between human beings and persons. Most contemporary empirical work on unconscious states and processes is conducted in two overlapping literatures: (1) the dual process literature and (2) the cognitive unconscious literature. According to the dual process literature, we have two different ways – one conscious and the other unconscious – of performing many types of cognitive tasks. The central moral of the cognitive unconscious literature is that we underestimate the unconscious; unconscious processes are capable of much more sophisticated and flexible processing than we tend to think. I draw on these overlapping literatures to challenge two common philosophical assumptions. In Chapters 1-2, I use findings in the dual process literature to challenge the assumption that there"s a single, unified person in each human being. In Chapters 3-5, I use findings in the cognitive unconscious literature to challenge the assumption that consciousness is necessary for personhood. These two challenges combine to form a larger project. As I argue in the Coda, they raise the possibility that there are two distinct persons in each human being – one conscious and the other unconscious. This possibility, in turn, has implications for a range of philosophical issues, from diachronic personal identity to moral responsibility to animal and artificial consciousn [...]
doi:10.7282/t35q4v50 fatcat:nhhksq53dvgvtmq7mfwdlwuptq