This is something I’ve been thinking about for maybe a month or so. My thoughts are not fully coherent yet and I have not yet figured out a good way to articulate the things that I am thinking, so I don’t know how much sense this post will make. Still, I figure that I can give it a shot and see how it goes.
I have been thinking about the concept of self-ness and identity. Specifically, of what exactly that’s made of. Really, this is sort of a metaphysical, quasi-religious, quasi-philosophical type of question, but part of what inspired it was my diagnosis of Asperger’s, so I figured it could put it here. Basically, I am wondering what exactly brings about my sense of me, my who-ness. It’s hard to ask the question because it’s hard to put words to what I’m thinking of.
Ok, so I have a concept of self. My personality, if you will. Since getting my diagnosis, I started working on integrating that into my identity. It is sometimes said that Asperger’s is not something a person has, it’s something that a person is. What Asperger’s really is (as far as I know, at least) is a neurological difference. My brain structure is different somehow than the “normal” brain structure, and that does not just impact how I function, it impacts who I am.
Additionally, I have been reading a few books by Oliver Sacks. He writes some interesting things on neurological problems that impact identity. Then a few days ago I was at a pagan gathering, and I listened in on a conversation from some people regarding the idea of eternal souls. So then I started wondering, for those who believe in souls, where do they see the line between soul and body in making up a person’s identity?
I grew up as a very conservative christian, and I am aware of their basic idea of things. “You do not have a soul. You are a soul, you have a body.” In other words, your “self-ness” is only your soul, which just happens to be attached to your body for a while. Many of them seem to deny the possibility that something as mundane as physical form can impact one’s self. I don’t know much about what atheists would say to this questions, but I suppose at least some of them would take the opposite stance, that our self is purely a matter of physical form, neurology, brain chemicals, etc. Nor do I know a whole lot about what pagans would say, aside from the basic fact that there is probably a plethora of opinions out there. I still haven’t figured out what I think. I sort of believe in a soul, I guess. At the very least, I’m not so sure that I am only my body and nothing more, and I don’t really know what other options there are.
Yeah, this wasn’t very coherent. Maybe I’m wondering where the line is between body and soul? I keep trying to figure out if there is an atheist version of this question, but I’m having trouble figuring out how that would work.