Thomas Nagel:
THE VIEW FROM NOWHERE (Oxford Univ Press, 1986)

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"We can conceive of things only as they appear to us and never as they are in themselves." We can only experience how it feels to be ourselves. We can never experience how it feels to be something else, for the simple reason that we are not something else. As Nagel wrote in a famous paper, we can learn all about the brain mechanisms of a bat's sonar system without having the slightest idea of what it is like to have the sonar experiences of a bat.
Nagel stresses the possibility that the human brain may be inadequate to fully understand the world and therefore itself.
Therefore we can never be sure that our viewpoint is an objective viewpoint. We can only be sure that our viewpoint is definitely a very subjective viewpoint. At the same time, we should not limit ourselves to objective reality, as the subjectivity of consciousness is part of reality. A fully objective view of the world would omit the fact that, of all things, the world contains "me", my self, and it is through this self that I observe the world. Demonstrative words such as "I", "here" and "now" cannot be reduced to objective reality.
Nagel thinks that identity comes from the (physical) brain, since it is the only part of a body that a person would not survive without. Brain transplants would be inherently different from heart or kidney transplants. If a region of the brain does not perform its function properly and a region can be found in another brain that would perform that function properly, can we transplant it and still have the same person? Nagel does not answer this question.
Consciousness cannot be "counted": schizophrenic patients have neither one nor two consciousnesses. Brain emispheres cannot compete, even when they have been separated. They have been programmed to work in tandem.

TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi