Who Am I

I will soon turn 68 years old and I just heard this song from long, long ago.  Read the lyrics and click on the group’s name to listen to it. You may remember them for  “Fixin-to-Die-Rag”  Or maybe not, but it was the rallying cry at many concerts during the Vietnam War period.  (Warning, that song has what may be considered vulgar language).

Who Am I

Country Joe and the Fish

Who am I
To stand and wonder, to wait
While the wheels of fate
Slowly grind my life away.
Who am I?

There were some things that I loved one time.
But the dreams are gone I thought were mine.
And the hidden tears that once could fall
Now burn inside at the thought of all
The years of waste, the years of crime
Passions of a heart so blind;
To think that, but even still
As I stand exposed, my feelings are felt
And I cry into the echo of my loneliness.

Who am I
To stand and wonder, to wait
While the wheels of fate
Slowly grind my life away.
Who am I?

What a nothing I’ve made of life
The empty words, the coward’s plight
To be pushed and passed from hand to hand
Never daring to speak, never daring to stand
And the emptiness of my family’s eyes
Reminds me over and over of lies
And promises and deeds undone
And now again I want to run
But now there is nowhere to run to.

Who am I
To stand and wonder, to wait
While the wheels of fate
Slowly grind my life away.
Who am I?

And now my friend we meet again
We shall see which one will bend
Under the strain of death’s golden eyes
Which one of us shall win the prize
To live and which one will die
‘Tis I, my friend, yes ’tis I
Shall kill to live again and again
To clutch the throat of sweet revenge
For life is here only for the taking.

Who am I
To stand and wonder, to wait
While the wheels of fate
Slowly grind my life away.
Who am I? Who am I?

All but the third verse applies to me (well maybe parts of the third does apply in some ways).

So, I have decided to become introspective- WHO AM I.  So let us define the word introspection: the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.  But what does that even mean?  Well, let us turn to our friendly, ever ready Wikipedia: In psychology the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one’s soul. Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection and is contrasted with external observation.

Introspection generally provides a privileged access to our own mental states, not mediated by other sources of knowledge, so that individual experience of the mind is unique. Introspection can determine any number of mental states including: sensory, bodily, cognitive, emotional and so forth.

Introspection has been a subject of philosophical discussion for thousands of years.  The philosopher Plato asked, “…why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?”

OK, so I will discuss the mental states as I feel they apply to me.

Let u first examine the mental state of my sensory system.  This consists of sensory neurons (including the sensory receptor cells), neural pathways, and parts of the brain involved in sensory perception.  Commonly recognized sensory systems are those for vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and balance.  Therefore, senses are transducers from the physical world to the realm of the mind where we interpret the information, creating our perception of the world around us.  Nevertheless, I would not say it is of the entire world, just those portions of the world that we are within our physical sphere from time to time.

Vision is to be expected from one my age.  I had a macular hole repaired, the glaucoma seemed to have cleared up, a couple of cataracts and the vision is just going bad slowly.  Some people may say that my vision clouds my perception of things I believe or understand about the world, but that really has nothing to do with sight.  So how else did my perceptions arise?

Bodily sense.  I am aware of my surroundings, I know what year it is and who the President is.  I do seem to be bumping into things more, find myself afraid of dropping things- so I use plastic cups instead of glass ones these days.  I enjoy touching- maybe I wasn’t touched enough as a child?  Who knows, and how to prove or disprove it would be troublesome, so let us just be neutral on this one.  I do enjoy stroking and caressing the warm flesh of the lovely women next to me at night.  My hands seem to be in constant motion and that is not due to the Parkinson’s disease I have been diagnosed with recently.  They have some interesting “herky-jerky” pills for that.  Of course, my feet always seem to be playing a base drum also, but when I was in the 6th grade, drum lessons didn’t go over very well with me, which may be the cause of some of the “left-out” feelings I seemed to pick up from my Dad after that- he spent a lot of money at a time when it was scarce. I guess he thought he saw something in me that I didn’t fulfill.  Of course, from what I remember, we had a Hammond Organ in the house and my younger brother tried the trumpet for a while and my youngest brother played the piccolo or clarinet or something sissy like that.  Then again, is “rhythm” sensory or bodily?

This next one is a dozy!  Cognition:  “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”  It encompasses processes such as knowledge, attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language, etc.  Human cognition is conscious and unconscious, concrete or abstract, as well as intuitive (like knowledge of a language) and conceptual (like a model of a language).  Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

  • Knowledge: has been discussed by every notable and non-notable philosopher that has come down the road. All I can say is it appears to be different for everyone, even if it is about the same thing.
  • Attention:

I have been forced to stand at it a couple of times, but I do not think that is what this topic is about.  It is more usually thought of as the ability or power to keep the mind on something; the ability to concentrate. I give myself a C grade on that.  I have a hard time in social settings with paying attention- when talking with others I always seem to understand what the conversation is and can pretty much guess what will be said by the next person.  Maybe that comes from playing so much chess when younger. However, when I find something interesting, I can block out everything and concentrate on just that one item to the point I may get angry with others trying to interfere with my concentration.

  • Memory and working memory:

is the faculty of the mind by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.  Memory is vital to experiences and related to limbic systems (The limbic system supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction), it is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action.  If we could not remember past events, we could not learn or develop language, relationships, nor personal identity.  They make is so difficult.  Short term memory, probably having problems with it, but what do you expect at my age.  Sure, I forget what it was I just wanted to do, or where I just placed something- but it all works out –eventually.  I know I have suppressed many childhood memories remembering very few (mainly those that were dramatic).  I have no desire to undergo hypnosis for regression therapy.  I do remember virtually everything that has happened in my life (with some drug induced gaps) since the death of my Dad in 1968.  After that, my memory is pretty straight on and it has certainly pissed off a number of individuals.

  • Judgment and evaluation:

the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.  Well, I have never been accused of that- especially recently. Most of the time, I am told my conclusions are false, rigid, based upon stories told and retold by young alcoholics or grain drug addicts from old Jerusalem. However, that just deals with my philosophy of life and personal beliefs.  As far as plain judgment and evaluation and sensible conclusions- I have gotten better, but can still be faulted.  A lot of the time, I am wrong, but that is because the others are always right no matter how wrong they may be.  I have an uncanny knack for giving in to the ones around me.  I do not like to argue so I just give up and do what the others say instead of sticking to my desires.  It causes far less fights and arguments but can also be the cause of a perception of weakness on my part.  I blame it on my childhood and belief that if any women gives me a second look she deserves to be on the pedestal I put her on.  So yes, I still f**k up at times.

  • reasoning (the action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way)

 

 

and “computation” (Computation is any type of calculation that follows a well-defined model understood and expressed as, for example, an algorithm).  Well, finally something I excel in.  At least I believe I do.  I can take a set of information and come up with ideas derived from it hat nobody else can. That is what made me one of the top software and databased designers in the Permian Basin. I look at information from an entirely different means and matter than others seem to do.  I have had the ability to find information that others thought was lost and to locate and expand information that has given my customers a competitive advantage over others.  Therefore, this is my strong point.

  • problem solving (Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems) and decision making

 

Several of the above states are a combination of mental representations and propositional attitudes.  There are several paradigmatic states of mind that an agent has: love, hate, pleasure and pain, and attitudes toward propositions such as: believing that, conceiving that, hoping and fearing that, etc.  A lot of this falls under doxastic justification a form of philosophy that I had not covered since first year in college- back in 1969.

But with some much covered and so much more to think about, I guess I can answer the original question “Who am I”:  nobody in particular.

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