Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

April 9, 2011

Self-Improvement at the Cost of Memory


CAROLYN’S DAILY POSTS: 2011

SELF-IMPROVEMENT AT THE COST OF MEMORY

These days, almost everyone is involved in some kind of self-improvement program, even though most of these don’t work very well. What if you pursued one that did work well, but there was a price to pay?* 

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     What if you could choose to change one thing about yourself—would you do it, would it be worth it, if you lost a portion of your personal memory in exchange?

     I think it depends. If I gave up a portion of my personal memory that was not too important—say, memories of my life between birth and age three—in order to release myself of an addictive habit such as smoking or drinking, it might be worth it.

     If, however, I had no control over what part of my personal memory would be lost the stakes would be higher. My memory provides a great portion of my identity. Skill development can also be attributed to memory, as can experience that molds my beingness.

Personal memory is integral to our identity, but to someone otherwise in bad shape, the change might be a boon. In any case, arguably, if enough personal memory were lost, after the change that person might not be the same as the one who elected to undergo it.

     I have to agree that significant memory loss makes a person different from the person was prior to the memory loss. Strokes demonstrate this, as does the disease Alzheimer’s.

     I think what most senior citizens fear most are these two diseases, because they do take away our memory, the essence of our being.

     However, if one could control the loss of memory to the removal of memories of a traumatic event in order to remove its effects (say, removal of memories of extreme child abuse to remove its debilitating effects)

     To opt to lose memory is an extreme choice I hope I don’t have to make, or a choice that I hope won’t be made for me.

SOURCE

*Taking Philosophy to a New Level, Union College, spring 2004, pp 2

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ADDITIONAL READING:

ARE YOU LIVING IMPAIRED?

ICE HARVESTING: BIG BUSINESS IN EARLY AMERICA

ECOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES AND ENVIRONMENTAL DANGER

Hope for Victims of Domestic Violence

DRUNK DRIVER—OR NOT? Passing a Sobriety Test

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