This is a page of links to web resources that are relevant to understanding the self, personal identity, and the emerging technologies that will challenge our views of what we are.
Philosophy of Personal Identity
Personal Identity, Martin and Barresi (eds.)
The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self, Martin and Barresi
Reading Parfit, Jonathan Dancy (ed.)
Thomas Metzinger’s book Being No One takes a functionalist approach to understanding consciousness and the self. It describes the characteristics an information-processing system would need if it were to have human perceptive and cognitive abilities. You can get a flavour of Metzinger’s work from this video of a lecture at Berkeley.
And for another fictional take on teleportation and human duplication, I highly recommend John Weldon’s brilliant short animation, “To Be”. A comment on this site says, “It scared the crap out me when I was a kid and it still does today.”
Almost anything by V.S. Ramachandran sheds light on the interplay of neurology and psychology that gives rise to the phantom self:
Phantoms in the Brain (1998)
Consciousness and body image: lessons from phantom limbs, Capgras syndrome and pain asymbolia (Royal Society article)
On Your Mind, TED talk on the lessons of Capgras, phantom limbs and synesthesia
The Neurons that Shaped Civilization, TED talk about mirror neurons
Self Awareness, the Last Frontier, a Ramachandran essay on Edge
“THE NEUROLOGY OF SELF-AWARENESS“, Edge 10th Anniversary Essay
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 1, part 1), BBC video on phantom limbs, the Penfield map
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 1, part 2), brain plasticity, the mirror box, blindsight
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 1, part 3), blindsight (cont.), consciousness, neglect
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 1, part 4), neglect (cont.), anosognosia
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 1, part 5), anosognosia (cont.), denial, lies
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 2, part 1), vision, how and what pathways, face and animal recognition
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 2, part 2), recognition (cont.), Capgras delusion
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 2, part 3), Capgras (cont.)
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 2, part 4), Capgras (cont.), God and the temporal lobes
Phantoms in the Brain (Episode 2, part 5), God and the temporal lobes (cont.)
The Human Connectome Project website.
An excellent 2010 overview of the state of the art of measuring brain connectivity, by Hagmann et al is “MR connectomics: Principles and challenges”. J Neurosci Methods (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.01.014
“I am my Connectome”, recommended TED talk by Sebastian Seung.
Psychology, Ethology, and Evolution
Self-Awareness in Animals and Humans, ed. Parker, Mitchell, Boccia
The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, Frans de Waal
Advance planning in chimps (article)
Mirror self-recognition in elephants (article)
Human Replication Technology
A brilliant 2011 TED talk by Anthony Atala: Printing a Human Kidney, following his 2010 TED talk on organ bioengineering.
For an in-depth account of the 2009 state of the art in bioprinting, I recommend Scaffold-free tissue engineering using bioprinting
2010 article and video on manufacturing a temporal-mandibular joint at Columbia.
Article on Organova and Invetech bioprinting technlogy.
2007 interview with Mironov on the Bioengineered Kidney Project.
Bioprinting and Pygmalion’s Dream? by Vladimir Mironov.
I highly recommend Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained.
Thoughts on Self and Others, Life and Death
Emptiness Café. Susan Kahn writes a thoughtful blog from a Buddhist perspective, fruitfully cross-pollinated with Western philosophy and science.
Correspondence between Ian Brown and Jean Vanier published in the Globe and Mail: ‘Am I fearful of death? No, I cannot say I am’