This is kind of hard to explain.
I am who I am because I remember who I am. I remember all of my memories and my experiences that I have had, which are memories in themselves. So am I just a memory? If I lost my memory, who would I be? Would I, the person writing this, still exist? Not physically, but consiously?
Yea idk, that’s where it starts to get tricky–is memory a function of the body or are we more than that. Even animals have some form of memory to help them get around and be an animal. If you lost your memory completely you’d be pretty lifeless not even remembering how to move or breathe or see or do anything. But at the same time, I think there’s a place that we exist beyond memories. When we dream we rely heavily on our memories, usually most recent, to make the plot. But it’s not restricted to memory, and all kinds of unexpected, characterized events can happen beyond the memory or conscious of the individual. So yea, I think consciously, you would still be a spirit having experiences and doing its thing, even if you lost memory of those things. If you believe in reincarnation, this isn’t such a stretch; leaving your memories behind and beginning a new life. Hard to imagine what it’d be like if death was taken out of the equation and you just had no memory, though.
I’m talking more along the lines of my being, my existence, the “I” that I am. Im not really wondering what life would be like if I lost my memory. I wondering if the “I” that I am would still exist if I lost my memory because what is my existence but memory?
I first came across this question when I saw this video about a gentleman named Clive Wearing. Through brain damage, he has lost the ability to form new memories. I can’t fully remember the details of his amnesia (that’s not meant to be a joke; there are other videos on him that I’ve seen but I can’t recall the content) but he talks about it at one point in the video, saying “[My lack of memory] has been like death. I’ve never seen a human being before, never had a dream or a thought; the brain has been totally inactive, day and night the same… ”
This, of course, is interesting because his brain is active! It’s producing the thoughts that he is having at the precise moment he is speaking, otherwise he wouldn’t be producing coherent sentences. But since he has no way of remembering it, it seems to him like nothing is there.
In short, I suppose memory is our way of experiencing/observing time. Without it, we are not ‘no one’; I believe there’s still ‘Clive’ somewhere in that brain. However, we are simply unable to experience anything outside the present moment. Does that deny Clive his existence? I don’t believe it does.
Have you ever heard of the concept (Mind, Body, Spirit)?
Even if you loose one you the other two are still you. You cannot completely erase yourself from existence because something happened to your mind even when there is a problem with one, the other two will work together to bring about a balance.
Sometimes I feel that i’m on the exact moment of my death and everithing that i’m living is just a memory of my old days and that in any time i could feel the strike of living all of that behind and realize that i’m actually already dead. So I live afraid of realizing that it’s just a memory that won’t happen again and i won’t experience anything more becaose i’m dead.
“you couldnt exist. when you think, you have to remember thoughts in sequence”
This makes me think about René Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” or “I think, I exist”. If thinking is the remembering of memories in sequence, shouldn’t the phrase be “I can remember, therefore I exist” because thinking relies on remembering and if you couldn’t remember your memories, how would you, or I guess a “being”, know they exist?
Those are good questions. Let me think about them…
1. When you fall into deep dreamless sleep, are you then or are you not?
I want to say that I would exist then because I would be the one in the deep sleep. Something that is not, cant experience sleep. But then again, I only say these things because right now I am awake to think about these answers. Can I consciously think to remember my existence while I sleep? I want to say that would be lucid dreaming. People dont become aware that they are in a dream until they remember memories from another existence. For this I site my Dreaming Soul Theory Post: https://www.highexistence.com/topic/dreaming-soul-theory/
2. when you are totally unconscious do you exist?
I dont really know. If unconscious is apart of consciousness, maybe on some level I would exist, but I don’t know if that is right. I think unconscious and consciousness are 2 different types of consciousness? Wait what? I think I just confused myself.
3. Are you a body thats asleep?
Maybe. I actually have a Dreaming Soul Theory which asks “Is human existence nothing more than a soul’s dream”? I think I already linked the post.
4. who are you to begin with?
I am who I remember me to be, right? I consciously remember experiences that I attribute to my own existence. What is existence but experience? If you are unable to remember those experiences, its kind of the same as never having them.
5. The I that you are, what is that I?
I don’t think I worded that right. The “I” I am talking is meant to represent my being, my essence, my existence. The word “I” just represents these things when you are communicating with beings other than yourself. It shows relativity towards your being.
6. Who do you think you are?
I think I am who I remember myself to be. If I didn’t have those memories, would I exists? Its seeming not.
Thanks for the thought provocing questions.
Could you be more specific? If something were memory-less or thought-less, I dont think it could logically think or reason about its own existence.
Unless your talking about the energy that is everthing in which, on some level, I think you would be right.
Thanks for sharing that vid. It brings up some good points. Maybe even the point I’m trying to make. To us, yes he exists, but to himself, the “I” that he is, it doesn’t seem so.
But yes, that is sad. You are very thoughtful for putting that side note in your post about the joke or the pun.
I dont think you could ever know whether or not the existence you are living, is the “real” and only existence. Intellectually atleast, you could always wonder that, but never really know. You just have to accept that your existence could be a “dream” per say or that you could be how you said “dead” and get own with living it.
@monkeyzazu, I remember reading on article (from here, I believe) that the first thing you experience being born is others. You, as in “I”, does not even form until you can comprehend seeing yourself or that people are talking to you. So I guess you can liken this question to infants and babies that have no concept of self, just their mothers and fathers and anything around them that they experience, because they do not experience themselves. I take it that memory is only a part that makes up the self.
@bono95zg “I’m talking more along the lines of my being, my existence, the “I” that I am. Im not really wondering what life would be like if I lost my memory. I wondering if the “I” that I am would still exist if I lost my memory because what is my existence but memory?”
I think you would exist too others, as they see you, and remember you, you know, as the guy with no memory, walking around impulsively eating orange peels and wearing shoes on your hands.. but too you, every second as it passes, would not exist, therefore I’m sure to think, the “I”, the individuality of your existence, would not exist. Just “You”, would exist.
@monkeyzazu, how do you know you were ‘thinking’ something, unless you can remember it?
but thinking isnt just remebering memories its being aware of current procceses in your head. every word you know you said 0.00001 sec ago is just remembering that you said it. even if you think of that word, knowing that you thought of it is already remembering. thinking isnt so much remembering as being conscientious.
@monkeyzazu, yes to the energy thing. of course we think and always will. we have a discursive mind that is very active. with time and practice, one can slow it down, it seems and occasionally even stop it. if you did not have a memory of who you are, you would still be “you”, just not aware of it. ha! that would be interesting.
Thanks for bringing that up, it makes a lot of sense. To even begin to percieve myself as the “I” that has no memory, “I” would first have to acknowledge that it exist. But this doesn’t become apparent until we interact with other beings. So, other beings give “I” its own indivisuality? In which case, if “I” never interacts with other beings it doesn’t percieve itself.
That really makes me wonder. Relativity, Duality all becomes irrelavant. This means that things that are dependent or relative to “I” become none existent as well. So I guess memory would be irrelavant to a non-self acknowledging “I”.
Babies, or atleast the psychological make-up, just became more intriguing. Thank you for your post.
I don’t even think “I” would exist to others. Its like if I were to get amnesia. The people around you only know you have amnesia because your not acting like your normal “self” and you can’t remember anything. So the person or the “I” of that person that they knew, wouldn’t exist to them. In front of them would be the same person physically, but a new person mentally.