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For this homework, you need to do the following: 1. Watch the videos, 2. write a 150-word summary of each video (300 words total), 3. complete the reading, and 4. answer the reading questions. 1. Watch the videos: 2. Write a 150-word summary of each video (300 words total) highlighting the main points. 3. Complete the reading (all the way through night 3 – the doc says not to read past night 2, but just ignore that):Perry a dialogue concerning personal identity and immortality.pdf4. Answer the reading questions. I’ve included both a doc and pdf version for your convenienceplease number each answer


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Perry, John, (1978) A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing
A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality
This is a record of conversations of Gretchen Weirob, a teacher of philosophy at a small Midwestern
college, and two of her friends. The conversations took place in her hospital room on the three nights
before she died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Sam Miller is a chaplain and a longtime friend of Weirob’s; Dave Cohen is a former student of hers.
The First Night
COHEN: I can hardly believe what you say, Gretchen. You are lucid and do not appear to be in
great pain. And yet you say things are hopeless?
WEIROB: These devices can keep me alive for another day or two at most. Some of my vital organs
have been injured beyond anything the doctors know how to repair, apart from certain rather radical
measures I have rejected. I am not in much pain. But as I understand it that is not a particularly good
sign. My brain was uninjured and I guess that’s why I am as lucid as I ever am. The whole situation is a
bit depressing, I fear. But here’s Sam Miller. Perhaps he will know how to cheer me up.
MILLER: Good evening, Gretchen. Hello, Dave. I guess there’s not much point in beating around
the bush, Gretchen; the medics tell me you’re a goner. Is there anything I can do to help?
WEIROB: Crimenetley, Sam! You deal with the dying every day. Don’t you have anything more
comforting to say than “Sorry to hear you’re a goner”?
MILLER: Well, to tell you the truth, I’m a little at a loss for what to say to you. Most people I deal
with are believers like I am. We talk of the prospects for survival. I give assurance that God, who is
just and merciful, would not permit such a travesty as that our short life on this earth should be the end
of things. But you and I have talked about religious and philosophical issues for years. I have never been
able to find in you the least inclination to believe in God; indeed, it’s a rare day when you are sure that
your friends have minds, or that you can see your own hand in front of your face, or that there is any
reason to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. How can I hope to comfort you with the prospect of
life after death, when I know you will regard it as having no probability whatsoever?
WEIROB: I would not require so much to be comforted, Sam. Even the possibility of something
quite improbable can be comforting, in certain situations. When we used to play tennis, I beat you no
more than one time in twenty. But this was enough to establish the possibility of beating you on any
given occasion, and by focusing merely on the possibility I remained eager to play. Entombed in a
secure prison, thinking our situation quite hopeless, we may find unutterable joy in the information that
there is, after all, the slimmest possibility of escape. Hope provides comfort, and hope does not always
require probability. But we must believe that what we hope for is at least possible. So I will set an easier
task for you. Simply persuade me that my survival after the death of this body is possible, and I promise
to be comforted. Whether you succeed or not, your attempts will be a diversion, for you know I like to
talk philosophy more than anything else.
MILLER: But what is possibility, if not reasonable probability?
WEIROB: I do not mean possible in the sense of likely, or even in the sense of conforming to the
known laws of physics or biology. I mean possible only in the weakest sense—of being conceivable,
given the unavoidable facts. Within the next couple of days, this body will die. It will be buried and it
will rot away. I ask that, given these facts, you explain to me how it even makes sense to talk of me
continuing to exist. Just explain to me what it is I am to imagine, when I imagine surviving, that is
consistent with these facts, and I shall be comforted.
MILLER: But then what is there to do? There are many conceptions of immortality, of survival past
the grave, which all seem to make good sense. Surely not the possibility, but only the probability, can be
Perry (1978) A Dialogue on Personal Identity?
doubted. Take your choice! Christians believe in life, with a body, in some hereafter—the details vary,
of course, from sect to sect. There is the Greek idea of the body as a prison, from which we escape at
death—so that we have continued life without a body. Then there are conceptions in which, so to speak,
we merge with the flow of being—
WEIROB: I must cut short your lesson in comparative religion. Survival means surviving, no more,
no less. I have no doubts that I shall merge with being; plants will take root in my remains, and the
chemicals that I am will continue to make their contribution to life. I am enough of an ecologist to be
comforted. But survival, if it is anything, must offer comforts of a different sort, the comforts of
anticipation. Survival means that tomorrow, or sometime in the future, there will be someone who will
experience, who will see and touch and smell—or at the very least, think and reason and remember. And
this person will be me. This person will be related to me in such a way that it is correct for me to
anticipate, to look forward to, those future experiences. And I am related to her in such a way that it will
be right for her to remember what I have thought and done, to feel remorse for what I have done wrong,
and pride in what I have done right. And the only relation that supports anticipation and memory in this
way, is simply identity. For it is never correct to anticipate, as happening to oneself, what will happen to
someone else, is it? Or to remember, as one’s own thoughts and deeds, what someone else did? So don’t
give me merger with being, or some such nonsense. Give me identity, or let’s talk about baseball or
fishing—but I’m sorry to get so emotional. I react strongly when words which mean one thing are used
for another—when one talks about survival, but does not mean to say that the same person will continue
to exist. It’s such a sham!
MILLER: I’m sorry. I was just trying to stay in touch with the times, if you want to know the truth,
for when I read modern theology or talk to my students who have studied Eastern religions, the notion of
survival simply as continued existence of the same person seems out of date. Merger with Being!
Merger with Being! That’s all I hear. My own beliefs are quite simple, if somewhat vague. I think you
will live again—with or without a body, I don’t know—I draw comfort from my belief that you and I
will be together again, after I also die. We will communicate, somehow. We will continue to grow
spiritually. That’s what I believe, as surely as I believe that I am sitting here. For I don’t know how God
could be excused, if this small sample of life is all that we are allotted; I don’t know why He should
have created us, if these few years of toil and torment are the end of it—
WEIROB: Remember our deal, Sam. You don’t have to convince me that survival is probable, for
we both agree you would not get to first base. You have only to convince me that it is possible. The only
condition is that it be real survival we are talking about, not some up-to-date ersatz survival, which
simply amounts to what any ordinary person would call totally ceasing to exist.
MILLER: I guess I just miss the problem, then. Of course, it’s possible. You just continue to exist,
after your body dies. What’s to be defended or explained? You want details? Okay. Two people meet a
thousand years from now, in a place that may or may not be part of this physical universe. I am one and
you are the other. So you must have survived. Surely you can imagine that. What else is there to say?
WEIROB: But in a few days I will quit breathing, I will be put into a coffin, I will be buried. And in
a few months or a few years I will be reduced to so much humus. That, I take it, is obvious, is given.
How then can you say that I am one of these persons a thousand years from now?
Suppose I took this box of Kleenex and lit fire to it. It is reduced to ashes and I smash the ashes and
flush them down the john. Then I say to you, go home and on the shelf will be that very box of Kleenex.
It has survived! Wouldn’t that be absurd? What sense could you make of it? And yet that is just what
you say to me. I will rot away. And then, a thousand years later, there I will be. What sense does that
Perry (1978) A Dialogue n Personal Identity
MILLER: There could be an identical box of Kleenex at your home, one just like it in every respect.
And, in this sense, there is no difficulty in there being someone identical to you in the Hereafter, though
your body has rotted away.
WEIROB: You are playing with words again. There could be an exactly similar box of Kleenex on
my shelf. We sometimes use “identical” to mean “exactly similar,” as when we speak of “identical
twins.” But I am using “identical” in a way in which identity is the condition of memory and correct
anticipation. If I am told that tomorrow, though I will be dead, someone else that looks and sounds and
thinks just like me will be alive—would that be comforting? Could I correctly anticipate having her
experiences? Would it make sense for me to fear her pains and look forward to her pleasures? Would it
be right for her to feel remorse at the harsh way I am treating you? Of course not. Similarity, however
exact, is not identity. I use identity to mean there is but one thing. If I am to survive, there must be one
person who lies in this bed now, and who talks to someone in your Hereafter ten or a thousand years
from now. After all, what comfort could there be in the notion of a heavenly imposter, walking around
getting credit for the few good things I have done?
MILLER: I’m sorry. I see that I was simply confused. Here is what I should have said. If you were
merely a live human body—as the Kleenex box is merely cardboard and glue in a certain arrangement—
then the death of your body would be the end of you. But surely you are more than that, fundamentally
more than that. What is fundamentally you is not your body, but your soul or self or mind.
WEIROB: Do you mean these words, “soul,” “self,” or “mind” to come to the same thing?
MILLER: Perhaps distinctions could be made, but I shall not pursue them now. I mean the
nonphysical and non-material aspects of you, your consciousness. It is this that I get at with these words,
and I don’t think any further distinction is relevant.
WEIROB: Consciousness? I am conscious, for a while yet. I see, I hear, I think, I remember. But “to
be conscious”— that is a verb. What is the subject of the verb, the thing which is conscious? Isn’t it just
this body, the same object that is overweight, injured, and lying in bed?—and which will be buried and
not be conscious in a day or a week at the most?
MILLER: As you are a philosopher, I would expect you to be less muddled about these issues. Did
Descartes not draw a clear distinction between the body and the mind, between that which is overweight,
and that which is conscious? Your mind or soul is immaterial, lodged in your body while you are on
earth. The two are intimately related but not identical. Now clearly, what concerns us in survival is your
mind or soul. It is this which must be identical to the person before me now, and to the one I expect to
see in a thousand years in heaven.
WEIROB: So I am not really this body, but a soul or mind or spirit? And this soul cannot be seen or
felt or touched or smelt? That is implied, I take it, by the fact that it is immaterial?
MILLER: That’s right. Your soul sees and smells, but cannot be seen or smelt.
WEIROB: Let me see if I understand you. You would admit that I am the very same person with
whom you had lunch last week at Dorsey’s?
MILLER: Of course you are.
WEIROB: Now when you say I am the same person, if I understand you, that is not a remark about
this body you see and could touch and I fear can smell. Rather it is a remark about a soul, which you
cannot see or touch or smell. The fact that the same body that now lies in front of you on the bed was
across the table from you at Dorsey’s—that would not mean that the same person was present on both
occasions, if the same soul were not. And if, through some strange turn of events, the same soul were
present on both occasions, but lodged in different bodies, then it would be the same person. Is that right?
Perry (1978) A Dialogue on Personal Identity?
MILLER: You have understood me perfectly. But surely, you understood all of this before!
WEIROB: But wait. I can repeat it, but I’m not sure I understand it. If you cannot see or touch or in
any way perceive my soul, what makes you think the one you are confronted with now is the very same
soul you were confronted with at Dorsey’s?
MILLER: But I just explained. To say it is the same soul and to say it is the same person, are the
same. And, of course, you are the same person you were before. Who else would you be if not yourself?
You were Gretchen Weirob, and you are Gretchen Weirob.
WEIROB: But how do you know you are talking to Gretchen Weirob at all, and not someone else,
say Barbara Walters or even Mark Spitz!
MILLER: Well, it’s just obvious. I can see who I am talking to.
WEIROB: But all you can see is my body. You can see, perhaps, that the same body is before you
now that was before you last week at Dorsey’s. But you have just said that Gretchen Weirob is not a
body but a soul. In judging that the same person is before you now as was before you then, you must be
making a judgment about souls—which, you said, cannot be seen or touched or smelt or tasted. And so,
I repeat, how do you know?
MILLER: Well, I can see that it is the same body before me now that was across the table at
Dorsey’s. And I know that the same soul is connected with the body now that was connected with it
before. That’s how I know it’s you. I see no difficulty in the matter.
WEIROB: You reason on the principle, “Same body, same self.”
WEIROB: And would you reason conversely also? If there were in this bed Barbara Walters’
body—that is, the body you see every night on the news—would you infer that it was not me, Gretchen
Weirob, in the bed?
MILLER: Of course I would. How would you have come by Barbara Walters’ body?
WEIROB: But then merely extend this principle to Heaven, and you will see that your conception of
survival is without sense. Surely this very body, which will be buried and as I must so often repeat, rot
away, will not be in your Hereafter. Different body, different person. Or do you claim that a body can
rot away on earth, and then still wind up somewhere else? Must I bring up the Kleenex box again?
MILLER: No, I do not claim that. But I also do not extend a principle, found reliable on earth, to
such a different situation as is represented by the Hereafter. That a correlation between bodies and souls
has been found on earth does not make it inconceivable or impossible that they should separate.
Principles found to work in one circumstance may not be assumed to work in vastly altered
circumstances. January and snow go together here, and one would be a fool to expect otherwise. But the
principle does not apply in southern California.
WEIROB: So the principle, “same body, same soul,” is a well-confirmed regularity, not something
you know “a priori.”
MILLER: By “a priori” you philosophers mean something which can be known without observing
what actually goes on in the world—as I can know that two plus two equals four just by thinking about
numbers, and that no bachelors are married, just by thinking about the meaning of “bachelor”?
Perry (1978) A Dialogue n Personal Identity
MILLER: Then you are right. If it was part of the meaning of “same body” that wherever we have
the same body we have the same soul, it would have to obtain universally, in Heaven as well as on earth.
But I just claim it is a generalization we know by observation on earth, and it need not automatically
extend to Heaven.
WEIROB: But where do you get this principle? It simply amounts to a correlation between being
confronted with the same body and being confronted with the same soul. To establish such a correlation
in the first place, surely one must have some other means of judging sameness of soul. You do not have
such a means; your principle is without foundation; either you really do not know the person before you
now is Gretchen Weirob, the very same person you lunched with at Dorsey’s, or what you do know has
nothing to do with sameness of some immaterial soul.
MILLER: Hold on, hold on. You know I can’t follow you when you start spitting out arguments like
that. Now what is this terrible fallacy I’m supposed to have committed?
WEIROB: I’m sorry. I get carried away. Here—by way of a peace offering—have one of the
chocolates Dave brought.
MILLER: Very tasty. Thank you.
WEIROB: Now why did you choose that one?
MILLER: Because it had a certain swirl on the top which shows that it is a caramel.
WEIROB: That is, a certain sort of swirl is correlated with a certain type of filling—the swirls with
caramel, the rosettes with orange, and so forth.
MILLER: Yes. When you put it that way, I see an analogy. Just as I judged that the filling would be
the same in this piece as in the last piece that I ate with such a swirl, so I judge that the soul with which I
am conversing is the same as the last soul versed when sitting across from that the outer wrapping and
infer what is inside.
WEIROB: But how did you come to realize that swirls of that sort and caramel insides were so
MILLER: Why, from eating a great many of them over the years. Whenever I bit into a candy with
that sort of swirl, it was filled with caramel.
WEIROB: Could you have established the correlation had you never been allowed to bite into a
candy and never seen what happened when someone else bit into one? You could have formed the
hypothesis, “same swirl, same filling.” But could you have ever established it?
MILLER: It seems not.
WEIROB: So your inference, in a particular case, to the identity of filling from the identity of swirl
would be groundless?
MILLER: Yes, it would. I think I see what is coming.
WEIROB: I’m sure you do. Since you can never, so to speak, bite into my soul, can never see or
touch it, you have no way of testing your hypothesis that sameness of body means sameness of self.
MILLER: I daresay you are right. But now I’m a bit lost. What is supposed to follow from all of
WEIROB: If, as you claim, identity of persons consisted in identity of immaterial unobservable
souls, then judgments of personal identity of the sort we make every day whenever we greet a friend or
avoid a pest are really judgments about such souls.
Perry (1978) A Dialogue on Personal Identity?
MILLER: Right.
WEIROB: But if such judgments were really about souls, they would all be groundless and without
foundation. For we have no direct method of observing sameness of soul, and so—and this is the point
made by the candy example—we can have no indirect method either.
MILLER: That seems fair.
WEIROB: But our judgments about persons are not all simply groundless and silly, so we must not
be judging of immaterial souls after all.
MILLER: Your reasoning has some force. But I suspect the problem lies in my defense of my
position, and not the position itself. Look here—there is a way to test the hypothesis of a correlation
after all. When I entered the room, I expected you to react just as you did—argumentatively and
skeptically. Had the person with this body reacted completely differently perhaps I would have been
forced to conclude it was not you. For example, had she complained about n …
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