He(/she) isn’t the same person I fell in love with.
July 21, 2019
Whenever I have heard that someone fell in love, I have always had great respect for them. I can never imagine myself “falling in love”. It is unexplainable, isn’t it? One person loves another person for the reason no one can explain. But that’s what makes it interesting. If one can say the reason such as “I like your eyes and hence I love you” or “you are great in bed and that’s why I love you” or even “you are kind and sweet and hence I love you”, it is no longer that crazy love. In these cases, the first person simply likes particular characteristics of the second person and that is not love anymore.
This so-called love, for me at least, gives a simple way to approach the definition of Personal Identity. This lens of love helps me avoid the fallacy of composition easily. When someone is falling in love with another person, they are not doing so because of their attraction towards a temporal or spacial part of the second person. But I shouldn’t get into these details and irk the four dimensionalists, but the point is that when someone falls in love, it is not because of the characteristics of the spacial and temporal parts the lovable person is made up of, but because of the characteristics of that person itself.
That raises the question of whether compositionality is Identity. For any object that is made up of many different parts, we can ponder: What is the relationship between something/someone and the parts they are made up of? Is the whole composition just its parts taken together? Or is it more than just those parts arranged in a particular order?
Am I something more than the parts that I am composed of? If so, how can I avoid double counting?
My cells die regularly and get replaced by new ones. So Am I not the same person I was a few years ago? So can I be held accountable if one of my temporal part commits a crime? What if someone from an advanced civilization takes the cells out of my body one by one and preserves them and allow new cells to be grown in me; then when that man from advanced civilization has all the cells that were once in my body, he assembles them to make a creature identical to me. Will that newly formed creature have the same rights to my personal identity as me? Will that creature and I be identical? Thankfully Leibniz’ Law puts a break on this trip for me.
I am not a philosopher to pursue these questions and find an answer to these metaphysical questions; But on a very superficial level, I can understand that physical (bodily) continuity is not necessary for personal identity. I am just a pleb and for me, a person is someone with certain understanding about himself, has a point of view on the universe, has desires, have a history of his past in the form of memory. But more importantly, he has tendencies towards certain kinds of actions or responses to his environment and other personal identities(people). So a person can make decisions, which are often moral and rational, and can be held accountable for his actions. But how can I define one’s personal identity? It is impossible or at least very hard to define all these characteristics of a person, even from the first-person point of view. I do not how completely about my tendencies; no one does. All I know is how I have acted in the past and other memories. These memories are unique to me and only I remember these. So can someone try to define a person based on their memories? I can only remember my own past experiences. So sounds sensible that there must also be a persisting self whose life is traced through memory! But this does have certain problems. If Aaa had fallen in love with Bbb five years ago, though that Bbb’s self would have persisted through these last five years, Bbb current has the memory of additional 5 years that the person on whom Aaa fell in love with didn’t have. This likening of personal identity to memory also has other problems, such as that I do not have the memory of experiences during infancy or when I was drunk or high. So if my memory is me, I should be capable of identifying all my memories. But I can’t. So wasn’t that me when I was high or when I was an infant? Anyway, I am too high to get into the details. This is where this beautiful concept worked on by too many old men who had too much time on their hands come in handy - Psychological continuity.
So if we were to accept this psychological continuity or connectedness, one cannot say that the memory of their past defines a person. Now the memory becomes as just one of the forms of psychological continuity among others, but it is that psychological connectedness over time that makes the person. Given that, a person can never change.
So I had to break it to you my dear friend, but your lover didn’t change. People never change. He/she is still the same personal identity they were. You didn’t change either. So that means, either you fell in love with a wrong person, i.e., you loved someone without knowing them properly or you had just hit a rough patch. So please don’t say that they aren’t the same person whom you fell in love with and they have changed.
And I’ll end with a lame quote which I completely believe and follow: “If you love someone, set them free.” If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were.
Edit: Protip: Never watch a rom-com when you are high. They are all so fucking stupid and will send you on a very bad trip.