I watched the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Jim Carrey, and was asked:

Do you think think erasing another from one's memory, as in the film, is a form of erasing oneself? Answer this question in relation to the theories of the self of Philosophers Aristotle and Charles Taylor.

I can answer the question about morals and whatnot, but I'm not sure of the views by Aristotle and Charles Taylor, I tried to google it but I still don't understand. Could someone please give me a brief understanding of their views on the self?

  • Thank you @Keelan! Do you possibly, have any idea's regarding to the OP? – Jcrow Oct 25 '15 at 20:55
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    I'm sorry. I should, because I have Taylor's Sources of the Self on my shelf here, but it's all a bit dusty. What the question is hinting at is this: some philosophers define identity in terms of what others think/say about you; while others see it as an intrinsic something. It is related to the question, "Do I have an identity if I wouldn't interact with other human beings?". If our identity is dependent of others, erasing another from your memory is in a sense erasing yourself. If you can have an identity without others, it doesn't need to be. But my Taylor/Aristotle is a little rusty. – user2953 Oct 25 '15 at 21:36

I'm going to answer this under the assumption that it's a type of homework, so I'm just going to sketch the direction of each's understanding of the self rather than give a complete answer.

Aristotle's account of selfhood is largely built on his idea of substance. In the case of a human being we are a rational animal. This means that we are matter formed human-wise. Formation human-wise means that we have certain faculties such as reason (human), motion and perception (shared with other animals), ingestion, growth, and reproduction (shared with other life). Consequently, memory plays at best a minor part in our constitution.

Charles Taylor is what we might call a post-Hegelian Aristotelian. In his philosophy, he often spends a great deal of time tracing out the movement in history from one idea to another, generally due to an inadequacy in that idea (this method follows Hegel's philosophy of history in some respects). The crucial point here is that for Charles Taylor, identity is part of the story we tell about ourselves, a view often called Narrative selfhood. Consequently, memory will play an important role insofar as it's hard to have a consistent story about yourself when you have no history.

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