Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a condition in which an individual has the experience of being more than one distinct person. As with all the concepts and theories we use to explain reality, anomalies in the experience of what we define as a self challenge such definitions. Advances in understanding often arise from unexpected quarters, so to close off any such quarter would be to willfully limit our understanding
All the writers I look at accept the existence of MPD, but each has a different conception of its causes. Each draw different conclusions about the self based on their interpretation of MPD or, in Hacking’s case, rule out meaningfully connecting MPD with our beliefs about the self.
Dennett and Humphries see the formation of MPD as illustrative of his philosophy of mind. This explains the self as ‘fictitious’, (clarify Dickhead’s theory here) but real enough to be in charge of the various sub-systems that give us our experience of self.
As usual with Dennett, he has a bet each way. The experience of self is not demonstrable but seems nevertheless to be acceptably inferred by the overall expression of an organism. We each have a network of sub-systems which somehow add up to an experience of self. Although he doesn’t try to define this self as it actually exists in our heads, in our lives, we are told that it exists like the US President exists. However closely this might ‘fit’ with our lived experience, Dennett’s explanation does nothing to explain any scientific truth of MPD. As Hacking would assert, this disqualifies Dennett’s explanation of MPD as evidence for any particular notion of self. Again, we have simply a happy, reasonable coincidence between an experience – MPD, an explanation - the self splintering under pressure, and a norm - the self.
As much as he’d like it to, Dennett’s claim that the self is fictive does nothing to make his explanation of MPD any more plausible, nor his use of MPD to explain the self more philosophically viable. Dennett simply fails to cover the gaps between his theories and the terms he relies on for them to hold.
Hacking’s crit of this plus looping
Flanagan’s theory of the multiplex
Finish with Dom and the metaphysical, the fact that science does give us our understanding of the ‘real’ physical world and gives us our only model for connecting and correlating our perceptions/knowledge ie. The problem with loping effect is that it presumes that we only exist in concepts/words and can’t ever connect our theories to any objective world. Even if it is impossible for our mind to understand and express the objective world, it seems absurd to ignore the territory we mark out between subjective fantasy and scientific fact. No matter how “constructed” such theories are, no matter how interactive is the human ‘kind’, the notion of a real physical world is an essential construct in what we call ‘reality’.
I think Hacking’s conception of the looping effect...