Faculty Advisor

Tiehen, Justin

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2012


The focus of my summer research was a philosophical investigation of the concept of selfhood incorporating an emphasis on the physical realities of the brain, in particular bi-hemispheric communication between the right and left hemispheres via the neural pathway known as the Corpus Callosum.

Working within the theoretical framework of Derek Parfit the present research explored the question of selfhood by maintaining a focus on the unity of consciousness we all associate with the singular nature of the self. The theory of conscious unity--or the idea that at any one time all our phenomenal experiences are unified by the fact that there is a single subject of experience—has been contested by the emergence of certain neuropsychological discoveries concerning communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Specifically, laboratory experiments conducted on brain bisected patients (individuals who had their Corpus Callosum severed) yielded interesting results which have led some theorists to speak of a “duality of consciousness.” The present research focused on these findings and their implications for personal identity and concluded that what was revealed by these experiments was not a duality of consciousness, but rather that the existence of a persistent unified self a falsehood.


University of Puget Sound