The Continuity of the Self. Many philosophers are unsatisfied with memory as the sole means to psychological continuity. In the movie 50 First Dates, the main character, Henry Roth, tries to remind Lucy, a girl with a severe mental handicap, of their lov

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Timothy Lau                Core Theme: What is a Human Being?

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50 First Dates

In 50 First Dates, Adam Sandler plays the part of Henry Roth, a womanizer who has fallen in love with Lucy.  Lucy (Drew Barrymore) was injured in a car crash and loses her short-term memory every time she falls asleep.  When she awakens, she can remember nothing since the day of her accident.  Henry pursues Lucy’s affection and takes on the challenge of making her fall in love with him again every day.  In one scene, Henry and Lucy are snuggling in bed, face to face, at the end of a romantic evening.  Henry asks, “Will you marry me?”  Lucy says, “Of course.”  The two fall asleep.  When Lucy awakes, still face to face with Henry, she screams, pelts Henry with various objects and ultimately knocks him out with a Lacrosse stick.  In a second scene, Henry has turned back from a long-planned trip to Alaska and come to the mental hospital where Lucy is living and teaching art.  Lucy still has no memory of Henry, but she takes him into her studio and shows him painting after painting she has made of him.  “I don’t know who you are, but I dream of you every night,” she tells him.  

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The Continuity of Self

        Philosophers have long debated how humans remain the same from day to day. Are we, both physically and psychologically, the same people we were yesterday? In my opinion, continuity of the self requires that the physical self communicates and works in tandem with the psychological self.

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Physical continuity lies within the brain, the main central processing unit of our entire being. Our body can be compared to the Ship of Theseus. Over time, the entire ship was replaced with new parts. Likewise, our body is regenerated and renewed over an extended period of time. Are we then, the same physical person we were 15 years ago? After intensive studies done by neurologist Jonas Frisén, the scientific community has confirmed that “the cerebral cortex and visual cortex of the brain have been confirmed to be as old as we are”; therefore, physical continuity of the self lies ...

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