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"First Person"

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Elizabeth Anscombe focuses on the use of “I” in relation to grammar and semantics. She correctly remarks that the use of “I” as reference to self is an affirmation of existence of the self. I also think that it is agreeable when she comments that use of the term “I” shows that the user of the term realizes that he/ she is referring to self. This is in no way a trivial matter because recognizing that I am me and not another is an important aspect of self awareness. It is obviously very important for me to realize that I am me not only for the sake of communication but also to prevent misidentification (Beards, 45).

The ability of a person to realize that I am me allows us to attach names to ourselves. If my name is Thomas Aquinas and the name Thomas Aquinas is called out, I have the capacity to realize that the person calling out Thomas Aquinas is referring to me and I will respond to that name and not just any other name being called out. If I we were all to suffer from amnesia whereby we all forgot our identities then there is no denying that it would be pandemonium as nobody would know who is being referred to. The importance of realizing that I am me can therefore not be trivialized. Elizabeth gives the example of the Bishop mistaking the lady’s knee to be his but can the Bishop mistake himself to be the lady? Only if, I guess, he had gone bananas.

There are some exceptions to this rule whereby a person may refer to himself or herself to whom he or she is actually not. For example a person may refer to a reflection in the mirror as being self (Beards, 45).. A person may look into a mirror and remark that “I have blemishes on my skin” or that “I am dark” whereas it is the mirror which has a problem in that it may be dirty or be dark. In such a case the person has incompetently used I to refer to the reflection in the mirror. Am I the reflection being made by the mirror, a reflection that might even be flawed? Certainly not, I am not a reflection, the image on the mirror is a reflection of me but I am not the reflection. Another scenario in with a similar occurrence is in photography (Beards, 45).. More often than not people have the habit of commenting, “Oh my goodness is that so and so” when they see a photo of the “so and so”. It is a photo of “so and so” but it is not “so and so” as “so and so” is likely to be elsewhere attending to his business and not in that photo.

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