So here is your story: you are fairly unhappy with your life and who you are at present. You have always thought yourself to be a bit too tall and lanky, a little lacking on physical endurance, and much too emotionally sensitive. You feel that you have a few intellectual shortcomings as well, and would love to have a mastery of quantum mechanics, or even elementary physics. Fortunately for you, there is a procedure available which can painlessly turn you into the person who you have always wanted to be. You intensely crave to become this better self, and the only (and quite minimal) problem is that by transforming into this new and improved version of you, you will, in fact, lose your identity. Without fleshing out this example much further or clarifying what precisely is encompassed within the term identity, how willing are you to get this operation?
This example (which Martin presents) is meant to epitomize the fundamental question that Raymond Martin discusses within his paper Identity, Transformation and What Matters in Survival, namely, what really matters in survival, or under what conditions is what matters primarily to you in survival preserved (Martin 290)? Martin makes the claim that many of us would rather cease to exist than to continue living as we are, provided that in ceasing to exist we could become the people we have always wanted to be. In Martin's own words, we crave to fulfill our deepest selfish values more than we crave to be (Martin 301).
[...] While Martin argues that in the second scenario Eve still retains all of her brain psychology (being that the two halves will be transplanted, and two resulting people will think they are her) and both halves of her brain, choosing the second option would be giving up all hope of life after surgery and yielding to the fact that the survival statistics for the first procedure are simply too low, and I find it obvious that Eve should choose the first procedure if she wishes to have any chance for survival. [...]
[...] This is my solution to the dilemma, and I find it sufficient to carrying my intuitions along with my argument that identity is what matters in survival. Throughout this paper I have argued that in giving up our identity, we lose all that is important to us in survival. Even if given the opportunity to fulfill our most selfish desire to become a person we have always wanted to be, we would refrain from doing so if we were made aware our identity would be lost. [...]
[...] I defend the view that identity is in fact what matters most in survival and no one with the will to live would be willing to give up personal identity, regardless of all other benefits. As you see, I specified that I am referring to those with the will to live. This is because a transformation of identity is not better than death, it is death. If someone is so unhappy with their life that they are at the point of suicide, then I can understand their desire for this operation. [...]
[...] Where Martin and I begin to disagree is in considering a third situation in which we choose nonexistence on our own accord promote selfish ends (Martin The question remains: is there a situation where you would voluntarily choose not to preserve your own identity? Martin believes that there is. If we were given the opportunity to change into the kind of person we have always wanted to be (as in the procedure introduced in the first paragraph), Martin feels that we would choose to take advantage of that opportunity, and would even “prefer to give up our identities to obtain other benefits than retain our identities and lose those benefits (Martin I believe these people are mistaken (and this is a flawed premis). [...]
[...] If this seems at all plausible or intuitive to you in this hypothetical situation, then you must agree that preserving your identity is what matters in survival. Martin starts by looking at two conditions under which most people would rather cease to exist. The first is in the case of a life full of severe pain. I agree with Martin in this case and I believe that few would argue. In a situation where your life is consumed by continuous suffering, most would wish to cease to exist, and understandably so. [...]
using our reader.