• Jack Cummins
    60
    I often wonder about the idea of 'self' and how it stands in relation to philosophy. Today, I was reading David Hume's suggestion that, There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self. The idea of self is central to ideas of authenticity of identity, but what is self exactly?The idea may be seen as underlying questions arising in body and mind, as well as in connection with the question of self and others. But, what is 'self' exactly? Does it exist in it's own right, or as a construct? Even if we only see it as a construct, most of us do feel a sense of self, and how do we make sense of this at all in a way which is useful and meaningful for us in life?

  • tim wood
    8
    What do you make of it all?
  • DingoJones
    6


    You can lose your sense of self, and in so doing you will learn more about what the self is. Many who experience this loss of self refer ever after to the self as an illusion.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I do believe that the idea of self is one which we use in most aspects of our daily lives, but, at the same time, I can see that is a rather vague and abstract concept.
  • skyblack
    1
    Why fuss over the self? After all it's just the self. smile
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I think that the idea of loss of self is extremely interesting because it involves thinking beyond the most usual boundaries, and, of opening up to the idea of going beyond. There is a danger of fragmentation, in which identity may collapse detrimental, but, also, a possibility of opening up to aspects of experience which offer new possibilities.
  • NOS4A2
    2


    It’s as easy as looking in the mirror, so it’s strange that such an idea is fraught with mystery. A regular old ID card will say more about the self than any philosopher.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    You may say what's the fuss about, but I would be interested to know how you see the idea of the self. It may be seen as a psychological idea, but it does figure as an aspect of philosophy too.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    But, surely, a regular ID card will only be about identifying the basics, such as name, and date of birth and, and has little to do with identity and the philosophical aspects of identity.
  • skyblack
    1


    You may say what's the fuss about, but I would be interested to know how you see the idea of the self. It may be seen as a psychological idea, but it does figure as an aspect of philosophy too.Jack Cummins

    I am sure you do. smile

    What are you? What am i? What are people? Is that the question? Aren't we our violence, our envy, jealousy, pettiness, vanity, arrogance etc.? Or do you think there is a self that's not part of all that?
  • tim wood
    8
    I recommend care with the language. To say that the concepts are vague and abstract (if in fact they are and how much they are) is altogether different from saying that what the concepts are about is vague and abstract. Confusing the two is just the start of a tangle that can be difficult to undo.

    As well, do you in most aspects of your daily life use the idea of self? What even does that mean? On the one hand it could imply that your self is something that the something not-a-self that is you puts on and uses in most aspects of your - its? - daily life. What about other aspects? And do people "aspect" their lives? I think most people most of the time live and do uncritically.

    And on the other, that your self is somehow not itself a thing that lives, but rather, perhaps, deploys. So, gather your thoughts, think them through as best you can, and try for some nice simple categorical sentences which just might make the actual sense that you're aspiring to but not quite achieving.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I think that the question 'who am I?' is indeed central to psychology and philosophy, but I do believe that it can be asked on many levels. It may appear to be a superficial question of identity, but I also believe that it goes much deeper. It involves questions about ego identity, and what lies behind the surface. How do we differentiate ourselves as individuals?
  • skyblack
    1
    I think that the question 'who am I?' is indeed central to psychology and philosophy, but I do believe that it can be asked on many levels. It may appear to be a superficial question of identity, but I also believe that it goes much deeper. It involves questions about ego identity, and what lies behind the surface. How do we differentiate ourselves as individuals?Jack Cummins

    It does go much deeper. I was teasing.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    I think that the idea of loss of self is extremely interesting because it involves thinking beyond the most usual boundaries, and, of opening up to the idea of going beyond.Jack Cummins

    There's also the loss of self suffered by some schizophrenics who cease to be able to differentiate between internal and external events. This is accompanied by a defect in the posterior cingulate cortex, one of several parts of the brain thought to be responsible for our sense of self.

    Another is the anterior cingulate cortex which is responsible for evaluating social processes. I think this is a big clue about what the self really is. Shallowly, it is the object of self-reflection and self-awareness: not the differentiation between you and your environment but your awareness of this differentiation, of your distinctness which allows you to be an object of your own subjective appraisals.

    But deep down I think it's probably a feature of social behaviour, related to the theory of mind and empathy: an ability to empathise with (real or hypothetical) others' (real or hypothetical) evaluations of us. There's an element of mind-reading with scattershot effectiveness in social interactions in humans... What you see when you read the mind of another but they're thinking about *you* is self.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Every cell in your body, every cell with a membrane that has ever been, seeks out nutrients to metabolize (eat) everywhere it can except where it can't: that's the self.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I do agree with you, and, really, I am just trying to think about the way in which self is not simply an aspect of psychology, but a philosophy construct as well. It is involved in philosophy discussions about identity and lies behind many other aspects of discussion. So, I am really raising it as an area for thinking about in connection with philosophical ideas about being a person, including the dichotomy of body and mind.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I think that you are most probably right and that self is most probably encoded in each cell, because I am certainly not trying to argue that self is an elusive concept. However, I do believe that some thinkers have seen it in that way in the past, but may be getting to the point where self is not seen in connection with a dualistic model. But, even now, it may still be seen in that framework if the self is seen purely in biological terms.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    I think that the question 'who am I?' is indeed central to psychology and philosophy ...Jack Cummins
    I'm with the ancient Vedas and Buddhist dharma on this question – it's largely pointless. 'Thou art that' and 'anatman', respectively. Rather: what are we that we can ask "who am I"? According to Spinoza, what we are (as a sentient species) is 'a finite mode sub specie durationis in bondage to our passive affects and imagination (i.e. the lowest kind of knowledge)'.

    Check out Antonio Damasio's Looking for Spinoza (re: the core self) or, alternatively, Thomas Mezinger's The Ego-Tunnel (re: phenomenal self model) for the contemporary neuropsychology of "self". And perhaps my sketch of the ethical implications of a 'non-identity tensed self' (scroll down) you'll find of interest as well (caveat: I'm still untangling the knots in this one).

    How do we differentiate ourselves as individuals?
    Long before we superficially attempt various ways to do so, simply being embodied at an unique point in spacetime relative to all other bodies deeply individuates each of us.

    Read again what I actually wrote, Jack. "Self" is not encoded, it is the cell itself that is solely excluded from itself as a nutrients resource (food).
  • K Turner
    1
    Every cell in your body, every cell with a membrane that has ever been, seeks out nutrients to metabolize (eat) everywhere it can except where it can't: that's the self.180 Proof

    :100:

    "Look inward" or "look to the self" is largely meaningless drivel pumped out by right-wing figureheads like Jordan Peterson as a way to distract from the pervasive systemic oppression and injustice all around us and preserve the status quo.
  • Joshs
    21
    It’s as easy as looking in the mirror, so it’s strange that such an idea is fraught with mystery. A regular old ID card will say more about the self than any philosopher.NOS4A2

    Ever notice how that image in the mirror is constantly changing? How that id card photo never quite captures what you or others think you look like ? How you dig up old writing of your and hardly recognize the person who wrote them ? Sounds like there’s a mystery there somewhere.
  • tim wood
    8
    I do agree with you, and, really, I am just trying to think about the way in which self is not simply an aspect of psychology, but a philosophy construct as well.Jack Cummins

    This is maps and territory stuff. The self is not simply an aspect of anything. The implication is that psychology knows, and philosophy knows, and the dangers of those two confusions are manifest and historic. Let's try this. what do you say a self is?
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I think that 'self' in schizophrenia is extremely interesting, including Laing's idea of the divided self. It points to the way in which self hinges on a fabric of social meanings and we are subjects. The sense of self and cohesion may be torn asunder by conflicting messages, especially those in socialisation and families.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I have already said that I am not trying to come up with a clear psychology definition. I am raising the idea of self for philosophical consideration for anyone who is interested.
  • tim wood
    8
    My bad. I thought the subject was the self.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I am glad that you have raised the issue of the Buddhist notion of self, because it was in the back of my mind when I wrote this thread question.

    I am about to log out for tonight as its really late, and unsure how important my question is as a philosophical issue, worthy of fuller consideration. But, I will look at any further replies in the morning.
  • Corvus
    7
    One's idea of self identity largely comes from memory. I would imagine, without memory, there would be no self identity per se. From epistemological and phenomenological point of view, the present consciousness, perception of one's own body with all the sense perceptions and emotions combined with one's past memory constitutes one's self identity.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I am just about to log out, but I just looked at your comment and I am wondering about the question of memory and identity. I think that it is an important part of identity, but I think that it goes beyond this, especially in the philosophical basis rather than psychological aspects of identity. I think that we define ourselves as human individuals on the basis of past history, but who we are in terms of ego identity and connection with reality is far more complex.
  • Cheshire
    12
    It's a vehicle of continuity that makes complex relationships possible in general. I believe a member here used to say "You are to yourself what you think and you are to others what you do"; it's the most uncomplicated answer I know. Credit CreativeSoul I think.
  • Apollodorus
    11


    Is it really an "idea" though? I'd say that in most cases it is more like a sense, feeling, or experience.

    Of course, the "self" can be conceptualized and philosophized about but it is the experience of identity, of what we are and what belongs to us, that is at the bottom of it.
  • DingoJones
    6
    I think that the idea of loss of self is extremely interesting because it involves thinking beyond the most usual boundaries, and, of opening up to the idea of going beyond. There is a danger of fragmentation, in which identity may collapse detrimental, but, also, a possibility of opening up to aspects of experience which offer new possibilities.Jack Cummins

    I wouldn't describe it as beyond usual boundaries so much as a liberation. The self is no a longer burden.
    Actually looking at that written out i think I mean the same thing you do. Lol
    What danger of identity collapse do you mean? Is it collapse or change? How fo you tell the difference?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.