• Pop
    1.5k
    I must admit, you do ask good questions. You ask the pertinent questions :up:

    The self is information about the way information has organized itself. It is an ongoing process of information integration and accumulation and rationalization. As new information is integrated, some old information is discarded, in an evolutionary manner.
  • skyblack
    315
    @Jack Cummins

    People/the serious, who have asked such questions are known for the price they have paid to find out. They are known to give up the crutches of security and comfort, that we can't seem to live without. Questions like these surely require more than a superficial curiosity. Not the cup o tea of washed up, burdened, corrupted, neurotic, reactionary minds ( not pointing to you, but to whom the shoe fits). These things can't be approached by medicated, drugged/alcohol, sloppy, idle people with food dripping on their shirts, while they are sitting on a recliner watching TV, as an exmaple.
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    I'm with the ancient Vedas and Buddhist dharma on this question – it's largely pointless180 Proof

    Not at all pointless, but easily misconstrued. The seminal Buddhist sutta on the nature of self:

    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"

    When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

    "Then is there no self?"

    A second time, the Blessed One was silent.

    Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

    Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?"

    "Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

    "No, lord."

    "And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'

    In the early Buddhist texts, 'Vachagotta' was the figure who posed metaphysical questions - does the self continue to exist after death, and so on. So the Buddha's refusal to answer amounts to a refusal to engage in speculation on such questions, in keeping with his 'no-metaphysics' approach. Vachagotta appears in various dialogues as the archetypal 'philosopher', full of puzzling questions, but eventually converts.

    'Is there a self' - leads to 'eternalism', the idea that there is an unchanging immortal self. In a culture that accepted re-birth, this manifest as the belief that one can continue to be reborn indefinitely in propitious circumstances. This is identified as the view of the Vedic tradition.

    'Is there not a self' - leads to nihilism - the belief that there is nothing beyond death. Many people in WEIRD cultures (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic) tend towards this view.

    'In keeping with the knowledge that all phenomena are not-self' - all phenomena, everything that can be experienced through the six sense gates, is devoid of self. Here, 'self' is conceived of as an inherent principle of existence, something that is self-existent or inherently real. Nothing in experience has that characteristic, hence, everything is 'anatta', without self. But it's important to re-state that this is not a nihilist point of view, that nothing is real, as suffering is indubitably real.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    In other words, pointless. :sweat:
  • Wayfarer
    13.8k
    Not 'other' words, 180. Your words.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    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?Jack Cummins

    I think self-deception is a significant issue for human beings. People hold views of themselves that are far from accurate or useful. A sense of self is generally constructed from dubious source material.
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    Good question Jack Cummins, truth-seeker.

    I have a very simple theory (@Banno won't be happy) about the self. It appears that the self is, inter alia, a relation.

    I mulled over who TheMadFool is. Well, I've been given a name, TheMadFool. I'm aslo a child of..., then I'm a parent of..., I'm also a spouse of..., I'm an employee of..., so and so forth. Then I imagined myself getting fired, no longer an employee of... i.e. a part of my self is erased. If god forbid my parents, my spouse, my children, my friends, cross over, I lose parts of my self along with them. Every relation that I build defines my self and ergo, every relation that ends for one reason on another subtracts from my self.

    However, one might claim that for a relation to exist, there must at a minimum be two objects. Barring reflexivity, yes that's correct. If so, implicit in relations is the preexistence of a self independent of the relation itself. For instance, for the relation 2 > 1, the numbers 1 and 2 must already exist i.e. the self comes before any relations whatsoever.

    Yes, correct! Nevertheless, unlike 2 and 1 in the example above, there's no difference between selves conceived thus i.e. there seems to be a generic self. As oxymoronic as that sounds it is the truth. The relations define the self - it gives the generic self its unique identity. TheMadFool is TheMadFool only based on the unique set of relations fae possesses. That's why when relations are broken - a friend, family, colleague dies, you lose your job, etc. - we get the blues, we might even experience severe melancholia, we lose a part of our self.

    The generic self needs some more explaining. Imagine your friend and you go laptop shopping together. You go to this store and both of you like the same laptop make. You buy one and fae to purchases one. Before you leave the store, you joke about exchanging laptops - both of you won't mind because the laptops are identical, there really is no reason why you shouldn't switch the laptops, fae takes yours and you take faer.

    You go home and your friend goes to his. You install Windows, photoshop, and facebook on your laptop (relations). Your friend installs Linux, instagram, and geogebra (relations). Now, both laptops are no longer the same, their generic self has been replaced by a unique self.

    I finally realized that I had been conflating the generic self with the unique self. The former isn't you because your generic self is identical to mine and everyone else's. The latter is you (your true self) and you and I aren't same, everyone is unique in their own way.

    It's a paradox really. The self, the unique self, is meaningful only as relations with the not-self. I think the sadness that accompanies loneliness, the absence of relations, indicates the unfulfilled desire of the generic self to transform into a unique self. Loneliness, on this view, is akin to death (the dissolution of all relations).

    My two bitcoins.
  • skyblack
    315


    The unique self (whatever that is) won't know "sadness". It never has and it never will. It's not possible for it to feel sad. And it's not possible for it to feel lonely. It has never recognized any "other". It's full, complete. and in prefect order unto itself. All these "feelings are of the unique self (as you call it). And this unique self isn't really that unique. Think of it as a social construct, a garbage bin of society.
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    The unique self (whatever that is) won't know "sadness". It never has and it never will. It's not possible for it to feel sad. And it's not possible for it to feel lonely. It has never recognized any "other". It's full, complete. and in prefect order unto itself. All these "feelings are of the unique self (as you call it). And this unique self isn't really that unique. Think of it as a social construct, a garbage bin of society.skyblack

    Are you saying a mother's sobs when she gets that dreaded phone call letting her know the only son she has was KIA isn't real? You're kidding right?

    As for the self being a "...social construct..." I agree insofar as relations are included in it, the best-case scenario being "...social constructs..." boil down to relations.
  • skyblack
    315
    Are you saying a mother's sobs when she gets that dreaded phone call letting her know the only son she has was KIA isn't real? You're kidding right?

    As for the self being a "...social construct..." I agree insofar as relations are included in it, the best-case scenario being "...social constructs..." boil down to relations.
    TheMadFool

    The mother's sobs are real, but they aren't the sobs of the "generic self". They are the sobs of the "unique self".

    Your agreement or disagreement doesn't mean much to me ,so feel free. But my emphasis was on the "garbage bin", not on the "social construct".
  • skyblack
    315
    As a side note, the distinction between a generic self and a unique self goes back to thousands of years, It's nothing new.

    But the point is, one cannot start one's inquiry from that premise. That would be called a bias. The existence or the lack of any generic self has to be discovered at the end of the inquiry, and has to be supported by some reasoned evidence.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.1k
    I often wonder about the idea of 'self'Jack Cummins

    The self at large is the brain's repertoire of information. Like the will, it is fluid and dynamic, it changing all the time. It is what is drawn upon subconsciously by the experiential self of the moment.

    In consciousness, there’s no distance between
    The thing observed and what is observing.
    They are, likely, one and the same, and so
    It is that we seem to have a self.

    The ‘I' of Awareness could be a basic
    Property of existence that can but observe
    The brain quale that’s currently on display,
    Being a subject mostly, not an object.
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    The mother's sobs are real, but they aren't the sobs of the "generic self". They are the sobs of the "unique self".skyblack

    Nothing seems amiss.

    Your agreement or disagreement doesn't mean much to me ,so feel free. But my emphasis was on the "garbage bin", not on the "social construct".skyblack

    Can you elaborate a bit? I didn't quite get you.
  • skyblack
    315
    Nothing seems amiss.TheMadFool

    Well something was amiss when you objected to me saying,

    "The unique self (whatever that is) won't know "sadness". It never has and it never will. It's not possible for it to feel sad. And it's not possible for it to feel lonely."

    and tried to refute it with the mother's sob example. I had to straighten that. After straightening, yes, nothing is amiss.

    Can you elaborate a bit? I didn't quite get you.TheMadFool

    It's isn't that difficult. please take a minute to read this and coiuple of realted posts on the same thread.
  • skyblack
    315


    Excuse me there was a typo in

    "The unique self (whatever that is) won't know "sadness". It never has and it never will. It's not possible for it to feel sad. And it's not possible for it to feel lonely."

    Please read "unique self" as "generic self"!
  • skyblack
    315
    Let me correct the original post from above, The correction is emboldened:

    The generic self (whatever that is) won't know "sadness". It never has and it never will. It's not possible for it to feel sad. And it's not possible for it to feel lonely. It has never recognized any "other". It's full, complete. and in prefect order unto itself. All these "feelings are of the unique self (as you call it). And this unique self isn't really that unique. Think of it as a social construct, a garbage bin of society.skyblack
  • Pop
    1.5k
    Could it be the ground of all being itself?PoeticUniverse


    :up: At the heart of a "self" is a "universal", molding information onto itself.
  • skyblack
    315
    @TheMadFool

    I wouldn't have noticed that error had you not brought it up. Thanks ;-)
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    It's isn't that difficult. please take a minute to read this and coiuple of realted posts on the same thread.skyblack

    Ah! So you think people are dumping ideas, like we dump garbage, on each other? I'm only half-convinced because the analogy seems to break down once you consider the fact that ideas & relations come in two flavors - good and bad. I can understand bad ideas & relations as items you can stick a post-it notes which read "trash can", to be disposed of at the earliest but, what about good ideas & relations? Shouldn't good ideas & relations be appreciated from the heart and kept as far away from the grabage can as possible?

    That said, I do see where you're coming from. The signal to noise ratio is so damned low that coming across a good idea or relation is going to be a once in a blue moon event. Good point!
  • skyblack
    315
    Ah! So you think people are dumping ideas, like we dump garbage, on each other? I'm only half-convinced because the analogy seems to break down once you consider the fact that ideas & relations come in two flavors - good and bad. I can understand bad ideas & relations as items you can stick a post-it notes which read "trash can", to be disposed of at the earliest but, what about good ideas & relations? Shouldn't good ideas & relations be appreciated from the heart and kept as far away from the grabage can as possible?

    That said, I do see where you're coming from. The signal to noise ratio is so damned low that coming across a good idea or relation is going to be a once in a blue moon event. Good point!
    TheMadFool

    Well. people and society dump more than ideas, surely! Keep in mind the dumpers are your parents, your peers, your relationships, your schools, your work place, your boss, your wife, your children, the people posting here, so on and so forth. Ideas are the least of our worries! What you ought to be concerned about is how conditioning gets dumped. Racial, social,, economic, religious, political, ideological, affiliations and narratives all get dumped. The average person has nothing of their own! Everything has either been dumped or borrowed. The measure of “good and bad” is done by the particular conditioning a person is conditioned by, therefore that measure has either been dumped or borrowed (which is also part of the dump).

    You are quite right about the signal to noise ration. You know what’s even funnier? The antenna that thinks it can capture and separate the signal from the noise is deluding itself. As that antenna is part of the dump. It’s a trash-y antenna, incapable of accurate measurement. However all is not lost, once in a blue moon is god enough! (no need to be greedy)
  • skyblack
    315
    Now, the sum total of all the dumpings in the trash can is the "Self " as you (and others) know it. That's the "unique self" you were mentioning earlier.
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    This is news to me. Not good news, bad news. Oh well, nobody said life was easy.

    The antenna that thinks it can capture and separate the signal from the noise is deluding itselfskyblack

    I have similar thoughts about what Socrates said,

    The unexamined life is not worth living. — Socrates

    I would love to examine myself but that would be futile because any bias I have will find its way into my self-report, effectively making the endeavor pointless. It would be like checking the accuracy of my watch with my watch - circulus in probando. To judge my judgment I have to believe in my judgment but that's precisely what I'm judging. By the way, what about rationality? Doesn't rationality improve the situation because even if it doesn't get to the truth, it seems capable of identifying bad ideas. That's an improvement, no?

    As you will have already noticed, I didn't get to the point when one realizes that all my thoughts are actually not "original" (more on this below), just copies of preexisting memes that were/are circulating in the global community. Thus, it can be said, my unique self is but a collection of snippets of other people, unique yes but something to be proud about, no!

    Just out of curiosity, how does your theory deal with originality - something that can be called one's own? If I have an oirignal idea, something no one's ever thought before, is it also garbage? Can't be because it wasn't "dumped" on me. Being one of a kind in this manner does seem to weaken your position because you could be a pioneer/pathfinder/trailblazer/founder and establish your unique self without rummaging through the trash other people have dumped on you. My hunch is that's why there's literally a mad scramble to be first in all manner of human activities. It gives the generic self good reason(s) to claim a unique self that's not simply a relation to an other. I'm not certain about this though, at least not as much as I'd like to be.
  • skyblack
    315
    ↪skyblackThis is news to me. Not good news, bad news. Oh well, nobody said life was easy.

    The antenna that thinks it can capture and separate the signal from the noise is deluding itself
    — skyblack

    I have similar thoughts about what Socrates said,

    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    — Socrates

    I would love to examine myself but that would be futile because any bias I have will find its way into my self-report, effectively making the endeavor pointless. It would be like checking the accuracy of my watch with my watch - circulus in probando. To judge my judgment I have to believe in my judgment but that's precisely what I'm judging. By the way, what about rationality? Doesn't rationality improve the situation because even if it doesn't get to the truth, it seems capable of identifying bad ideas. That's an improvement, no?

    As you will have already noticed, I didn't get to the point when one realizes that all my thoughts are actually not "original" (more on this below), just copies of preexisting memes that were/are circulating in the global community. Thus, it can be said, my unique self is but a collection of snippets of other people, unique yes but something to be proud about, no!

    Just out of curiosity, how does your theory deal with originality - something that can be called one's own? If I have an oirignal idea, something no one's ever thought before, is it also garbage? Can't be because it wasn't "dumped" on me. Being one of a kind in this manner does seem to weaken your position because you could be a pioneer/pathfinder/trailblazer/founder and establish your unique self without rummaging through the trash other people have dumped on you. My hunch is that's why there's literally a mad scramble to be first in all manner of human activities. It gives the generic self good reason(s) to claim a unique self that's not simply a relation to an other. I'm not certain about this though, at least not as much as I'd like to be.
    TheMadFool

    Your thoughts about Socrates may not be accurate. Upon closer look you may find Socrate's call is to examine, unlike the antenna that thinks it knows. The former centers on a healthy inquiry,
    and the the latter in a delusion of knowing.

    Regarding your own examination of yourself: Then one has to examine what right examination means. Not give up on account of faulty reasoning or an aversion to accountability. .
  • TheMadFool
    12.7k
    Your thoughts about Socrates may not be accurate. Upon closer look you may find Socrate's call is to examine, unlike the antenna that thinks it knows. The former centers on a healthy inquiry,
    and the the latter in a delusion of knowing.

    Regarding your own examination of yourself: Then one has to examine what right examination means. Not give up on account of faulty reasoning or an aversion to accountability. .
    skyblack

    Copy that!

    The Socratic call for self-examination serves a two-fold purpose then:


    1. Make us aware of the problem - people are dumping stuff on us

    2. Rationality is recommended to separate the wheat from the chaff

    Becoming aware of a problem is the very first step towards a solution. Now that you've unplugged me too from The Matrix as it were, I at the very least have a choice on what kinda "garbage" I want to accept or reject. Come to think of it, actual garbage cans and dumpsites are very selective when it comes what we can put into them: Dry, Wet, Biohazard, Chemical, Plastic, Metal, Paper, Nuclear, so on. Interesting!
  • skyblack
    315
    Copy that!

    The Socratic call for self-examination serves a two-fold purpose then:


    1. Make us aware of the problem - people are dumping stuff on us

    2. Rationality is recommended to separate the wheat from the chaff

    Becoming aware of a problem is the very first step towards a solution. Now that you've unplugged me too from The Matrix as it were, I at the very least have a choice on what kinda "garbage" I want to accept or reject. Come to think of it, actual garbage cans and dumpsites are very selective when it comes what we can put into them: Dry, Wet, Biohazard, Chemical, Plastic, Metal, Paper, Nuclear, so on. Interesting!
    TheMadFool

    That's easy. Any choice from the trashcan/garbage will simply be more trash. This is rather simple logic isn't it. A choice born of trash can only be a trash-y choice. So it's better to throw that choice back into the trash can.
  • skyblack
    315
    That being said, will be seeing ya around.Nice chatting.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I agree with you that it is experience itself which is at the core of the self. It is as if we are able to step back from memories, and social relationships, and become aware of a cohesive centre within. This centre remains with us throughout life, as the underlying basis of identity and ability to sift shift information and experience wishes and make choices.
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