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Is the self an illusion?

I don't mean from a hippy-dippy-trippy spiritualism perspective. I mean, from a cognitive neuroscience perspective: what is a self? I don't think we can find a part of the brain that's responsible for it, so it must be a construct, indistinguishable from self-concept. Moreover, Kahneman's work suggests that there are multiple "selves" with different agendas. If so, what does that imply about identity, agency, responsibility, etc.?

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ejbman 7 May 22

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5

I’m taking the Groucho view on this: “I don’t believe much in reality but it’s still the best place to get a good meal.”

4

If you mean some independent and autonomous entity, capable of existing in and by itself, apart from the brain, then, no. In fact, though we say "I" "have" a brain, the correct expression would be "I", "am" a brain. When the brain dies, the person, the "self", dies.

4

I believe that human beings are arrogant to believe they are somehow superior to any other creature. If we believe in 'self' we may as well believe in a soul. We are a lump of jangled atoms, genetics, hormones and neurotransmitters.

the same awareness that flows thru us flows thru them also. it's just they don't have the same tools we do to communicate and feel.

@kauva Use the Force, Luke! What hogwash

@jwd45244 they called gravity hogwash as well until it could be explained.

@kauva No, they did not. They did not understand that it was a effect of two masses attracting each other. However, the observed the effects of gravity all day every day. Your hogwash is unobserved undetectable and plain silly.

3

The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain known for consciousness. If everything else was stripped away, limbs, muscles, if organs in the torso could be, other areas of the head, and then other areas of the brain, that would be last. You could debate that memories are a part of your identity therefore need to be included which theoretically could include the entire rest of the brain as some thoughts suggest that memory comes from a refiring of the neurons originally fired when the initial event being remembered occurred. So the entire brain would be second to last, and the cerebral cortex would be last. Many people would probably suffer a significant mental break having no body while some may be able to recover fully if everything else was reintroduced into a new biological or mechanical body.

The idea of self is a concept that changes, but a person does not lose their self when they lose a limb. Their idea of themselves may be significantly altered but they still have a sense of self. When you are deep in a dream there is no required interaction with the rest of your body to have a sense of self, only your thoughts.

It is not indistinguishable from the brain however, not a construct but a set of code that lives inside the brain. Your brain is a biological non-networked computer, your body is what it controls. You have processing power (single core), maximum memory, recall speed, download speed, and bandwidth. There is no mysticism behind it, just a set of rules that we know and understand, but not how it fully works in biology.

The computer analogy only goes so far. And I take issue with "non-networked". I mean, we're currently networking here. Also, as far as non-wetware hardware analogies, you may be more interested in memristors: [spectrum.ieee.org]

If you believe consciousness exists as a wave of neurons firing (as I do), then the self is what you get when you have enough of them working together to reach some threshold of self-organization where they’re able to operate independently and interdependently. This, I think, is what we’re expecting to happen in a few years when massive computer networks cross that boundary — the great singularity. Or maybe it’s all just a really good simulation?

3

Consciousness = self.
.
Think it's all an illusion ?
Hit your hand with a hammer as hard as you can....
....tell us about it.

That’s fine, but it still leaves the same question: what is one’s consciousness?

Exactly what you're experiencing.

@Slappy_Longarms So it's an awareness of what's happening to the body - pain, hunger etc. Its gets the info from the physiology of the body, I guess. The other awarenesses, the emotions, register in the brain through what connections (thinking out loud)? And thinking ability, calculating and imaging different outcomes for choices we make, where does the data come from and how is it processed? I think the physical data is transmitted along physical connections in the body so I think of that as akin to ethernet. I think of the other functions as transmitted in a manner similar to wi-fi because of the lack of 'cables'.

3

Bill Self? Well, HE is real but his hair is an illusion. It's a bad toupee.

Ha ha ha!

2

I really really enjoy this topic. It's the most advanced subject I've worked up to in philosophy following from understanding determinism, materialism, and several other big philosophies pertaining to the philosophy of mind. Personally, this vote was the closest to my own conclusion regarding the self, but I wouldn't say it's exactly non-existent or illusory. If we define the self as: "a person's essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action"(thanks google) I'd say it exists, however, only as an emergent property of many other important aspects of our anatomy and not an essential or fundamental component of anything. I'd say this "self" is comprised of all the experiences, genetic makeup, and environment which is associated with an individual agent. It is their chemistry. Their memories. Their state of being.

I'd recommend reading John Perry's work on personal identity. This field of philosophy is one I wish to offer my own work to sometime in the future. Especially as neuroscience and neurophilosophy continue to boom and make astonishing breakthroughs. Such fundamental and ancient questions are sure to be answered in time soon to come.

Edit: Forgot to mention that the reason why I mentioned those things as components of the self is because if any of those features are changed, or absent, then the self (as defined by google [trying to establish a defintition to avoid semantic games and confusion]) changes or ceases to exist.

Edit 2: "This vote" = 2nd option

Imagine a world in which communication stopped. That is: all communication. Not even actions could be discerned. In a world where we would be unable to express anything in any way, nor receive expressions of anyone else in any way, I believe the self would evaporate. Indeed, mini-experiments in this happen at meditation retreats, where evaporation of self happens therapeutically, so that we can learn to control the impulse and modulate it. But what about if we could never get it back?

@ejbman Consider the unconscious individual. Or even the crippled. People unable to move or act without the aid of another or machines. People in comas are a good example. Would you say that their lack of the ability to communicate would mean they lack a self? I do not believe so.
Edit: are a good* example
Edit2: Justification - As the self is considered to be that which is discerning of an individual (their essential being) as well as an object of introspect, lack of communication would not render the self non-existent for all distinguishing features of the individual are still present. You might argue that their inability to communicate would mean they are unable to introspect, however, consider your own inner speech. You are not necessarily communicating. (If communication is defined as the relaying of a message from one person to another) You are introspecting.

@EliRodriguez11 Your comments betray a couple of unsupported (not necessarily unsupportable) assumptions: that there is or can be an "essential being" and that a person is an individual. Research (especially by Kahneman) strong suggests were are "dividual" or made of at least two parts if not more, so there goes individual and essential being. Also, there is an assumption that a self is a stable entity that depends upon a single being.

From my perspective, I would say that a person in a coma has a self only insofar as that construct is supported by those surrounding that person, because the person themselves cannot contribute to the construct. If all those others around the person vanished permanently, not only would the person likely die from lack of support, but their selfhood would vanish as well, and they'd just become an unresponsive lump of organic, living tissue like a starfish or something. Their selfhood might come back if they could awaken, but only if they could still communicate internally. So I suppose some might argue that "potential personhood" counts as some kind of self (skating dangerously close to the abortion debate here, I notice, LOL).

Your raising of the question of introspection is a good one, but I would come down on the other side: I think we are made of many parts and that communication happens between those parts. So if communication capacity were interrupted, then internal communication and introspection would be interrupted as well. Lacking the ability to communicate with oneself, that self would also evaporate, in my view.

@ejbman Should've clarified some, sorry. But when I was referring to "individual," I was using it in the colloquial sense so that i wouldn't have to use "person" over and over again. And I have no problem with the concept of ourselves having more than 2 parts. I'm not exactly sure what you are calling these parts, but anyway, as for "essential being" that was also just another term for referring to what is defining of an agent (again a replacement for the word person)

Now the next bit: "Also, there is an assumption that a self is a stable entity that depends upon a single being."
I never made any such claim, as a matter of fact, I said something in quite another direction:

"I'd say it exists, however, only as an emergent property of many other important aspects of our anatomy and not an essential or fundamental component of anything. I'd say this "self" is comprised of all the experiences, genetic makeup, and environment which is associated with an individual agent. It is their chemistry. Their memories. Their state of being."

With That, I'd say it's safe to say that the self is a flux. In constant change and alteration.

Next:

"From my perspective, I would say that a person in a coma has a self only insofar as that construct is supported by those surrounding that person, because the person themselves cannot contribute to the construct. If all those others around the person vanished permanently, not only would the person likely die from lack of support, but their selfhood would vanish as well, and they'd just become an unresponsive lump of organic, living tissue like a starfish or something. Their selfhood might come back if they could awaken, but only if they could still communicate internally. So I suppose some might argue that "potential personhood" counts as some kind of self."

This bit would be easier to discuss if you'd agree upon a definition of the self with me. I used the Google definition in my original comment. It's what I've been basing my arguments upon.

Finally:

"Your raising of the question of introspection is a good one, but I would come down on the other side: I think we are made of many parts and that communication happens between those parts. So if communication capacity were interrupted, then internal communication and introspection would be interrupted as well. Lacking the ability to communicate with oneself, that self would also evaporate, in my view."

Again, it would help if you could clarify exactly what you mean when you refer to these "parts." Also, it seems that you are equating one's ability to communicate with others to their ability to introspect and conduct intrinsic speech. As the self has been defined, the ability to conduct communication is not significant to it's existence. A person can be dead, and as long as their DNA, experiences, and otherwise defining characteristics exist (essentially their identity), their "self" exists as well.

@EliRodriguez11 Oh you're fine. I wasn't really "accusing" you of anything, so much as pointing out that there are a number of assumptions embedded in our usual language about these things - and even the definition of self you found. I'm afraid I don't think typical definitions or usual language usage are going to be helpful in the context of this discussion, because we are trying to expand our understanding of self beyond what already exists in the vernacular.

Now I do want to push on one point you made, where you insist that you don't rely on any essentialism, and where you question my definition of individual and parts.

First of all, even though you admit that there are many factors which make up a self and those are in flux, you do focus upon the "organism" for lack of a better word. If I'm right and a self is a construct, then it is co-created with other members of society. This is akin to other constructs like and national borders. They are imaginary things that we all agree to respect. I think a self is like that as well. It's a kind of social game we are playing that we all agree is a good idea to respect. I mean, it's for us to even imagine what life would be like if we didn't have selves (or , or national borders for that matter).

As far as what parts we are made of, that's kind of an open question. One of the things that Kahneman found in his research is that our response to the experience of pain and our judgments about it in the moment are wildly different than our response to pain and our judgments about it after the fact. Our "in the moment" self might be suffering a 9 out of ten for a majority of a medical procedure, but as long as the last portion (I'm thinking it's 10-20% or so) is more pleasant, our assessment of the pain we experienced overall is something like a split average. I'm not doing the research justice here from memory. I suggest looking it up. The point is that we are literally of two minds about the same experience, only separated temporally. So that's one really well-documented example.

In my work as a psychotherapist, I often take advantage of the parts-of-self metaphor to help people explore their functions and dysfunction, and make adaptations and adjustments to their lives, so for me, it exists as a practical matter - although the , scientific evidence is lacking. Yet, if a self is a construct as I suppose that would explain how I can do this work, and it is not replicable in the lab: it is based upon highly contextual and idiosyncratic factors, just exactly as we would expect if self is a construct.

@ejbman I think we're in line for everything except maybe 2 points.

I'll start here:

"First of all, even though you admit that there are many factors which make up a self and those are in flux, you do focus upon the "organism" for lack of a better word.

Ok... I'm a little stumped here, but this was supposed to somehow take home your point about me relying upon some kind of essentialism here right? If that's the case, it wouldn't exactly get the job done because what I am meaning when I say person, or individual, is a thinking thing. An agent. A thing which is able to conduct psychological processes akin to humans. Maybe that'll clear some things up.
I'm not exactly sure where the essentialism comes into play if I explained already that the self is in flux and a product of ever-varying interactions between its components previously mentioned. The only things I might see that may be "essential" to the self are those components.

Now:

"If I'm right and a self is a construct, then it is co-created with other members of society. This is akin to other constructs like and national borders. They are imaginary things that we all agree to respect. I think a self is like that as well. It's a kind of social game we are playing that we all agree is a good idea to respect. I mean, it's for us to even imagine what life would be like if we didn't have selves (or , or national borders for that matter)."

As I mentioned earlier, I believe the self is real and I'd say it would be a particular arrangement of - and interactions between - probably brain matter. The self, I'd say, is neurological phenomena. Memories, genetic information, and an environment in which it can interact...the particular organization of neurons, ganglia, synapses, and every filament, protein, and atom within them.

If I died and my brain and bodily chemistry were kept in perfect condition moments before my death and recorded so as to produce a replica of myself sometime later, my "self" would continue to exist. Essentially, A clone. Though, it would no longer be my "self" after some time because it would have experiences and probably drastic anatomical and physiological changes due to... You know... being cloned and exposed to whatever time period it would exist in.

Here, I kind of think you shot yourself in the foot:

"In my work as a psychotherapist, I often take advantage of the parts-of-self metaphor to help people explore their functions and dysfunction, and make adaptations and adjustments to their lives, so for me, it exists as a practical matter - although the , scientific evidence is lacking. Yet, if a self is a construct as I suppose that would explain how I can do this work, and it is not replicable in the lab: it is based upon highly contextual and idiosyncratic factors, just exactly as we would expect if self is a construct."

my work as a psychotherapist, I often take advantage of the parts-of-self metaphor to help people explore their functions and dysfunction, and make adaptations and adjustments to their lives, so for me, it exists as a practical matter- although the , scientific evidence is lacking.

Yet, if a self is a construct as I suppose that would explain how I can do this work

I would say that if the self did not exist, you would not be able to conduct your work - considering you just said that as a psychologist, you accept the concept of self. I'm not sure how you could say that your work involves considering the self before working to change a person's psychology, and then go on to say you don't think it exists... that is, if you have had success in using the concept of self to conduct your work.

As for the "parts" and "multiple selves," I'd say those things are just more components of the single self. Anatomical components. I mentioned already I'm in agreement with this concept.

Thanks for the replies!?
Edit: grammar and rearrangement of paragraphs
Edit 2: quotes and italics

@EliRodriguez11 One fundament disagreement which I think you and I maintain is that you seem to think the self is comprised of components that exist merely inside one individual organism. We both seem to agree that the self is in flux and made of components. However, I think the self is comprised of parts that exist among many individuals, in the same way that money does. No one person's death would end money, nor even 100 million persons' deaths. However, the death of all persons would end money, because it only exists as a construct in many people's heads. I think it is the same with the self. Except the self is even more flimsy than money, because fewer people know and support the existence of any particular self.

Heck, people even "reinvent" themselves all the time and become different people. Is their self really continuous? It sort of depends upon the context, I suppose. Legally, Caitlin Jenner, for example, is the same person. She gets all the stuff Bruce Jenner earned. However, I would bet you that there are some people in her life who no longer relate to her the same way as they did when she was Bruce. I don't mean to offend any transgender persons by saying this, and I hope I have not. I only mean to point out that major shifts in identity might be valid examples for us to use when considering the continuity of selfhood.

But this is why I am not shooting myself in the foot when describing my work as a psychotherapist (not psychologist - there's a legal distinction, so I'm required to make sure I don't accidentally identify myself as the wrong thing). And lets's be clear, I don't think I ever said the self does not exist - only that it exists merely as a construct, like money or national borders. I can work with someone as a financial advisor even if I know that their money is, at some level, an illusion. Because it is an illusion we all respect, it still makes sense to talk about strategies for maximizing it. The same goes for the self.

Regarding parts, I really think you ought to examine Kahneman's work before falling back onto the old model of self and individual and not dividual. You might also check out Harari's book Homo Deus. It goes a long way to explain some of these concepts, particularly intersubjective reality (constructs), and also the divided self.

And BTW I'm enjoying our conversation also. Cheers!

@ejbman Glad to hear you're enjoying the conversation. It's always better than being frustrated keyboard warriors lol. Anyway, I read up some on Khaneman and I apologize for the failed distinction between psychologist and psychotherapist.

I took your advice on reading Khaneman. I didn't read all of his work because honestly, I think it'd be a couple months before I finished, but I did read some summaries of what I think you mentioned before which included 2 "systems of thought."
The first system is a bit impulsive, fast, irrational, and quick...the way I understood it, it might include the "fight or flight" instinct and snap judgement. I think this system would correspond to Freud's "id" when he divided the mind into the "id," "ego," and "superego." The limbic system in essence.
The second system is more rational, collected, and time consuming when making a decision.This is representative of Freud's ego. It includes things like solving complex math problems, identifying individual sights and sounds amongst many others, and otherwise completing more effortful tasks. The frontal lobe in essence.

If that's a fair description of what you were referring to as "the parts of self" and "multiple selves," then I'd say again, these are just components of the "singular self" I guess I'll call it. A person cannot identify as just one system of thought, or the other. Both of them together comprise their 'self.' And you don't identify as the systems either, because the point of Identity and self is to distinguish and define you, he, She, I, it, or whatever agent we are discussing, and the systems are not unique to any particular one - they are present in the average human - and so are not useful when trying to consider the self, as well as the fact that they are not all to be considered when defining the self (genetics, experiences, etc). However, the particular manner in which the systems operate within one, or even the significance of which maybe one system operates in relation to the other could be used to offer some distinguishing characteristics of an agent.

Next: I do not believe the self is just a construct. I may have sounded as though I conveyed a strawman when I had said you did not believe the self exists. What I meant is that it exists as a component of reality and not as just a concept. I'd also like to add here that I would like to retract my earlier statement of the self not being a fundamental component of anything, because it is -- it is fundamental to a society.

If everyone died, money would not 'end.' What would cease, is the value placed within money. If everyone died, the self would cease to exist, only because there is no one for a self to exist.

The self exists regardless of whether a person is in, or out of society. Whether they are socialized or unsocialized. Whether they are aware of it or not. The self as we have defined it (I'm going to assume we are ok with the definition I've been basing all of my comments of because you've yet to question or challenge it) exists as a part of reality as our neurological makeup, our genetic makeup, and the rest of our anatomical makeup. (I'd say our environment and experiences, but these things essentially alter our makeup and are not actually a part of us -- they only play a role in defining us by somehwat determining our makeups). A person need not recognize any of these things in order to have a self.
Also I've mentioned already that I also believe the self is non-continuous. I'd say it's in flux. I think the fact that it is in flux is often the reason many people suffer from identity crises. Trying to staple one kind of character or personality to yourself I think is foolish. Your self is always changing. Your anatomy is in constant flux. I think it follows from this that it is nearly impossible to label oneself one thing and live contently.

Thanks again ☺?
Edit: grammar -_-

@EliRodriguez11 It seems like you got the gist of the Kahneman, so kudos to you. And I appreciate that you took my suggestion and checked out the material for yourself. Always a good strategy, to get your information from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

However, I think we remain in disagreement about whether Kahneman's research supports an individual or "dividual" view of a self. I think the only way you can say the two selves he describes are the same self is if you narrowly define a self, and only if that definition includes something like a narrative character or protagonist in a personal story, who acts as the target entity integrating both modes of being. Daniel Dennett describes this phenomenon (or one so similar as to be indistinguishable) as being the "center of narrative gravity". That would once again be consistent with the self-as-construct definition, as opposed to the one you've offered.

Because I don't think you've really explained in a satisfactory way (or at least not to my satisfaction) how those two modes of being could really belong to a unified self, if that self is not merely a construct that exists in a narrative framework. You cite Freud's work, but honestly, Freud's work has never been scientifically validated, and certainly not at the same level of Kahenman's. I mean, it's not a terrible analogy, and I can kind of see what you mean. It also reminds me of the rational mind/emotional mind/wise mind model that is used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. But just because these models have been proposed and used, it doesn't mean that they refer to any particular neuro-biological reality. Instead, I think they likely refer to some constructed reality, like the examples of other constructs I've been using: money, national borders, and so on.

In fact, now that I think about it a little bit, the notion of Freud's that these parts of the self need to be integrated in psychotherapy lends more weight to the divided self or multiple selves perspective. Again, I do similar work with people myself, and while it is true that people seem healthier and happier when they act as if they are one person with a simple, singular model of agency, that perspective may not be strictly accurate.

Models of the mind have been proposed (by the aforementioned Dennett, as well as others) which indicate that what we mistakenly regard as a unified set of actions and responses are actually the result of a constant but very quick evolutionary struggle between multiple competing responses in our neural tissue. By that perspective, we are not only made up two selves, but of countless numbers of selves. Agency is totally lost in that model, because which competing entity is the "real" one to whom we should assign praise or blame? But I actually think this gets closer to the truth, and that we don't really have any agency at all. I think we all agree to respect the illusion that we have agency, except when we think it breaks down, like in cases of those who have cognitive challenges, or who are sick in various other ways, or who are under special duress (i.e., a "crime of passion" ). Why do we give such non-agency passes to people? And why do we do it more and more and more in our justice systems? I think it is an increasing recognition of the facts about selves, including their nature and how they operate

@ejbman

"You cite Freud's work, but honestly, Freud's work has never been scientifically validated"

[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

I've researched this bit on my own when I was wrapped up in understanding the evolution of the human brain. There are suspected to be neurobiological equivalents to Freud's minds verified by empirical sources.

"In fact, now that I think about it a little bit, the notion of Freud's that these parts of the self need to be integrated in psychotherapy lends more weight to the divided self or multiple selves perspective."

Again, these "parts of self" or "multiple selves" you keep mentioning, I think are part of the "single self" and I suppose you are right in saying that I've yet to offer an argument in favor of this position. So here goes:

These multiple selves... whatever you may call them... I'd like to refer to them as the id, ego, and superego for simplicity... all interact. If the self is defined as that which makes one subject of experience distinct from all others, then it is the interaction and yield of that interaction...the product of the interrelationship of those components which is defining of a person. A single experience is all that one can have and the only way to achieve perfectly whatever one's experience may be, is to perfectly replicate their anatomy, genetics, and memories.

I'm a bit tired here but I think I brought up an interesting open to something good. That is: the "one experience" deal.

We may just have to agree to disagree, but I enjoyed the conversation nonetheless and I do appreciate your time, effort, and the knowledge I have gained from your insight. Thanks again!☺

2

"There is no spoon." Neo, The Matrix

2

I've come to the conclusion that there's layers of self. For example when I want my kids to get more and do better than their peers that's selfish of me. My family are an extension of my "self"

Not only your family, but your possessions as well: www.jstor.org/stable/2489522

2

If it is an illusion, l wish l had come up with a better one.

2

Only when you dwell too much on it.

2

The self is real, the world is an illusion.

yes!

1

I can't vote on this because I am always asking myself that very question.

If it does actually exist as energy, it likely will never be found.

1

This post, and the lion's share of its ensuing discussion, are precisely emblematic of what keeps me on this site. Well done, OP, and thank you very much.

I voted for "No Self". I'm approaching it from my experience in the Buddhist tradition (In which I am admittedly a neophyte still). Evidently, there is some debate around the doctrine of anatta, or "no-self": some say the Buddha preached there is no self; some say he preached no such thing, but rather only that this or that is not that self. There is also the important distinction, reputedly made by the Buddha (and referenced, at least in passing, here somewhere, I believe) that not all questions need to be answered, or even pondered: what matters is that which leads to liberation from suffering, and everything else is a distraction and a waste of time--or worse.

Where this comes together for me is in my continually unfolding experience of realizing the truth of anatta in my life. I have changed a lot: my beliefs, opinions, ideas, etc. I'm no longer the person who _____ (fill in the blank with at least a dozen things). Did I lose something? Did I change? Was any of that "me" to begin with? When I look in those places, I do not find me.

There are other ways of looking, which Buddhism teaches--and when I look in those ways, I also do not find me: I am not my anger; I am not my thoughts; I am not my memories. I am not this. I am not that.

Where I'm at on the path at this time, I don't feel the need to look ahead and try to see where this line of inquiry ends up. It is enough for me to "peel away the layers of the onion", so to speak. I do not feel diminished, because none of it is me. I don't worry about where my "me" is, or whether I have one. The more of this not-me stuff I slough off, the better I feel--so I confidence in the process.

This is all off the cuff; I will have to read the thread thoroughly, in its entirety, and peruse the links and other resources listed.

1

We don't surely know what "self" is and we should not be looking for answers by looking for a particular, physical component in our brain that governs the whole body, I think we are like "the whole is greater than the part of the sums" analogy, so we are a collection of a lot of different parts which alone arent shit but together they make an incredible being.

nezer Level 4 May 23, 2018
1

It will prove to be a "soul" based on universal energy. The body may return to dust - but the energy returns to the universe.

In the theory that matter can be changed but never created or destroyed.

1

As a verry irresponsible person I have shall we say dabbled in certain hallucinogenic substances over the past 20 years. Ego death is unavoidable and once you lose the concept of self the concept of existing itself becomes irrelevant there is no I to ask the questions or hear the answers no sense of being real no time or awarenes that there is even a you to experience time there is no anything with any real frame of reference. So basically what I'm saying is an awareness of self must be present in order for DMT to kill it during ego death.

1

I think self is bound up in consciousness too. Nobody knows much about how consciousness came about. I think Dawkins explains it as a result of the need to be aware of dangerous predators. If so, it has overgrown that need to become so complex it has turned in on itself. This self-awareness is a two-edged sword, especially nowadays where we spend so much time in our heads. I like Rupert Sheldrake's idea that consciousness resides outside of us in morphic fields and the brain imports the data it wants from outside of us, processes it and sends back for storage. Sheldrake's idea could also mean that our consciousness cannot die when we do because it doesn't reside in us.

There are a lot of theories of consciousness. You might like this summary of current biomedical research: [nature.com] BTW I hate the gratuitous dig at Dennett. I think it was unfair and wrong. My $0.02.

1

All of our cognitive structures, including our definition of self, are constructed in our own minds from our interactions with our environment. . We define who we are, what we believe in, what we value, what our standards are, and much more. This mental construct is our sense of self.We could not function as a human organism without such structures.

1

you're not going to find it in the brain. it exists apart from us and within us.

What? Like bacteria?

I call Shenanigans

@jwd45244 really? OK, show me some gravity. Just a picture of it or maybe a teaspoon.

@JimmyM more like a rule of space. like gravity or probabilities.

@kauva Gravity waves have been detected. More than once I might add. Can you see wind or see its effects? Can you see magnetism or its effects? But, what does that have to do with the fact that I called shenanigans?

I notice that elsewhere you commend the Buddha's wisdom in not answering the question of whether the self exists without taking his advice. 🙂

@jwd45244 and what about before they had the knowledge to prove gravity? did it not exist until then?

@kauva They saw that things fall down they may not have known why but they observed gravity every day. Your ideas are bs. You have the burden of proof. You have made some outrageous claims with nothing to back them up. Sounds like a religion.

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I'm going to vote it's a thing.
It's the Egocentric Predicament. I can only view "reality" through my own experiences and perceptions. The fact that only I can own it, seems to indicate a self.

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As far as I'm concerned, the only self is our Universe, and we as humans are both a part of it and aware of it.

Which is pretty fucking cool. And enough, for me.

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All that sounds good.... makes some since too. Im going out on a limb and say self is real because its with you all the time. You can also have multiple selves such as a good self and a crazy ass wild self and im not talking about moods. You can take on someone elses self. Ive often heard the frase....be yourself or get real. That explains a lot. Everything around us is the illusion. As soon as you leave a place, the time has past by, and you have a memory. Thats my take on all this.

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I voted for #2. Self as a separate entity is an illusion IMO. But along with that I lean toward thinking that there is a higher Self that we all share. It is just an intuitive, unprovable idea, but one which has arisen in different ages and cultures around the world. More recently we have cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman’s theory of Conscious Realism which addresses the question.

The most honest and perceptive position IMO is that we simply don’t know who or what we are. It is truly a flabbergasting thought. On this subject I have written a short novel which is on Kindle, entitled “The Staggering Implications of the Mystery of Existence”.

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No vote... whatever.

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