- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Self1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 22/11/2019 13:10:34): Self
- The Self is important, as it’s the root of Baker’s FPP4, and the motivator for all psychological5 theories of PI, so understanding just what it is supposed to be is central to my concerns.
- The self is what the reflexive pronouns refer to, but this doesn’t get us far. Just what is a self?
- There’s a temptation to equate the Self with the Person6, but this is to waste a term, and it is likely that the two terms can come apart7.
- Nor is it just the personality, though the reification of the personality is probably at the root of the (misguided) intuition that personal identity is broken if the individual suffers a too-radical change of personality.
- It’s not clear to me that SELF is a natural kind8 concept, so there may not be just one correct answer to its definition.
- But my use will equate a self to an individual with a perspective on the world which – if that individual were a person (as many selves are) – would equal a FPP.
- In "Seth (Anil Kumar) - The real problem", Anil Seth distinguishes five selves (or aspects of the self, considered as “a complex construction generated by the brain”):-
- The bodily self9, which is the experience of being a body and of having a particular body.
- The perspectival self10, which is the experience of perceiving the world from a particular ﬁrst-person point of view.
- The volitional self11 involves experiences of intention and of agency – of urges to do this or that, and of being the causes of things that happen.
- The narrative self12 is where the ‘I’ comes in, as the experience of being a continuous and distinctive person over time, built from a rich set of autobiographical memories.
- And the social self13 is that aspect of self-experience that is refracted through the perceived minds of others, shaped by our unique social milieu.
- Not all individuals towards which we might adopt Daniel Dennett’s Intentional Stance are selves.
- While thermometers are excluded, I’m not sure whether having “a sense of self” is essential for being a self. So, creatures that pass the Mirror Test14 will be Selves, though might not be persons, but others – human infants, gorillas, elephants, dogs, … might be selves even where they fail the test.
- See also my note on Self-consciousness15. The division of labour between these two Notes may not be correct and awaits tidying up.
- For a page of Links16 to this Note, Click here. There are far too many links for an updating run, or even to eyeball, so I’ve not done so. The reading lists below are fairly ample in any case.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read17, include the following:-
- "Cassam (Quassim) - Kant and Reductionism", Cassam
- "Churchland (Patricia) - Self and Self-Knowledge", Churchland
- "Dainton (Barry) - Self: Philosophy In Transit: Prologue", Dainton
- "Dennett (Daniel) - The Self as a Center of Narrative Gravity", Dennett
- "Godelek (Kamuran) - Review of Thomas Metzinger's 'The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self'", Godelek
- "Jenkins (Phil) - Review of Galen Strawson's 'Selves'", Jenkins
- "Martin (Raymond) - Self-Concern: An Experiential Approach to what Matters in Survival", Martin
- "Morell (Virginia) - What do mirror tests test?", Morell
- "Nagel (Thomas) - The Objective Self", Nagel
- "Nagel (Thomas) - Mind and Body", Nagel
- "Nagel (Thomas) - Subjective and Objective", Nagel
- "Seth (Anil Kumar) - The real problem", Seth
- "Smith (Barry C.), Broks (Paul), Kennedy (A.L.) & Evans (Jules) - What Does It Mean to Be Me?", Smith Etc.
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Philosophy and the Mind/Body Problem", Snowdon
- "Snowdon (Paul) - The Self and Personal Identity", Snowdon
- "Wright (Crispin) - The Problem of Self-Knowledge (I)", Wright
- As for a reading list, even the short-list immediately below (originally taken from the reading-list for the section on the Self in Chapter 218 of my Thesis; I’ve not checked this list recently) is rather long, and contains many whole books. I may have to cull several of these further down the line, but it’s worth preserving the full list here.
- So, a reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Alexander (Ronald) - The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity", Alexander19
- "Arikha (Noga) - The Interoceptive Turn", Arikha
- "Bermudez (Jose Luis), Marcel (Anthony) & Eilan (Naomi), Eds. - The Body and the Self", Bermudez
- "Brennan (Andrew) - Fragmented Selves and the Problem of Ownership", Brennan
- "Campbell (John) - Past, Space and Self", Campbell
- "Cassam (Quassim) - Self and World", Cassam
- "Cassam (Quassim) - The Embodied Self", Cassam
- "Dainton (Barry) - Self: Philosophy In Transit", Dainton
- "Dainton (Barry) - The Phenomenal Self", Dainton
- "Dennett (Daniel) - The Reality of Selves", Dennett
- "Feinberg (Todd) - Altered Egos: How the Brain Creates the Self", Feinberg
- "Gallagher (Shaun) & Shear (Jonathan), Eds. - Models of the Self", Gallagher
- "Harre (Rom) - Persons and Selves", Harre
- "Johnstone (Henry) - Persons and Selves", Johnstone
- "Lowe (E.J.) - Substance and Selfhood", Lowe
- "Ludwig (Arnold) - How do we Know who we are? A Biography of the Self", Ludwig
- "Madell (Geoffrey) - The Identity of the Self", Madell
- "McGinn (Colin) - The Self", McGinn
- "Metzinger (Thomas) - Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity", Metzinger
- "Metzinger (Thomas) - The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self", Metzinger
- "O'Hear (Anthony), Ed. - Mind, Self and Person", O’Hear
- "Perry (John) - The Self", Perry
- "Popper (Karl) & Eccles (John) - The Self and Its Brain", Popper&Eccles
- "Schechtman (Marya) - The Constitution of Selves", Schechtman
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity", Shoemaker
- "Strawson (Galen) - The Self", Strawson_G
- "Valberg (J.J.) - Dream, Death, and the Self", Valberg
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Self: the Incredulous Stare Articulated", Van Inwagen
- "Williams (Bernard) - Problems of the Self", Williams
- "Wolf (Susan) - Self-Interest and Interest in Selves", Wolf
- "Wright (Crispin) - The Problem of Self-Knowledge (II)", Wright
- "Zahavi (Dan) - Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective", Zahavi
- This is mostly a place-holder20.
Footnote 7: There is no unanimity on what a person is; but it will be worth taking candidate definitions and see whether we would be willing to assign selfhood to some non-persons.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (22/11/2019 13:10:34).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 9: We are referred to "Seth (Anil Kumar) - Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self".
Footnote 10: We are referred to "Ehrsson (H. Henrik) - The Experimental Induction of Out-of-Body Experiences".
Footnote 11: We are referred to "Haggard (Patrick) - Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will".
- We are referred to “Mechanisms of Social Cognition” by Chris & Uta Frith, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 63:287-313 (January 2012)
- I don’t have access to this, but the abstract is as below ↓
- Social animals including humans share a range of social mechanisms that are automatic and implicit and enable learning by observation. Learning from others includes imitation of actions and mirroring of emotions. Learning about others, such as their group membership and reputation, is crucial for social interactions that depend on trust.
- For accurate prediction of others' changeable dispositions, mentalizing is required, i.e., tracking of intentions, desires, and beliefs.
- Implicit mentalizing is present in infants less than one year old as well as in some nonhuman species.
- Explicit mentalizing is a meta-cognitive process and enhances the ability to learn about the world through self-monitoring and reflection, and may be uniquely human.
- Meta-cognitive processes can also exert control over automatic behavior, for instance, when short-term gains oppose long-term aims or when selfish and prosocial interests collide. We suggest that they also underlie the ability to explicitly share experiences with other agents, as in reflective discussion and teaching. These are key in increasing the accuracy of the models of the world that we construct.
- For a recent discussion of this test, and what it does or doesn’t have to say about a sense of self, see "Morell (Virginia) - What do mirror tests test?".
- This paper quotes a large number of others that give the history of the test, and which other animals have been said to pass it.
- The view of Frans De Waal, and of the paper’s author, is that – whatever the Mirror Test may demonstrate – all animals need a self-concept. This seems like common-sense.
- It’s also suggested that evolutionary considerations imply a gradualist – rather than binary – approach to self-conception.
- Alexander thinks that we are Selves, and that Selves are tropes – abstract particulars – which by my lights is about as far from the truth as you can get, so I need to consider his arguments carefully.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)