Models of the Self
Gallagher (Shaun) & Shear (Jonathan), Eds.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Synopsis

  1. Francis Crick, scientists of the DNA double-helix fame, put forward an "Astonishing Hypothesis" ("Crick (Francis) - The Astonishing Hypothesis - The Scientific Search for the Soul", 1994) that your sense of personal identity is nothing more than the behaviour of your nerve cells and associated chemicals.
  2. This book is a discussion on the nature of the "self". It is a comprehensive reader on the problem of the self as seen from the perspectives of philosophy, development psychology, robotics, cognitive neuroscience, psychopathology1, semiotics, phenomenology and contemplative studies.
  3. One chapter, by neurologist, Jonathan Cole, centers around his interviews with blind people, including Education Minister David Blunkett, on the importance of seeing faces for our sense of identity.
  4. The discussions that are presented here are all based around a keynote paper by Galen Strawson, who reviews the whole debate at the end of the book.

BOOK COMMENT:

Imprint Academic, Exeter, 2002 reprint



"Bermudez (Jose Luis) - Reduction and the Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Galen Strawson's keynote paper (1997) offers us one way of modelling the self, one that starts from the phenomenology of the sense of self and derives from that metaphysical conclusions about the nature of the self. Strawson is surely correct to hold that phenomenological considerations cannot be ignored in thinking about the metaphysics of the self. I am not as convinced as he is, however, that phenomenology is the royal road to metaphysics. What I want to sketch out in this short paper is another approach to the metaphysics of the self, one that is driven by reductivist concerns. As far as I can see it is an open question whether there are any global points of disagreement between us (although there are certainly some local ones).


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Blachowicz (James) - The Dialogue of the Soul With Itself"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    What is the cognitive significance of talking to ourselves? I criticize two interpretations of this function (the reflection model and the social model) and offer a third: I argue that inner speech is a genuine dialogue, not a monologue; that the partners in this dialogue represent the independent interests of experienced meaning and logical articulation; that the former is either silent or capable only of abbreviated speech; that articulation is a logical, not a social demand; and that neither partner is a full-time subordinate of the other. I examine the views of Plato, Arendt, Gadamer, Ryle, Piaget and Vygotsky on the nature of inner speech, and the views of Gazzaniga and Dennett on the role of inner speech in the constitution of human consciousness.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Brook (Andrew) - Unified Consciousness and the Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This commentary on Strawson's target article examines elements (3) and (4) in his list of features that we conceive a self to possess: (3) concerns synchronic singularity, i.e., being one mental being at a time, and (4) concerns diachronic singularity, i.e., being one mental being over time. I argue that while the spirit of Strawson's claims about (3) and (4) is supportable, the letter of them is flawed, due mainly to a failure to distinguish singleness of self from a self being unified. Contrary to what Strawson seems to suppose, the feature relevant to his analysis is being unified, not being singular. We then examine the interesting relationship between unity and singularity.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Butterworth (George) - A Developmental-Ecological Perspective on Strawson's 'The Self'"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Perception provides information for self before there is a self concept. This means that the mental self is not the 'essential' heart of the self system in the go-it-alone fashion suggested by Strawson's analysis. The mental reflective self is just one relatively late-developing component of self. Although adult introspection may (unreliably) suggest differently, introspection cannot reveal the interrelated, mutually-embedded levels of self-awareness which have been shown by empirical enquiry. Knowledge of the self as a singular 'entity', as an individuated object of one's own experience, is founded on and remains dependent upon information for the self situated in social and physical reality.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 2 (1998)"



"Cole (Jonathan) - On 'Being Faceless': Selfhood and Facial Embodiment"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Deikman (Arthur J.) - 'I' = Awareness"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self



"Edey (Mait) - Subject and Object"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Forman (Robert K.C.) - What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Three developmental stages of mystical experiences are proposed and their implications for theories of consciousness are explored. Pure consciousness events (PCE) are defined as experiences in which one is awake but without intentional mental or sensory content. This tends to disconfirm functionalist theories that consciousness is identical to the processing of content. In the dualist mystical state (DMS), a permanent or semipermanent experience, one has a sense of experiencing one's deepest awareness as silent, even while remaining conscious of one's thoughts and the world. One may experience that inner silence as expanded beyond one's frame. This tends to suggest that awareness is again distinguishable from its content and that it is field-like, that it transcends the individual brain cells, or that the brain functions more like a TV receiver than a producer of consciousness. This is reinforced in the last unitive mystical state (UMS) in which one's expansive field-like awareness is experienced as continuous with the external world. This reinforces the sense of consciousness as field-like and that it may be common to all objects.



"Gallagher (Shaun) & Marcel (Anthony) - The Self in Contextualized Action"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This chapter suggests that certain traditional ways of analyzing the self start off in situations that are abstract or detached from normal experience, and that the conclusions reached in such approaches are, as a result, inexact or mistaken. The chapter raises the question of whether there are more contextualized forms of self-consciousness1 than those usually appealed to in philosophical or psychological analyses, and whether they can be the basis for a more adequate theoretical approach to the self. (edited)



"Gallagher (Shaun) & Shear (Jonathan) - Models of the Self: Introduction"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Opening Paragraph
    There is a long history of inquiry about human nature and the nature of the self. It stretches from the ancient tradition of Socratic self-knowledge in the context of ethical life to contemporary discussions of brain function in cognitive science. At the beginning of the modern era, Descartes was led to the conclusion that self-knowledge provided the single Archimedean point for all knowledge. His thesis that self is a single, simple, continuing, and unproblematically accessible mental substance resonated with common sense, and quickly came to dominate European thought. Against this background, the philosophical problem pertaining to self-identity arises and continues to define much of the contemporary discussion. Notably, it arises in the context of the first sustained discussion of consciousness in the philosophical literature, and at a precisely definable point in space, time, and text, in the pages of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke defines it as the problem of personal identity. Briefly stated, the problem involves finding criteria that can account for the unity of the self in conscious experience over time. Locke's solution -- that consciousness maintains its identity over time only so far as memory extends to encompass past experience -- almost immediately produced philosophical controversies that have not abated to this day.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)", pp. 399-404(6)



"Gendler (Tamar Szabo) - Exceptional Persons: On the Limits of Imaginary Cases"

Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 5, Numbers 5-6, 1998, pp. 592-610(19).


Author’s Abstract
  1. Ever since Locke (and particularly in the last 50 years or so) the philosophical literature on personal identity has centred on arguments of a certain type. These arguments use an assumed convergence of response to purely imaginary cases to defend revisionary conclusions about common-sense beliefs concerning the nature or importance of personal identity.
  2. So, for instance, one is asked to contemplate a case in which A's brain is transplanted1 into B's body, or a case in which some of C's memories are implanted in D's brain, or a case in which information about the arrangement of the molecules which compose E is used to create an exact replica of E at another point in space-time.
  3. Thinking about these cases is supposed to help us tease apart the relative roles played by features that coincide in all (or almost all) actual cases, but which seem to be conceptually distinguishable.
  4. So, for instance, even though we can ordinarily assume that the beliefs, desires, memories, etc. which are associated with a given body will not come to be associated with another body, it does not seem to be in principle impossible that such a state of affairs should come about. Indeed, it seems that we can describe a mechanism by which such a situation might come about: for instance, A's brain (and with it A's beliefs, desires and memories) might be transplanted2 into B's body.
  5. And since the scenario described strikes us as something of which we can make sense, it seems we can make judgments of fact or value about which of the two factors really matters in making A who she is.
  6. We might ask, for instance, whether it would be true to say that A had survived in a body that used to belong to B, or whether it would be right to punish the B-bodied human being for A's actions, or whether if we were A before the intended operation, we ought to worry about what would be happening to the B-bodied person afterwards.
  7. And on the basis of these judgments about what we would say in the imaginary case, we can return to the actual case having learned something about which features are essential and which accidental to our judgments concerning the nature or value of personal identity.
  8. My goal in this paper is to suggest reasons for thinking that this methodology may be less reliable than its proponents take it to be, for interesting and systematic reasons.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Hayward (Jeremy) - A rDzogs-chen Buddhist Interpretation of the Sense of Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    A rDzogs-chen (Tibetan Buddhist) interpretation of the sense of self is presented that is grounded in the disciplined method of shamatha-vipashyana meditation. This model of self/nonself agrees with Strawson's analysis as far as the discontinuity of self, but elaborates the momentary self not as any kind of 'thing', but as an energy process having both particle-like and field-like aspects. The moment-by-moment appearance of a sense of self is described as arising in stages over a finite duration from a background of nondual intelligence and energy. There are implications for further scientific research into the structure of self-consciousness1 as well as for the cultivation of individual wisdom and compassion.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Laycock (Stephen) - Consciousness It/Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Our sense of self represents a certain adventitious "sheen" available to conscious reflection. The reflective representation, faithful or disloyal, could be a disclosure of the self only if it were possible to speak of consciousness it/self, only, that is, if it rendered the "self" of consciousness it/self. And this it demonstrably cannot do. The transparentism here adopted is rooted in Buddhist insights according to which consciousness does not "have," but rather is, a "blind spot" in the sense that it in no way appears to "itself."


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 2 (1998)"



"Legerstee (Maria) - Mental and Bodily Awareness in Infancy: Consciousness of Self-existence"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Midgley (Mary) - Being Scientific About Our Selves"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    We cannot really understand other people unless we make some serious effort to understand ourselves as well. This is well known in ordinary life, but it sets a problem for any psychology which aims to be scientific by the narrow standards which define that term today. Those standards have sharply narrowed the notion of science to exclude reference to anything subjective. By contrast, the older, wider concept of it simply required disciplined methodical thought, which could of course be shown in many kinds of enquiry (for instance history and language). (edited)



"Olson (Eric) - There Is No Problem of the Self"

Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 5, Numbers 5-6, 1998, pp. 645-657(13)


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Because there is no agreed use of the term ‘self', or characteristic features or even paradigm cases of selves, there is no idea of ‘the self’ to figure in philosophical problems. The term leads to troubles otherwise avoidable; and because legitimate discussions under the heading of ‘self’ are really about other things, it is gratuitous. I propose that we stop speaking of selves.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Panksepp (Jaak) - The Periconscious Substrates of Consciousness: Affective States and the Evolutionary Origins of the Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Perlis (Donald) - Consciousness as Self-Function"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    I argue that (subjective) consciousness is an aspect of an agent's intelligence, hence of its ability to deal adaptively with the world. In particular, it allows for the possibility of noting and correcting the agent's errors, as actions performed by itself. This in turn requires a robust self-concept as part of the agent's world model; the appropriate notion of self here is a special one, allowing for a very strong kind of self-reference. It also requires the capability to come to see that world model as residing in its belief base (part of itself), while then representing the actual world as possibly different, i.e., forming a new world-model. This suggests particular computational mechanisms by which consciousness occurs, ones that conceivably could be discovered by neuroscientists, as well as built into artificial systems that may need such capabilities. (edited)


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Pickering (John) - The Self is a Semiotic Process"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Galen Strawson accepts that the common experience of being a social self is of something that continues through time. However, he excludes this from what 'the self' means in a stricter ontological sense. Here I will argue that this experience of self as enduring can be taken to be ontologically real as well. I will suggest that selfhood arises from the assimilation of cultural signs by a semiotic process that is a fundamental aspect of nature. I will also consider how the phenomenological encounter with 'the self' is conditioned by prior beliefs and their ethical entailments.



"Radden (Jennifer) - Pathologically Divided Minds, Synchronic Unity and Models of Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    A transcendental subject model occludes the distinction between the self's diachronic and synchronic unity; in contrast, a reductionist model of self requires us to account for the self's synchronic unity and to accommodate not only the synchronic unity found in normal subjectivity, but also psychiatric evidence of abnormally disunified "divided minds" I review these pathological states, asking (1) what is the evidence for a degree of synchronic disunity suggesting divided minds? (2) How is such evidence to be interpreted? (3) Applying a 'deficit studies' methodology, does such disunity tell us anything interesting about the brain?


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Ramachandran (V.S.) & Hirstein (William) - Three Laws of Qualia: What Neurology Tells Us About the Biological Functions of Consciousness, Qualia and the Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and 'qualia'. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of 'three laws of qualia' based on a loose analogy with Newton's three laws of classical mechanics. (edited)


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 04, Issue 5-6 (1997)"



"Sass (Louis A.) - Schizophrenia, Self-consciousness and the Modern Mind"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Shear (Jonathan) - Experiential Clarification of the Problem of Self"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The experience of "pure consciousness" as produced by traditional Eastern meditation practices provides a new perspective for resolving major tensions between Descartes, Hume, and Kant's analyses of self. The defining characteristic of this experience is the complete absence of all sensations, images, thoughts, and other empirical content. As such this experience is uniquely capable of giving significance to the idea of a simple consciousness underlying and distinct from all our changing perceptions, proposed by Descartes, rejected as meaningless by Hume, and paradoxically both insisted on and rejected by Kant. Their traditional philosophical analyses, taken together, then serve to identify this experience as experience of the self. (PI): Descartes argued that the self is single, simple, and continuing. Hume responded that this notion is empty of all experiential significance, and Kant that it is paradoxically both logically necessary and utterly vacuous. Tensions between Descartes, Hume, and Kant's analyzes are resolvable in an experientially significant way on the basis of the "pure consciousness" (PC) experience produced by traditional Eastern meditation practices. The defining characteristic of this experience is the complete absence of all sensations, images, thoughts, and other empirical content. The experience, thus, is uniquely capable of giving significance to the notion of a simple consciousness underlying and distinct from all our changing perceptions, proposed by Descartes, rejected as inexperienced by Hume, and reflected in Kant's "pure consciousness" devoid of all distinguishing marks. Since the PC experience is the only experience that can do this, these philosophical analyzes in turn serve to identify it as experience of self. This paper presents the pure consciousness theory of self, derived from Eastern meditation traditions, and uses it to unravel some of the paradoxes of Western philosophical models of the self. The theory is ontologically neutral and compatible with the widest variety of different ontologies. However the theory does, I think, have significant implications for questions of personal identity, emotional maturity and moral values, but exploring these topics here would take us too far afield. The article attempts to show something of the potential value for our traditional philosophical discussions of self of taking into account the pure consciousness experience, widely discussed in Eastern, but not Western, philosophical traditions. For if the phenomenological analyses are even roughly correct, it would appear that the experience is capable of resolving some major Western issues about self, clarifies our commonsense intuition, and is properly identified by philosophical analysis as being experience of self itself.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)", pp. 673-686(14).



"Sheets-Johnstone (Maxine) - Phenomenology and Agency; Methodological and Theoretical Issues in Strawson's 'The Self'"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self



"Strawson (Galen) - The Self"

Source: Martin & Barresi - Personal Identity, Chapter 13


Author’s Introduction (Full Text)
  1. The substantival phrase ‘the self’ is very unnatural in most speech contexts in most languages, and some conclude from this that it's an illusion to think that there is such a thing as the self, an illusion that arises from nothing more than an improper use of language. This, however, is implausible. People are not that stupid. The problem of the self doesn't arise from an unnatural use of language which arises from nowhere. On the
    contrary: use of a phrase like ‘the self’ arises from a prior and independent sense that there is such a thing as the self. The phrase may be unusual in ordinary speech; it may have no obvious direct translation in many languages. Nevertheless all languages have words which lend themselves naturally to playing the role that ‘the self’ plays in English, however murky that role may be. The phrase certainly means something to most people. It has a natural use in religious, philosophical, and psychological contexts, which are very natural contexts of discussion for human beings. I think there is a real philosophical problem about the existence and nature of the self, not just a relatively uninteresting problem about why we think there's a problem. It is too quick to say that a ‘grammatical error ... is the essence of the theory of the self’, or that ‘"the self is piece of philosopher's nonsense consisting in a misunderstanding of the reflexive pronoun' (Anthony Kenney, The Self, 1988, p. 4).
  2. The first task is to get the problem into focus. I will recommend one approach, first in outline, then in slightly more detail. (I will model the problem of the self, rather than attempting to model the self.) I think the problem requires a straightforwardly metaphysical approach; but I also think that metaphysics must wait on phenomenology, in a sense I will explain. Most recent discussion of the problem by analytic philosophers has started from work in philosophical logic (in the large sense of the term – as used in "Cassam (Quassim), Ed. - Self-Knowledge", 1994). This work may have a contribution to make, but a more phenomenological starting point is needed.
  3. I will use the expression ‘the self’ freely – I am already doing so – but I don't want to exclude in advance the view that there is no such thing as the self, and the expression will often function as a loose name for what one might equally well call ‘the self-phenomenon’, i.e. all those undoubtedly real phenomena that lead us to think and talk in terms of something called the self, whether or not there is such a thing.

Sections
  1. Introduction
  2. The Problem of the Self
  3. The Local Question: Cognitive Phenomenology
  4. Phenomenology and Metaphysics
  5. Materialism
  6. Singularity
    • Introduction
    • Thinghood and mentality
    • Singularity
    • Multiplicity?
  7. Personality
  8. The Self In Time: Effects of Character
  9. The Self In Time: The ‘Stream’ of Consciousness
  10. The Conditions Question
  11. The Factual Question
  12. Conclusion
  13. Postscript


COMMENT:



"Strawson (Galen) - The Self and the SESMET"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: SESMET = Subjects of Experience that are Single MEntal Things



"Tani (Jun) - An Interpretation of the 'Self' From the Dynamical Systems Perspective: A Constructivist Approach"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



"Wilkes (Kathleen) - Gnothai Seauton (Know Thyself)"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self

COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 2 (1998)"



"Zahavi (Dan) & Parnas (Josef) - Phenomenal Consciousness and Self-awareness: A Phenomenological Critique of Representational Theory"

Source: Gallagher & Shear - Models of the Self


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Given the recent interest in the subjective or phenomenal dimension of consciousness it is no wonder that many authors have once more started to speak of the need for phenomenological considerations. Often however the term 'phenomenology' is being used simply as a synonym for 'folk psychology', and in our chapter we argue that it would be far more fruitful to turn to the argumentation to be found within the Continental tradition inaugurated by Husserl. In order to exemplify this claim, we criticize Rosenthal's higher-order thought theory as well as Strawson's contribution to this volume, and argue that a phenomenological analysis of the nature of self-awareness can provide us with a more sophisticated and accurate model for understanding both phenomenal consciousness and the notion of self.


COMMENT: Also in "JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 05, Issue 5-6 (1998)"



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