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Return to: Philosophy Article: Why We View The Self As We Do

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December 17th, 2010, 6:42 am

"The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relation relates itself to its own self." Soren Kierkegaard. Now, I don't pretend fully to understand this doctrine and its ramifications, but I take two main insights away from this, which seem correct. First, that selfhood is an activity rather than a state; in the conttext of an infinitessimal time-slice, there is no meaningful difference between a living person and a recently dead one (assuming metaphysical materialism). Second, that in order to successfully 'posit a self' to torture the language just a bit, the being must be polysubjective, must be composed of multiple loci of perception and desire that interactively intend a consensus, which consensus we call the self.

Also, Mark, good accounts of intrapersonal conflict are especially abundant in the literature on self-deception and human irrationality. Of course, some accounts are better than others--Antonio Damasio and Joseph Ledoux are personal favorites--and I've just picked up a book by Rita Carter titled Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self, which looks quite promising. I hope that helps.

December 17th, 2010, 2:31 pm

I'm sorry, I don't understand your question. Could you elaborate a little?

December 19th, 2010, 10:56 am

Also, Mark, good insights into internal conflict, along with a practical approach to dealing with it, can be found in the writings of Martha Nussbaum, most notably Upheavals of Thought and The Therapy of Desire. She takes an Aristotelian approach to psychotherapy that I find very interesting. Hope it helps.

Re: Philosophy Article: Why We View The Self As We Do

February 2nd, 2012, 1:00 pm

Kingkool wrote:The fact is that if you cannot be sure that you exsist, than you had might as well cease "not" exsisting. While you cannot be sure that anyone else is real, if you doubt your own exsistence, than all ideals, philosophies, religions, and reasons to live fly out the window. Life is full of uncertainty, but the one thing you must belive is that yourself exsists because you think.


I very much disagree--Zen, for example, views the seperate "self" as an illusion within the universal mind, whereof all consciousness is a part. Indeed, this theme is common among most Asian philosophies, and recurs in the mystical traditions of the west as well, all without precluding the systems in which they operate. I'm not saying I agree (though I'm less and less certain I disagree), but it is possible.

Return to: Philosophy Article: Why We View The Self As We Do

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