Wednesday, October 4, 2017

678: Where is the Self.....?

In the previous lecture, we focused in particular on the question what will keep you the same throughout  time. 
Now we’ll make a start discussing the question of what the Self is actually and what we are looking for. 
Can we understand it as something that can be disconnected from body and brain, and can it exists on its own? 
In a way some people believe it can by defining man as a combination of Body, Mind and Soul, 
where the soul is the actual quintessence of man and will continue to exist after disappearance of body and mind.

Or is this not the right way to think about yourself? Is it a "thing" which we can perceive and which can occupy space? 
Or is it really different? We’ll first look at a number of statements by philosophers and scientists 
who claim that it does not exist at all, despite the fact that we may have the experience that we are a self or have a self. 
Subsequently, we’ll treat the classical argument of David Hume (1711 - 1776), who claims that we do not experience a self in sensory experience itself. 
Next we’ll have a look at the reaction of Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804). According to Kant Hume is quite right as he claims we can not find our Self in our experience. 
However, that does not mean that it does not exist. The Self is not given as an object of experience, but is a prerequisite for experience. 

The philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900 - 1976), used the term 'category error' to explain, what goes wrong in the discussion about the self. We’ll look into this too, of course.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett (1942 - ..) argues that we must understand the Self as a linguistic construction: a 'narrative center of gravity'.  Interesting to find out what that might mean.
Next, we’ll look at the role of the body based on the ideas of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 - 1961). 
And, finally, we’ll discuss the tension between science and practice, and what this means for the reality of the self.

The reality of the Self? Has it got any reality? If we like to believe the German philosopher Thomas Metzinger (1958 - ..) we are mistaken.
In "Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity“ (2003),he states that no one has ever been a self or had a self. 

If you want to hear his opinion, the title of his next book is even more telling: “The Ego Tunnel - The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self “ (2009)
According to Metzinger, brain research shows that this is simply an illusion. In the brain we do not find anything that seems to be a self. 
Some brain scientists endorse this idea. They claim that it should ultimately be understood as a collection of brain processes.
It is of course very kind of these brain scientists to tell us, that we are waisting our time on something that does not exist.
However, as a philosopher, I would reply, that we still have this word and believe, that we can use that word in meaningful ways.
So, for a start, these brain scientists may be right, if you assume that the self is not some singular “thing” which sits in the brain.
But hadn’t we already concluded that this idea of a “thing like self” was highly questionable? Let’s find out what the self can be, if it is not a thing….
Thank you for your attention….. ^_^

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
John Searle: The Mystery of Consciousness (1997)
Antonio Damasio: Self comes to Mind (2010) Bruin/F. Jongepier/ Maargt: IK, Filosofie van het Zelf (2017)

The Discussion

[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no one ever makes a final decision!!!!!!!!!
[13:19] herman Bergson: You should be happy about that Gemma...
[13:19] herman Bergson: Otherwise life would become so dull  and boring
[13:20] herman Bergson: Suppose we knew EVERY ANSWER...
[13:20] herman Bergson: What about our curiosity then?
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): id say self is more of a concept, refering to yourself
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): recursion
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think that is why i always liked history
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it has happened
[13:22] herman Bergson: In a way it is indeed...
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:22] herman Bergson: But there you have the interpretation of WHAT happened Gemma....
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes but it is simpler
[13:23] CB Axel: There are more than one version of every historical event.
[13:23] herman Bergson: Not two historians agree about WHAT happened :-))
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): to decide which view you wish to take
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): with these philosophers it is never ever easy
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: heheh true Gemma
[13:23] herman Bergson smiles
[13:23] herman Bergson: I don’t do it on purpose Gemma :-))
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:24] CB Axel: I agree with Bejiita that self is a concept.
[13:24] herman Bergson: yes...and the analysis focuses on the reference....
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: yes I think that thats what Dennett hints at too
[13:24] CB Axel: It's just a way of talking about a group of brain processes.
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that sounds good
[13:24] herman Bergson: like the word "chair" refers to the thing you sit can see and feel it...
[13:25] herman Bergson: so we wonder what the concept "Self" refers to...
[13:25] CB Axel: More like "thought." It's not something you can see or feel, but we have to call it something.
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:26] herman Bergson: This discussion already looks in the direction of Ryle...
[13:26] herman Bergson: One thing is clear....
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: its a concept run by biological action reaction systems -  experience of all kinds and inner linguistic concepts about those experiences.. thats how I see it somehow
[13:26] herman Bergson: the word "chair" refers to an observable object you sit on....
[13:27] herman Bergson: that does not imply that EVERY word refers in that way to something in that way...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Maybe the Dennett interpretation is attractive :-) We'll see
[13:28] herman Bergson: But what we really KNOW is that it apparently  is not something  tangible inside ourselves
[13:28] herman Bergson: I said...
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its not a physical thing
[13:28] herman Bergson: we can use the word Self meaningfully
[13:29] herman Bergson: Here we run into the same mystery Bejiita...
[13:29] herman Bergson: the brain is a physical thing......the mind is a......???
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: I still would refer to it as  a concept somehow
[13:29] herman Bergson: a feature of the brain....
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the closest explanation i guess is the brain is the hardware and the mind is the software running on it
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska....I still feels like "something"
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but still
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ooh back to the computer analogy
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hard to grasp since we don’t know whats going on inside
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we dont know in detail really how the brain works
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but thats the best idea i can imagine
[13:31] herman Bergson: we hardly know how the brain works Bejiita
[13:32] herman Bergson: But the computer analogy is not the best one
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): maybe not but the only similarity i know to compare with that is graspable
[13:32] herman Bergson: it is even factual wrong if you agree with the Chinese Room argument of Searle, we discussed :-)
[13:33] CB Axel: Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:33] herman Bergson: check your notes ^_^
[13:33] herman Bergson: Or did your goat nibble on the pages :-)
[13:33] CB Axel: Yes. Computers can put words together in an order that makes sense, but it doesn't understand the words.
[13:34] herman Bergson whispers: Very true CB :-)
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true, it blindly follows code that manipulate electrical switchs but it can not understand or feel anything what it is doing
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but we can
[13:35] CB Axel: So how did we get so lucky?
[13:35] herman Bergson: it uses syntactical rules on symbols  only....
[13:35] herman Bergson: our mind deals with content...with semantics
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): also computers are digital, we are analog, computers see only on and off, they cant "see" the analog information that this stream of 1 and 0 represent like we can
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we see images hear sounds
[13:36] herman Bergson: And we must do it all ourselves ^_^
[13:37] herman Bergson: so lots of work for a Self here :-)
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:37] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi) takes a humble bow
[13:37] CB Axel: Hello, John.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but my conclusion now is self is a concept, not a thing
[13:37] herman Bergson: hello John..
[13:37] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Hello
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hi John
[13:37] CB Axel: Right, Bejiita.
[13:37] herman Bergson: True bejiita
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hellooo
[13:38] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Hi there
[13:38] herman Bergson: And we have to figure out how to interpret this concept...understand its semantics
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that will serve us best
[13:38] herman Bergson: because..whatever any philosopher says....
[13:39] herman Bergson: I still have the feeling I can meaningfully talk about myself ..
[13:39] herman Bergson: I can even look at myself and disagree with myself
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): me , myself and I
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes Gemma and my shadow too
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah  yes that too
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:41] herman Bergson: It's kind like and my shadow :-))
[13:41] herman Bergson: no me no shadow :-)
[13:41] Sandia Beaumont is offline.
[13:42] herman Bergson: Ok.... any questions or remarks left?
[13:42] herman Bergson: If not...thank you all again for your participation....^_^
[13:42] CB Axel: Maybe our bodies are the shadows of the self.
[13:42] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Thank you
[13:42] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ....
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no new ones
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:42] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): thank you all
[13:43] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice again
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako) whispers:
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you herman & class
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: bye everyone
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): :9
[13:43] CB Axel: See you all Thursday.
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we do
[13:43] herman Bergson: See you CB
[13:43] John Howard Cassio (sticaatsi): Bye all

[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all:-) see you

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