philosophy of self

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Reply Sun 18 May, 2008 04:40 pm
I pose the question, Who are we really? What is it that constitutes an individual? How can we know ourselves? Why are we here? How do we know we exist? There is no right answer but I would like to know what you all think.

I think according to buddhist philosophy. Their is no self because their is no first cause (if you dont know the theory of no first cause states that the string of things that brought us up to this point is infinite and as such can have no begining). And the things that we see in the self do not make up the self so we are here but their is no permanent thing that defines the self.

Interested to see yalls thought.

peace
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 18 May, 2008 06:00 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva wrote:
I pose the question, Who are we really? What is it that constitutes an individual? How can we know ourselves? Why are we here? How do we know we exist? There is no right answer but I would like to know what you all think.

I think according to buddhist philosophy. Their is no self because their is no first cause (if you dont know the theory of no first cause states that the string of things that brought us up to this point is infinite and as such can have no begining). And the things that we see in the self do not make up the self so we are here but their is no permanent thing that defines the self. Interested to see yalls thought. peace


vajrasattva,Smile

I think a distinction needs to be made between ego and the self, the ego has the ability to be transformed while the self does not. It has been said that, "The Self In One Is The Self In All", Upanishads. I think this is true, as long as there is life, there will always be an "I". The "I" is the self and has no identity other than immediacy of experience. Personal identity to, is not the self, it is ego dressed in the clothing of context.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 09:49 am
@boagie,
vajrasattva - Even Buddhist tradition speaks of a true self, as opposed to the illusory self.

Boagie -
Quote:
"The Self In One Is The Self In All", Upanishads. I think this is true, as long as there is life, there will always be an "I".


Ah, but if what we call your self and my self is one self in all, then this one self is not "I", it's more of a "we".

For this sort of thread, definitions are vital. I like where boagie begins - distinguishing between "self" and "ego".

Quote:
The "I" is the self and has no identity other than immediacy of experience. Personal identity to, is not the self, it is ego dressed in the clothing of context.


So then you are saying that self is simply what is experiencing at the very moment of the experience?
 
Arjen
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:02 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
vajrasattva - Even Buddhist tradition speaks of a true self, as opposed to the illusory self.

Didy, Smile

Isn't the buddhist "self" the opposite of the western "self" though?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 10:22 am
@Arjen,
Quote:
Isn't the buddhist "self" the opposite of the western "self" though?


We have to be careful of language - I do not know Sanskrit or Tibetan, and I imagine I'm in the majority on that.

Atman might be compared to western notions of self. Ignorance, driven by the mistaken belief in Atman, is supposed to be the root of suffering. Or something like that.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 12:00 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
as i understand it the true self in Buddhism is emptiness, and as such, if the true self can be felt it is not the true self Buddhist philosophy is divinely transcendental. It deals in contradiction because the nature of reality is all encompassing. So its meaning contains each thing and its opposite. So because their is a self their is no self and vice versa the only way to see the truth in this is to sit back and be in the moment because as soon as we start to grasp we loose awareness of the moment The idea here is not to gain any knowledge of anything, but to gain insight into reality and its causes so one can know the truth of his or her own existance
 
soullight
 
Reply Mon 19 May, 2008 02:28 pm
@vajrasattva,
The "I" is made up of a collection of expereinces, which is always evolving to create futher expansions on the concept of self, as being aware, of it self, as being an I. The I represents our search for the Origin of awareness, as it is awareness that allows one to percieve one self as being an I. We understand that we are individual segments of creation that can make choices and create an expereince on indivdual levels. This seperateness from everthing else, even though we are interconnected and so can relate and respond to inanimate and animate objects and life forms. We have an inate sense of belonging to the whole, while at the same time knowing that we are individual elements. The I
 
kodiejelly
 
Reply Thu 22 May, 2008 12:53 am
@soullight,
Oooh my first post! Although i am over seventeen, I hope this is allowed!

[QUOTE]Atman might be compared to western notions of self. Ignorance, driven by the mistaken belief in Atman, is supposed to be the root of suffering. Or something like that.[/QUOTE]

I am learning about Atman currently at A2 in our philosophy of religion class on the body/soul distinction, the problem of personal identity and the different beliefs of monism and dualism. We have so far been taught that in Hinduism, the Atman is most literally translated as the 'eternal soul' and is trying to reach 'Moksha', a sort of release from the cycle of reincarnation, similar to the Buddhist enlightenment.

Yet in here (if I have read correctly) we are talking of Atman as a Buddhist word? Is it a universal word for a similar Eastern concept, have I been taught wrong, am I totally on the wrong track or are there two separate ideas?

I feel confused, please may somebody clear this up for me!?
Thank you in advance.

________________________

In response to the general question though, I myself have not yet decided what I feel constitutes 'I', although I would lean to the materialist view that we are just a body and a brain, with no separate 'soul' or 'I', and that when the body dies, the brain dies, and the 'I' of you dies.
I also feel that the question you first asked is in fact questionS-
[QUOTE]I pose the question, Who are we really? What is it that constitutes an individual? How can we know ourselves? Why are we here? How do we know we exist?[/QUOTE]
To me, these are all very different questions and it would appear that so far we are mostly addressing the first question, who are we and what constitutes our individual, or our 'I', our personal identity.
As these questions are all linked, but all very large in their own right I think it is best that we concentrate on the first. Although you hold the Buddhist view which I do not know very much at all about, my humble learning consists of learning the two main different views of the personal identity, from monist and dualist thinkers.

Dualist thinkers are those such as Plato and Descartes, who feel that the soul is distinct and separate from the body and that it what constitutes 'I'. This is also the belief in reincarnation or rebirth prominent in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism- if rebirth is possible, then the soul is something different from the body that can survive independently of it.

Monist thinkers can be those who believe that the soul and body are one, such as Hick and his Replica Theory and the Christian tradition of resurrection- the physical body is what identifies you and makes the 'I', the body and soul are as one and cannot be separated. Other monist thinkers have no belief in a soul and one interesting such thinker is Gilbert Ryle, classifying the whole idea of a soul as a 'category mistake'- the soul is just your characteristics and personality, which comes from your physical body and your brain- there is no separate 'ghost in the machine' as he called it. Dawkins too, believes that there is no such soul to be the self, or 'I'- we are simply our genes and DNA and our physical body and the brain gives us our self in the sense of person and character.

I have gone a little off topic, but I do believe that the purpose of this topic was to enlighten each other to different views, and although I have not presented a debate my aim was to give a brief introduction to some other ways of thinking, as we had mostly discussed an eastern view.

[QUOTE]There is no right answer but I would like to know what you all think.
[/QUOTE]

I do hope that this has helped Smile and I am very interested to hear more of boagie's distinction between ego and self. I am totally clueless as to this- are we speaking of the Freudian ego or something different?

Thank you for this enjoyable discussion! ^.^
 
de budding
 
Reply Thu 22 May, 2008 10:03 am
@kodiejelly,
When we use the pronoun 'I', it is a dual term which references the physical body which everyone else recognises as us but, at the same time it references the conscious entity that drives the physical body giving birth to the body's character traits- Gilbert Ryle's characteristics and personality.

I would agree with Ryle and Dawkins in as much as the 'soul' is often a misinterpretation of the 'I' related to personality and character and furthermore, I would agree that when the brain dies that the soul/ghost/spirit/'I' also perishes. But I wouldn't be so quick to assert that the conscious entity (ghost/spirit/'I') is the brain.

Language, our sensual equipment and the brain jointly give birth to perception and experience which must jointly manifest the sense of self we all have. If there was ever one defining feature of 'the machine' that could be considered 'the conscious entity' it would most likely be memory, without the memory we become a spotlight of consciousness trapped in the 'now', not able to learn, compare, analyse etc. all of which is futile without memory. There is a second degree of consciousness beyond plain experience which is the 'I' and it requires memory to be able to exist, its content is therefore all linked to or based on experience which ties in nicely to the film 'Ghost in the Shell'- which expresses this opinion with an allegory of cyborgs which learn consciousness through experience and memory. With this idea of the 'I' we can see why Ryle is right to describe the soul as a misinterpretation of a person's characters and personality but wrong to shackle this entity to the body, while it exists the 'I' is reliant on the body but not the body per se.

Alas I would have to admit that the sentiment of Ryle's derogatory phrase- 'ghost in the machine'- encapsulates my opinion of the self more accurately than I might like to admit. I would say I'm a 1.5ist- midway between monism and dualism... the consciousness is a product of the body, it comes from the body and is intrinsic to the body but it must be somewhat separate to exist externally giving way to 2nd order consciousness- the ability to recognise our bodies as part of the environment; it is that which does the recognising of the body which would be the 'I'.

Perhaps my opinion is a little fuzzy but I guess I just think that when analysing monism and dualism I think it is healthy to appreciate that there is room for both between.

Dan.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 22 May, 2008 02:00 pm
@de budding,
Quote:
I am learning about Atman currently at A2 in our philosophy of religion class on the body/soul distinction, the problem of personal identity and the different beliefs of monism and dualism. We have so far been taught that in Hinduism, the Atman is most literally translated as the 'eternal soul' and is trying to reach 'Moksha', a sort of release from the cycle of reincarnation, similar to the Buddhist enlightenment.

Yet in here (if I have read correctly) we are talking of Atman as a Buddhist word? Is it a universal word for a similar Eastern concept, have I been taught wrong, am I totally on the wrong track or are there two separate ideas?

I feel confused, please may somebody clear this up for me!?
Thank you in advance.


Good question. It sounds like your were taught correctly. In Hinduism Atman is the eternal soul trying to reach Moksha. Buddhism emerged in India, not as an independent religion per se, but as a sort of Hindu reform movement spurred by the teachings of the Buddha. So the Buddhist rejection of Atman (and the Hindu theology around Atman) is a criticism of Hinduism.



 
No0ne
 
Reply Fri 23 May, 2008 03:50 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva wrote:
I pose the question, Who are we really? What is it that constitutes an individual? How can we know ourselves? Why are we here? How do we know we exist? There is no right answer but I would like to know what you all think.

I think according to buddhist philosophy. Their is no self because their is no first cause (if you dont know the theory of no first cause states that the string of things that brought us up to this point is infinite and as such can have no begining). And the things that we see in the self do not make up the self so we are here but their is no permanent thing that defines the self.

Interested to see yalls thought.

peace


If someone hit's my car with no intention on hiting my car, if you belived that concept and lived by it, you could not lay blame on that person, nor could you blame the event's that led them to the spot where they hit you, for you would have to trace it back to the first action that resulted in the first reaction. hence the blame of all thing's lay's on the first action that intern created the first reaction. some think big bang, other's say god.

But you presented it in the way , speaking that there is no start or no first action. Here is an example that support's that way of thinking

You use your hand and grab a cup, that would be an action, yet it's realy an reaction from you thinking to grab the cup, so the real action would be you thinking to grab the cup, yet you thinking to grab the cup would still be a reaction created from the action that led you to think to grab the cup with your arm.

So the big bang would have been the first action that started all reaction's and all other action's, so forth and so forth, yet the big bang would still be an reaction created from an action before it, and that action also would only be an reaction from another action before it, so forth and so forth. Same thing can be said with the concept of the point of creation of god, hence the first cause or first action is like an infinite loop.

So this is also what led people back in the past to say god has allway's been, they must have came across the same branch of thought as I to lead them to a point that the first action/cause that started or made all other cause's/action's is infinit, yet they didnt have to word back then to display that concept so of course they used somthing els to display it. Anyways thats another story.

So the begining is an infinit loop of action and reaction's, yet all action's would be reaction's from a action before it (infinitly Looping), as displayed in the example of you grabing a cup, you can allways trace back to find the first action that led you into grabing the cup, yet there will allway's be a point were you would not be able to trace back any farther, which long ago led people to the concept of a creator, that had to make everything for it to be as it is now/then.

But the theory of no first cause states that the string of things that brought us up to this point is infinite and as such can have no begining, dose not explain why the thing's that brought us to this end point is infinite, if they had thought that far into there theory, they would have alterd it to an infinitly looping begining. Based on the example's based off there own function's of there bodie's movement's while interacting with other object's/people.

I like a theorictical fact proven by are intelectual thought's better than a theory ^.^. I hope you found my thoughts of such a concept intresting, for I did like allway's
 
de budding
 
Reply Fri 23 May, 2008 04:10 pm
@No0ne,
I been pondering the implications of such a 'loop' on freedom recently,
interesting Very Happy
Dan,
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 25 May, 2008 03:39 pm
@kodiejelly,
kodiejelly,Smile

:)It was my impression that Atman mean't the world soul. Schopenhaurer named his little dog Atman [world soul]. As to the process or devolopement of a personal identity, this is aquired from the context around them at their birth and then there after. I think identity is a very exclusive process, in that, we decern our I or persoanl identity by what we determine is not I. So the limits of famiularity with the content of ones context is the limit of the process of identity formation. Identity is exlcusionary.

:)The ego is what you might say I can do, how talented I am, how much money do I have, it is a self evaluation at any given time, in one context one might feel superior to the other, in another context one might feel ashamed of ones ego [self]. It can cause great difficulties in on going dialogue if the distinction is not made quite clear in the begining.

:)The real self you might say is the essence of life, immutable. Not subject or susceptible to change or variation in form or quality or its nature. As the Upanishads put it, "The Self In One Is The Self In All" so, between the selfs there is no differance.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 02:24 pm
@boagie,
Quote:
It was my impression that Atman mean't the world soul


In Hinduism the word is supposed to mean 'true self'. Of course, what true self is can be debated. Some (in Hinduism) hold a monistic position where the individual atman is identified as Atman, the world soul. Dualists differentiate between the individual Atman and the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul.

Much of this philosophical division in Hinduism comes after Buddhism has already become a dominant religious force in the region and spread to other nations. Sort of like philosophical responses to Buddhist criticism.
 
iconoclast
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 03:19 am
@Didymos Thomas,
We are an evolutioinary animal, experiencing a distinction between self and the outside world that, intellectualized, becomes a fiction. Our body is what we actually are - and this can be demostrated with reference to stroke victims, who having suffered damage to the brain,suffer impairment of thier concept of self. According to Dr. Jonathon Miller, author of 'the Body in Question' (1979), one of his patients thought that the nurses had stuck someone elses arm onto his body, and another thought that his twin brother was sewn to his back.
 
de budding
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 04:14 am
@iconoclast,
When stroke victims suffer damage to the right side of the brain they can sometimes develop Hemingfield Neglect, the condition's symptoms are... losing half your world!?

The patients can't see anything that is to their right (from the center of their on body), but it is not as simple as that because they don't realize it, it's as if they can't comprehend it or it simply doesn't exist. The behavior of patients demonstrates this; one might eat only the food on the Left of his plate not finishing until the plate is turned, shaving only half their face as if it doesn't exist or ignoring people who stand toward the right. Italian neurologist Edoardo Bisiach got patients to imagine and describe a cathedral they all knew very well, on approach from one direction they could only describe the left hand side buildings and details, and claimed not to know of anything other, but when he got them to describe the cathedral and approach as if they were walking from the opposite direction they forgot everything they just described and could only recall what they had previously claimed to not know when aprouching from the opposite direction.

I think this demonstrates a huge amount of conscious dependency on the brain.

Dan
 
iconoclast
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 09:37 am
@de budding,
dear all, i didn't realize this space was reserved for young philosophers - which speaks volumes for the high quality of your arguments - or my low standards! all the possibilities must be acknowledged! regards, iconoclast.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 30 May, 2008 04:17 pm
@iconoclast,
SmileI second the motion, but perhaps there should not be segregation of the young. At anyrate, if it is to be, I shall refrain from posting here.:eek:
 
simon phil
 
Reply Mon 2 Jun, 2008 07:37 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Consider what you already stated. Supposing there is no individual as such...

Then there is one greater self and we are all aspects of that self. The greater would be hinted at through aspects of the parts and each of the parts would be purely a single perspective of the greater self.

lol I'll try that in english. In your scenario, you have a ball. The greater self. Arranged around that ball are bits of curved glass. Look at the ball from any point through some of the curved glass. That's your individual. If the individual is just an aspect of the greater self, does it matter? If I cease to be, does it matter? In essence if this is the case, we can all cease to be and yet it would make no difference and matter not at all, for the greater self, be we aware of it or not, would continue to be, and in essence, so would we.

Are these the questions you were asking?
 
simon phil
 
Reply Mon 2 Jun, 2008 07:39 am
@boagie,
p.s. Atumn / Atuman and various other spellings - see ancient egyption.
 
 

 
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