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How am I not myself?

In the fantastic I ♥ Huckabees, we watch Jude Law’s character devolve from a self assured cocky jerk (putting it mildly) into a man in the grips of a nervous breakdown and identity crisis, all while the words “how am I not myself” repeat endlessly in his head. Is it possible for you to behave in such a way that “you’re not being yourself”? Is the question meaningless or an incredibly piercing and thought provoking thought experiment? As usual, I think a bit of both.

In a recent article, Joshua Knobe discussed two alternate notions of what we normally think of when thinking about a person’s “true self”. One is that the true self is the deeply ingrained non reflective desires of an individual. Our suppressed urges and impulses, or our unacknowledged emotions. Being true to yourself on this account would be embracing these facets of your character, of your being. The other notion is that your true self is made up from your deeply held commitments and values. Being true to yourself might involve all sorts of behaviors that go against your desires, since doing so would be remaining true to your values, and this is who we all really are.

But I think what we’ve set up here to this point is a false dichotomy between the idea that your true self is your genetics and instincts and that your true self is your values and commitments. It’s the same old nature vs. nurture debate under a different guise. Instead of debating where our choices and behaviors comes from (genes or the environment), it’s debating which of those choices and behaviors are our “true selves”. How often must cognitive science debunk these false dichotomies before we start listening?

In a post on the Practical Ethics blog, while discussing Mark Pierpoint, an evangelical preacher who has battled homosexual urges his whole life, Alexandre Erler says, “Rather than saying that Pierpont’s true self is defined either by his religious commitments or by his homosexual desires, I think we ought to say that both of these things define who he really is. His identity is fundamentally conflicted: it involves features in sharp tension with each other, with significant effects on his life course.”

I think that Alexandre is right on with this. There is no one area of the brain we can point to and say “here is where your self is”. Your “self” is the result of the activity of your entire brain. And there is no reason to expect that the behavior from such a complex structure will contain no inconsistencies. To put certain behaviors on the “true self” side and others on the “false self” side makes no sense. What is the justification for the separation? There is also no reason to expect that areas of the brain responsible for (or at least correlated with) certain types of behavior will be active at all times. Your thoughts and behavior arise from whatever patterns of neuronal firing are currently active, and if certain areas of the brain are not currently active, it could very well affect the kinds of choices you make and behaviors you engage in. Does that make those behaviors any less true? Any less you? Is there a particular module of the brain that is more true than another module? Why would the Amygdala be any more true to yourself than the prefrontal cortex? Or vice versa?

This gets us to a much more fundamental point in this conversation, which in a sneaky way has already led us astray from the very beginning. Speaking about the notion of a “true self” implies there is a “false self”. When really what we should be asking is, what is a “self” in the first place? What are we talking about when we argue about the self? I recently wondered whether our historic notions of the soul often confuse present day conversations regarding the nature of human cognition and behavior. The same is true of the self. We seem to have this notion that there is some immaterial and immutable self, some sort of default state of being that exists outside our particular neurophysiology, which emotional or reflective states act on. But the self can’t exist outside our neurophysiology, it is defined by our neurophysiology. In a world where personality is defined by neurophysiology though, is there even still room for the self? In one of my very first posts I had some fun with a thought experiment about the possibility of uploading your consciousness to a different body. The thought experiment was really just a vessel to explore our everyday notions of what a self is, and I ended up arguing that your sense of self is just a feeling associated with a particular pattern of neuronal firing at any given time. You ARE that pattern, and as that pattern changes, so do you. There is no consistent self or you that remains stable over time.

What do I mean by this? There’s been a lot of data coming out of the cognitive sciences recently that points to the fact that our personality is often times not a consistent feature of our “selves” but is actually very situation specific. Think about the differences in your behavior when you’re calm versus when you are angry. When you’re relaxed versus when you are stressed. What about when you are surrounded by friends versus being surrounded by your family, or even compared to being surrounded by total strangers? What about when you’re in an intimate social gathering versus a large social gathering? Do you behave differently when you are drunk versus when you’re sober? You might argue that all these varied situations cause neurophysiological reactions that alter the way “you would normally behave”, that there is your “self” and then there is yourself under the influence of various conditions. But this is just going back to the completely unwarranted assumption that there is some sort of area of the brain that corresponds to “you” (or that there is an immutable and default you) and that your emotions and mental states act on you and cause you to make different choices. But there is no “you” and a separate “emotion”, there is just “you in a particular state of being”. We give labels to these different states to make sense of them, but the act of labeling them tends to make us think they are separate from us. This isn’t the case. Take away your sensory systems, your emotional systems, your reasoning systems and you aren’t left with an unspoiled default “you”, you’re left with nothing.

Have you ever said you would do one thing in a situation, and then when actually put in that situation you do something else? Which is being true to yourself? The choice you want to make or the choice you do make? Questions like these don’t even make sense in light of the kinds of considerations I’ve been suggesting. Standard notions of the self, let alone the true self, are problematic enough. So it seems to me that we can take one of two tracts here; either we deny the notion that there exists some sort of true self at all, or we come to the conclusion that you are ALWAYS being true to yourself. How could you be otherwise? How are you not yourself? To me, the question isn’t whether you are being true to yourself or not, but rather, what kinds of selves should we be? And what is our justification for saying so? If our neurophysiology can change through interactions with our environments, and if our behavior and thoughts arises from neuronal firing as a result of this neurophysiology, and this is what it means to be, or have, a self, then what we want is to figure out what types of people we want to be, and what kinds of choices we can make to help us become those types of people, both in our explicit thought patterns AND in our implicit desires and behaviors.

Knobe ran an interesting experiment where people were presented with situations where a person either seemingly denies an inner urge, or makes a behavioral change seemingly based on values. When asked whether the person in the situation was being true to themselves, Knoebe found that the most reliable indicator didn’t have to do with whether someone embraced or denied an urge, or acted on their values, but rather, whether the person reading the situation agreed with the behavior. We all make value judgments about other peoples’ actions and their choices, and we apparently impose these very same value judgments when evaluating whether someone is being true to themselves or not. Without knowing it, these experiment participants advocated something along the very lines I’ve been saying. They thought they were answering a question about what it means to be true to yourself, but what they really answered was a question about what it means to act rightly, about what kind of self we believe we should be, and knowingly or unknowingly equated that with the concept of a true self. Imagine if someone’s “true self” was, to be blunt, an asshole? What if someone’s true self is a rapist or murderer? Very few people would embrace this notion of the true self, and I think most people are at least intuitively aware of this difference between the self we are, and the self we want to be, the self we should strive to be. And if that’s how we want to use the phrase “true self”, i’m fine with that. But we should do so knowingly, with a full understanding of the real ontological nature of the concept we’re discussing.

arrow16 Responses

  1. 38 mos, 2 wks ago

    Your Comments

    Nice article.
    Indeed,we change, and our personality changes. We can see that most easily if we follow time.

    In physics, this is about memory. What happen if we loose the memory, are we then changed? The problem here is that memories have so many layers.

    In strokes we can see the change, but we usually not consider this personality change. Why not?

    The true self and personality is about entanglements, or maybe networks could be used in another word. Networks are understood as mostly physical, but they can be invisible in structure too. Entanglements between photons have been made. And we know there is an extremely strong entanglement in magnetic fields. We don’t know what memory is, and it could have magnetic aspects.

    Entanglements have different time-scales, and some can be extremely long-lasting. The most long-lasting is the proton, with time.-scale of the whole universe. Living things is composed of those,but is composite and decoherent, so mostly with a much shorter time-scale. There can be fixed combinations though, as in genomes + its nurture combined states.

    If we talk of souls this entanglement is much more long-standing. The soul can have different impurities that has an impact, and we need to free us from them. What this soul is we don’t know. It has consciousness in immaterial form though.
    Ulla.

  2. Greg
    38 mos, 2 wks ago

    Thanks for commenting Ulla!

    I have a different take than you, that I go into much more detail on here: http://cognitivephilosophy.net/consciousness/to-upload-or-not-to-upload/. I find the self in the patterns of neuronal firing that generate consciousness. Under my understanding, consciousness and the self are about organization…matter is about organization. And particular types of organizations, particular temporal patterns underlie our selves. So our self emerges from these patterns and is also constrained by these patterns.

    Thus there is no true self any more than there is a false self. There is just the self that emerges. Personality can change, behaviour can change, physical form can change, but you are defined by your temporal pattern of organization. I agree with you that without memory, the concept of a self loses all meaning (at least in rich form we mean when we discuss self).

  3. 38 mos, 2 wks ago

    Then I would want to know your answer to the soul.

    Good life isn’t rational and effective only. Humans needs more.

    And consciousnessis coming from outside as patterns, negentropy that we percieve. In this way consciousness is the information about the self. Consciousness is not something emergent in nerves. Nerves only compute, and make sense of the information.

  4. Greg
    38 mos, 2 wks ago

    My answer to the soul is quite simple, I see no evidence for such a thing. I’ve even written a few times about how our historical notions of a soul tend to confuse conversations in the present. The vestiges of this concept that there is something separate from neurophysiology that defines us makes forward progress in many different areas difficult since it muddies our notions of the causes and reasons for human behavior, and change (or lack there of).

    I would also argue that the days of neurons as functionally computational are coming to an end. As well as the days of viewing the the brain as an information processor. As evidenced by much of the writing and research in the embodied cognition movement. When I say that consciousness is emergent in neurons, that’s a bit of an oversimplification. There’s nothing about neurons in any sort of necessary way that would allow consciousness to arise. And neuronal firing is just one part of a larger functional whole that includes the entire body and the interactions it has with the environment. It’d take far too long to defend these ideas here, but if you wanna follow anything up, I’ve been heavily influenced by the writings of Mark Bickhard, which you can read here: link. Another great read would be O’Regan and Noe’s BBS article “A Sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness”.

  5. 38 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hi Greg, really interesting article. I think that many people use the term ‘your true self’ in a context that causes one to believe that there is such a thing – when in fact it doesn’t exist and therefore – the judgement is void of meaning. Your point that having a true self implies a false self – is interesting, because like you say – where is the false self? It can’t really exist.

    I watched a TV show about people suffering from dementia – and their close family were saying that they weren’t themselves. I think what they might mean is that before they had this disease, they wouldn’t have behaved in the manner that they do currently, since developing the disease. But that is a mouthful. So perhaps saying ‘they are not themselves’ is a short hand for this – although this short hand is misleading in the reality. Seeing them in this way could cause forma loved ones to switch off to them – dealing with the grief of the loss of the person they thought they knew. I can understand this, and it would be distressing and upsetting. But is the person not themselves, or are they just being stimulated in a different way that is causing changes in the way they express themselves.

    To me, being myself is about my genetic make up. I am myself due to my unique gene sequence. But there is so much potential and variety in that – that I could be many number of ways of being according to my circumstances internal and external. Initially the environment of my conception would influence which gene expressions I have – which genomes are deleted and which stay, then as I grow in my mums womb, her environment, health, the food she eats and her activities and stress levels all have an impact on how I grow and develop and which genes are activated during that first 9 weeks after implantation into her womb at around day 6 after conception. And so on.

    We do develop certain patterns of behaviour, that others identify as being ‘us’. I think some of them are very fundamental – but perhaps also it is others recognising patterns in us from others in the family for example – and they may be filtering according to their own criteria of what ‘I’ am, rather than seeing all of what I am. We can only see what we know – as our brains actually make up most of what we ‘think’ we see based on past experience. Indigenous peoples of Sydney didn’t at first see the boats in the harbour when they arrived – but after 3 days the wise man of the group noticed a change in the waves on the beach and then noticed what was causing them.

    Things are not always as they seem. Even our own perception is not reliable.

    I have found personally that diet is a large factor in who I am. If I eat lots of sugar or have coffee I’m someone different. Also I’ve found recently that I have a different reaction to wheat in my personality than if I stick to meat and vegetables. The amount of vitamins and type of protiens and minerals we have in our bodies changes our biochemistry – which has a huge impact on our thinking and how we behave and what we think. As well as also environmental factors – stress and are we getting what we want in life.

    I think your point about values is very important. It’s hard to know how much comes from our genes and how much from our social environment. But it’s true, we do have strong feelings about what is right and how to act. And I agree that this is the gage we use to discern if we are being ourselves – although personally I’ve never much liked that expression – perhaps because it does seem misleading intuitively to me – and I’ve always thought that people who used the expression were missing something or being naive in some way.

  6. Greg
    38 mos, 1 wk ago

    Thanks Alice! I agree that the comment, “you’re not being yourself”, in any context, is always implying something that just isn’t the case. Whether it’s in regards to someone suffering from dementia, or just someone acting seemingly out of character. I mentioned this above, but it’s interesting how significant a role memory plays in this conversation. Memory not only gives you your sense of self, a sense of being the same person over time, but it also gives you a sense of other people’s selves. The only way we can justifiably say that someone is or isn’t acting like themselves is if we have previous behavior to compare it to. Without memory, that question is meaningless. Either that, or we’re back to the role that values and ethics plays in evaluating whether someone is acting in accordance with who we think they should be (rather than who they are).

    In regards to your point about genes vs the environment; that’s why I generally just talk about neurophysiology. It doesn’t get muddled in specific nature vs. nurture debates, while stressing that behavior stems from current neurophysiology at any given moment. Anyway, yeah, I agree. I’m uncomfortable with the expressions as well, but mostly as a result of the fact that I think they’re thrown around too loosely without consideration for some of the points I’m arguing for. i.e. – I’m not arguing that in everyday conversation we need to resort to long winded explanations that cover every nuance and caveat possible about a particular idea, but that if we’re going to use words the self (or free will and responsibility), it’d be nice if we had a better sense for their nature, which in turn would give us a better sense of our own nature.

  7. 38 mos, 1 wk ago

    It’s an interesting topic. Regarding free will – I go for determinism – so no contra causal free will exists. Regarding sense of self – I very much agree with you. And using neurophysiology does fix the nature vs nurture debate. Although I think the nature vs nurture is a none debate anyhow – due to the fact that both have an influence and have causal factors that make the whole. I realise that our current understanding must be flawed only due to retrospective analysis of our past cutting edge ideas on life and how it works. Although I must say we must have most of it right in order to do things like fly planes etc. I think it would be quite easy to talk more accurately about general life situations without going into long winded explanations – it’s all a matter of getting our perspectives straight and educating ourselves away from using inaccurate figures of speech.

  8. 38 mos, 1 wk ago

    I am curious how you feel about the longevity of personality types? Personally, I feel I have returned at this point in my life to a point very similar to where I arrived shortly after acquiring my adult mental faculties. At 31, I am able to read things I wrote at 15 and feel that I am not very much different today than I was back then. For example, in the interim I did dabble in Paganism and deism, but although I didn’t know what humanism was at 15, I can look back and say that I feel my “true self” was a humanist all along. I was once told that I have a personality disorder, but when I take the Myers-Briggs and see that my type makes up only 1% of the population, I wonder which explanation is better for my disconnect with others. I have concluded that I am not disordered at all, unless everyone of my cohorts is similarly disordered. That term is biased, because it labels me as having a problem when from my perspective it is the other 99% who are doing things in a way that makes no sense. What I really wonder is whether if I had taken one of those tests yearly for the past decade and a half, would the results have been consistent? I’ve read that personality is relatively stable, but you seem to disagree if I am reading your post correctly. In what ways does personality change over time? Is there any longitudinal experimental data that supports this hypothesis? I would be curious to see the results of a longitudinal study of personality, though I’m not sure who would do such a study or if one has been previously published. As an academic in this field, what are your thoughts?

  9. Greg
    38 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hi Erik, there a couple different ways I could answer you question, that might seem at first glance somewhat contradictory.

    On the one hand, I’m sure there is some validity to general personality consistency over time. But what do we mean by that? In my post I talked about how your behavior can change drastically based on your emotional state or situational context. But maybe you might want to say that while your personality under those different circumstances changes, how you behave in each type of circumstance stays consistent over time. And this might be so. The question I would ask would be, why? What allows stability and what allows change? While our brains are very plastic, there is a limit. We are constrained by certain features of our biology. Of our genetics. Of our neurophysiology. Given those constraints, and the types of experiences each of us is exposed to throughout our life, there is I think, some amount of wiggle room in how much our personality can change over time. Some people may change more than others, dependent on a variety of factors. It also hinges on exactly what distinction we make between personality and behavior. Maybe a change in preference for vanilla over chocolate ice cream does not count as a personality change, but does liking sports and then later not liking sports? What about hating travel, and then later coming to love travel?

    You imply that your personality has remained relatively stable. But plenty of people grow into adults with very different behavioral patterns from when they were younger. Maybe when younger you were selfish and rude. As an adult you’ve realized the error of your ways and become kind and respectful. As a kid you liked sitting at home by yourself and reading books, as an adult you enjoy outdoor athletic activity with others. I think that experiences over time provide opportunities for neurophysiological and psychological changes. Go live in another country for a time. Surround yourself with people and a culture very different from yours. Open yourself up to new worldviews. Be the victim of a traumatic event. Be put in an unexpected long term stressful situation. All these things have the possibility of changing our personality in fundamental ways.

    But even more at root, part of what I’m getting at is that even IF you had a consistent and stable personality for your whole life, by virtue of what does that make it your “true self”? And more importantly, is that the person you want to be? Is that the kind of person you should be? Behavior is behavior, personality is personality, whether it is “true” or “false” is not backed up by cognitive science, rather, it seems we are making value judgments of peoples’ behavior when we use those words. Which I think is a good thing, but one that I don’t think people realize they’re doing.

  10. 27 mos, 1 wk ago

    I do appreciate your recognition of the continuing false dichotomy between “nature and nurture”, whatever their form, in cognitive psychology. However, I must question the following statement: “But the self can’t exist outside our neurophysiology, it is defined by our neurophysiology.”

    That depends entirely upon one’s definition of “self”; as I mentioned before, definitions are very important. :) Although you have previously declared some sort of ambivalent proponence on the existence of free will, you also advocate reductionist materialism. The two are not compatible: if only matter and energy are real, then consciousness (being a metaphysical, self-aware causal agent) is not. If consciousness is not real, then free will is not possible. Without metaphysical existence, will (whatever that might be in a universe of only material) is bound by the limits of quantum probability. Without self-awareness, will is blind. Without causal agency, will is impotent.

    Allow me to play Devil’s Advocate: what if, instead of consciousness being an epiphenomenon of matter, matter were an epiphenomenon of consciousness? Our “self” not being “defined” by our neurophysiology, but neurophysiology simply being our shared perception of how our consciousness interacts with our greater shared perception (the universe). Instantly, all questions of illusion, awareness and perception become an order of magnitude more easily understood. Quantum mechanics can be resolved without resort to the most un-parsimonious hypothesis ever conceived (many-worlds). The universe has a reason to be rational and mathematical.

    Just a thought. :)

  11. Greg
    27 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hey Jason, I don’t find idealism a very persuasive philosophical position, so you’ll have to excuse me from formulating a detailed response to that point.

    But in regards to your first point. It’s worth noting that I’m both not an epiphenomenalist about consciousness, nor am I a reductive materialist. I don’t even consider myself a physicalist (depending on the definition, are fields physical?), and prefer naturalism. I advocate strong ontological emergence about consciousness.

    I say that the self can’t exist outside of our neurophysiology in the sense that I am not a dualist. Consciousness and thoughts are not free floating entities, but are dependent on embodied interactive systems engaging with the world. I cannot walk through walls, I cannot fly by flapping my arms, I cannot run 3000mph. I don’t know things that I never learned, and I don’t know words that I never heard, and I can’t lift weights that are too heavy for my muscles to lift. Similarly, I cannot think thoughts that are not in my psychological make up to think. The kinds of things I think about, the kinds of considerations I engage in when making choices, the kinds of things I like and dislike, and the kinds of reactions I have to experiences are all dependent on my current psychological make up. That psychological make up emerges from my current neurophysiology, which is the way it is because of the way my body was constructed from my DNA, and a lifetime of experiences and interactions that this body has engaged in. If you have an idealist conception of consciousness and metaphysics, that’s not going to be very convincing to you, but it’s certainly the more standard picture offered by our best science of today.

  12. 22 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hey Greg,

    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed reading the article and considering your ideas. I think you’re quite right that it’s impossible to “not be yourself”, but I do think you can be more like yourself and less like yourself.

    I wouldn’t say that personality and a “true self” are the same thing, but if we could nail down an understanding of personality, that seems like a step in the right direction. The way I conceptualize it, personality isn’t comprised of behaviours. Behaviours are the result of an interaction between personality and context. Context is the part that changes based on your emotions, your physical state (e.g. hunger) and your surroundings.

    You don’t have to say that person A in situation B will always act like C. Rather, think of a scatterplot with context on the X and behaviour on the Y. There is some variation, but it’s also not totally random. Personality is that line of best fit. It’s not technically possible to do something where you are not “being yourself”, because all of your behaviours have some relation to your personality. You can, however, have a very extreme outlier. Usually though, if you know a context and a person’s personality, you can make a decent prediction of their behaviour based on that line of best fit.

    At that point, the argument comes down to that idea around a sort of molecular determinism (actions are caused by thoughts and thoughts are caused by neurochemical reactions, and the chemicals in your brain follow the irrefutable laws of physics, therefore everything is predetermined and we have no free will, etc, etc….there must be a fancy term for this theory but I don’t know it).

    Part of what you wrote about plays to this idea and part of it doesn’t. If humans are nothing more than complex neurochemistry, then there’s nothing to call the self other than a descriptive recording of all the electrochemical reactions that occur between what we call birth and death. However, if you want to ask about a “true self”, that implies we are capable of making choices that define ourselves. If we do have free will beyond what is genetically and chemically predetermined but you don’t want to call it magic/God/soul, what is the scientific explanation for cause and effect?

    My position is that our non-organic consciousness must function in such a way that it is not activated by chemicals reactions and electrical signals, but that it can exert a physical influence on physical reactions and signals. That’s no small assumption – our current model of cognitive science says that all brain activity has an organic basis. However, the decision-making part of ourselves can’t be organic without getting back to the determined-by-brain chemistry argument.

    It’s quite conceivable that there would be mechanisms at play in the brain that we aren’t yet aware of. Although we have a lot of research on chemicals and electric signals in the brain, science still hasn’t bridged the gap between those measurable, biological components and the subjective experiences that we call consciousness. We know how light hits the photoreceptors in our eyes, and how our body transmit the signal to the brain and that somehow that electrical impulse comes out as the experience of green. Science hasn’t yet gotten to the question of how this electrical impulse feels like green and that electrical impulse feels like loud. Somewhere in there, in that gap between the physical and the experiential is where I place this “true self” idea that differentiates the experiencer that is me from the experiencer that is not.

  13. Greg
    22 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hi LSK, thanks for you comment! There’s a lot of stuff packed into your reply that spans issues surrounding reductionism and emergentism and downward causation and determinism and more. I’m not going to even attempt to address a lot of that here. :) It’s all super interesting, and the kind of stuff I think about in a more academic setting, but too much to tackle here!

    I’ll just respond to one aspect of your comment having to do with being more or less like yourself, in a way to keep some notion of a true self. I think, even though I agreed with a vast amount of what you said, keeping a notion of a true self or being true to yourself in the way you describe doesn’t address the ethical concern I have with the concept. Your definition would seem to still allow rapists and murderers to slide in as being true to themselves when they commit all sorts of atrocious acts. This is why I think the notion of a true self is either meaningless or should be re-conceptualized to be an ethical question. Meaningless because everything about you is always changing: beliefs, memories, personality, appearance, physical matter, etc…so to say some behaviors are more or less like yourself is in my mind not justified. I responded above to Erik in regards to his concerns about stable personality traits, and said that even if you had a totally stable and consistent personality your whole life, the justification is still not there to talk about a “true” self, as in some way of being that is essential to you as ordained by god or fate or genetics. I said:

    “by virtue of what does that make it your “true self”? And more importantly, is that the person you want to be? Is that the kind of person you should be? Behavior is behavior, personality is personality, whether it is “true” or “false” is not backed up by cognitive science, rather, it seems we are making value judgments of peoples’ behavior when we use those words.”

    So rather than get rid of the concept because it’s meaningless, if we want to keep it, I think the only way to do so is to convert it into an ethical concept. Though of course, if you want to claim that certain behaviors we engage in deviate more or less from some sort of mean, or some more ingrained patterns of behavior/thought (that are nevertheless capable of changing over time), I fully agree. I just think it’s a mistake to call that your “true self”.

  14. Charles Webster
    17 mos, 1 wk ago

    I found this very interesting, your thoughts on what “one’s self” really is has me still thinking. It makes you wonder what makes up a persons true self; if there is a true self. The idea of what surrounds a person may cause the true self to either come out or stay inside one’s mind trips me out. Maybe someones true self is based off of how they want to actually act, changing who their “true” self actually is. Overall this was very informative and changes how I not only see but how I think when it comes to not only one’s true self but if one’s self is really true.

  15. Greg
    16 mos, 3 wks ago

    Hi Charles, thanks for those comments. Yes, I struggled with these sorts of questions, but for me, not only does the idea that there is no such thing as a true self follow from all sorts of scientific and philosophical considerations, but changing the question to an ethical question also helps makes sense of, and allow us to still pursue, why it is that questions about the self interest us in the first place.

  16. Nina Nina
    15 mos, 2 wks ago

    Wow. I haven’t pulled my eyes from my screen since I started reading this post and comments. I just wanted to say that all of you’s thoughts and ideas about the “self” have gotten my mental engines running. What’s really running my mental engine? I have no idea. This post has made me realize that I have never examined my “self” with the 5 simple (yet not so simple) Ws..Who, What, When, Where, and the very hard to answer Why. The point of my comment is to just say thank you all for stimulating and inspiring my mind.

    -Nina

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