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Thread: The Illusion of Self

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    What I find misleading about this "illusion of self" is that it is not really a conventional interpretation of sensory input. Rather, it is a report of an imagined location of a poorly defined "self" that could be conceived differently by different people. If what is being reported is a focus point for senses, then it would be natural to associate it with visual perception or the eyes. However, one can subjectively manipulate that focus of attention elsewhere in the body by associating it with touch, hearing, or some other peripheral sensor.

    And of course, the supposed location is only one issue.

    As to whether self should properly be called an illusion, or an delusion, or partly both, or something else, I don't know. It's an interesting question. I would guess it's possible to argue about which word is best, and now that we know that perception is a mixed process and is apparently as much do do with internal (brain) processes as with external input (from other parts of the body or from outside it), it may be that the conventional distinctions between illusion & delusion are somewhat blurred, or that there's room for overlap, or maybe it's a false dichotomy to think it either one or the other in all ways. To what end or how much it's really worth detouring into it here, I'm not sure. On the one hand, it could be fun to toss around and useful to clear it up, assuming that were possible. On the other hand, we might never move on to discussing the topic further.

    Or we could merely say instead that we think we have a self, and we generally think it's located in our head behind the eyes (when our brains aren't 'projecting' it elsewhere) as if it was, or we had, a little homunculi in us, and we generally tend to think it's in charge or has agency and perhaps even free will, and that it's stable over time, and possibly other beliefs, and all of these appear to be at least dubious. We could say they are "subjective experiences that are not, in some ways, what they seem to be" (that's Bruce Hood's definition of illusion, he's the author of the book, 'The Self Illusion') or maybe we could call them apparently false beliefs.

    I'm not against doing definitions though, with the above caveats, so fire away. I know it's your thing and your area of much expertise.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-26-2020 at 10:26 AM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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