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Thread: The Illusion of Self

  1. Top | #41
    Member aupmanyav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I just don't see any concrete reason why we would consider it one.
    IOW, we might as well move onward from discussing the self as a tangible thing in of itself, because that's obviously not what it is. My argument would be that our sense of self is derived from the cognitive science definition you mention. In which it has a real existence as a part of our mental world. Therefore not an illusion.
    The concrete reason is that we are just a bunch of atoms (or more correctly, bunch of energy points) who at a certain point of time have got together in a particular way. At our death these atoms (points of energy) disperse to form parts of millions/billions of things. So where is the self?
    Self or how we perceive the world is just a mind game, illusion, maya. And it is very difficult to give up this illusion.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aupmanyav View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I just don't see any concrete reason why we would consider it one.
    IOW, we might as well move onward from discussing the self as a tangible thing in of itself, because that's obviously not what it is. My argument would be that our sense of self is derived from the cognitive science definition you mention. In which it has a real existence as a part of our mental world. Therefore not an illusion.
    The concrete reason is that we are just a bunch of atoms (or more correctly, bunch of energy points) who at a certain point of time have got together in a particular way. At our death these atoms (points of energy) disperse to form parts of millions/billions of things. So where is the self?
    Self or how we perceive the world is just a mind game, illusion, maya. And it is very difficult to give up this illusion.
    So now you realize that you are just a bunch of atoms or points of energy it is no longer an illusion. Does that prohibit me from refering to this particular arrangement of atoms and energy points as the self? Once I know it is an illusion I might change how I interact with it. Just as realizing that atoms are a bunch of energy points might be useful. We will always be looking for a a more objective truth. A broader perspective. There is no absolute truth. Maya is itself the illusion.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    The illusion of conscious self is that our sense of self may not be what we believe it to be, or do what we believe that it does.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The illusion of conscious self is that our sense of self may not be what we believe it to be, or do what we believe that it does.
    That could be true of everything. And in fact it always is true to some degree. But making a blanket statement that the self does not exist without any qualifications is false.

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The illusion of conscious self is that our sense of self may not be what we believe it to be, or do what we believe that it does.
    That could be true of everything. And in fact it always is true to some degree. But making a blanket statement that the self does not exist without any qualifications is false.
    If we define something about 'our' experience as being 'self' then self does exist, the question then appears to be; what is the nature of self and its relationship to the body and its environment as a whole?

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    The illusion of conscious self is that our sense of self may not be what we believe it to be, or do what we believe that it does.
    That could be true of everything. And in fact it always is true to some degree. But making a blanket statement that the self does not exist without any qualifications is false.
    If we define something about 'our' experience as being 'self' then self does exist, the question then appears to be; what is the nature of self and its relationship to the body and its environment as a whole?
    Descartes said the self is essentially that which thinks. The Existentialists said that the self is what acts. No essence before existence. My view is that the self is what has. That is, all the relationships it has with other things. This is what gives the self meaning just as it gives meaning to all things. The self doesn't think. It has thoughts, regardless of where they originate.

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    Imagine a group of AIs that know the computers they run understanding hardware and software. They try to describe what they perceive as awareness and individuality.

    Can they do it without any self referential constructs?

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    Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Imagine a group of AIs that know the computers they run understanding hardware and software. They try to describe what they perceive as awareness and individuality.

    Can they do it without any self referential constructs?
    Yes, and when they are doing it, who or what within the system is doing it......

  9. Top | #49
    Member aupmanyav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    So now you realize that you are just a bunch of atoms or points of energy it is no longer an illusion. Does that prohibit me from refering to this particular arrangement of atoms and energy points as the self?
    Yeah, that will be premature. Even the atoms (points of energy) are perhaps illusions because perhaps they may not have been there before Big Bang. Probably, they arose out of 'absolute nothing' because of Quantum perturbation. We will know that when we untie the knot of existence and non-existence. The jury is still out. That is going to take some time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_universe
    "Pascual Jordan first suggested that since the positive energy of a star's mass and the negative energy of its gravitational field together may have zero total energy, conservation of energy would not prevent a star being created by a quantum transition of the vacuum. George Gamow recounted putting this idea to Albert Einstein: "Einstein stopped in his tracks and, since we were crossing a street, several cars had to stop to avoid running us down".
    The zero-energy universe theory originated in 1973, when Edward Tryon proposed in the journal Nature that the universe emerged from a large-scale quantum fluctuation of vacuum energy, resulting in its positive mass-energy being exactly balanced by its negative gravitational potential energy."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_genesis
    "Vacuum genesis (zero-energy universe) is a scientific hypothesis about the Big Bang that questions whether the universe began as a single particle arising from an absolute vacuum, similar to how virtual particles come into existence and then fall back into non-existence."
    Last edited by aupmanyav; 02-22-2020 at 09:11 AM.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tharmas View Post
    I like the distinction between two "selfs." One is more like what Rousseau refers to, relating to the body as a whole. The second is more subtle, what the paper in the OP refers to as the center of consciousness, or the "I" that perceives. I remember from somewhere reading of Francis Crick's work on the "hard problem" of consciousness. A woman said to him that she didn't see the problem, that it was just like a TV in her brain. Crick replied "Yes, but who is watching the TV?"

    Where in the brain is this "I"? There isn't a little fellow "behind the curtain" pulling levers and pushing buttons to move your hand or make you talk. That's the "self" that is the illusion. In my opinion it may be a bi-product of intelligence, an essential fiction for language perhaps, a way of avoiding having to say "My brain just indicated that it moved my hand" and other circumlocutions that make little sense.

    It might be better to merely say, 'there are thoughts' than to say 'there is an I experiencing thoughts'. The latter seems to be illusory.

    Most notably the notion that it's stable over time, that you are now the same person, albeit not in all ways, but in one supposedly fundamental sense, that you were 10 years ago, or even at a pinch 10 minutes ago. Some say self is just a story, that the brain tells to the brain, with a fictional protagonist. Perhaps memories are just like the brain reading back through previous scenes, to remind the brain of the coherence of the fictional narrative.

    Most of us have at least a pretty stable, albeit probably still illusory, sense of self, but some people who suffer from certain types of identity dissociative disorder don't. They will report that they have no idea who they are or even that they feel they don't exist. It is as if, for them, all the pages of the storybook have been randomly mixed up or that the story is about someone else, or no one at all (that it has no protagonist).

    Then there are multiple personality disorders, and we might ask, 'which of the persons is really real?' (possibly none of them, in the end).

    It also seems that we can lose the self narrative after trauma, for example the cognitive depersonalisation that can happen during or after, say, childhood sexual abuse, the facts about which can also subsequently be excluded from or hidden from the self narrative.

    And our sense of self can of course be moved outside our bodies entirely, as experiments and reports of various experiences show.

    And most of us can do this in our imaginations.

    Because I think we all probably experience such 'self-fluidity' to at least a limited degree, or can induce such things via, for example psychedelic drugs, which presumably temporarily interfere with the usual narrative in some way. We don't have to completely and permanently lose our self because of, say, dementia.

    We can even routinely see things from a second-person perspective, when so immersed in a really good book that we stop thinking of ourselves as being merely the reader who is sitting in a chair reading. Then there's the state of mind called shock that we might enter after a very bad car accident, especially if there is also concussion. On other less traumatic occasions we can be temporarily disoriented for a variety of reasons, which can affect our sense of time, place and personhood.

    And in all of those cases we are conscious. Obviously, and perhaps tellingly, our self vanishes completely when we are under full anaesthetic. Also when we are asleep, but not dreaming.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-23-2020 at 02:13 PM.
    "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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