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The self

Last updated April 27, 2022

  1. Me (self-as-object)
    1. Some feature is the object of my awareness
    2. I recognize this feature as mine or ascribe it to myself
  2. I (self-as-subject)
    1. I experience myself as subject of perception/cognition/emotion
    2. Body anchored

Valid in dreams, but also games?

# Autoscopic Phenomena1

# Views of the self1

  1. Neuro-nihilism
    • There is no self
    • The self is an illusion created by the brain
    • “I” does not refer to anything so all references are errors (false)
  2. Enactive View
    • The self is a process
    • Enacted through social cognition and language, rooted in the life of the body immersed in the environment
    • “I” functions performatively, not referentially
    • I-making (ahamkāra): the sense of being an “I” who endures through tiem and who is a thinker of thoughts and a doer of deeds
      • dancing is a process that enacts a dance in the dance itself is no different from dancing
      • similarly, the self is a process that enacts an “I” and the “I” is no different from the self
      • The self is self-specifying ( autopoietic) and also interdependent (dependently originated process)
  3. Absolutism
    • There exists a real independent self

# Identity

Essay by Jenny Odell and in Kopi Chats on Substack

“When I examine my identity, I do see an inalienable spirit grasping for infinity. But in the very same place, I also see an intersection of historical and cultural vectors, held up by a web of countless reliances.”

Reminds me of Indra’s Net, that everything is interdependent, empty of dependent origination.

“Connective vulnerability is so frightening because sometimes we will be let down by others, unmoored from friendships and relationships we thought were our anchors in life. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. (see: nothing stops)”


  1. This content is sourced from Professor Evan Thompson’s course materials for PHIL451A at UBC. All rights to this content is retained by Evan Thompson. ↩︎


Interactive Graph