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Some western theories of the self. Where do we come from? What makes us who we are?. The Fated Self – Greeks and Romans Our destinies are decided by the Fates, we are the playthings of the gods. The Faithful Self – Christian Middle Ages-present

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The Rational Self – Descartes

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The rational self descartes

Some western theories of the self

Where do we come from? What makes us who we are?

The Fated Self – Greeks and Romans

Our destinies are decided by the Fates, we are the playthings of the gods.

The Faithful Self – Christian Middle Ages-present

The self is a soul created by God and defined by its obedience to the Lord and its expiation of Original Sin.

Four modern humanist conceptions

The Rational Self – Descartes

The self is a rational thinking mind, separate from and having control over the body.

Philosophy


The rational self descartes

The Conflicted Self – Freud

The self is a complicated interplay between the ego, id, and superego and the conscious and unconscious elements of the psyche, drives, repressed thoughts and feelings, and reason.

Psychology

The Conditioned Self – Skinner

The self is a complex collection of learned responses to environmental stimuli.

Science, Sociology

The Self as a Work of Art – Nietzsche

Each individual is an experimental work of art, and life itself is a work of art – dare to be yourself fully.

Philosophy, Humanities, the Arts


The rational self descartes

René Descartes

The Rational Self

French philosopher, scientist and mathematician

(1596 –1650)


The rational self descartes

The first modern philosopher

Rejects the authority of ancient philosophers and the Church

Tries to apply a more scientific method to philosophy.

The place to start is by questioning everything you think you know.


The rational self descartes

:Authority

Ancient philosophy

Aristotle

The Bible


The rational self descartes

Modern Western philosophy

Generally rejects authority to focus on

EmpiricismObserving reality and testing it – scientific method

RationalismLogical and careful deep thinking, avoiding emotional biases and preconceptions based on previous authority.


The rational self descartes

Empiricism

Straight from the horse’s mouth.


The rational self descartes

Rationalism

Think twice. Then think some more.


The rational self descartes

Radical Doubt

Question or be suspicious of the certainty of everything, in order to find what you know you can trust to be true.


The rational self descartes

Descartes decides he can doubt

Religious and philoshophical traditions and authorities

The evidence of the senses (so he is not an empiricist)

The “laws” of logic and mathematics (there could be an evil demon bending our minds to believe that 2+2=4 when in fact 2+2=22


The rational self descartes

Radical Doubt

What do I know to be true for sure?

Eliminate all beliefs that cannot be known with certainty (authorities, sense perceptions, logic and math)

You can doubt everything except the one single fact that you are doubting.


The rational self descartes

Cogito, ergo sum.

Actually, he wrote it in French: “Je pense, donc je suis.”

Usual translation: “I think, therefore I am.”

Less snappy, but more to the point:

“I’m thinking, so [at least] I [must] exist.”


The rational self descartes

Discourse on the Method, IV


The rational self descartes

Mind-Body Dualism

Descartes believed we are made up of two different components: the mind and the body.

Descartes located the self in the mind.

There are many antecedents for such dualism in philosophy and religion.


The rational self descartes

  • The mind is what makes me me. The mind is

  • the self.

  • The mind is superior to the body, because

  • You know there is a mind but the body could be an illusion

  • You can imagine a mind without a body, but not a body without a mind

  • The body can mislead you (sense perceptions)

  • The body can be cut up into parts; if you remove one part (cut off an arm) you won’t stop being you; you can’t cut up the mind that way; the mind is indivisible


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“The Pilot of the Vessel”


The rational self descartes

The Rational Self

Reason and logic establish who we are, more than the emotions, experience, outer authority, or our physical being.

The self is a mind, whose identity and actions are determined by the exercise of its powers of reason.

The mind is the centre of the self; the body is separate and lesser. The mind is “the pilot of the vessel” (body=vehicle; mind=driver)


The rational self descartes

Sigmund Freud

The Conflicted Self

Austrian psychiatrist

(1856 - 1939)


The rational self descartes

Descartes based his view of the self on his own mind.

Freud based his theories of the self on his analysis of mentally disturbed psychiatric patients.


The rational self descartes

The Discovery of the Unconscious

Freud expanded the theory of the self to include all the places where the conscious mind (Descartes’s self) loses or relinquishes control:

dreams

daydreams

art

jokes

slips of the tongue

neurotic and hysterical symptoms


The rational self descartes

Animal and infantile aspects

Freud acknowledges that we are not just conscious and rational adult minds - the body and its most primitive emotional and physical impulses are also part of the self:

aggression

desire

hunger

the need for a mother and father, for nurturing, for guidance, for love

fear


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Repression

A basic defense reflex of the mind to ward off anxiety or conflictsthat are too difficult to resolve, and to push out of consciousness impulses that are socially unacceptable.

The unconscious mechanism whereby unacceptable impulses or memories are kept hidden from awareness.


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The Freudian Slip


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The Freudian Slip


The rational self descartes

The Freudian Slip


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The Return of the Repressed

The more we keep something hidden from consciousness, the more power it actually has in our psychological life - the more we remain unconsciouslypreoccupied with it.

The hidden thing makes itself felt in other ways: in dreams, in slips, in jokes, in symptoms, in culture.


The rational self descartes

Freud’s Model of the Self

id

ego

superego


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reality

ego

conscious

verbal, rational

superego

pre-conscious

non-verbal, vague

id

unconscious

out of our

awareness


The rational self descartes

The id is an essentially unconscious part of the mind that expresses our most primitives drives, needs, aggression and fears. It wants to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

reality

ego

conscious

verbal, rational

superego

pre-conscious

non-verbal, vague

id

unconscious

out of our

awareness


The rational self descartes

The superego is a partly conscious and partly unconscious part that tells us how to behave and who we should be. It comes from our internalization of authority figures and role models.

reality

ego

conscious

verbal, rational

superego

pre-conscious

non-verbal, vague

id

unconscious

out of our

awareness


The rational self descartes

The ego is a mostly conscious part that tries to manage demands from the superego, the id, and reality. When we are consciously thinking and communicating, that is mostly the ego.

reality

ego

conscious

verbal, rational

superego

pre-conscious

non-verbal, vague

id

unconscious

out of our

awareness


The rational self descartes

Be sure you understand

  • DESCARTES

  • Modern vs Ancient Western Philosophy

  • Rationalism and Empiricism

  • Radical Doubt

  • Cogito ergo sum

  • Mind/body dualism

FREUD

Repression

Return of the Repressed

Conscious, pre-conscious, unconscious

Id, superego, ego


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