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 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
René Descartes The Rational Self French philosopher, scientist and mathematician (1596 –1650)
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.
:Authority Ancient philosophy Aristotle The Bible
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.
Empiricism Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Rationalism Think twice. Then think some more.
Radical Doubt Question or be suspicious of the certainty of everything, in order to find what you know you can trust to be true.
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
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.
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.”
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 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
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)
Sigmund Freud The Conflicted Self Austrian psychiatrist (1856 - 1939)
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 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
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
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.
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.
Freud’s Model of the Self id ego superego
reality ego conscious verbal, rational superego pre-conscious non-verbal, vague id unconscious out of our awareness
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 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 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
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