Saturday, November 21, 2009

Illusion of the self

Thomas Metzinger makes a provocative argument: "he states that there is no such thing as a self, that there never has been, that there never will be".

Many philosophers, including David Hume, in the Anglo Saxon universe have said that for a long time. Who am I? The physical body certainly exists, the organism exists, but organisms are not selves. "He does not deny that there is a self-y feeling. He says he certainly feel like someone, but there is no such thing. There is neither a non-physical thing in a realm beyond the brain or the physical world that we could call a self, but there's also no thing in the brain that we must necessary call a self".

Buddhist philosophy had that point 2,500 years ago. So the idea that, as philosophers say, the self is not a substance, that it is something that can stay and hold itself in existence, even if the body or the brain were to perish is not a very breathtaking and innovative idea.

Metzinger states that "what we see and hear, or what we feel and smell and taste, is only a small fraction of what actually exists out there. Our conscious model of reality is a low-dimensional projection of the inconceivably richer physical reality surrounding us and sustaining us. Our sensory organs are limited: They evolved for reasons of survival, not for depicting the enormous wealth and richness of reality in all its unfathomable depth". Therefore, the ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality.

He says that "the experience of looking, of being directed to one's own feelings or to one's sensory perceptions of the outside world, creates itself an image. There is nobody looking at the image, it's like the camera is part of the picture or the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing".

According to him "the self – the feeling of being a mental me in charge of the physical body – is a module within consciousness activated by your brain’s neural processing. The self is categorically not some substantial, essential invariant entity, like a soul or a spirit. He emphasizes that there are no such things as substantial selves. That instead, the self is a phenomenal (that is, experiential) construct that disintegrates entirely when you fall into a dreamless sleep, to be reactivated (usually in attenuated form) when you dream, and that reappears nearly instantaneously when you awake in the morning". The self is put online only when needed, is a part of a larger phenomenal reality generated by the brain as it represents the world and you in it.


Lydia said...

Absolutely fascinating. And now I am wondering how Metzinger would describe this "module within consciousness" in relation to Alzheimer's Disease. Wow!

Joe Bloggs said...

These, your pixels, are indeep food for thought.
Migh many elves of self and mememe will be back for more - at least we hopes oh!

Mariana Soffer said...

Lydia:Thanks a lot for your compliment, well Just a crazy idea to reply to your question: I think alzheimer's descease tends to increase the compartimentalization or separation of the parts of the brain, including what is suppously a unity which is consciusness, and in this illnes becomes more evident that there is not such concret thing.
Take care and if you have doubts you might write to him and ask what he thinks.

Mariana Soffer said...

Joe Blogs: Looking forwards for you to come back and transmit us your memmes to see if they catch up and spread virally. Thanks Joe

ines said...

if accordin Metzinger, no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. What is the thing that exists?

Mariana Soffer said...

All that exists are phenomenal selves, as they appear in conscious experience. The phenomenal self, however, is not a thing but an ongoing process.

Guillermo said...

What is Metzinger's central question and goal?

Mariana Soffer said...

He searchs for answers to..
How exactly does strong, consciously experienced subjectivity emerge out of objective events in the natural world? His epistemic goal is to determine whether conscious experience, in particular the experience of "being someone" that results from the emergence of a phenomenal self, can be analyzed on subpersonal levels of description.

Shadow said...

okay, don't know if i can agree with this....

Mariana Soffer said...

Shadow: like your sincerity, to tell you the truth I do not even know my opinion about this new viewpoint, but I think it is really interesting cause it opens my range of possibilities.
Cheers man.

foam said...

hmm, interesting ..
within my limited capabilities i am conscious of being a me .. :)
one of these days that will go away ..
in the meantime i plan to relish in the selfs around me including myself ..

Rob Bryanton said...

Ah, consciousness, mystery of mysteries. Isn't it fascinating that we have no agreed definition of how this process occurs and yet anesthesiologists around the world are switching people's consciousness off and on every minute of every day?

The experience of being "put under" for surgery certainly seems to confirm Metzinger's assertion that consciousness is like a switch that gets turned off and on. Sleep does so much less so, since we can still be aware of our surroundings to greater and lesser degrees even while we're asleep: so consciousness is more like a rheostat than a toggle switch, and when we are in dreamless sleep our consciousness is dimmed but not extinguished, since unlike the experience of surgery we can be instantly awakened if the need arises.

The sentence that strikes the most profound chord for me is this:
"Therefore, the ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality."
That certainly resonates with my own worldview: and I think it speaks to the physics of underlying symmetry states, or the relationship between consciousness and the collapse (or observation) of the quantum wave function.

But the non-local nature of the particles that make up our universe, I think, should leave us much more open to the idea that a consciousness, or an observer, can exist as an extension of -- or even be independent of -- a physical body. And the idea that each of us is tunneling through a much richer underlying fabric which we are more or less aware of from moment to moment seems to agree with ancient philosophy just as easily as it does with quantum mechanics. If that viewpoint disagrees with Metzinger, then it's just another example of how each of us can approach that underlying fabric and interpret it differently, having unique experiences, living unique lives, and sometimes be unaware of the underlying connections that knit it all together.

Thank you for another tasty meal of food for thought, Mariana!

Fond regards,


Charles Gramlich said...

I agree in principle and yet somehow it doesn't really make any difference. Objective reality is nothing, subjective reality is everything. At the moment we 'percieve' ourselves as a self, then the self exists. It doesn't really matter if the self is gone at other times.

girlontape said...

hmmmmm..... i love the ending.

Mariana Soffer said...

I liked your attitude you are an easy go lucky kind of guy, that is the best if we do not even know for real what is all about

Anonymous said...

tres postmodern

artists are exploring
these subjects in earnest
for about three decades now, eg:
"the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing" re: copyright, ownership, and the idea of 'author' in a digital (virtual) realm -- great post, mariana

    the future's so bright
    i gotta eat brains

× × ×


chicaenminifalda said...

waww lots of things to think about it...

Ande said...

Damn interesting article, this one. It seems likely. The grand question must be; does death matter if people stop existing without a functioning body.

ArtSparker said...

Metzinger's ideas in the realm of consciousness seem very closely related to Schrodinger's idea in physics that the observer influences the experiment.

I would add that the continuous sense of self has a parallel in human pride, seeing oneself as a god-like being removed from the primitive survival needs of animals.

But, how to make order without this illusion?

Marto said...

hi mariana!

I had this exact same realization yesterday night. The self is truly and really non existent.

It really is impossible to grasp until you experience it for yourself.

To know this you must meditate on the question "who am I?". When you feel, think or perceive anything, ask "who perceives the thought, feeling?". Always go after the perceiver, not after the thought/concept/feeling. Forget concepts. Hunt the perceiver like a lion hunts on its prey.

There is no one there , only consciousness.

Look for Ramana Maharshi's and Mooji's teachings on this. There are plenty of videos of Mooji on youtube.

Here is one about this, for the laughter


~otto~ said...

This is interesting but I am left wondering what difference it makes whether he is right or wrong. Would I (should I) change the way I live if he is right? I always allow for the idea that we might just be fleshy robots, but in the end I always come back to something else that I cannot describe.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Consciousness is like a flashlight, when it's on we see the circle of illumination in front of us; when it's off, "we" are off.

And thinking about this does what for us? Makes for engaging works of art. Other than that, I don't know. As others have pointed out, this knowledge doesn't seem to help us any. And the "illusion" of self, if we want to call it that, is necessary for survival. Perhaps such questions really become important when we start thinking about things like God, spirits, demons, life after death, etc.

Mariana Soffer said...

Rob: thanks a lot for your really interesting comment. It is true what you say in the first paragraph, it seems that we learned how to manipulate at some degree consciousness but we have no clue about how it is, what it is, n
how it works and functions, what kind of thing it is, and so on.
I think that people have different derees of consciousness depending on the moment they are at that state, and that this degree can sometimes be modified by external factors.
I also think you can perfectly relate consciousness to our possible perceptions of reality, given that this reality can vary according to the perception state. Same as the famous experiment with light that can act as particles or waves depending on the prescence and role that the observer is playing.
We can also infer that our perception of reality varies accordin to the interpretation made by the inferene of consciousness which is affected by the different underlying connections consciousness presents at a given momment time, the distinctive permanent featues and the underlying connection that knit it toether.

Thanks a lot, and thank you for helping me think

Warm regards

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich:
You clearly have a reading of the reality based on the objective-subjective posture, and consider that the objective one is the valid and belivable one. This aproach to interpret reality is too narrow to provide a decent interpretation of what a self is, other reads of the reality are probably more acure, but less intuitive, than this one,

Mariana Soffer said...

Stef: I am glad you like it, you can notice that is self-referencial, because it refers to your own self seen from a perspective generated also by your sef.

christopher said...

It is possible to create the idea of self in depth whether or not it "exists". It is also possible to create the idea of no-self in depth whether or not it "exists".

These concepts are too close to the self reference problem. You have to utilize items outside the system to resolve the question or else you remain in the end in an undecided state. That is why no matter what you cannot quite get complete agreement in reference to an idea of self and what it means or if it even exists. In this case the system is ourselves, our personal experience and the languages we use to express that.

The arguments, the so-called phenomena or lack of lie too close to the problem revealed in Godel's theorem concerning systems with sufficient power to describe reality, such as mathematics. They can be used to create propositions impossible to resolve within the system.

On the other hand,

I "know" self exists, even though I favor Buddhism in so many ways. I cannot really be Buddhist because of that, though the Bodhisattva ideal is the finest expression of the spiritual life I know. But I just "know" self exists. That is in quotes because it is based on an experience singular to me, not shared in any way, and apparently not repeatable even by me. This makes it a statement of faith about the meaning of an inner event, now a memory even if that faith is so strong and matter of fact that I can "stand" on it as if it was stone. But I cannot share it or convince anyone of it except as a pronouncement, "self exists".

I know the other side just as intimately, the no-self side, but I cannot "stand" there.

Mariana Soffer said...

/t: thanks a lot for your compliment. I think it can be consider posmodern the clear disolution of a rigid separation between the different components that conform the hole and the comprhension that those components are interdependent. Also the redefinition of the criteria for atributting the ownership of the artwork.

I like the two short verses, but I think I do not fully get the second why, why do you eat them, make people dumber?

whish you luck

Mariana Soffer said...

chicaenminifalda: thanks a lot for stepping by!. I would love to know at least one or two things that this made you think about, so we can chat about them.
Take care
PS: in 2 weeks I am going to be pretty available, so I think it might be pretty interesting for us to get together and comment about our subjects of interest such as evolution in person.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ande: Thanks for the interest. My very very personal opinion, since I am a scientist is that yes, it does matter, but I completelly respect and try to evaluate and think more about the other options.

Mariana Soffer said...

Marto, what a coincidence, interesting method you have, it seems like you are trying to reach a plain paradox getting rid of all the distractors that might surround them. Bare in mind this is a paradox in our logic system, but not in every logic system, for example this could be valid in the fuzzy logic one.

I am not sure about your last conclussion, I would be more inclined to say that there is no clear definition and separation of anything rather than there is not self but there is a cleaarly distinguished conscience, please let me know if you think different, cause I am more than open to reflect about this.
Thanks a lot for the video recomendations, I really liked the one you send the url.

Take care friend

Mariana Soffer said...

otto: on one side your question reminds me to the ones made after reading the teachings at a budhist meeting, people start asking what to do with that in reality, and the probem is that there are no rules to do that, each one has to find it s own personal way for it.
Well the idea of being a robot it is interesting because it is a good startpoint for modelizing us, humans, in a very simplified way, and maybe use that model as a starting point for better aproximation.
For me is relieving not being able to describe what we come back with, because the moment we can do that, is the moment where the magic, mistery and innovation possibilities dissapear.

Mariana Soffer said...

Mark Kerstetter
I always thought about consciousness as a flash light, but one that includes the possibility of pointing the light to different directions and also to make the beam narrow or wide.

I think that if we achiee enough wisdome we can survie without the need of the false ilusion of the self we live with nowadays.

I think if we sustain that the self is an ilusion god, demons, etc .. do not make sense any more.

Mariana Soffer said...

Completelly agree with the first aragraph.
Exactelly we can not refer to them at both levels, good explanation. The goedel theorem explains it properlly although in a complex way for understanding it. Well I kept reading and saw you also mention goedel, I would also recomend reading hofstadter who explains this kind of paradoxes in a more didactic way.
I really like how you explain why you stand on the side of the self, and how personal that is. But I belive that self and no self do not necesarily need to be excluyent, there is no need to pick one or the other I think. You just need to twist your model of thouht.

Shubhajit said...

the various comments are very entertaining. Everyone is right on his or her own point. Lets me to put the assertion. It is incomplete because you inspire me to write a full article.
The most intricate problem is that we think we are bodies and have souls. On the contrary we are actually souls and have this bodies. Why this is so? Because this body is impermanent and under the realm of name and form. There is an ocean and in that there are several waves, we know it because of the name “waves” but it is not separate from the ocean and again, ocean is also a distinct entity, which is again under the realm of name and form. You, all others and I are just names and forms and eliminate this name and form and there is only one. Where we will be gone? We are still here but without the name and form.

Shubhajit said...

To understand this thing lets see in a stage wise manner. You are reading the words written by me, the words are external sensations that are brought to you by the eyes and the sensory nerves to your brain carry them. We think eyes are the organ of vision but actually the brain is the real organ behind the sensation. You may have twenty eyes but you can’t see the words if your brain is destroyed. Behind every sensation there is one organ that is external instrument and behind that another organ that’s again a physical body. Yet, this is not sufficient. Many of us experience that when we deeply imbibes in something, we can’t hear any other sound for a moment. The pulsation of that sound comes to our ears, hit the tympanum, the nerves into the brain carry the impression and the whole process is complete. Why do we not hear? This is because mind is not attached to it. If mind is detached with the organ, organ may bring any news but it will not receive it. Yet, this is also not sufficient. The whole cycle may be complete, but still perception is not complete. The factor now requires is the reaction within. And what we call knowledge is actually this reaction. Your mind takes it up, and presents it to intellect, which groups in relation to perceived impressions, and sends a current of reaction, and with that reaction comes perception. This is called will and the state of mind, which reacts is called intellect.

Yet, this is also not sufficient. A last step is more required to complete the cycle. According to logic, there must be something permanent on which all those impression must be focused. Suppose, if I want to throw a picture on a sheet, what am I to do. I am to guide various rays of light through the camera to fall upon the sheet and become grouped there. Something is essential to have the picture thrown upon, which does not move. I can’t throw a picture that is moving because ray of lights of camera is moving, and these moving rays of light must be gathered, unified, coordinated, and completed upon something that is stationary, otherwise how could be a picture formed. Similar with the case of sensations of organisms in which these organs of ours are carrying inside and presenting to the mind, mind presents it to intellect and the process is incomplete unless there is something permanent in the background, which we unify all the impressions.

What is that gives unity to changing whole of our being? What is it that keeps up the identity of the moving things moment after moment?

Shubhajit said...

We can't understand soul by intellect because that is the hindrance. Because soul or I is beyond the mind, beyond the time, space and causation. It is profound and invisibly present in every organism. If we see an amoeba we observe the I ness in it. It also moves where the favourable condition is. Soul has to be realized. we never put finger on fire because we realized by our experience that it gives pain. We can talk, we can read books fromall libaries in the world but the moment we are aloofed by all external catalyst we can't understand a bit. This is because soul has to be realized otherwise, it is blasphemy to believe in such things, which is not permanent. Why should i believe in cosmic mind, or spirit? Why should i go to sunday church or temple or mosque if i haven't realized anything. It is the nearest of nearest thing and yet we have to search hard through our life to find That. It is the goal of life, consciously or unconsciously. Or what is goal of life? Everything is impermanent apparently. So, we can't run after something that is impermanent. Lunatics will do that! We need to reach the stage where we find the ultimate or otherwise in the bed of death, when death says "come", we will say wait! I have to do this, I have to look after my son, daughter, grand daughter, or to make little more fortune. This will never stop until the goal is reached when we get the ultimate relief, there is no want, no ego, no desire, only freedom and yet we will be the same Shubhajit, same Mariana. Only we see the world differently.

Shubhajit said...

Meditation is the only way by which one can get the realization. It is slow and tough process and ultimately one day the man will be "living free" because he knows he is not body but a soul that is one with the universe. Fire can't burn it, water can't drench it, sword can't cut it. and this body is just an instrument without which we can't realize our ultimate goal.

Anonymous said...

I have missed your brain food! Although you do make my brain hurt sometimes! But that is not bad thing.My brain does not work out enough.
And I am thinking, too many people lose their self! Their REAL self.That inner child.

Mariana Soffer said...

Part 1

I am more than happy that you are inspired to write one full article.
I understand where you stand regarding body and soul and sadly I do not have the same viewpoint, I do want to understand it more thoroughly nevertheless, because I do not even have clear my own viewpoint.
I find very interesting what you consider knowledge, presents intellect and how it relates to perception and state of mind in your model. Also found very enlightening the need of a constant process running in background.

Mariana Soffer said...

Part 2

Excelent and very clear explanation about how everythin is in movent and how we are supposed to end if we follow a correct path. I also thought that it is useless to apply rigid rules about how we travel our paths because of the constant change.
I also think meditation is the way ( actually I started to practice it with a japanese group a couple of days ago).
Thank you very much for the wonderful explanation you wrote in your article

Mariana Soffer said...

I missed reading you too, but I needed to leave cyberworld for several month.
You should try to enjoy understanding this texts as much as you can and do not force yourself to read them all neither to perfectly understand everything in them, be patient with yourself.

You are so right about people loosing themself, do you think nowadays, that happens more often than before? I do. Maybe due to all this distractions that are constantly being provided to us either trough the computer, phone, etc...
thanks a lot and take care

christopher said...

Mariana, you said

"I really like how you explain why you stand on the side of the self, and how personal that is. But I belive that self and no self do not necesarily need to be excluyent, there is no need to pick one or the other I think. You just need to twist your model of thouht."

I agree with you insofar as I was referring to a model of thought, but I was not really. I was referring to an experience and its aftermath, which has settled the issue for me. I was saying the coming down on the side of self, what ever that may mean, is more "solid" than thought, as if somehow more real than that, engaging now my trust in the memory of that experience. I was saying however, that to my regret my experience is no more real for anyone else in that I rarely can share it any better than I am doing now. This levels the field and for you then self and no-self remain possible to entertain equally as you write it.

For me, that is not so, though I do say that intellectually it is so just as you say. However, twisting my thought as you call it would be to deny the reality of my process as it is. This reveals the problem of communication of direct experience between us. I write that self is an experience and then try to point out that the experience of self has been for me so profound in one moment if not all others that while I can entertain the no-self hypothesis I have not experienced a no-self moment in the same way, to the same degree and do not expect to.

What continues to be okay in theory, self or no-self, for me has collapsed in practice. The black box has opened for me and Schrodinger's Cat is indeed alive, in such a way that she will always be alive. That is a matter of destiny for me in this life and has remained so since 1966. What becomes true in my next or was true in my last life takes care of itself. :)

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for clarifying, I understand I got it wrong. I get what you say about the difficultiess in sharing but really sharing experiences and the differences between model and reality.
I Also comprehend what you say about not understanding exactelly the other´ s no self.
Besides I understand what happend to you with the theory perfectly, I think also I get your point about the cat and destiny.
I really apreciate your response it makes me think you have some true in there, besides it helps me to have a widder perspective. I will take some time to incorporate the new ideas at a deeper level.
cheers and thanks

human being said...


self exists
i've seen it myself

self exists
i've heard it myself

self exists
i've touched it mysef

self exists
i've smelled it myself

self exists
i've tasted it myself

self exists
i've dreamed of it myself

self exists
i've given birth to it myself

self exists
i've fed it myself

self exists
i've danced with it myself

self exists
i've made love with it myself

self exists
i've killed it myslef


human being said...


* myself

otin said...

It cracks me up how everything has to be so over analyzed! When you are a kid and you ask an adult a question, sometimes the adult says,"just because", and when you are a kid, that is usually good enough. I think that adults need to accept "just because" sometimes! Not every question has an answer!

Otto is right!

Ted Bagley said...

Ahh, a Lacanian would ask, 'was Human Beings' "oops" really a typo, or does the slip point to something that is not the self that one thinks it is?
I like what Brassier is doing with his influence of Metzinger by bringing in more philosophy.

Mariana Soffer said...

Human being
Thank you very much for the poem. I really liked. It made me think that:
-the self is not in itself myself
-the self does not depend on itself

Mariana Soffer said...

I liked your comment, not specially in this case but I can not stand the way people tend to overanalize simple things, it is so boring, probably they do not have anything better to do.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted bagley:
I think otin would say it means nothing, just that he was scratching his ear.

Rick said...

Hello, Mariana. I mean this in a very positive way, but I think Metzinger overestimates himself. There is a phenomena wherein thinkers unable to grasp revelatory ideas substitute vague and incomprehensible thought structures but use "scholarly" words and pretentious discourse structures to arrive in the end, a presentation that is as vague, circular, and unhelpful as the original explanations he is contesting. Buddhism differs not the least from what he is saying- except in Metzinger's overuse of didacticisms. Frankly, these same threads are woven throughout the Bhagavad Gita and many other spiritual traditions. The world of Maya- or the construct, if you will- is what he's struggling with.

Considering this, I would take your point of Buddhism and turn it toward Metzinger's work, saying that "'s not a breathtaking and new idea" to restate past thinking in pedagogical language and claim it as new.

But his struggles are sincere, and he has no intent to steal ideas and repackage them to make a name for himself. It's just that the problem is too big for him.

I have a suggestion re his work, and that is when he or anyone else is asking the question "Who am I?" that before declaring they know the answer, they should go back and first determine who is asking.

Wonderful post and you are now established as my favorite profligate provocateur.

Anonymous said...

To the question, "does it matter," I would say that for me, it doesn't matter so much that I don't exist. But it matters a lot that I realize I don't exist. For example, I have something coming up on Monday that has me a bit nervous about how well I'll perform. But when I remember that I don't exist, I relax completely and just enjoy the process as it unfolds. I remember then that I have nothing at stake. After all, whose reputation am I worried about protecting?

Ted Bagley said...

I guess the Lacaninan in me says, "maybe so and maybe not". I think things can seem to be 'over analyzed' a lot because they never really get analyzed as much as just talked a lot about and left at that.
Depends on the question, doesn't it, otin?

Mariana Soffer said...

Rick: I think you might be right about metzinger overestimating himself, but almost all philosophers have that style
when they present their thoughts. And I agree that the more clear the ideas are presented the better they tend to be.
I understand also that is not a new idea, but I have my doubts about the possibility of creation of new ideas nowadays,
I am not sure about that point.

I like your suggestion about getting to know who is asking first. Do you know that Japanese people speak using
words according to what relation they sustain with their interlocutor and they also act almost as if they where completelly
different persons with different people, their culture promotes this behavior.

Thank you very much I am honored by your last line.

Mariana Soffer said...

kikipotamua: funny strategy, I never thought of that, but in its way it makes sense. Thanks for sharing.

kj said...

ah, mariana, how nice to have you back.

i can only say i wish i could be spared pain. i wish my heart did not grieve and i wish i could transfer the love i feel and have into some physical form that would/could overtake negative energy and heal dis-ease.

beyond that, i really don't care whether i am a self or not. i know what i know, feel what i feel, love what i love. that's plenty enough for me.

and speaking of love, i am over the moon to consider you my friend.


JanetK said...

Readers may want to look at this link to a posting in my blog.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your reference, I found it extremelly interesting, and is the kind of things I like to explore and read about.
Be well

Mariana Soffer said...

What a marvelous wish, is is beautifull.
Maybe getting to know what you feel and what you love is a way of getting to know what a self is, in this particular case your own self, everything is related.

I am honoured to read your last line, I am happy because I consider that you thought me valuable things (whether on purpose or not), and I ve also feel we are getting closer.


Rick said...

Mariana, that was an incredibly apt example involving the Japanese. Much to think about there.

ojo said...

Well, I´ve must to addmit that philosophy is not one of my strongest matters.

I´ve read some of the comments.

In summary I think, in my own perception (in fact, the post focuses the perception itself like a point of view) its all part of a sytem (body, brain, soul, mind). And self would be the conscious of that "that is a system, and that system is me". Self would be an element, some kind o concious that unites the parts of the systems, and identificates them like members of it - I - in order to work like that.
And also differences that parts from any other element that is not part of it.
Self would be the conscious of ourselves. Concious in a relatiive way, of course.

In other way i think that any subject that holds an object to know it, recives the stimulus from it, and them it produces a feed-back when the object is tarnsformed by the knoledge of the subject. And then the subject is also trasformed by the onject that it is knowing. Interpretation transforms the subject, and the object, and the own subject is -of course - a knowing object for the subject.
Self isn´t free to carry own knowing itself.
¿Is that the cause isn´t apparently a definitive concept of the self?


Mariana Soffer said...

thanks a lot for sharing your interesting theory about the self with us.

I found the analogy of the first paragraph pretty interesting and cohrent, but as every analogy it is just a simplification of how real things are. And the second paragraph is also consencuent with it. I have to think more about it, because it seems to me a promising idea.
The thing I would like to know, in more detail and from another view points is why the self can not carry knowledge about itself, I think this theory is plausible, I would love to read more ideas about why this can not be done by our minds.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Rick: Thanks a lot my friend you are so gentle, really.
Regrading the japanesse culture, I must etll you that the little I know about them I really like and many times it provides a completelly different way of doing and thinking about things which is very enriching.
Thanks a lot and be well

Shubhajit said...

the self is not in itself myself
-the self does not depend on itself

You've concluded the article with this statement.

Dave King said...

Absolutely fascinating, but as often in such discussions we are drifting towards the question of whether mind can know mind objectively. The a priori position is that it never can.

Jenny said...


Very interesting text! The self may very well be an illusion, I am not sure. Personally, I am quite a self-oriented person. But sometimes I just do not think about "me" at all. You know, I just forget about myself (especailly when I write) and that can be very nice at times. Very nice.

Btw, I thought I should mention Flowers of Sulfur to you, as a reading suggestion:


It is a blog for unconventional poetry that I share with other poets.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave King: I am really happy you found it interesting, I have always asked myself if the mind can be capable of understanding itself, that idea fascinates me. I think that if Turing where alive he could help us to think about it.
Take care my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

I am really glad you liked it, the self is such a curious thing. Sometimes I do think that we have many selfs in us, or that a self is composed of many different selves, I do not know.
Great recomendation! thanks I am really into that blog.
Send you love

Id it is said...

"Cogito ergo sum" ! Therefore the more I am thinking the more my 'self' evolves. My ability to think or the lack thereof determines my 'self'. Which makes me wonder whether the 'quality' of the 'self' is entirely dependent on the 'quality' of thinking' I do...

Mariana Soffer said...

id it is:
Very intersting reflection, you left me thinking, maybe is like you say, or make the self is something similar to our bodies in which thinking does not have much influence.

Stu said...

Great post, Mariana (and it's great to have you posting again!).

Really like this part: "Metzinger states that what we see and hear, or what we feel and smell and taste, is only a small fraction of what actually exists out there. Our conscious model of reality is a low-dimensional projection of the inconceivably richer physical reality surrounding us and sustaining us. Our sensory organs are limited: They evolved for reasons of survival, not for depicting the enormous wealth and richness of reality in all its unfathomable depth. Therefore, the ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality."

I think Metzinger is right about this. I will have to read 'Being No One'.

Also, "it's like the camera is part of the picture or the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing." This reminds me of a poem I wrote... actually I performed it in public for the first time on the weekend.

These kinds of ideas are always going around my head too.

Anonymous said...


there is a self, and let me explain you why in a math way

Suppose we have a universe, composed of only 2 people, you & I

Suppose there is no self (let's call this statement A*)
so: I'm not me, and you are not you (because there is no self)

So, I'm you and also you are me (we must be something, because we exists in this universe).

So let's apply the transitive property...

I'm You ----> you are me ---> I'm Me.
But that's a contradiction from the starting point (A*)

Therefore... there is a self

= D

Rayuela said...

Wow! Me quedé absorta, pensando.Seré yo la que piensa?

Un beso,Mariana,te extrañaba.*

Mariana Soffer said...

Hola! que bueno verte por aqui tu comentario me hizo acordar a lo que decian los antiguos griegos, que es que uno era visitado por pensamientos, no que uno los tenia.
Muchos carinos yo tambien te extrañaba

Mariana Soffer said...

Great explanation I loved it, and I find it completelly coherent but I think that in really we live in a world that is closer to be ruled by laws such as the fuzzy logic ones than the non fuzzy ones. So if you think that 1=1 it is true you are correct, but maybe there is a wider view of this subject.

Mariana Soffer said...

Stu: thanks a lot it is a pleasure to read you here again also.

I completelly agree with what you say in the first paragraph (2 nd indeed), I always thought that way. You explained it with a great clarity, thanks for that.

What a coincidence that you just presented that poem, well I think that we are interesting in the same kind of stuff, which is great. I loved the phrase "eyes observe itself" that fabulos, I really feel tunned with that short poem.

Thank you very much and be well

Anonymous said...

You are right, I just applied an arbitrary set of axioms & my "algebra of persons"

We may apply other rules to see what we find out

Otherwise, without math I do believe there is a self

This sunday turn on CNN, TN or Cronica, if my candidate wins, I will be on tv celebrating = )

Harlequin said...

nice to see you and your self provocative and thoughtful as ever.

Mariana Soffer said...

Well, thanks for beliving me, anyway I am not a hundered percent that my hipotesis is correct, It might be even more complex than that. Actually you can check the math demostration of the Goedel theoreme that no math, logical or whatever kind of system can sustain by itself, it must part from arbitrary premises suchas 1=1, the critic to that math demostration is pretty similar to the one I am doing to you here. I can teach you whenever you want.

But more important than anything is that you enjoy your weekend, that is fantastic.

Big Hugh

Mariana Soffer said...

It is an honour for me to have you here.

Just_because_today said...

I would agree that the conscious experience is not an image of reality but a tunnel through reality. That is how we travel through life, seeing only a portion of the experience.
Great analytical writing!
Argentina? I'm Colombian. Glad to have found your blog

Anonymous said...

People keep saying that we evolved our senses as a means of survival, which is why they are limited. However it seems we are somewhat behind in the sensory arms race with our fellow creatures and I can't think of a good reason why we haven't evolved much better senses. There must be good evolutionary reasons why we don't have sense as sharp as other animals. Would it not be a benefit to our survival? I guess our communication skills and brains make up for a lot of things.

otin said...

Mariana, you are so cute! :))

Jordan Castro said...

you have an interesting blog

Mariana Soffer said...

-i am happy that you agree with the tunnel idea and that you liked the blog.
Yes I am from buenos aires, so you from Colombia, I been there a couple of times, I loved it. where are you from, bogota? By the way I liked you blog, lets keep in touch.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am happy that you like the tunnel idea and also that you are interested in this blog.
Yeah, I am from BS AS, so where are from, bogota? I been there a few months ago, I love colombia
Lets keep in touch
take care

Mariana Soffer said...

you are also sweet I apreciate it, I think I have the tendency to be polite with people and about useless confrontations, Thanks for making me thing

Mariana Soffer said...

Jordan castro:çthanks a lot! I am going to check out yours now,

Anonymous said...

Mariana, I can't take credit for the strategy. It naturally flows from my Buddhist leanings. K

ANNA-LYS said...

Hej Mariana,
I answered Your comment on my blog.

Mariana Soffer said...

kikipotamus: I like the fact that you are humble and do not want to take credit for something that you do not consider to diserve (Not many people do that). I really apreciate your clarification, which made me more interested in your writtings and opinions.

Mariana Soffer said...

ANNA-LYS: thanks for letting me know, otherwise I would have missed it sadly, which would have been a pitty, you have very interesting thoughts.

Patrice said...

I hold up a mirror and I see a self. I think thoughts and keep council within a self. I make things myself that come from my selves. I am many and all and not nearly enough.

Self-centered? Yes.

Centered? No.

I am like equiangular spiral of selves, spinning into infinity.

Mariana Soffer said...

I loved your comment! thanks a lot for sharing that, no more to add, your words are enough.