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Philosophical Perspectives on the Self

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Edited By Joao Fonseca and Jorge Goncalves

For the last decade the topic of the Self has been under intense scrutiny from researchers of various areas spanning from philosophy, neurosciences, and psychology to anthropology and sociology. The present volume addresses the Self under different and influent philosophical perspectives: from phenomenology and psychoanalysis to metaphysics and neurophilosophy and discusses several and distinct problems such as personal identity, the core/narrative self-distinction, psychopathologies, the mind-body problem and the nature of the relations between self, consciousness and emotions. The book reflects these different philosophical problems and approaches and aims to provide a map of current philosophical perspectives on the topic of the Self.
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The Reality of the Virtual Self as Interface to the Social World

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ROBERT CLOWES

Introduction

This article argues for a virtual notion of self built around the idea of social self- positions. It begins by analysing several virtual-reality models of mind and noting the different ways the ideas of virtuality, virtual reality, and presence, can work in explaining mental phenomena. It looks particularly at Metzinger’s idea that the self is a form of virtual body representation. It then explores his contention that the self, if virtual in this way, is strictly speaking inexistent and should therefore be eliminated from our scientific conceptual vocabulary. It finds this conclusion is premature and ill-motivated.

Metzinger’s notion of phenomenal self models (PSMs) opens the way to make the case that selves are actualizing virtualities. These are projective virtual entities that play a central role in organising our actions and constituting us as beings that act, take decisions and realize ourselves in consideration of an ongoing sense of ourselves. These particular actualizing virtualities can be viewed as instruments that we use to help maintain and realize ourselves as coherent beings.

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