Edited By Joao Fonseca and Jorge Goncalves
The Reality of the Virtual Self as Interface to the Social World
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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