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The Death and Life of the Self

Post-Wittgensteinian Investigations


Silvia Gáliková

What is a self? What is the relation between phenomenal consciousness and the self? What are we talking about when we speak of conscious experience, the self, an inner mental world? In order to answer these questions the author reconsiders the «turn to the self» in contemporary philosophy of mind. The human self is considered as a natural phenomenon open to careful theoretical analysis, empirical and experimental research. The loss of everyday intuitions on the nature of self plays a significantly liberating role in self-understanding and explaining man’s behaviour.


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VII. The Complex metaphor of subject-self


71 VII The Complex metaphor of the Subject-self   Keywords: inner life, essence, metaphor, self-control, mapping What is philosophically important is that there is no single, unifi ed notion of our inner lives. There is not one Subject-Self distinction, but several. All of these distinctions are metaphorical and cannot be reduced to any consistent literal conception of Subject and Self. The notions of Subject and Self express the apparently uni- versal experiences of an “inner life” and the metaphors for conceptualising our inner lives are grounded in other apparently universal experiences. These metaphors appear to be unavoidable, to arise naturally from com- mon experience. Moreover, each metaphor conceptual- ises the Subject as being person-like, with an existence independent of the Self. The Self can be either a person, an object, or a location. The philosophical signifi cance of such study is that the very way that we normally conceptualise our inner 72 lives is inconsistent with what we know scientifi cally about the nature of the mind. In our system for concep- tualising our inner lives, there is always a Subject that is the locus of reason and that metaphorically has an existence independent of the body. As demonstrated in section IV of the present text, this contradicts the fun- damental fi ndings of cognitive science. Yet, the concep- tion of such a Subject arises around the world uniformly on the basis of apparently universal and unchangeable experiences. If this is true, it means that we all grow up with a view...

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