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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 Illusory nature of inner experience


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, unified 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 universal 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 common experience. Moreover, each metaphor conceptualises 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 significance of such study is that the very way that we normally conceptualise our inner ← 71 | 72 → lives is inconsistent with what we know scientifically about the nature of the mind. In our system for conceptualising 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 fundamental findings of cognitive science. Yet, the conception 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 of our inner...

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