Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Eastern philosophy says there is no "self." Science agrees

Stephen Downes

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This is a very superficial presentation of a very deep idea that can be summarized with a simple (though misleading) catchphrase: there is no self. I would be inclines to say that there is a self, but that it is very different from this idea of self as 'pilot' or 'executive function' that prevails in western folk psychology. To me, it is evident that there is no such self because the idea of such a self is incoherent. There is no 'view from nowhere' from which we can look at our experiences as though our experiences are not us. What there is, though, is an inner voice that lies to us. This article's discussion of that voice should remind us of chatGPT - when it doesn't know why, say, we stood up, our inner voice makes up an explanation. But this voice isn't the 'self', it's only an experience. "We have mistaken the process of thinking as a genuine thing." Similarly (as I've argued elsewhere), our consciousness is simply a process, not a 'thing' that 'is conscious'.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: Jun 12, 2024 10:57 a.m.

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