Dislocating the self

In contrast to this long continuing tradition of thinking of the self as just one thing, a few philosophers (like William James) and psychologists (like Ulrich Neisser) have suggested a non-reductionist alternative: that the self is more than just one thing. These pluralists about the self suggest that there are a number of selves (the social self, the psychological self, the narrative self) or that the self is complexly many things – embodied, social, psychological, cognitive, narratival, etc. I’ve suggested that the best way to think of this is to think of the self as a pattern of different processes, dynamically related to one another. These processes include those associated with bodily processes, including proprioception; and when these processes cross the threshold of consciousness, minimal, pre-reflective self-awareness; psychological, cognitive, and reflective processes, including memory, those processes associated with affect, and those that constitute our intersubjective (social) relations, our capacity to self-narrate, as well as all kinds of normative factors related to cultural practices. Feel free to add or subtract aspects that you think should be included in or excluded from the self-pattern. The important thing is that this is not simply a list of aspects. If we think of these self-relevant factors as processes that are dynamically related to one another, then we can think of them forming a dynamical gestalt, a complex pattern. And the self is what we call this pattern.

Dislocating the self – The self is not in the brain, or the mind

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