Selves

(not all the same thing)


People use 'self' to refer to lots of different stuff. I've been keeping track. So here's my list. Some of these items do share certain qualities, and so I will label them with 'S' for Subjective experience, 'M' for Merger of reference, 'L' for including a Logical element, 'B' for Bleached of content, 'O' for an unambiguously Organismal function. Surprisingly, only the center of motivation has all of these. (Perhaps the Darwinian Self could also be allowed to reach for S, M, L, B, if we admit those others do occur in evolved Organisms.)

  • Bound experiencer of subjective pain (S). What do I mean, you ask? Well, don't you agree that when you experience pain it is you that experiences it, yourself? Noone else experiences it, you do. And don't you agree that you are bound by that experience, that pain is in a way inescapable? Well, then your self is bound to be the experiencer of subjective pain. That's what I mean.

  • Witness. Awareness which is aware of awareness itself. (S,B) When one is aware of oneself being aware, that point circularity of self-awareness within one's awareness has a quality known as witnessing, in which the conscious self is perhaps aware of this or that but is also aware that it is itself aware, thus in a way it is separate from the content of the experience of this or that particular thing, and plays this separate role of being the witness.

  • A tool of reasoning. (M,L,B) We like to do chains of logical reasoning, if this then that, if that then the other, etc. It is quite convenient in this chains to think of things, people, entities of some kind, as being a sort of abstracted element that has its own unique identity, a sort of arithmetical or logical self. For example, call it an entity e. What is e's self? Just being e, nothing more or less. Well then we can say if e has this quality then e has that quality, and our chains of logical reasoning operate using this sort of variable or counter or reference. It's a tool of reasoning. We can hardly reason about things in the abstract without some kind of tool like this, in which we reduce everything compllicated or individual about something to a mere identifier. But once we have an identifier, we can make all kinds of stateements about it. That's how reasoning works: first abstract out the entities, and then make predications or propositions or logical statements about them, and follow the reasoning, about these entity things, each of which has its own unique identity or as we really mean to say, it is itself, it has its own identity, its own self. This is a very fundamental tool of reasoning.

  • Goffman's Self: The persona as attributed by others. (M,L) Some cop pulls you over thinking a person with that kind of car, or taillights out, or lack of concern about running red lights, or whatever, such a person is a likely perpetrator of a variety of crimes and misdemeanors, so let's check them out very carefully. Is that you yourself in the nature of you and how and what you are? No, it's the attribution that the other person puts on you, when they see, understand, think about, and interact with you. It's in their head, not yours. It's entirely outside you, although it may have something to do with your behavior, or car repair schedule, or attention to the road, it is no definite association. It's their idea, not your being. Nonetheless, that's what they take you for.

    Suppose you're ugly, fat, stupid, and/or foreign, to name some dimensions of inhumane, pointless prejudice. These are currently used widely for hierarchy management, putting some people up and others down, still, legally and also unfortunately widely socially. People think it's acceptable to use these dimensions to judge, condemn, and exclude folks whose character and competence would deserve better. I'm saying those other folks who treat you bad, grind you down, ignore your presence, or disrespect you, they are thinking about you as being some kind of a person. It's your attributed persona. They are attributing a certain persona to you, and reasoning about how to interact with you based on that attributed persona, that person they think, for now, that you are. Is it your self? No, by definition no. But it is what they think you are, and they are acting on that basis for now. And perhaps through negotiation you can get on the same page together, maybe a better page, from your perspective. Show your character and competence, maybe, as an example. And some day, perhaps, they will be ashamed of their pointless and inhumane prejudice.

    When I read the great Erving Goffman's writing about the Self, I was shocked. He had this idea that you are what others take you to be. Well in society it's not entirely false. It's at least a negotiation. It's a negotiation between the self you want to be taken as, and the self they see you as. Either they will persuade you that you are the useless punk you seem to be, let's say, or you will persuade them that you have a positive contribution to offer. Generally I hope the inside story ought to win. But it can't be denied that useless punks are incompetent and lacking in certain pro-social virtues. If you hate those high-status so-and-so's for judging you, well let it go, in a way, because the world is full of judgement because everyone has to decide who they want to work with and make their own world better, and useless punks don't make anyone's world better, except maybe if there's a gang of them and they all think they are making a sort of useless punk gang utopia. But such groups tend to naturally fall apart with the lies and betrayal and the not following through with constructive mutual assistance which being useless and punk like tends to produce. So good luck with that. Maybe you actually can bring structure to your gang's world and make it a better place. Time will tell. But meanwhile maybe people who are presently going somewhere with their lives won't be wasting time waiting for you, so the negotiation about your attributed persona, your Goffmanian Self, the ball is in your court. What are you really all about? You can't really say you're not about that. So that's a Self. It's on the list.

  • A target of attribution of responsibility, role, centrality. (M,L,B) Who is responsible? That person, himself, herself, their self. We might talk about a role, someone took up a certain role, well who took up that role? They, them, their self. The idea of a self being the one that has the responsibility or that plays a role is central to the idea of responsibility and of roles. We can hardly think about society and obligations, rights and responsibilities, without some hook to hang them on. The hook is the target that we hang them on. We attribute responsibility and all those things to something. To What? To some person, whatever person it is, it is that person, himself, herself, it is to the self of that person that we attribute those roles rights responsibilities, etc. Who? Who has these? That person has them, their Self has them. So the self is the hook on which we hang our claims, the target of attribution for role and responsibility, etc.

  • The attributed center for greed. (S,M,L) Who wants something? You. What are you that you want something? I'm me, just me, I'm my own Self. Well if you want something, you feel desire or greed for something, you're the one we attribute that desire or greed to, it hangs on you, so you is at that center of you the greed or desire that we attribute to you. You[1] are the attributed center of the motivation we attribute to you[2]. See how complicated the meanings are here? You[1] is actually you. And you[2] is this computer variable which has your name on it, maybe, and which, when people including sometimes yourself think of you as having a certain motivation, desire, greed, whatever, they put down a little proposition in the computer, or in their mental computer, their mental representation of you, a little expression saying, X wants Y. Is X you? No, you have arms and legs; X is a data structure in a computer that purports to represent something about you. Like at the social security administration, they have one for you with your name and social security number, and those are attributed to you, like a framed degree on the wall it somehow says something about you, informs the world about you. These are not you. But they are taken for you, taken as you. And even when we think we want something, we quickly have the thought about what we want, more or less in our mental computer describing how My Self Wants Y, and that thing that stands for My Self is more like a computer variable than it is like your whole inclusive self with arms and legs and a whole brain not just a greedy part. The confusion is, we take the one as being the other. We act as though the SSN, the password and the login means we can send the money. You're not there, but we take you as being there, and we act like it. The system works pretty well, if our representations are faithful. But it's a confusion of levels to think that you are your representation, even when it's your own representation of yourself and what you want. Still we think I want such and such, and in this way we assert that this attributed center of desire is our Self. Which puts it on this list.

  • A legal entity for holding ownership and property rights. (M,L) In the law, selves are called persons. Persons are abstract things that include natural persons like you and me, and fictitious or incorporated persons like corporations, which aren't persons in any other sense. But the law operates on this "person" abstraction, and so society has decided to let corporations be people too.

    Footnote: This is a fiction, or let's be clear, a self-serving lie made to especially serve corporation-owners. It would be less of a lie if punishment in the form of severe interactional restraints were applied to non-natural persons as well as to natural people. I'd like to see corporations found guilty of crimes be punished by sentences of so many years in which they cannot carry out their normal actions or transactions out in the freedom of the public, just as when criminals are locked up for so many years they cannot carry out their normal actions and transactions out in the freedom of the public. Then a crime committed by any person would have an equal punishment, instead of the self-serving status quo in which non-natural persons cannot be punished except by fines which are never more than a small cost of doing business.

    Making an equivalent analog for imprisonment and applying it to corporations would actually follow the logic that corporations are persons too, since persons of either type, natural or incorporated could then be sentenced equally to periods of imprisonment or shall we say restraint, subject to supervised and limited interactions with others and none with the public. If that were made the case, then the argument that corporations are persons would be more sensible.

    At present corporate persons face very limited consequences. Natural people can be punished by putting them out of action in prison, whereas corporations haven't yet been subjected to restraint of action or transaction as penalty for crimes, so this suggests that, No, they aren't really persons from the perspective of criminal law.

    So what holds ownership? What owns property? In the law, a person does. The self of that person is the thing that gets to own stuff: itself. Nothing outside it, but the self of the person, gets to be the owner. That's the idea which the law gives us.

  • Target of karmic retribution. (M,L) When what goes around comes around, who gets it? The same one as started the cycle, the self who sent it around is the self who caught it on the return. Who's gonna get it? You, they, them. Each of them individually, their own self, is going to get it. That self deserves it, since it is the responsible party for the bad actions whose consequences are coming back to it. When karma aims its arrows back around looking for who to hit, what is it's target? The one, that very self whose actions constituted the karma that is coming back around.

  • Deified, Considered as God: Shiva (S,M,B). In ancient Hinduism sculpture is itself theology. The self is iconically represented as the meditator. Suppose you are meditating on the Self, then what do you look like? Shiva himself, in the form of a meditator. Painted and sculpted in iconic form as the ideal meditator, full of strength and steadiness, even the greatest river makes a waterfall on his head and he is undistracted. Serene and undisturbed. Sitting in the perfect posture on the perfect seat under the perfect moon. Perceiveable by others in the color blue, just as he perceives himself internally as blue light, as the Hindu writings say. These artistic features are also the characteristics of the ideal meditator, an idea for meditators themselves, to do what? To contemplate as being their own self, to themselves be. The mantra is, Shivo'ham: I am Shiva. The artistic image of the meditator is the meditator's image of himself (and/or herself; Shiva in some representations is half female). Shiva is considered as, taught as, understood as the great Self, and thus this sculptural image represents something his devotees can use to meditate upon, to meditate upon their own great Self, to meditate on Shiva, to resolve the distinction between art and experience and find that they themselves are Shiva.

  • 3 of 5. In Shiva's Dance of 5 steps, the third step. (S,B)

    The divine play of life is represented in the sculpture of Dancing Shiva, the Nataraj, the King of Dance. It is a young athletic dancer, dreadlocks streaming, dancing wildly yet calmly inside a circle of flames, arms akimbo, one foot on the ground. The Nataraj is Shiva, the Self. The further theology of Shiva's divine play is expressed in the elements of the sculpture. The circle of flame is this small circle of life we live, pressed about on all sides by destruction. The foot stands on a squalling baby child which is our Ignorance. The arms are more than two, because we have more powers than creation and destruction. But one arm holds a hand-drum, the kind you flip back and forth and the ball on the string hits one drum-head then another. As you flip the hand drum the rhythm and sahking and seeming reality of the world comes into existence, this is the first Power of Shiva, or Creation. Another hand is held out to us in blessing, holding us, this is the second power of Shiva, Sustaining. A third hand is there too, with its own flame burning on the palm, this is the third power of Shiva, Destruction. That foot, and the squalling baby, those are the fourth power of Shiva: Ignorance. But there is one free foot, and one more hand, we are not done yet. The free hand points at the free foot! What mystery is this? The feet are traditionally the feet of the Guru, the object of devotion and worship, traditionally and perhaps universally the feet of the master, the feet of one's parents, the feet are the where you go to bow down and to express your loving surrender to another. Shiva is said to be the Primordial Guru, and his last hand is pointing at his free dancing foot. Surrender, dear one, he points. Bow down your egotistic self and become the disciple, find the loving surrender in your divine play of life. This is the fifth power of Shiva: Grace.

    Layers and layers here. The next layer is this. These five powers of Shiva can be considered as phases in the cycling of experience. When something comes into and goes out of our experiece, there is a subjective beginning, middle and end, a (1) Creation, (2) Sustaining, and (3) Destruction. But a little more deeply considered, more usefully from the perspective of a seeker of a higher happiness, the end phase can be itself divided into three. (3a) The end of the concrete details of the particular experience, during which self-awareness may still remain. (3b) Then the mental noise of egoic understanding in which one is like a reactive squalling baby in reaction to our thought of what we think is going on. And (3c) the grace which can indeed follow, with a sense of new possibility in every moment, given surrender.

    (1,2,3a,3c) are a model of subjective, psychological experience that can be useful for seekers of grace, sufferers from, well, sufferers, as we all are, I should say.

    Next layer. Hindus like to identify aspects of subjective reality as nameable Gods. If worshipping everything is a healing process for oneself, then having gods names for all kinds of different stuff would be a great help in making sure we can worship everything. It's an old idea, so just bear with me a minute.

    So in this angle on polytheistic Hinduism, there are three primary gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and they represent the first three phases of experience, (1,2,3). 3a might be Shiva, 3b Maya, and 3c the Guru, which is defined abstractly, psychologically, as the power of grace. That's what I get from it anyhow.

    Next layer. In one of the very great scriptures, which summarizes Hindu psychology describing our infinite powers as conscious beings, how we have hidden them from ourselves, and how to wake up, there is given an alternative technical interpretation of the five powers of Shiva, saying

    "Abhasana rakti vimarsana bijavasthaapana vilaapanatastaani", "Another [interpretation of] that [the five-fold action of Shiva is as] manifestation, relishing, recognition, settling of the seed, and dissolution."

    Here then, recognition is the third phase.

    Recognition of what, I say? Well, it's Self Recognition.

    This was my consistent and repeated and profound personal experience as a youth. I would go to my after school sports, which I did three sports a year for the four years of high school, and I'd practice and run or wrestle or throw with all the concentration and effort I was capable of (as a bit Asperger I was the kid who didn't know when to slow down; coaches never taught me that). So the experience was intense and full of consciousness, which I would describe as highly motivated intense attention and effort bringing every mental and physical resource to bear to do my best at whatever it was, say throwing the discus, or lifting a heavier weight, or whatever.

    Bringing this back into the Hindu psychological model, that was a lot of Creation and Sustaining. The experience came into me very intensely and fully, I was totally identified with becoming better, with doing my very best. Okay that's (1, 2). Then I'd go home, where all things were Quiet. The contents of my intense experience at school and practice were gone from my mind, but the echoes of the intensity and the awareness of my body and mind now doing nothing were still there filled with perhaps these after effects of effort and attention. I had a clear sense of Self, which I thought everyone must have since it was so entirely natural. I was aware of my own awareness. It seemed to have a location, or to be especially present, in the space between my eyebrows. It was, it is, where I am. If I say, What am I? My answer is, That. That energy between the eyebrows, where intensity of effort and attention is gathered and aligned and grown to its highest pitch and most inclusive power.

    So this would be phase (3a), the phase of Destruction in one view, which is consistent since the past experience is now Gone, thus necessarily Destroyed. Or in the other view it is the phase of Recognition. Recognition of what? Self recognition. In that state, my awareness was self awareness. It had the qualia expressed in the words "I am".

    Well, that's a version of What is the Self. Phase (3a) of Shiva's Dance.

  • The goal of Hindu philosophy, to become one with the Self. (S,M,L,B)

    It's Shiva again: Shiva is the Self. Seekers in the Hindu context are encouraged to see themselves as aiming to become one with the divine. What is that goal? The Self. How can you not be the self when of course you already are yourself? That is an academic question for those who want to play games; whereas the seeker burning with suffering and the desire for liberation may conceive salvation in any terms that bring it, and this traditionally does do so. Empirical study agrees, so we may accept it, at least for the purpose of this list.

  • The hurdle of Buddhist philosophy, to go beyond Self and attain Void. (S,B)

    The Hindus seem to say All is the Self, whereas the Buddhists say All is Void, and There is no Self. Perhaps the latter are referencing the hurdles that self-centered thinking and egotism represent for our emotional progresss and flow. I think the argument is academic, as is shown by Martin, next.

  • Jeff Martin's reduced self-talk as a criterion differentiating levels of Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience. (S,B)

    Let's summarize Jeffery Martin's thesis work and you can google him and go read about it too. This was a gigantic project in which he located, contacted, qualified, interviewed, cogitated about, and classified, 300 living saints, enlightened beings, or zen masters, or arhats, or whatever the term might be in their local spiritual tradition and community. Women, men, Western and Eastern traditions, he was inclusive, but they had to have a community around them that expressed a consensus on the claim that this person has what we are all aiming toward.

    So with 300 interviews of 4-20 hours each, he asked about perception, memory, emotion, self-concept, all kinds of stuff, and what he found was that the vast majority of them fell into one of four categories, which he called 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    Folks would have an epiphany experience or some more or less rapid transition, and find themselves in this new state of being, and often they would say Nothing could be beyond this, but then sometimes they would have a transition to higher numbered location, and then they'd say Oh yeah I was confident before but I had no idea and NOW I have reached the limit. So an ordering kind of fell out of the data.

    So in location one, if I may summarize for him, the person had the knowledge, based on at least some experience, that the limits of their body was not the limits of their self. They had had an experience that the whole universe was inside them, or that their body expanded to fill the world, or somehow the boundary holding self in and non-self out had merged so that the self became an expanded concept for them, and perhaps an expanded experience at least some of the time.

    Then in location two, the person went so far with that that they were unable to have the opposite experience. The whole world was their body, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They couldn't identify what part of their experience was to be the limited thing that they had formerly considered to be their self. Everything was their self.

    In location three, everything is their self, sure, but with the quality of love. All the sights are beaming with love, the sounds are vibrating with love, the smells are just love love love everywhere nothing but love. Sleep in love, awake in love, sounds pretty nice.

    And in location four, the emotional quality of love in experience goes away. Described sometimes as a void, or as space, or a spacious feeling or perception, there is perhaps freedom there, but neither hate nor love, positive nor negative emotional reactivity. Emotional valence itself is lost.

    So that might be rocking your world and one could go on, but clearly there is some kind of empirical concept, or subjectively asserted concept of Self that is relevant to these four locations. If everything is the Self, then that is a bit different from the self we are thinking about when we say I'm feeling X about Y, my self is feeling X about Y.

    And the main point I'd like you to retain is that Martin says that at each level the transition is associated with a significant reduction in self-talk. They just talk to themselves less about themselves. So I will say that's consistent with Bliss Theory, but to not be self-serving here, let's just say there's another concept of self to put on our list.

  • Attributed agent, a.k.a. Doer.(M,L)

    When you believe that you are the person doing what you are doing, then that's called attributing agency or doership to your self. This has an important role in emotional regulation, according to Bliss Theory, as it imposes inhibition and downregulation onto the emotional system. We certainly think it coordinates action socially, but the example of saints who live competently in the world proves otherwise. We also think it keeps us responsible, avoiding psychopathy and sociopathy, though those are not everyone's most likely form of mental error. Attributed agency is generally oversold, overbought, and in the end underdelivers, if we are seeking transcendence.

  • Excess of, or spare, attention (S,B)

    I include this perhaps as just a personal contribution. But in my own experience it is that particular time in which I am giving all the attention I can to a task I am absolutely straining to control or accomplish, when I try even harder than that, then excess attention occurs. For example, running the mile, one may try and try but the legs won't run any faster. But I'm still trying and trying. It is this excess of attention, coming from effort that has maxed out but one is trying to do more even so, that I'm describing. In that state, I personally experience that interesting qualia of "I am". It tends to be in the space between the eyebrows, and when all resources are brought to bear with maximum intensity and maximum effort on what I am doing and when full attention is given to it, then at a certain point the system pops into an excess state, and that energy has the quality that it is aware of itself. It's like being aware that you are trying, when you are really trying. You can hardly not be aware of it, if you really are trying, right? And the more, the more. So that that excess of attention turns into self awareness.

  • Intensifier of emotion (S,M)

    Oh here's a foolish and big one. When we see some circumstance, oh it has a feeling associated with it. It's not just a mere fact. Someone's Mom died? Bad feeling. Someone won the Nobel prize? Good feeling. Well but if it was YOU, then now it's a much more intense emotion. Same emotion, but amplified, multiplied, exploded, I would like to say, Bound, as in, your emotional system is Bound to feel that feeling, when that situation is now actually about You. So when we attribute the situation to our self, then that is an intensifier of the emotions of the situation. It's called taking things personally. If it's a multiplier, I think the multiplier might be on the order of 1000x. I had an argument for that once, but I've forgotten why, leaving me only the result.

  • The Great Abstraction (M,L,B)

    You could say it is abstraction itself. Abstraction is the process of substituting something more general, less detailed, in your thinking, for something that it will be substituted for. So 'plant' and 'animal' are abstracted as 'organism'; organism is more general, less detailed, and you can substitute organism for plant, and also for animal, in certain situations.

    Well when you take that process of abstraction and take it to the extreme, when you take every detail of distinguishing information away from something specific that you're considering, well what is left at that point? You're left with a counter, or a variable, or a name, perhaps minimize it down to an entity, e, an arbitrary member of a set, which exists only in the concept that it is separate or different from others and it could be referred to as e, while even all the others could be equally substitutable with the same variable name. There's nothing left but it's identity. Well in the logical way of thinking, that is the Self of the thing. Its unique identity, which we can consider to be like a point in space, or a mathematical abstraction without any features or characteristics, except that it is what it is. Such a thing having its unique identity even so bleached of everything you might know about it, still has this logical self. The logical self is what you might say holds its unique identify, or you might simply say is its unique identity.

    In this way the Great Abstraction is this kind of a self, a nothingness in qualities, but a uniqueness in identity, and I guess it does have one quality, that you can refer to it, perhaps give it a name.

  • The center of motivation (S,M,L,B,O)

    The center of motivation turns out to be the hero of this story. What are you? You are your own center of motivation. Figure that out, and you will be a self-actualized human being. I'll give you some examples, as I encounter them, and you'll see what I mean.

  • Organizing role for storytelling and attribution, whereby the fountain-like, pulsed, emergent flow of new disparate experiences is integrated into one or more self-attributed evolving story lines, consistent with and in service of one's moral/aspirational vision powerfully motivated by the need to keep, the desperate fear of not keeping, one's shit together. (S,M,L)

  • Identification's subject. E.g., according to one's Religion, Ethnicity, Party, etc., each being used by many people to define or identify themselves. Two separate things are found in this: attribution to self and to others. Attribution to self occurs rather late as one has to learn through growth and life experience how others treat you and by that metric you may grow to observe that one is different from others in some consistent way, and in a pride moment one can identify with one's different group, often a sort of 'Yes and F you too' tribalism, a shallow and unsatisfying version of self for a rich and complex person of many facets, but when the social forces are heavy, a path often taken. Whereas attribution to others occurs when people with limited knowledge latch onto societally-established observable and distinctive features as a basis for stereotype-based treatment of others, attributing a tribe to another person and expecting, for now, in the vacuum of better information, stereotypical interactions. Attribution to others trains others in attribution to self. Yet it would demand a high degree of openness-to-experience for anyone to use what little they do know (their vernacular stereotyping system) to gauge how to interact with others.(S?,M,L)

  • Linguistic Self. "Self" and "be" are different grammatical roles of the same thing, noun and verb, since the being of a thing is its self. As noun, an attribution is asserted, the thing is characterized as having a certain thing-hood, its nature or self is, hence, to be the thing that it is.(M,L) As verb, being extends this nature or self through time, as it may continue to be. (M,L) Such grammatical role distinctions may be vacuously attributed, even unhelpfully, but language is a convenient resource and offers this as an available bit of quick reasoning. (M,L)

    Merger of reference in semantic interpretation: Reflexive pronouns and other word morphology, as in the -self suffix in "myself", "itself", "themselves", etc., express the merger of two references as pointing toward one and the same point, as part of extracting meaning from the words. In "He saw him" and "He saw himself", the seer and the seen are different in the first sentence, and one and the same in the second. Similarly "He saw his hand", "He saw his own hand", the 'his' reference is merged or identified with the sentence subject by the possessive-reflexive marker "own". (M,L) Similarly, the auto- prefix references a similar merger of two roles, as in auto-immune, cf. below, the attackable other and the self are merged in auto-immunity. (M,L,O)

    Subtly different, essentially the same, is when a cat chasing its tail fails to recognize its target as its self: the non-merger of an experienced other, interesting and attackable inferrably because of its non-self-hood. If that tail were merged into the cat's self-perception, we infer, it would not chase it. Self as merger of reference. Merger doesn't express directionality, but perhaps this is an assymmetrical process or form similar to a topic/comment structure, that starts with one, a first, as baseline, background, or subject, proceeding to detect another as potentially other, then carrying out a merger operation to collapse the second with the first. (S,M,L,O)

  • Puzzling this over in this morning's gradual wakening, the logical merger and the organismal self-prioritization seem quite different and unrelated. In the latter, evolutionary design characteristics of behavior and form are required to prioritize and successfully support organismal self with whatever mechanism. In the former, a logical machine representing a variety of hypothetical elements in a rich semantic space being explored cognitively identifies two hypothetical elements as actually one in a particular view that it takes. These are so different as to seem unrelated. However the story by which the cognitive merger of logical elements is useful for organismal preservation, may go through the emotionally significant, cognitive function Ip(s)(p). The organism needs to preserve itself, it evolves cognitive laying and complexity, it establishes an analog of organismal self in the cognitive layer, the cognitive self, yet ties it to function by emotional binding.

  • Consciousness qua Agent, Patient, Experiencer, Self. Consciousness is its being (S), but it may be attributed nominal roles such as these.(M,L)

  • Darwinian Self, the logical priority by an individual organism of that individual organism's own survival and reproduction. Self-prioritization, however implemented, by whatever mechanisms and interactions, directly and logically correlates with survival and reproduction and thus evolutionary fitness, at the level of the organism. (O)

  • Autoimmunology, or the Immunological Self. Here 'self' is a determination by the immune system, T cells particularly, that some potential target cell, material, antibody, etc., is or is not to be attacked and destroyed; so as to preserve self. Auto-immunity means a failure of self-recognition, driving the immune system to attack rather than ignore self. Other auto-immune related diseases include allergy and transplant rejection.(O)

  • Default Mode Network. Some brain studies have found some commonality in the activities of the brain during wakeful resting as contrasted with carrying out cognitive tasks during brain experiments; resting being the control state for most neuroimaging studies. This has led to the hypothesis of a "default mode" in which the brain is quite active doing something, even when it is, from the experimenter's perspective, doing nothing in particular, such as daydreaming or watching the clock or experiencing boredom, etc. Pop psychology has latched onto these reports and attributed these findings to a self-aware state of being, separate from doing anything, a scientifically-grounded Self. The studies themselves point out various regions of the brain that get more active when the job is over or hasn't started and less active when the task is ongoing; and that various of these regions form a functionally connected network in that their blood oxygen usage is temporally correlated. What the actual function is, for this functional connectivity, is unspecified, except the function of blood oxygen level variation, which is suggestive but not exactly specific. Since the whole point of the brain is its interconnectivity, what's the particular point here? And since the whole point of inhibition, which is a primary activity of the nervous system and brain at every level, well, here we find activity in some regions reduced during activity by others, and what can we draw from this? There is no doubt a neurological basis to experience of all kinds, but "rest" is not exactly a specific category of experience, when one person's rest is another's excruciating boredom. Deeper analysis seems called for. Still this is among the things people might be referring to when they mention the "self".(S,B,O)

  • The "Self" of the Internal Family Systems counseling system, based on "Parts work", in which a variety of subpersonalities "take over" in particular types of circumstances and "carry a burden", "frozen in time" from some past trauma where extreme roles were taken on by that part, and where therapy consists in being curious and loving toward that part, (which are classified into "exiles", "managers" and "firefighters" which normally collaborate harmoniously); the parts might be in collaboration, inner children full of creativity and desire to connect, but then burdened with pain, shame, terror, then put away to keep them from overwhelming us. Such exiled parts are easily triggered, then flames of emotion overwhelm you, then the other parts have to jump into protective roles, managing the external world of relationships, appearance, and performance (parentified inner children, egos, overpromoted therefore rigid and critical), caretaking parts etc., like those that keep you in your head to be safe, then also in response to the pain/terror/shame of the exile, impulsive, reactive, damn-everything I'm-getting-you-away-of-here, firefighter roles, like addiction, rage, irrespective of damage to life relationships etc. When in a family two are talking and one gets hot, a third might be watching and taking one side, and that side needs to step back after which things calm down; in IFS, getting one part to step back then another part steps up and knows how to be compassionate and understanding to the rest, that part is in everyone and IFS calls it the Self.

  • Jungian Self.
If I had to summarize, well, here: all relevant life is organismal so that is the ground, Life, Pambios, the being of us all, and the logic of evolution certainly requires special, indeed unique, attention to self by organismal processes, simply to achieve survival and reproduction on evolutionary timescales; these are not optional and their logical and motivational requirements are not dismissable except in an evolutionarily irrelevant sideshow.

As organismal complexity increases, many layers up, we have multi-layered representational systems which must remain compatible, perhaps homomorphic, with the undeniable, the bitter tautological logic and required motivational frameworks whose prioritization and urgent service are every organism's evolutionary duty.

As a perhaps late evolved layer in the multi-layeredness of brain anatomy and representational capability, we also evolved a higher-brain, higher-mind analog of organismal self useful in calculations for many circumstances and purposes. Flexible, we allow attribution of anything representable in the intellectual mind to that abstracted self-analog, which exists in the calculational space of the abstract symbol manipulator in our highly evolved heads, whatever that looks like. But bound to the motivational system, nearly as tightly as survival is bound to the animal motivational system. Whether emotional binding is processually identical with attribution itself, or whether they are separate-but-bound, evolution perhaps likes it, that our emotional motivations and choices might be tightly bound to our circumstances as perceived and conceived. They are bound, when we carry out the action of identification.

With these extra layers of representation, we humans naturally perceive in ways compatible with tautological logic (i.e., given a category, distinction, or contrast, we perceive usefully and reason efficiently about what is in or out of the category, on this side or that of the distinction or contrast, tautologically because those are your two choices and there is no third), and naturally we think linguistically, that is within each thought many layers (phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic), and with relevant, uptakeable (shared) contrasts. So for us, asserting some logical element for this or that purpose and then merging it with another, is just baseline thinking activity. When we attribute some element has this property, and another has that, and then that it's just one element after all that has both the properties, that's normal and not even very abstract thinking. "Run Spot run" already has a dog, and something that's running, and the two, dog and runner, are the same one thing, it's not complicated -- for us.

But then an evidently parallel, simultaneously operating, identically logic-constrained layer of attributional and reasoning machinery operates quite deep in our emotional psychology, whereby we often, normally, regularly, but not necessarily, indeed we optionally, get fooled by this very same kind of logical referential merger operation, internally asserting or believing that such-and-such, there, *IS* me, here, or in Veatch notation, I(s), and by means of #4, we then get wrapped around various emotional axles of dysfunction (taking things too personally) and function (it can be functional, though perhaps not optimal, when such attribution helps us to get on the same page in order to play harmoniously with others, or to get with our own program in life in order to achieve valued aspirations).

When bleached of particularizing self-attributions, our logical concept of self can become a mere label, an element without a type, an e, lacking evident or assertable properties, which isn't especially exciting or liberating or otherwise emotional in itself unless also our experiential being is bleached of self-attribution, through a certain non-operation within the Inner Judge system, non-self-attribution. The latter, by disinhibiting the emotional system from the inhibitory effects of story, role, and bound identity, leads to flow state, optimum performance, spontaneous mutual presence with others a.k.a. intimacy, experiencing the now or the current moment fully, experiencing unbounded immanent meaningfulness, also (if I may reduce to caricature) Hindu enlightenment (merger with the universal Self), Christian enlightenment (merger with universal love), Buddhist enlightenment (merger with Void), (all being special cases of Jeff Martin's four-plus locations of Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience). As if that were not enough, it also leads to the less mystical and faraway, the universally acknowledged, the high, virtues, like humility, trust, forgiveness, gratitude, service, and others, which we all can realistically practice and which include the serenity and very bliss, the non-downregulated, unrestrained, the free emotional flow states, which this work aims to encourage and to suggest how to have and to keep.

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Modified: October 25, 2021.