Sunday, 27 February 2011

Are selves a delusion?

Recent findings seem to suggest that we have no "self", but phenomenal self models,as argued in this book. How can we have souls if this is true?

This is a bit like saying that we do not have bodies because we have arms and legs, or that a string quartet does not exist because there are 2 violins, a viola and a cello.
You “soul” is the essence of who you are. If it turned out that this essence were in some sense essentially composed of many modules this is not a problem.

However the idea that the self is a delusion raises the question of what/who is being deluded, so it rests on very weak philosophical foundations.

Scientifically it may well be that our idea of our selves is composed through a number of complex and disparate mechanisms, indeed it is hard to see how it could be otherwise. But philosophically it makes no sense at all to describe this as an illusion:
a. The conclusion “the self is an illusion” cannot possibly follow from an observation like “the self arises through the interaction of a number of complex and disparate mechanisms”. With the possible exception of elementary particles, everything arises through such interactions. Metzinger might as well say “the body is an illusion” or “the brain is an illusion”.
b. To have an illusion presupposes that there is a conscious self which holds the false belief. If there were no conscious selves there could be no illusions.
Each of these objections is in my view catastrophic for Metzinger’s philosophical position.

No comments:

Post a Comment