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New book on the human idea of “self”

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Self: Philosophy In Transit (Philosophy in Transit 3) Here, from Stan Persky’s review of Barry Dainton’s Self: Philosophy in Transit:

Many well-known and respected philosophers and scientists deny that selves exist in any meaningful way and suggest that our sense of having or being a self is simply an illusion. As Barry Dainton puts it in the book under review,

It is worth noting that in some contemporary intellectual circles the doctrine that there exists anything resembling a self as traditionally conceived — a fundamentally mental thing that is in principle separable from a body — is widely assumed to have been wholly discredited, regardless of how most people might think of themselves. Indeed, the banishment of the self as traditionally conceived is sometimes seen as a hallmark of modernity.

Dainton adds, as would I, “But I believe this assumption is simply wrong, or at least far too simplistic.”

The history of radically alternative conceptions (or denials) of selves stretches from ancient Buddhist thinking to contemporary neuroscience.

Would it simplify the problem if we asked, does a cat have a self?

My own sense (O’Leary for News) is yes for sure, but the cat’s sense of self is more limited than a human’s. There are so many questions he not only doesn’t ask—and this is a critical distinction that is not always made—can’t ask.

I once paid a visit to an alternative Tegmarkian universe, and asked a cat why he existed. Unusually, in that universe, he was able to answer:

He said: To kill and eat rodents!

I kind of wished I hadn’t bothered to go so far for the answer, as I could have found that out at home, rescuing chipmunks (a cute but remarkably stupid North American rodent) from needless torment by cats.

When humans ask questions like, Why do I exist? or Do I really have a self? there are usually a hundred questions underlying each such question that take millennia of philosophy to even tease apart.

Not so with the cat. It’s just a different order of being.

All the Darwinism in the world will not erase that fact in nature, but if you are still watching Airhead TV, well, … safe prediction, you’ll get more of it.

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as to the sense of self "is widely assumed to have been wholly discredited" and that widely held assumption is wrong. They, i.e. materialists, haven't even got to first base as far as explaining the 'hard problem' of consciousness:
David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo Philosophical Zombies - cartoon http://existentialcomics.com/comic/11 ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’ David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.” Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor There is simply no direct evidence that anything material is capable of generating consciousness. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor says, "Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness. Regardless of our knowledge of the structure of the brain, no one has any idea how the brain could possibly generate conscious experience." As Nobel neurophysiologist Roger Sperry wrote, "Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature." From modern physics, Nobel prize-winner Eugene Wigner agreed: "We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind." Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states, "Science's biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot." Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote: "No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians' hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it." http://www.merkawah.nl/public_html/images/stories/ccvsgwrepr.pdf
of related interest:
Consciousness Does Not Compute (and Never Will), Says Korean Scientist - May 05, 2015 Excerpt: "Non-computability of Consciousness" documents Song's quantum computer research into TS (technological singularity (TS) or strong artificial intelligence). Song was able to show that in certain situations, a conscious state can be precisely and fully represented in mathematical terms, in much the same manner as an atom or electron can be fully described mathematically. That's important, because the neurobiological and computational approaches to brain research have only ever been able to provide approximations at best. In representing consciousness mathematically, Song shows that consciousness is not compatible with a machine. Song's work also shows consciousness is not like other physical systems like neurons, atoms or galaxies. "If consciousness cannot be represented in the same way all other physical systems are represented, it may not be something that arises out of a physical system like the brain," said Song. "The brain and consciousness are linked together, but the brain does not produce consciousness. Consciousness is something altogether different and separate. The math doesn't lie." Of note: Daegene Song obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oxford http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/consciousness-does-not-compute-and-never-will-says-korean-scientist-300077306.html
'Dainton adds, as would I, “But I believe this assumption is simply wrong, or at least far too simplistic.”' Right the first time: Simply wrong. Well, not just 'simply'. 'Simply fatuously, risibly, surreally wrong.' Axel

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