Support for no-self?

 
jcb
 
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jcb
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13 December 2020 11:18
 

Often in the meditation app and elsewhere, Sam encourages people to look for the self, the idea being that we cannot find any true self, just more experiences, admittedly some of which we are inclined to interpret as indicating a self (feeling of having a head) but which nevertheless do not do so on closer inspection. I think this experience is regarded by Sam, Buddhists, and others as showing that there is no self. I’m curious where/how the following common-sense objection is addressed.

Just as a camera cannot observe itself in its entirety (without cheating using a mirror or monitor, which doesn’t count because it’s just observing a reflection/display, not truly itself), so the self cannot observe itself in its entirety. But the camera’s inability to observe itself is by no means proof or even good evidence that there is no camera. In fact there is a camera. Why then should we abandon the notion of a self on the basis that there are no observations of the self?

Surely this has been addressed somewhere. Where?

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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13 December 2020 13:02
 
jcb - 13 December 2020 11:18 AM

Often in the meditation app and elsewhere, Sam encourages people to look for the self, the idea being that we cannot find any true self, just more experiences, admittedly some of which we are inclined to interpret as indicating a self (feeling of having a head) but which nevertheless do not do so on closer inspection. I think this experience is regarded by Sam, Buddhists, and others as showing that there is no self. I’m curious where/how the following common-sense objection is addressed.

Just as a camera cannot observe itself in its entirety (without cheating using a mirror or monitor, which doesn’t count because it’s just observing a reflection/display, not truly itself), so the self cannot observe itself in its entirety. But the camera’s inability to observe itself is by no means proof or even good evidence that there is no camera. In fact there is a camera. Why then should we abandon the notion of a self on the basis that there are no observations of the self?

Surely this has been addressed somewhere. Where?

Aren’t you comparing apples to oranges here, or maybe just drawing a poor analogy? Is the “self” a “feeling of having a head” or is it a visually observable body, like a camera?

 
 
jcb
 
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jcb
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13 December 2020 13:32
 

Well, to answer your questions, maybe I am “just” drawing a poor analogy, but he does repeatedly say “Look for the self” (of course, not saying look at your own body with your eyeballs), and if it’s a bad analogy there’s hopefully a way of showing that instead of only raising it as a possibility, a possibility I grant. And your reply doesn’t answer my question of where this issue is ever addressed.

As to the second question, none of us (myself, Sam, people who understand the view) propose that the self is a feeling or something visually observable, so I’m not sure why you asked.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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13 December 2020 20:27
 

Discussions of the so-called illusion of self abound in the forum. After fifteen years of posting, they could be anywhere. You’ll have to lurk around.

Some posters might think that the self is an absurdity and all discussions about it are likewise absurd. No one is here to represent The Boss. We’re too busy with our own opinions

What possible difference could it make if we, by our selves or in groups, believe that we have or have not a self? Personally, I believe we have jumped to a silly conclusion that is so much FUN to bicker about, all progress on the subject has stopped. The camera analogy is useful or could be. A camera cannot observe itself. That’s a good point. It is a clue that should lead somewhere beyond this no-self nonsense.

I did not spot any poor analogies. Nor am I selflessly spotting selfless threads for you. However, if something pops up in my head (when I have one), I’ll post a link.

Welcome to the forum. Forum Requests is for procedural and technical issues. Your topic is bounced up to The Halls of Critical Thinking. Enjoy your self. Whoops.

[ Edited: 13 December 2020 20:29 by Nhoj Morley]
 
 
burt
 
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burt
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13 December 2020 22:41
 

There is an ancient skeptical trope to the effect that you can never really know yourself because the self that knows is beyond the self that is known. So you fall into an infinite regress, much like Achilles chasing the tortoise. What the no-self folk would say is that the limit point of this is just a pure witness with no components, so not-self.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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14 December 2020 12:25
 
jcb - 13 December 2020 01:32 PM

Well, to answer your questions, maybe I am “just” drawing a poor analogy, but he does repeatedly say “Look for the self” (of course, not saying look at your own body with your eyeballs), and if it’s a bad analogy there’s hopefully a way of showing that instead of only raising it as a possibility, a possibility I grant. And your reply doesn’t answer my question of where this issue is ever addressed.

As to the second question, none of us (myself, Sam, people who understand the view) propose that the self is a feeling or something visually observable, so I’m not sure why you asked.

You compared the illusion of self as the “feeling of having a head,” and compared not being able to “find” it to a camera—a visually observable body—not being able to observe “itself.” If it’s not a physically observable body or a feeling of having a head, then what is it? I think that it’s absurd to argue its existence or nonexistence without being more precise about what you mean by “self.” Maybe you don’t really know what you mean, or maybe you think it’s indefinable. Wouldn’t that render the question of its existence moot?

Consider this definition: the “self” is a virtual parasite that hijacks the minds of large, complex brains. According to that definition, it exists in the same sense that all illusions exist.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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14 December 2020 16:47
 

If the head isn’t part of the “self” do we have an example of “self” without a head?

 
burt
 
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14 December 2020 17:09
 
weird buffalo - 14 December 2020 04:47 PM

If the head isn’t part of the “self” do we have an example of “self” without a head?

The article in th book The Mind’s I with the title On Having No Head.

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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14 December 2020 18:15
 

There’s a rebuttal in this book.  I’ll tell you where it is after you buy me a copy.

 
GardenLove
 
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14 December 2020 23:57
 

It just means that nothing transcends consciousness. It’s so obviously true it’s hard for me to understand why so much time is spent on it.

 
LadyJane
 
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15 December 2020 05:02
 

You never need a head start to catch up with yerself.

I’m sure we can all relate to experiencing altered states of consciousness while we’re awake.  And many times for reasons we can easily describe.  Like the ones that would only seem strange if not for the chemical components ingested to achieve the levels of intoxication experienced.  Those often come with a logical explanation.  As a deliberate act to reach a desired goal.  A means to an end.

Then there are other times that require further explanation.  Like sustaining an injury so severe that it postpones the pain until your brain catches up in order to brace for the trauma.  Leaving you temporarily unaware of the extent of the damage.  You can’t transcend that pain forever.  Like the numbness of a body part after being asleep.  It doesn’t cease to exist until the feeling returns.

A sudden blood pressure drop can hit you mid stride and leave you somewhere between dizzy and unconscious without ever actually inhabiting either state.  I can see why people often feel something mystical about these sensations because it seems other worldly.  Til you get used to each experience and it becomes just as logical as all the others.  A means to a means.

What we experience as kids will prepare for what’s to follow.  Like the hatter with the lids that came from heads that once were hollow.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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22 December 2020 10:47
 

The way I look at it—if there was a “true me” out there, then that ‘real me’ would have a reality outside of things and experiences I’ve had. But if there’s a way to access the me other than the experiences, feelings, emotions, sensations, etc. I’ve experienced on this mortal coil, I don’t know what that would be. Or what that ‘self’ would look like.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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30 December 2020 21:52
 
jcb - 13 December 2020 11:18 AM

Often in the meditation app and elsewhere, Sam encourages people to look for the self, the idea being that we cannot find any true self, just more experiences, admittedly some of which we are inclined to interpret as indicating a self (feeling of having a head) but which nevertheless do not do so on closer inspection. I think this experience is regarded by Sam, Buddhists, and others as showing that there is no self. I’m curious where/how the following common-sense objection is addressed.

Just as a camera cannot observe itself in its entirety (without cheating using a mirror or monitor, which doesn’t count because it’s just observing a reflection/display, not truly itself), so the self cannot observe itself in its entirety. But the camera’s inability to observe itself is by no means proof or even good evidence that there is no camera. In fact there is a camera. Why then should we abandon the notion of a self on the basis that there are no observations of the self?

Surely this has been addressed somewhere. Where?

The camera isn’t a good analogy used this way. Sam isn’t suggesting that the physical form of a human doesn’t exist or that human perception doesn’t exist. Maybe a useful way to think about it is to say that while a camera views things or ‘sees’ things as a matter of function and design but there is nothing inside the camera that processes the experience of sight. A camera has a field of view but no viewer. It’s merely an instrument to process images for our benefit.

Sams point, as best as I can follow it is that subjective experience flows involuntarily and in continuity with other experiences as a matter of being. Just as there is no viewer in the camera there is no ‘experiencer’ within ourselves. I half agree with this. I think the exercise is useful.

I don’t personally say that the self doesn’t exist. Rather I think its a concept that has iterations and functions that we use socially. It exists sort of like numbers or colors exist. It’s a collection of mental events that we name as a set.‘We’ instantiate it through intention. Like any other symbol. I would agree that it doesn’t have the sort of intrinsic existence (if there is a such a thing) that physical elements have.

I don’t do a great job of explaining but there is a huge and historically diverse literature on the subject.