Interactive Musings

Interactive Musings

Self and Existence

Posted on November 3, 2012 at 11:55 PM

Self and Existence



I've been having a merry time reading Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt, Liveright Publishing, New York, 2012.  As I've wandered, and engaged with, and surrendered to his guided tour through Western philosophy's approach to Being and Nothingness, I've wished that I had the sort of mind that could live up to, and keep up with his, and yet, I am grateful for the vastly entertaining Magical Mystery Tour he conducts. Toward the end of the book, the penultimate chapter, chapter 14, "The Self:  Do I Really Exist?", spoke to me.  What is "self" is a psychoanalytic question, of course, and has long been a philosophical question.  Part of the unfolding exploration of "what is self" in philosophical discourse is the familiar challenge, is there a continuity of self, or are there multiple selves comprising an "I"? 


We also come across that very same question in psychoanalytic thought --Jungian thought addresses this question in depth.  In Jungian thought, the Self is one of several archetypes -- and, if that is the case, then the archetypes contribute to making up our sense of self.  But the sense of self we have is not the archetypal Self, for the archetypal self is just part of a collection of selves.


Following Holt: we have the Cartesian "I think, therefore I am" assertion of self.  After Descartes, we have Hume saying that the accumulation of perceptions is what we call the self.  We interpret our perceptions as meaning we are a self, when actually we are observing a series of perceptions, but that does not prove that there is a self.  Then Holt offers ideas from contemporary philosophers.  For instance, he says Galen Strawson thinks that "within each person's stream of consciousness, little transient selves constantly wink in and out of existence".  Strawson quote: "There simply isn't any 'I' or self that goes through (let alone beyond) the waking day".  Then Holt offers two requirements for the existence of self:  1) the self is the subject of consciousness.  2) the self is capable of self-consciousness.  And then he blows this apart by pointing out that something being both the subject and the object is what Schopenhauer called "a monstrous contradiction".  


And now for the creepy!  I'll mention one last philosopher Holt uses, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (yes, Fichte, the "father of German nationalism", the architect of "German idealism").  Fichte says that the "I" comes into existence by positing itself. "I = I", the logical law of identity.  And I = I becomes the sole necessary truth, and thus the ground for all other knowledge.  Thus all knowledge is self-knowledge.  Thus the transcendental subject creates the world!  What's creepy about this?  Not the idea itself -- what's creepy is that the "father of German nationalism" builds a philosophical concept straight out of the Torah!  I AM THAT I AM.  


Which brings us to the Kabbalistic concept that the Name of God contains all other names and attributes.  I AM THAT I AM.  All of creation is engendered by God, and contained by God.  In Lurianic Kabbalah, God fragments in order to create the world.  For creation to take place, God is both fragmented and whole, as is all creation.  According to the Torah, we are made in God's image.  If God can say, I am that I am, can we? Is each of us a self because each of us is a self, because we are?  Is our existence selfhood, because we were created out of fragmentation to become whole?  If each of us stands in relation, as Martin Buber tells us, in relation to ourselves, to others, to nature, to the world, to God, who is it who stands in relation to?  A self...???  Are we whole?


Do we surrender to existence, to existing?  And, to reverse Descartes' "I think therefore I am", because we are, because we exist, therefore we surrender, therefore we engage, therefore we relate?


Categories: None

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.


Reply michael jordan shoes
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
I am glad for writing to let you know of the outstanding encounter my cousin's daughter found checking your blog. She mastered too many things, most notably what it is like to have an incredible giving mindset to let other people with no trouble know various problematic subject matter. You undoubtedly did more than people's expected results. Many thanks for delivering those important, trustworthy, edifying and even unique tips on this topic to Janet.
michael jordan shoes
Reply supreme hoodie
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
I precisely wished to thank you so much yet again. I'm not certain what I would've implemented without these tips discussed by you over that subject matter. It was an absolute hard issue in my opinion, nevertheless taking a look at your professional avenue you processed it made me to cry with joy. I am grateful for this information as well as believe you really know what a great job you're providing instructing the mediocre ones thru your web blog. I am certain you haven't encountered all of us.
supreme hoodie
Reply longchamp
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
I simply desired to say thanks once more. I do not know the things I might have gone through in the absence of the entire tricks shared by you directly on such subject. It became an absolute frightful crisis for me personally, nevertheless discovering the expert avenue you solved it forced me to jump for joy. Now i'm grateful for this assistance and then believe you know what a powerful job you have been doing training men and women thru a blog. Most likely you haven't met any of us.
Reply supreme clothing
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
I and also my friends happened to be taking note of the best procedures located on the blog and so unexpectedly came up with a terrible feeling I had not thanked the web site owner for them. All of the guys came so joyful to read through all of them and have sincerely been loving these things. Thanks for truly being considerably kind and for deciding upon this sort of remarkable topics millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. Our honest regret for not expressing gratitude to earlier.
supreme clothing
Reply nike dunks
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
I simply needed to thank you so much all over again. I am not sure what I could possibly have sorted out in the absence of the entire thoughts documented by you over such topic. It was before a very fearsome matter in my view, however , discovering the well-written strategy you treated the issue made me to jump over gladness. I will be grateful for this help and in addition hope you realize what a great job you have been accomplishing teaching most people through the use of your web page. Most probably you've never come across any of us.
nike dunks
Reply off white
7:05 PM on June 29, 2022 
Needed to put you a little bit of note to finally thank you so much once again just for the nice pointers you have contributed on this page. It was pretty open-handed with you giving unhampered all numerous people could have offered for sale as an e book in order to make some profit on their own, precisely since you could have done it if you wanted. These basics also acted to be a easy way to be sure that other individuals have a similar dreams just like mine to learn significantly more when it comes to this condition. I am sure there are many more fun sessions in the future for many who go through your blog post.
off white
Reply RichardHenly
6:54 PM on June 29, 2022 
url= says...
vermox 100mg online
url= says...
noroxin tablets
url= says...
zoloft brand name
url= says...
ivermectin 3mg dosage
url= says...
buy lopressor
url= says...
amoxil drug
url= says...
orlistat drug
url= says...
buy antabuse 250 mg
Reply blturnerintl
6:43 PM on June 29, 2022 
blauer police winter hat kids soccer kits for cheap nj1dl53j wholesale new detroit tigers hat ray ban aviator outdoorsman mens cleveland browns brown 12 josh gordon orange alternate 2015 nfl nike elite jersey
Reply esndental
6:43 PM on June 29, 2022 
jersey cuervos baltimore nike go fly ease trainers hunting snap back hats air rubber dunk off white red bottom sneakers the new warriors jersey
Reply baffineri
4:00 PM on June 29, 2022 
broncos throwback jersey new balance 574 nature rouge pandora red cardinal charm puma rs x plastic black brocade dress kate spade new york staci medium saffiano leather satchel purse
Reply cindenyolla
4:00 PM on June 29, 2022 
brown leather hiking boots frank gehry torque ring boston red sox rainbow hat hatching in florida thin black gilet korean black outfit moncler montclar
Reply cagdasck
4:00 PM on June 29, 2022 
monarch butterfly phone case nordstrom louboutin shoes the north face mens sierra down parka jordan 11 blanc rouge high long white cocktail dress nike air zoom pegasus 33 all white gold
Reply blincville
10:59 AM on June 29, 2022 
apple iphone 12 mini case monster energy fox racing hats lids air jordan retro black and purple nike sb rodriguez hvid crochet baby hat pattern with bow asics fujitrabuco 7 gtx womens
Reply Suesnupt
8:56 PM on June 28, 2022 
bactrim 800 150 mg
Reply ftscrossfit
8:37 PM on June 28, 2022 
valencia 23 aymen abdennour home short sleeves mens adults 2016 2017 club soccer jerseys youth nike blazer mid dark blue moncler jacket elite pernell mcphee youth jersey baltimore ravens 90 alternate black nfl camben midi smock dress plus size
Reply nedaparvaz
7:10 PM on June 28, 2022 
newcastle united 125 year shirt for cheap black velvet halter dress tiffany setting without diamond liverpool fc jurgen klopp t shirt wood bill hats barely green dunks high
Reply off white shoes
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
I happen to be writing to let you be aware of of the exceptional experience my wife's daughter enjoyed going through the blog. She even learned such a lot of issues, not to mention what it is like to have a marvelous teaching style to make the rest without problems have an understanding of chosen extremely tough topics. You really exceeded her desires. I appreciate you for giving the good, trusted, educational and fun thoughts on the topic to Emily.
off white shoes
Reply off white jordan
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
I simply had to thank you very much once more. I do not know the things that I would have accomplished without the entire concepts shown by you on such a industry. It was before a very difficult difficulty in my position, but spending time with this professional mode you managed that forced me to leap for gladness. I'm happier for this support and in addition have high hopes you find out what an amazing job your are undertaking educating men and women all through your blog. Most likely you've never come across all of us.
off white jordan
Reply adidas yeezy
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
I together with my guys ended up checking the excellent things on the website and all of a sudden came up with an awful feeling I had not thanked you for those strategies. Most of the guys ended up so joyful to read them and have now simply been making the most of those things. Thanks for being well helpful as well as for having these kinds of superior tips millions of individuals are really desirous to learn about. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.
adidas yeezy
Reply goyard outlet
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
I'm commenting to let you know of the magnificent encounter our girl had browsing your webblog. She came to find too many details, not to mention what it is like to have a very effective giving character to have other individuals completely learn some problematic things. You really surpassed her expected results. Many thanks for delivering such helpful, trusted, revealing and in addition fun guidance on this topic to Tanya.
goyard outlet