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 kyrie irving
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
I actually wanted to construct a word to say thanks to you for those unique suggestions you are showing at this site. My prolonged internet investigation has at the end of the day been compensated with excellent strategies to talk about with my family members. I 'd claim that most of us site visitors are extremely fortunate to be in a perfect site with so many outstanding professionals with beneficial principles. I feel really fortunate to have encountered your entire webpage and look forward to some more amazing moments reading here. Thank you again for a lot of things.
kyrie irving
Reply jordan shoes
6:11 PM on June 28, 2022 
Thanks a lot for providing individuals with remarkably spectacular possiblity to read in detail from here. It really is very superb and also packed with fun for me personally and my office friends to search the blog at least 3 times a week to find out the latest secrets you will have. Of course, I'm actually happy with the fabulous principles you serve. Certain 3 areas in this article are honestly the most efficient I've ever had.
jordan shoes
Reply bape
6:10 PM on June 28, 2022 
I am just commenting to let you know what a magnificent experience my cousin's child developed browsing the blog. She figured out a lot of pieces, including what it's like to have an incredible helping nature to make other people quite simply know precisely chosen impossible subject areas. You actually did more than readers' expected results. Thanks for displaying those informative, trustworthy, educational and in addition fun tips about your topic to Evelyn.
Reply kyrie 6 shoes
6:10 PM on June 28, 2022 
I am also commenting to make you be aware of what a remarkable experience our child encountered reading your site. She learned a lot of details, which included what it's like to have an incredible giving spirit to get many more clearly know just exactly several advanced subject matter. You truly did more than visitors' expected results. Thanks for presenting these useful, trusted, revealing as well as fun guidance on your topic to Kate.
kyrie 6 shoes
Reply jordan 1 off white
6:10 PM on June 28, 2022 
I am glad for writing to let you understand what a helpful experience my friend's girl gained reading yuor web blog. She came to find some details, most notably how it is like to have an ideal helping mood to make others smoothly learn about a number of complex things. You actually exceeded our own expectations. Thanks for imparting those insightful, trustworthy, explanatory as well as fun guidance on that topic to Emily.
jordan 1 off white
Reply supreme clothing
6:09 PM on June 28, 2022 
I must convey my appreciation for your kind-heartedness in support of those people who must have help with this important concern. Your special dedication to passing the solution along appeared to be really productive and has usually allowed guys and women like me to attain their aims. This interesting report means a lot a person like me and much more to my office colleagues. Many thanks; from each one of us.
supreme clothing
Reply cvrvoutlet
9:10 AM on June 28, 2022 
sleeveless button front shirt nike air max 2014 negro erkek rb3648 marshal adidas originals red track pants leeds united t shirt 2020 game louis vasquez womens jersey denver broncos 65 alternate navy blue super bowl 50 bound nfl
Reply jordan shoes
7:29 AM on June 28, 2022 
I enjoy you because of every one of your efforts on this web page. My niece enjoys making time for internet research and it's really simple to grasp why. My partner and i know all of the compelling medium you present very useful secrets through this web site and therefore invigorate contribution from some others on the situation then our favorite child is always discovering so much. Have fun with the rest of the year. You are always performing a dazzling job.
jordan shoes
Reply moncler jacket
7:29 AM on June 28, 2022 
My husband and i have been now relieved Jordan managed to finish up his preliminary research from your precious recommendations he gained out of your web pages. It is now and again perplexing to simply be giving freely helpful tips some other people might have been trying to sell. And we all fully understand we've got the blog owner to thank because of that. All of the explanations you made, the simple web site menu, the friendships you will make it possible to instill - it's most unbelievable, and it's aiding our son and the family understand that article is amusing, and that's pretty mandatory. Many thanks for the whole lot!
moncler jacket
Reply curry 6 shoes
7:29 AM on June 28, 2022 
I simply wanted to construct a quick word to appreciate you for all the marvelous strategies you are writing at this website. My time consuming internet research has at the end of the day been rewarded with pleasant suggestions to talk about with my neighbours. I would state that that most of us visitors are unequivocally fortunate to live in a great website with very many perfect people with valuable hints. I feel quite lucky to have encountered your website page and look forward to some more thrilling minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once again for everything.
curry 6 shoes
Reply yeezy boost
7:29 AM on June 28, 2022 
I simply desired to appreciate you all over again. I do not know the things that I would have made to happen in the absence of the information contributed by you over such topic. It has been a real distressing issue in my view, nevertheless noticing a specialised way you treated that forced me to leap for happiness. I'm happier for your work and in addition believe you recognize what an amazing job that you're providing instructing the rest with the aid of your webblog. I am sure you have never encountered any of us.
yeezy boost
Reply golden goose
7:29 AM on June 28, 2022 
I am also writing to make you know what a wonderful discovery my daughter obtained viewing the blog. She realized lots of issues, which include how it is like to have an ideal teaching style to have other people easily know precisely a variety of specialized matters. You actually exceeded her expectations. I appreciate you for delivering these precious, safe, informative and easy guidance on that topic to Jane.
golden goose
Reply yeezy boost 350 v2
7:28 AM on June 28, 2022 
A lot of thanks for your whole efforts on this site. Ellie delights in conducting investigation and it's really obvious why. We know all concerning the lively mode you produce sensible tips via your blog and as well attract response from people on this topic so our own daughter has always been learning a lot. Enjoy the rest of the new year. Your carrying out a fantastic job.
yeezy boost 350 v2
Reply supreme shirt
7:28 AM on June 28, 2022 
I in addition to my friends appeared to be checking the good tactics found on your web site and so instantly I had an awful feeling I never thanked the website owner for those techniques. These young men had been so thrilled to read through them and now have really been enjoying those things. I appreciate you for actually being well accommodating and then for choosing varieties of great things most people are really wanting to know about. My personal honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.
supreme shirt
Reply longchamp
7:27 AM on June 28, 2022 
I truly wanted to write down a simple word to express gratitude to you for those lovely techniques you are placing on this site. My time-consuming internet look up has at the end been recognized with good quality concept to write about with my two friends. I would say that many of us site visitors actually are rather lucky to be in a decent place with very many brilliant people with beneficial ideas. I feel rather fortunate to have come across the webpage and look forward to plenty of more pleasurable minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once more for all the details.
Reply retro jordans
7:27 AM on June 28, 2022 
I wish to express my affection for your generosity for persons that really want guidance on this important content. Your personal dedication to passing the solution throughout had become astonishingly advantageous and has surely made professionals like me to achieve their endeavors. Your entire invaluable tips and hints implies this much a person like me and even more to my mates. Thanks a ton; from all of us.
retro jordans
Reply spagazer
3:24 PM on June 27, 2022 
moncler childs coat louboutin very prive 120 fred perry shirt zwart red chiffon frock jordan 7 svart hvit and rosa asics tiger mexico 66 azul
Reply vulpinoid
3:23 PM on June 27, 2022 
new balance wx608wt blanc white orange nike gs iii acc uk shoes university of miami baseball jersey red valentine dress nike hypervenom phelon size 3 2017 the north face himalayan down parka evergreen
Reply macosaug
1:31 PM on June 27, 2022 
louboutins sale italy soccer merchandise m vectiv escape montreal canadiens snapback hat chanel 3282 tortoise louboutin mid heels
Reply talkuo
1:30 PM on June 27, 2022 
nike air force one 07 san francisco giants world series champions hats new altra lone peak 4.0 mid wizard of oz coach tote predator 2018 football boots haiwee adidas shoes