Sunday, December 11, 2011

Am I One Who Sees?

Reflections and Considerations on the Topic of the Self

Part Four of Five

This won't make much sense if you don't read the thought processes that preceded it: Part One: Do I Exist?, Part Two: What Am I?, and Part Three: I Am a Perspective

There is now a question. Am I the perception from a certain point of view or am I something that perceives from a certain point of view?

If I have adequately distilled down the essence of what I am, that perception, then the question becomes whether or not it is epistemically justified to imagine that there is a substance behind the action that is I.

Perceiving is an activity. If I am perception from a certain point of view, perhaps it is possible that there is a substance that is perceiving. If there is, we cannot experience this substance, we can only experience the perceiving itself. If, however, there does indeed exist such a substance, then surely that substance would be I, whereas that perception is simply what I am experiencing.

Now as I approach this substance in text I approach it as an “Other” in the world, but that is because we are not approaching the substance itself, but rather a speculative abstract notion of the substance. If there is such a substance, we have never encountered it, nor should be ever do so (since to do so would mean that it was Other). It must either be I or it must not exist, in both cases, we should have no way of approaching it.

Occam's Razor

On the other hand, perhaps I have simply over-complicated the issue. Maybe I have multiplied when I should have reduced? Is it not much simpler to say that the substance that makes up the self is just parts of the human brain? That I am, in fact, just part of whatever brain that generates my perspective? That I had things right earlier, and then needlessly muddied the water?

In fact, maybe I've subconsciously smuggled some dualism in here from the outset. After all, I said that I can not be something that I approach because everything that I can approach is Other to me. I can approach all objects in the world, though. So, maybe I've just played some logical games to justify some kind of spiritual or mental substance, when really the only substance I need concern myself with is in my skull.

For the moment, though, I still find my argument to be sound.

1. Everything that I can approach is Other.
2. By definition, I am not Other.
3. I can approach my brain in the world.
4. Therefore I am not my brain.

Perhaps another argument could be made. Perhaps my brain is, in fact, the substance that generates perspective, but that I am, in fact, only the perspective. That was, after all, where my argument ended, with me being perspective. Maybe I am generated by something that I do not identify with.

At this time, this seems to be the simplest plausible explanation. And, in fact, I suppose that I have to be content here. All I can say is that I am perception from a certain point of view. There is nothing in my argument that implies I cannot approach what generates me as being separate from me.

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