Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Am a Perspective

Reflections and Considerations on the Topic of the Self

Part Three of Five

This one can be read on its own, but is really only valuable as part of the series, which so far consists of Part One: Do I Exist? and Part Two: What Am I?

Take my brain, take the self-aware, willing, sentient consciousness and let me look at it. If I can, then that is not I.

Why does it seem strange to say “I am a brain?” I think if one is quite honest with themselves, nearly everyone finds this an odd concept until they take the time to get used to the idea and to find merit in the logic, presuppositions, and evidence that leads to that position. It seems to me, though, that the reason we have difficulty saying that I am a brain is that we picture a brain in our mind. It is an object. We can look at it. We can touch and probe it. We think of it as “out there.”

And the fundamental problem is that nothing can encounter itself “out there.” Out there is everything other.

Everything I can encounter as an object is other from me. I can approach my brain, my whole brain, as an object in the world. Therefore, I am not my brain.

Self-aware, willing, sentient consciousness. Can I approach this from the outside? Certainly. I can observe you being self-aware, you being willing, you being sentient, and you being conscious. But can I approach all self-awareness? All willing? All sentience? All consciousness? Distill this down, is there at least one self-awareness I cannot approach from the outside? At least one will? One sentience? One consciousness?

It seems to me that this is not the case. I can see my own self-awareness as a phenomenon (in fact, is that not the essence of self-awareness?) My own will. My own sentience. And, indeed, my own consciousness. In fact, at the beginning of this essay I said that this was a matter where introspection might be useful, and my introspection was the act of reflection on my self-awareness, will, sentience, and consciousness as things I had found.

At this point, I take a detour. Now I have to ask what is it that is trying to approach these things. I see then that it is, at the very least, a perspective. A perception, from a certain point of view. In trying to see if there was a self-awareness/will/sentience/consciousness I could not approach from the outside, I realized that I was looking at all of these things through a point of view. That point of view, I now say, is the essence of self. The “seeing through this eye” is what constitutes the I.

Anything that can be seen is Other, whatever makes up the seeing is the I.

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