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[REQUEST] What Is the “Self”?

Permanent Linkby Jessicawatson on Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:11 am

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What Is the “Self”?
The majority of people take the character of the “self” for granted. Numerous people merely live, conceding the entity of their personal self-recognition. When these people think about their self, their regards are usually rational rather than philosophical. Nevertheless, when people search for the “self” with regard to a philosophical viewpoint, it becomes possible to detect that the thing which have been primarily thought as a straightforward and congenial attendance is actually intangible, enigmatical, and uncommonly complex. The current discussion will demonstrate that the “self” is a combined empirical and rational being having both empirical and rational experience.
In fact, Socrates was the first philosopher of Western history who focused the entire power of reason on the subject of ‘self’. This is a beginning of empirical viewpoint on the subject of “self”. Socrates confirmed that, except the physical body, each individual has an immortal soul, which outlives the death of the body. Thus, Socrates believed that reality is dualistic, created of two dichotomous areas. One area is variable, fugitive, and imperfect at the same time, when the other area is stale, endless, and immortal. The physical world (including everything that people can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel) belongs to the first area. All agents of the physical world regularly alter, modify, and cease. On the contrary, the stable, everlasting, and perfect area incorporates intellectual essences of the universe. At first glance, Socrates metaphysical scheme may seem abstract and unpractical, but it has a significant influence on the way the self is understood. In accordance with Socrates, the bodies belong to the physical area, as they alter, they are imperfect, and they die. On the other hand, the souls belong to the ideal area, as they are consistent and immortal, outliving the death of the bodies. The soul and the body are radically different entities, despite the fact that they have a close relationship. The soul strives for sagacity and perfection, at the same time the reason is the soul’s implement to obtain this sublime state. Due to the fact that the soul is connected to the body, this search for sagacity is restrained by the imperfection of the physical area. Nevertheless, the reason is a vigorous implement, which enables the soul to free itself from the corrupting imperfection of the physical area.
The second philosopher, who adhered to the similar idea about the self, was Plato. He supported the majority of Socrates ideas concerning the essence of the self, meaning the soul. However, he also acknowledged the congenial difficulties concerning this view. He did not agree that the self resides the same, as it was obvious for the philosopher that the process of uninterrupted alteration and evolution outlines every self. This is evidently visible in physical bodies, and modern science has manifested that even on the cellular level old cells dye and are replaced with new cells on an ongoing ground. Therefore, it is improper to say that an infant at the age of six months is the same person as at the age of sixty. Therefore, the analogous process of incessant development and evolution also defines the “soul”. Plato believed that only people, who consistently assure that their reason is in control of their spirits and appetites, could obtain true happiness.
Descartes had a different view on the subject of the “self”. He acknowledged Socrates and Plato’s views as significant issues, but he was more concerned with cognition of the thinking process people utilized to analyze those matters. He agreed with Socrates and Plato that the human capacity to reason accounted for the exceptional implement to obtain truth and knowledge. However, instead of merely utilizing reason to analyze these matters, Descartes desired to comprehend the nature of the reasoning process and cognize its relation to the human “self”. He stated that in order to evolve the majority of acquitted and well-based beliefs about human existence, people have to concern the thinking implement they are employing. If the thinking implement is faulty, then it is likely that the conclusions will be faulty as well. The grounding of this scientific idea was based on the belief that true knowledge has to be formed on independent rational enquiry and real-life analysis. It was no longer corresponding to accept without questioning the “knowledge” provided by authorities. Instead, Descartes stated that people should utilize their own thinking capacities to research, analyze, experiment, and evolve personal well-grounded deductions, supported with invincible proof. Nevertheless, reasoning efficiently does not stand merely for thinking in individual’s personal and idiosyncratic ways. That manner of common sense consideration is likely to be significantly flawed. On the other hand, the efficient usage of the natural light of reason evokes application of scientific disciplines and analytic meticulousness to individual explorations in order to ensure that the conclusions that people reach have genuine accomplishment. Descartes was convinced that subjecting oneself to a massive and systematic questioning all things that a person had been taught to merely admit without questioning was the only way to obtain obvious and well-grounded conclusions. In addition, it is the only method for people to evolve credits, which are genuinely individual and not imposed. This method of uncompromising skeptical questioning everything that the person has been taught requires serious individual audacity, as it is important to call into question such things as religious beliefs, cultural valuables, and even beliefs concerning the “self”. This skeptical questioning leads to Descartes famous principle: “Cogito, ergo sum” (which means “I think, therefore I am”). This principle is a cornerstone of Descartes belief of the ‘self”. Descartes believed that no rational person would hesitate concerning his/her own existence as a conscious and thinking entity, as people were aware of thinking about their “self”. Even if the person is dreaming or hallucinating, and the consciousness is being manipulated by some external entity, it is still individual self-awareness concerning the fact that the “self” is dreaming, hallucinating, or being manipulated. Thus, in accordance with Descartes, the reasoning capacity equips the origin of knowledge and the last step of assertion in analyzing the preciseness and importance of the ideas developed.
On the other hand, Locke believed that all knowledge appears from the direct sense practice, which actually acts as the final court of judgment in evaluating the accuracy and value of ideas. Therefore, Descartes is believed to be an initial defender of the rationalist perspective on the “self” and its experience, while Locke is considered an original proponent of the empiricist perspective. The rationalism states that reason is the primary source of all knowledge and that only reasoning capacities enable people to understand sense experience and reach accurate conclusions. On the contrary, empiricism states that sense practice is an original source of all practice and cognizance and that merely rigorous attention to sense practice can allow people to comprehend the world and obtain exact deductions. Locke stated that a person is a cogitative, intelligent being who has the capacities to reason and to reflect. Moreover, he stated that a person is a being who considers itself to be the same in various times and various locations. Finally, he stated that consciousness (the possibility of being aware that a person is thinking) always companions thinking and is a significant part of the thinking process. Therefore, consciousness gives the possibility to believe that a person is the same identity in various times and various places. These ideas overlap with Plato and Descartes opinions concerning the fact that the self exists in the form of an everlasting, immaterial soul, which continues to exist after the death of the body. Locke believed that conscious awareness and memory of previous experiences are the major keys to understanding the “self”. It practically means that a person has a coherent concept of oneself as a personal identity because the person is aware of himself when he is thinking, feeling, and willing. Moreover, the person has memories of the times when he/she was aware of oneself in the past.
The current discussion demonstrated that the self is a combined empirical and rational being having both empirical and rational experience. Such philosophers as Socrates, Plato and Locke defined that the reason has entire power on the subject of the “self”. Locke further developed this idea and demonstrated that personal identity cannot be in doubt, as people are aware of their self and even remember being aware of it. On the other hand, Descartes demonstrated that the self is also rational, having rational experience. He agreed that the reason is a cornerstone to the understanding of the self, however, he demonstrated that reasoning capacity equips the commencement of knowledge and final stage of judgment in appraising the exactness and merit of the ideas produced.

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