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  1. #11
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Jennifer, his behavior seems like textbook trolling behavior from what I've seen: track down a controversial topic, present it in couched, inflammatory terms, and insult anyone who not so much as disagrees but merely points out fallacies. I suppose we can't discount the possibility that he's simply opinionated and overzealous, but overzealous people are generally interested in winning converts to their ideas, and he seems more disappointed when anyone agrees.

    (That said, I haven't been as regular a contributor to these forums as I may like to be, so I have to acknowledge that I may not be seeing the full picture of his overall behavior.)

    Anyway, I think you've hit the nail on the head regarding determinism and the self. I just don't see how the lack of a "self" could be a problem for society. The kind of people who are inclined to engage in dangerously hedonistic or sociopathic behavior (or both) aren't going to need scientific research to give them an excuse. Both types of behavior have a wanton disregard for standards built in.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

  2. #12
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    We only emerge as a product of those around us as part of the different storylines we inhabit from the cot to the grave. It is an ever changing character, created by the brain to provide a coherent interface between the multitude of internal processes and the external world demands that require different selves.
    I must be missing why anyone would find that "offensive" or even unusual.

  3. #13
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Anyway, I think you've hit the nail on the head regarding determinism and the self. I just don't see how the lack of a "self" could be a problem for society. The kind of people who are inclined to behave in dangerously hedonistic or sociopathic behavior (or both) aren't going to need scientific research to give them an excuse. Both types of behavior have a wanton disregard for standards built in.
    I'd probably even go as far to say such people (the hedonist and the sociopath), due to their self-absorption, would be the ones having a hard time accepting the concept that perhaps the self is a subjective manufacture, since so much of their experience, will, and drive would be an extension of it. It would difficult for them to contemplate that self might not exist in the way they experience themselves. We do get the nihilists thrown in there, but I consider all three categories (as you suggest) to be already operating on that level rather than reaching it through some sort of misleading spiritual or philosophical bent.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  4. #14
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    The self and other related ideas, such as free will, are insanely useful constructs, whether or not they're "factual" or "scientifically accurate."

    They get us into trouble at times, though--some, for instance, don't mind taking Welbutrin to stop smoking but would not think of taking it for depression; others understand physiological symptoms of depression, mania, and other disorders but cannot understand how they could possibly affect moods and decisions. We don't want to give up the illusion of control, because we must have responsibility and agency for our rules, laws, and mental models of how people operate to make much sense.

    Who knows? If it's 'true' and when we're ready to embrace it, a lack of self could guide us toward a better way of thinking about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. That should be the end goal of all of our scientific inquiries, anyway.

  5. #15
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    Who knows? If it's 'true' and when we're ready to embrace it, a lack of self could guide us toward a better way of thinking about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. That should be the end goal of all of our scientific inquiries, anyway.
    Agreed. I think on a practical level, we all live as if we had a self, and we experience a self.

    But it would be useful in scientific inquiry, by its nature, to start from scratch and not assume such things. When we're trying to understand how something works, assumptions lead right into error or close off avenues that need to be explored.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  6. #16
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    How exactly are we living as if we have a self?

    People live as if they are bodies and minds somewhat separate from other things, which is not what is being denied. The concept of the "self" as it means here doesn't seem relevant to day to day life at all. It only seems to come into play during abstract or metaphorical conversations (that don't seem very practical).

  7. #17
    Senior Member wildflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erm View Post
    The concept of the "self" as it means here doesn't seem relevant to day to day life at all. It only seems to come into play during abstract or metaphorical conversations (that don't seem very practical).
    on the contrary, the concept of the self has vast implications for society. just look at our western, individualistic, consumer-oriented culture. we consume without really thinking about the ramifications of our actions. consider the planned obsolescence of electronics. where do we think all those old cell phones, computers, tvs, etc. go? they frequently end up toxically polluting china in a huge way. but of course we are either quite unaware of that or we don't want to think about it. on the other end we don't think much about the manufacture of those items and the labor conditions under which they were built. we just want our products cheap. when we are conceived of as an atomized self independent from others then we really don't consider how our actions affect others.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erm View Post
    How exactly are we living as if we have a self?

    People live as if they are bodies and minds somewhat separate from other things, which is not what is being denied. The concept of the "self" as it means here doesn't seem relevant to day to day life at all. It only seems to come into play during abstract or metaphorical conversations (that don't seem very practical).
    The reason it concerns me is that it seems so reminiscent to two earlier battles in psychological research.

    The behaviourist controversary and later some of the schools of cognitivism took up the batton, a feature of each theoretical offensive was to denigrate depth psychology, analysis, all Freudian or Jungian or other traditions of that kind as of no value other than perhaps literary or philosophical diversions.

    I dont think that either of these disputes was unfortunate because of their attitude towards other theoretical schools or traditions per se but on each occasion the thesis which was being advanced was that human beings were/are organic automatons, not all that unique after all, there is of course implications or consequences for some of the debates around materialism/atomism vs. supernaturalism/theism/holism but that doesnt interest me so much as the potential for this belief that humans are "mere automatons" to become embedded and what the consequences of that will be beyond scientific and psychological investigations.

    Research attitudes become social attitudes in all kinds of ways, with political, social and ethical implications. I find it curious and also ridiculous, in fact a real example of argument from incredulity, that being suspiscious of this whole project is so quickly linked with disordered egotism along the lines of sociopathy and narcissism. Perhaps the culturally myopic attitude toward self, that it is in all incarnations as akin to the opposite of and opposing of altruism, dies hard. Then again it could be simply a matter of demonising posters and trolling.

  9. #19
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I'd probably even go as far to say such people (the hedonist and the sociopath), due to their self-absorption ...
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark
    Research attitudes become social attitudes in all kinds of ways, with political, social and ethical implications. I find it curious and also ridiculous, in fact a real example of argument from incredulity, that being suspiscious of this whole project is so quickly linked with disordered egotism along the lines of sociopathy and narcissism. Perhaps the culturally myopic attitude toward self, that it is in all incarnations as akin to the opposite of and opposing of altruism, dies hard. Then again it could be simply a matter of demonising posters and trolling.
    Actually, the exact opposite: the common objection to theories or philosophies (determinism in particular) that cast doubt on the existence of self is that if we are not, in fact, free-willed "selves", why not act however we choose, without regard for moral implications or consequences? This is fallacious reasoning, a "slippery slope" fallacy. As I mentioned above, people inclined to engage in hedonistic or sociopathic behavior are going to do so, and will certainly not need the findings of science to prompt them along that path.

    The more basic objection is that, even if we were to assume that everyone on earth would go on a murderous, drug-fueled rampage if it were proven beyond all doubt that the "self" is an illusion, this would have no impact on the truth of the matter. The objection is strictly a moral one.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

  10. #20
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I didn't have to have any scientist specifically tell me this for me to come to this conclusion. It just seemed to reasonably follow from the fact that a human is made of an enormous array of different organisms (themselves atomic structures) that die and reproduce rapidly over time. How real could the self be?

    Like-wise, there's a lot of determinism, cosmic/physical determinism that made free will a clearly questionable case.

    As far as adaptability goes, a self-important, singular command center would seem to be a more effective approach to the colony that is a human body, so here we are.

    EDIT: Based on another comment I saw here, I find it very important to add that even if this scientific analysis and post-modernism both press one to question the concept of self, they are very different things, deeply lacking in commonality.
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