PSY 306 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Cogito Ergo Sum, Immanuel Kant, Tabula Rasa

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Class 6: January 28: What is the self?
Who Am I?
What is similar about how people describe themselves?
Static, observable facts - positive traits
Generalizations, abstractions
Many answers could describe lots of people
What’s Missing??
The flow of ongoing experience
Hopes for the future
What could we take away and you still be you?
Name, sick, antidepressants, mood change, attitudes and
preferences, deserted island with no one you know,
What could we replace in your body and you still be you?
Kidney, teeth, hair, one neuron, five neurons, your entire
What is the self?
2500 years of great philosophers can’t agree
They do have interesting ideas though
Plato (380 BC)
Soul is the “ruler of the body, distinct from the body, and
therefore can live on without the body”
First example of dualism, different from Democritus who
said that the mind and body are one
Aristotle (350 BC)
Self/soul is an emergent quality of the physical body
Hydrogen and oxygen aren’t wet but H2O is
Violin’s sound is result of how its built
St. Augustine (354 A.D.)
“Whether I am asleep or awake, it is I who is one of these and
therefore I exist”
Descartes (1641 A.D.) stole the glory for this idea when
he wrote “cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am) over
1000 years later
St. Thomas Aquinas (1250)
Tabula rasa = blank slate
The soul enters the body through experience
Potential for social influence on the self
Immanuel Kant (1781)
True self exists but is unknowable
“Noumena”, e.g., disease
The effects of the self are seen in the world and in our perceptions
“Phenomena”, e.g. symptoms
Symptoms vs. Disease
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