Inventing the Self

Damasio’s Terms

September 12th, 2013 by Jason Tougaw · No Comments

Antonio Damasio’s theories of consciousness and the self are complicated and can get bewildering on a first reading. This is partly because he builds the theory through the explanation of relationships among a pretty large number of parts. The good news is that he’s careful to define his key terms–which give names to these various parts. A good way to get a handle on Damasio is to keep track of his key terms as you read and to revisit them. First, be sure that you understand his definition of each term. Then, do your best to understand the relationships among the terms. If you understand these relationships, you’ll understand the nuances of the theories he proposes.

Here’s a list of terms to look out for:

  • organism, object, and image
  • core consciousness and extended consciousness
  • primordial self, prot0 self, core self, autobiographical self
  • self-as-subject and self-as-object
  • qualia, emotion, and feeling
  • image, neural pattern, neural representation, maps
  • internal milieu and homeostasis
  • body loop and “as if body loop”

You’ll find these terms scattered throughout the two texts we’re reading. Just look out for them at first and mark them when you come across them. Revisit them later and see if you think you’ve understood his point with regard to each. (Some of the terms will be familiar from Hustvedt and Eakin.)

We’ll talk about all this in class, but your reading will be easier and more productive if you focus on the terms from the outset.

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