Inventing the Self

From toes to hairline.

November 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on From toes to hairline.

When discussing Damasio earlier this semester the body seemed present in the understanding of the self, Damasio’s first two levels of self seemed in more direct relation with the body than the autobiographical self. In some sense Noë also kept the body in his rhetoric with the environmental factors of the self. Now the body becomes the protagonist and the rhetoric turns out to be statistical and machine like. This in my opinion links perfectly with the identity and varying personalities of self standpoint, which was viewed mostly throughout October.

I have been an athlete all my life so I’ve been close to all this kind of body monitoring to keep track of progress, and this has brought close to understanding how different emotions affect body performance and vice versa. Different body states respond to different changes in the environment. Different identities and different personalities, respond to different environmental aspects. Where am I going with all this? Yes primarily that the self is greatly influenced by its surroundings, but also trying to point out the fact that our whole organism is what compromises the self. This is what I have mostly made out of Inventing the Self, the self in not in the mind, or in the brain, or in any specific place. Every single particle and molecule in our bodies, in some way or another contributes to selfness. And for some reason viewing it with that sense, makes it impossible to find.

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Making the right question.

October 29th, 2013 · 2 Comments

The juxtaposition between this week’s readings seems favorable to the process in which we find ourselves in the writing activity. On the one hand, a very academic and scientific scrutinizing of different ways in which to manipulate or understand the biological process of voice hearing; on the other hand a personal recount of how to manipulate and understand voice hearing through a psychological or holistic standpoint. The first, seemingly super technologically advanced, not necessarily reaching a conclusive and desirable effect; and the second having the capacity to be confidently helpful when considering a humane approach to a very human difficulty. This chapter and lecture rectified the need for balance, and a broader standpoint in order to achieve a better understanding of a complex query. Made me think of how the last class discussion lead to the point of knowing that the right question, will lead to a more confident answer.

I share Jason’s recalling of Alva Noe’s “something else going on”. The grasp for understanding the self seems unreachable from any of the standpoints that have been evaluated because the rhetoric always falls short. The self always seems to have the ability to elude a definite statement once the efforts within a school of thought have been exhausted. There is so much that biology can do, and there is also as much as psychology or philosophy can. In this sense, May’s recognition of the fact that insistent voices must have something important to say, makes me think that the insistent underachievement to finding the self within specific academic specters can only tell us that it is not to be found uniquely in any of them. In other words if consistently the self cannot be found through biology, psychology, philosophy, anthropology or any other ology individually, then maybe it never will. I guess it is just a matter of waiting for someone to make the right question.

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Lowboy

October 15th, 2013 · 1 Comment

This week’s readings can put into question the aspect of “true self” that was discussed in earlier class discussions. Is a notion of “true self” created for individuals dealing with the hearing of voices? McCarthy-Jones describes the coming to self as part of the process of coping with such a condition; Lowboy in a way used the voices in his head to push forward with his quest. It would appear that the general identity of individuals could be considered that part of our personality that interacts with the rest of our personalities. In the case of Lowboy, that part of him that realized the aspects of his mental state and interacted with the different voices and characters that conflicted with his mind.

In my personal experience, the last five years of my grandmother’s life were populated with tactile hallucinations, and on occasions it very much helped catching her attention and remembering her of her mental state, which resulted in the continuance of the hallucinations, but with a more balanced ratio from that mental state and her mindfulness.

I felt that Wray’s narrative capacity to describe scenes in the story through senses other than sight gave the notion of consciousness a whole other spectrum. His descriptions of the weather in relation to the body recognized the necessary relationship of body, mind, surrounding; and the constant description of places through their smell got me thinking of Damasio’s biological explanation of memory storage and image filing in the brain. Places that smell similarly will be recalled through memory when that particular odor is sensed. I feel that John Wray’s style of description goes in hand with Noe’s conception of the relationship of body, mind, surroundings, and got me to thinking: is that part of our identity that interacts with our variant personalities something that can be considered the “true self”?

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The chiken or the egg?

October 2nd, 2013 · 3 Comments

This week’s readings brought to my mind the eternal philosophical question of which came first, the chicken or the hen? Narrative Theory and the perspectives of identity seem to be putting forward Noe’s insistence of the relation between self and society, and in this sense bringing up the inquiry of the relation between the development of society and the development of self. The descriptive use of phases through which the self evolves, with a time wise orientation, can be very much compared to the phases through which the progress of social and material development are understood chronologically through history.

The eternal loop that this duality generates is sensed in McAdams internal debate as to how individual myths can influence social ones, and vice versa. Where: “Some stories gain wide acceptance for their ability to communicate a fundamental truth about life.” (p. 33); or, “A society’s myths reflect the most important concerns of a people” (p.34). The meshing between social and individual myths can create a questioning as to where the self becomes realized, as to what part of life caries more weight in the invention of the self; either in personal conceptions of society or the general social conceptions that affect our personality. Narrative Theory in a way makes behavior seem like the place where to search for the self; are we polite because we internalized that being so is a good quality, or a we so because society will deem it worthy?

Still with this said, the search for the self through the narrative capacity of individuals gives much opportunity to the possibility of agency that maybe a biological notion of the self doesn’t find a place in which to consider. The capacity of evaluating the narrated past, and the constantly mentioned foundation, gives individuals the tool of continuously editing their stories. Something that possibly the biological description of brain mapping and memory with mechanisms that reduce the brains efforts may not be able to grasp. This new shift in the standpoint of inquiry, as did the others, creates further questions, something that personally transforms into the question of where does unconsciousness lie within Narrative Theory? How can the mind’s unconscious activity be captivated by narrative action? Questions that Damasio’s and Hustvedt’s accounts seem better prepared to answer.

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Damasio & Blackmore

September 17th, 2013 · Comments Off on Damasio & Blackmore

Antonio Damasio seems to be on a genuine quest for balance. His stance is social, his structure academic, his style exquisitely populated by metaphor and simile. Reading him can be compared to speaking to a very elderly individual who has lived long enough to cherish every aspect of life, and with time has learned that sharing the acquired knowledge is the best way to help life in society improve. Everything in his text, from the cover and the worn-out style of the side of the pages, to the academic structure decorated with poetic images, seems to be a direct critic to the elitist and overtly intellectual rhetoric that past academic cultures have seemed to sustain and promote.

Jumps through a singular and plural narrator can go almost unnoticed, but have the effect of creating a collective absorption of knowledge, and at the same time maintain a humble distance between reader and neuroscientist. In concordance with last week’s discussion, a gender-biased style is hard to identify, with precaution of not to say absent. The constant reflecting and orienting of key terms makes the unimaginable seem extremely simple. His limited use of sources illustrates a mastery of the topic, and also a dedication to the consistent development of original ideas.

On the other hand, Susan Blackmore appears with a cut through the chase, straightforward rhetoric that has no time for doubt. She is defending a thesis that can be very much debated and problematized, and her strong attitude conveys her validity. Very active story telling and the back and forth interaction with her selves brings closer to reality the shocking assertion of an illusory self. Her discourse seems as good example to demonstrate how eloquence affects the ability to convince.

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