Exploring The Concept Of “Self” In Modern Philosophy

1302 words - 5 pages

Vidhi Gandhi
Prof. Murphy
PHIL 1201
Paper- Reflection Essay

Truth of oneself makes it visible when faced with absurd events in life where all ethical issues fade away. One cannot always pinpoint to a specific trait or what the core essence they discover, but it is often described as “finding one’s self”. In religious context, the essential self would be regarded as soul. Whereas, for some there is no such concept as self that exists since they believe that humans are just animals caught in the mechanistic world. However, modern philosophy sheds a positive light and tries to prove the existence of a self. Modern philosophers, Descartes and Hume in particular, draw upon the notion of the transcendental self, thinking self, and the empirical self, self of public life. Hume’s bundle theory serves as a distinction between these two notions here and even when both of these conception in their distinction make valid points, neither of them is more accurate.
A self is some sort of inner being or principle, essential to, but not identical with, the person as whole. It is that in a person that thinks and feels. The self is usually conceived in philosophy as that which one refer to with the word “I”. It is that part or aspects of a person that accounts for personal identity through time. In spite of all the ways one can change with time, the self is invariably same through time. A self is what is supposed to account for the fact that an individual is same person today as he/she was at the age of five, given that all his characteristics have changed over time. For instance, compared to his childhood, this individual is stronger, taller, and smarter; he has different aspirations and dreams, different thoughts and fears, his interests and activities are remarkably different. Yet, he is still the same self. In other words, one’s self, or one’s identity, is constituted by those attributes one identifies with most strongly; what one thinks of as most important about oneself. In philosophy, two main concepts of self revolve around transcendental self and empirical self.
Transcendental self is a self that is an essence independent of physical thing. It is what a person grasps, their self-conscious. In meditation 2, through the innovative use of methodic doubt, Descartes establishes one irrefutable certainty, the cogito. Using the cogito, Descartes supports his idea of a transcendental self being a thinking self. Firstly, no rational person can doubt his or her own existence as a conscious thinking entity, while being aware of thinking about anything. Descartes interprets this to mean that while bodily existence may seem more solid and certain than ideas, mental existence is actually more certain. He goes on “Thought and thought alone cannot be taken away from me. I am, I exist. That much is certain” (Melchert 341). After establishing the notion that self exists, Descartes mentions how one can doubt everything, but know that he or she is doubting. Doubting is...

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