There is no “self” in Eastern Philosophy and this experimental neuroscience can't find it either

Originally published at: There is no "self" in Eastern Philosophy and this experimental neuroscience can't find it either   | Boing Boing


Ok. Did anyone think otherwise? I don’t understand what the alternative would be.

This doesn’t make one damn bit of sense. If our sense of self is a product of the whole of our brain’s activities, then it is literally a creation of our thoughts and feelings. Also, the brain and our mind and our sense of self is a really complex fucking thing, and we do not always control our own happiness. Shit can go wrong with our brains and with our thought processes in ways that are not in our control.


The self as i understand it is a person’s brain interpreting all of the received stimuli and creating a narrative to make sense of everything. I presume that how all of those small interpretations slowly layer and build on each other make up a person’s self and personality.


Everyone knows that those pesky reductive empiricists were holding out for a teeny little homunculus man; sitting in your pineal gland and driving you around like Ripley in a powerloader.


I want a pink one.


I love this sooo much! It makes me want to sign-up for some time on the 3D printer at the library.


This is what happens when r/showerthoughts goes dark for a couple days.

As the linked article points out, while eastern and western thinkers disagree on the nature of the self, they agree there is a “self.” Ultimately, “There is no ‘self center’ in the brain” doesn’t mean “there is no self.”


I don’t get the whole idea of “self” or “free will” for that matter. I think they’re just leftover scam phrases from a medieval pyramid scheme.


Mental constructs aren’t real things now? Some of the piles of atoms I interact with would be very disappointed to find that out, except I guess they won’t really be.


Joke’s on you! I keep my self tucked in a needle, in an egg, in a rabbit, in a duck, in a silk purse, in a golden chest buried on an island!


Yeah, the wide brush often used to describe “Eastern Philosophy” always makes me think of this Onion article.


Thank you for writing this so that I didn’t have to. The logic of the OP here is utterly baffling. Has anyone believed that “the self” has a contained physical existence in the brain rather than being a complex agglomeration of processes? Imagine the consequences - that would make “the self” physically separate from not only our bodies but the rest of our brains, the whole of the human sensorium, etc. Like a… little alien? Computer? Parasite? Brain-within-a-brain? Living in and controlling the rest of the brain and body? Utter nonsense.


Descartes is drinking in a bar. He finishes his beer and the bartender comes over to see if he wants a refill.

“I think not,” says Descartes, and is shocked when the bouncer grabs him by the shirt collar and tosses him out onto the sidewalk.

The bartender leans over and extracts a 20 from Descartes’ wallet.

“Listen bud, “ the bartender says, “ I had a bunch of Buddhist monks in here last night and they pulled that whole ‘there is no self’ disappearing act on me; left me with a $500 dollar tab and a seriously fucked-up men’s room. So now I’ve updated my ‘No Nazis’ policy to include mystics, monks and philosophers.” He gestures at the bouncer, “Now get lost before my generosity runs out and I ask my good friend Lacan here to beat the solipsism out of you.”


I think the problem is that many mystics have a very distorted view of what “reductionism” is. It isn’t saying that that there has to be a single brain location for the “self” just like there doesn’t have to be a single gene for most inherited traits. It’s well within the study of rational, reductionistic science to study a system without getting all woo-woo about it.


That’s a great one. Another could be about an Asian youth getting into Traditional Western Medicine like the four humors of Galen (which is why bleeding was such a common treatment before scientific medicine)


The book I Am A Strange Loop by Hofstadter is great and does a nice job of explaining this with a box of envelopes.


“Dream loader” takes on a new meaning here, it seems. :wink:


Thank you for that first link - a good summary of a complex debate that probably isn’t close to being resolved any time soon. :slight_smile:


Get away from KEN YOU BI*CH!

– scene is Barbie’s Dream Dance Club –


I see by all the comments that I was not the only one highly amused by Ripley in a powerloader. Good stuff.


“This means that the self is not a physical entity, but instead entirely a mental construct.”

“Mental” does a lot of work in this sentence.

Mentality is embodied in a physical form, entity if you will, and there continues to be much scientific work showing that “thinking” takes place not only in the brain but throughout the body, the gut especially, which, in Eastern thought, is one of the loci of mentality.