The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own
reflective consciousness. This reference is necessarily subjective,
thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. The sense
of having a self – or self-hood – should, however, not
be confused with subjectivity itself. Ostensibly, there is a
directedness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its
"self" (or itself). Examples of psychiatric conditions where such
'sameness' is broken include depersonalization, which sometimes occur
in schizophrenia: the self appears different to the subject.
The first-person perspective distinguishes self-hood from personal
identity. Whereas "identity" is sameness, self-hood implies a
first-person perspective. Conversely, we use "person" as a
Personal identity can be impaired in late
Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Finally, the self is distinguishable from "others". Including the
distinction between sameness and otherness, the self versus other is a
research topic in contemporary philosophy) and contemporary
phenomenology (see also psychological phenomenology), psychology,
psychiatry, neurology, and neuroscience.
The nationally funded research Center for
Subjectivity in Copenhagen,
Denmark, is just one example of the importance of research on the
self. More recently, the relationship between the self and technology
has generated a research field called Technoself Studies. Although
subjective experience is central to self-hood, the privacy of this
experience is only one of many problems in the philosophical and
scientific study of consciousness.
6 See also
7.2 For cultural differences on the self
8 Further reading
The insula is an area in the brain, which is located below the
neocortical surface of the brain, in the allocortex. It appears to be
involved in self-reference.[a] In addition, mirror neurons are neurons
that fire both during the self performing a task and when watching
someone else (other) executing the same task.
Philosophy of self
The philosophy of self seeks to describe essential qualities that
constitute a person's uniqueness or essential being. There have been
various approaches to defining these qualities. The self can be
considered that being which is the source of consciousness, the agent
responsible for an individual's thoughts and actions, or the
substantial nature of a person which endures and unifies consciousness
In addition to
Emmanuel Levinas writings on "otherness", the
distinction between "you" and "me" has been further elaborated in
Martin Buber's philosophical work: Du und Ich.
Main article: Psychology of self
The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive and
affective representation of one's identity or the subject of
experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology
forms the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower,
and the self as Me, the subject that is known. Current views of the
self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in
human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity. Self
John Locke has been seen as a product of episodic
memory but research upon those with amnesia find they have a
coherent sense of self based upon preserved conceptual
autobiographical knowledge. It is increasingly possible to
correlate cognitive and affective experience of self with neural
processes. A goal of this ongoing research is to provide grounding and
insight into the elements of which the complex multiply situated
selves of human identity are composed. The 'Disorders of the Self'
have also been extensively studied by psychiatrists.
For example, facial and pattern recognition take large amounts of
brain processing capacity but pareidolia cannot explain many
constructs of self for cases of disorder, such as schizophrenia or
One’s sense of self can be changed if they become part of a group
that they consider stigmatized. According to Cox, Abramson, Devine,
and Hollon (2012), if an individual has prejudice against a certain
group, like the elderly and then later becomes part of this group this
prejudice can be turned inward causing depression (i.e.
The philosophy of a disordered self, such as in schizophrenia, is
described in terms of what the psychiatrist understands are actual
events in terms of neuron excitation but are delusions nonetheless,
and the schizo-affective or schizophrenic person also believes are
actual events in terms of essential being. PET scans have shown that
auditory stimulation is processed in certain areas of the brain, and
imagined similar events are processed in adjacent areas, but
hallucinations are processed in the same areas as actual stimulation.
In such cases, external influences may be the source of consciousness
and the person may or may not be responsible for "sharing" in the
mind's process, or the events which occur, such as visions and
auditory stimuli, may persist and be repeated often over hours, days,
months or years—and the afflicted person may believe themselves to
be in a state of rapture or possession.
What the Freudian tradition has subjectively called, "sense of self"
is for Jungian analytic psychology, where ones identity is lodged in
the persona or ego and is subject to change in maturation. Carl Jung
distinguished, "The self is not only the center, but also the whole
circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the
center of this totality...". The
Self in Jungian Psychology is
"the archetype of wholeness and the regulating center of the
psyche;… a transpersonal power that transcends the ego."  As
an archetype, it cannot be seen directly, but by ongoing
individuating maturation and analytic observation, can be experienced
objectively by its cohesive wholeness making factor.
Main article: Religious views on the self
Religious views on the self vary widely. The self is a complex and
core subject in many forms of spirituality. Two types of self are
commonly considered - the self that is the ego, also called the
learned, superficial self of mind and body, an egoic creation, and the
Self which is sometimes called the "True Self", the "Observing Self",
or the "Witness".
One description of spirituality is the self's search for "ultimate
meaning" through an independent comprehension of the sacred. Another
definition of spiritual identity is: "A persistent sense of self that
addresses ultimate questions about the nature, purpose, and meaning of
life, resulting in behaviors that are consonant with the
individual’s core values. Spiritual identity appears when the
symbolic religious and spiritual value of a culture is found by
individuals in the setting of their own life. There can be different
types of spiritual self because it is determined by one's life and
Human beings have a self—that is, they are able to look back on
themselves as both subjects and objects in the universe. Ultimately,
this brings questions about who we are and the nature of our own
importance. Traditions such as
Buddhism see the attachment to self
is an illusion that serves as the main cause of suffering and
Christianity makes a distinction between the true
self and the false self, and sees the false self negatively, distorted
through sin: 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked; who can know it?' (
According to Marcia Cavell, identity comes from both
political and religious views. He also identified exploration and
commitment as interactive parts of identity formation, which includes
Erik Erikson compared faith with doubt and found
that healthy adults take heed to their spiritual side. In Advaita
Vedanta of Hinduism it is said that we are not the body but the
self(soul). Everything is temporary in this universe only self is
Self is the subject, self is the witness of the world. And
it is said that self realisation is the true goal of human life. It is
salvation. This is God realisation.
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The self is constantly evolving due to the complexities of cultures
and societies. Researchers have shown that the self is dependent on
the culture that the self has been situated in. Several comparisons
between western cultures versus eastern cultures show that there are
cultural differences among the self and self-concept. The self can be
redefined as a dynamic, responsive process that structures neural
pathways according to past and present environments including
material, social, and spiritual aspects (Self, Culture, & Society
Class, 2015). Self-concept can be referred to as a product instead of
a process like the self is represented as. Self-concept is a concept
or belief that an individual has upon him/herself as an emotional,
spiritual, and social being (Aronson, 2002). Therefore, the
self-concept is the idea of who I am, kind of like a self-reflection
of one’s well being. For example, the self-concept is anything you
say about yourself. A society is a group of people who share a common
belief or aspect of
Self interacting toward the maintenance or
betterment of the collective (Self, Culture, & Society Class,
2015). Culture consists of explicit and implicit patterns of
historically derived and selected ideas and their embodiment in
institutions, cognitive and social practices, and artifacts. Cultural
systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and
on the other, as conditioning elements of further action (Kroeber
& Kluckholn, 1963, p. 357). Therefore, the following sections
will explore how the self and self-concept can be changed due to
As children, teenagers, and young adults grow up society tells these
individuals to “Be yourself”. But this may mean something
completely different for individuals who live in different cultures.
The way individuals construct themselves may be different due to their
culture (Kanagawa, 2001). A western culture self is usually seen as
abstract, private, individual, and separates themselves from the rest
of the group. Whereas an eastern culture self might be presented as
open and flexible (Kanagawa, 2001). The self relies on the environment
and culture it is put in. The self evolves and is constantly changing
to the environment so that it is not threatened. Therefore,
researchers wanted to study the differences between cultures and see
if individual’s conceptual selves change due to their culture and
Researchers Kanagawa and Heine have studied participants who lived in
western and eastern cultures. Throughout the study the researchers
concluded that western cultures such as North American and West
European cultures are more independent cultures (Heine &
Lehman,1992). The individuals in the western society tend to look only
for positive attributes and strive for goals that will put them ahead
of others. Western cultures are more goal oriented for individualism,
instead of being more collective for the group to advance ahead. This
is due to the culture that westerners instill, the whole culture
concept is to out beat another individual to advance their own well
being (Kanagawa, 2001). The independent cultures create selves and
self-concepts to worry about their own individual thoughts and
feelings (Heine & Lehman,1992). Whereas eastern cultures such as
those of Japan, Asian, Africa, Latin American, and South Europe are
interdependent cultures (Heine & Lehman,1992). The culture is very
different in eastern cultures because their culture is based on the
collective, instead of focusing on one individual. For instance,
Japanese culture focuses heavily on self-criticism and trying to
improve themselves to become better individuals (Kanagawa, 2001). They
really depend on negative feedback and aspects of themselves so that
they can advance and help the entire culture and society. The whole
goal is to maintain harmony and balance within society (Kanagawa,
2001). Therefore, Japan’s conceptual self is very different to
western culture due to the environment and standards that each culture
upholds. Eastern cultures are represented as interdependent because
they only think and feel for others instead of thinking about
themselves (Heine & Lehman, 1992). In addition, the studies that
these researchers have conducted show an important relationship
between the self and how cultures can play a major role in shaping the
self and self-concept.
Furthermore, the self is shaped by our social interactions and our
physical environments. An individual's social interactions occur when
they’re in a specific society or culture. If these individuals grow
up in a certain culture they’re going to conform to societal norms
and pressures to follow a specific standard that their culture
believes in. This is why culture is important to study and explore
when searching how the self evolves and changes. To conclude, western
cultures are more self-absorbed in their own lives whereas eastern
cultures are less self-absorbed because they cherish the collective.
The self is dynamic and complex and it will change or conform to
whatever social influence it is exposed to. The main reason why the
self is constantly dynamic is because it always looks for reasons to
not be harmed. The self in any culture looks out for its well being
and will avoid as much threat as possible. This can be explained
through the evolutionary psychology concept called survival of the
Wikiversity has learning resources about True Self
Look up self in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Outline of self
Sources of the Self
True self and false self
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Subjectivity and selfhood: Investigating the
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^ Shoemaker, D. (Dec 15, 2015) "Personal Identity and Ethics", section
"Contemporary Accounts of Personal Identity", The Stanford
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^ Hall, Manly P.
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^ a b Kiesling, Chris; Montgomery, Marylin; Sorell, Gwendolyn;
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For cultural differences on the self
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Anthony Elliott, Concepts of the Self
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Clark Moustakas, The self: explorations in personal growth
Richard Sorabji, Self: ancient and modern insights about
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Bernadette Roberts, What is Self? A Research Paper
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