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In this module, you will journey to the very heart of this course: Philosophy as a subject presents various philosophers offering multiple perspectives on just about any topic including the self. Philosophically, discussion of the self is a basic search for meaning and purpose in life. Determination, rationalization, and identification of the self-set the direction from which an individual travel to fulfill his or her purpose in life. The inability to define oneself leads to a lot of contradictions within the self later on; hence, it is one of the many imperatives in life to know oneself and to go on with the business of leading a life charted by oneself.

In this module, you will journey to the very heart of this course: Philosophy as a subject presents various philosophers offering multiple perspectives on just about any topic including the self. Philosophically, discussion of the self is a basic search for meaning and purpose in life. Determination, rationalization, and identification of the self-set the direction from which an individual travel to fulfill his or her purpose in life. The inability to define oneself leads to a lot of contradictions within the self later on; hence, it is one of the many imperatives in life to know oneself and to go on with the business of leading a life charted by oneself.


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Understanding the Self - Topics 1-4

  1. 1. Understanding the Self JOJEAN MARIE D. PONDANG Instructor
  2. 2. Module 1 The Self from the Various Perspectives
  3. 3. Overview: – In this module, you will journey to the very heart of this course: Philosophy as a subject presents various philosophers offering multiple perspectives on just about any topic including the self. Philosophically, discussion of the self is a basic search for meaning and purpose in life. Determination, rationalization, and identification of the self-set the direction from which an individual travel to fulfill his or her purpose in life. The inability to define oneself leads to a lot of contradictions within the self later on; hence, it is one of the many imperatives in life to know oneself and to go on with the business of leading a life charted by oneself.
  4. 4. AWARENESS Write six adjectives that describe you in these post-its. Then make sentences using these adjectives and write about yourself on this page.
  5. 5. Topic 1: The Self: Its Nature and Significance
  6. 6. Perhaps the most critical issue that anyone can experience in a lifetime is to be in conflict with one’s self. Indeed, it is ironic that one can be in conflict with his or her self if such entity is one’s abode and refuge. Several junctures in our life as unique individuals lead us to be in contradiction to our own desires, thinking, decisions, goals, etc. But as we grow and mature we unfold and become one with our very self. Such is a process of metamorphosis, a change that leads us to happiness and self-determination. And so several thinkers and theorists have posited varied insights as to what really is the self? What is its purpose?
  7. 7. The Nature of the Self – There are varied technologies that can be considered synonymous with the ‘self’. It can be as diverse as ‘self-awareness’, ‘consciousness’, ‘identity’, ‘self-esteem’, ‘self-concept’, ‘ego’ and the like. But all of those terms and concepts direct us towards our ‘inner being’ and our ‘soul’. It takes much intelligence and awareness to determine that there is a being inside of us who experiences every undertaking that we have. The ‘self’ is thinking and a feeling being within ‘us’ and within ‘ourselves’. The self generally is the distinct identity which is a summation of the experiences of an individual. The self is related to the awareness and consciousness of a rational being. – Our journey towards our life goals is a quest to determine what makes us happy, contented and fulfilled. Such requires a deep understanding of the ‘self’ towards the achievement of self- determination. The essence of our humanity and the meaning of our existence demand an appreciation of who we are as a person, as a member of the community and as a member of a larger institution of people. The same matters as this temporal life is geared towards a certain meaning that all of us desire to understand in the process.
  8. 8. The Process of Discovering the ‘Self’ – Often, we struggle in our lifetime to search for our identity and our core being. The greatest challenge happens during the period of adolescence as we go through surge of hormonal imbalance. The search for our true identity is a process of learning, relearning and unlearning the lessons that we acquire from the teachings of life. Discovering and rediscovering the self becomes a complex procedure that we need to undergo to finally find our genuine self and individuality. This life learning is a continuous flux, an unending adventure onto the realms of life’s complexities. Everything that we embrace is this learning experience is part of our meaningful evolutions.
  9. 9. Johari Window – The Johari Window model was developed in 1955 at the University of California Los Angeles by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham who are both American psychologists. This model allows participants to understand themselves well and their corresponding relationships with the significant others through the four quadrants determining traits relative to one’s self and other’s judgment.
  10. 10. Determining the Four Quadrants – The Arena –These are the traits or descriptions that one sees in the ‘self’ similar to that perceived by the significant others. Example of this is ‘being outgoing and sociable’. This is also known as the public self as it is evident to the self and others. – Façade –These are traits that are known to the self but not to the significant others. An example includes being emotional and sensitive despite being a man. This quadrant is also known to be the hidden quadrant as it covers those that we desire not to expose to others.
  11. 11. Determining the Four Quadrants – Blind Spot –This includes traits that the subject is unaware of but the significant others claims to be possessed by the subject. This quadrant covers those that others perceive to characterize the subject such as ‘being down to earth and soft-spoken.’ – Unknown –This quadrant covers traits that both parties do not recognize and consider as comprising the subject traits. This is a mystery that waits to unfold in the proper time. Such ideally means that there is still much that needs to be discovered in the individual self as we go through the process of discovering our unique identity.
  12. 12. ASSESSMENT TIME! WORKLOAD 1.1 Think of it! Directions: Respond to the following queries with all honesty.
  13. 13. Topic 2: Philosophical Perspective of the Self
  14. 14. How did ancient thinkers view a human being?
  15. 15. Who were those curious enough to study how human beings perceive themselves?
  16. 16. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self – Socrates – Socrates was a Greek philosopher and one of the very few individuals who shaped Western thought (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017). However, unlike the other philosophers during his time, Socrates never wrote anything. Knowledge about Socrates us through second-hand information from the writings of his student Plato (another of the most influential Western thinkers) and historian Xenophon (The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017).
  17. 17. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self – Socrates was known for his method of inquiry in testing an idea. This is called the Socratic Method whereby an idea was tested by asking a series of questions to determine underlying beliefs and the extent of knowledge to guide the person toward better understanding (Maxwell, 2015). Socrates was described to have gone about in Athens questioning everyday views and popular Athenians beliefs. This apparently offended the leaders in his time. He was then accused of impiety of lack of reverence for the gods and for corrupting the minds of the youth. At 70 years old, Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking a cup of poison hemlock (Brickhouse & Smith, 2002).
  18. 18. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Plato – Plato was the student of Socrates. He wrote the Socratic Dialogue where Socrates was the main character and speaker. Plato’s philosophical method wad what he identified as, “collection and division” (Phaedrus, 265e; Smith, 2017). In this method, the philosopher would “collect” all the generic ideas that seemed to have common characteristics and then divided them into different kinds until the subdivision of ideas became specific. He is best known for Theory of Forms that asserted the physical world is not really the “real” world because the ultimate reality exists beyond the physical world.
  19. 19. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Three parts of the soul according to Plato are: The appetitive (sensual) The element that enjoys sensual experiences, such as food, drink, and sex. The rational (reasoning) The element that forbids the person to enjoy the sensual experiences; the part that loves truth, hence, should rule over the other parts of the soul through the use of reason. The spirited (feeling) The element that is inclined toward reason but understands the demand of passion; the part that loves honor and victory.
  20. 20. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self St. Augustine: The self has an immortal soul. – The African philosopher, Augustine, is regarded as a saint (i.e., St. Augustine of Hippo) in the Catholic Church. He integrates the ideas of Plato and teachings of Christianity. Augustine believes that the physical body is radically different from and inferior to its inhabitant, the immortal soul. As his thinking matured, he developed a more unified perspective on the body and soul.
  21. 21. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Rene Descartes – French philosopher Rene Descartes is the father of modern philosophy. He has brought an entirely new perspective to philosophy and the self. He wants to penetrate the nature of reasoning process and understand its relationship to the human self. The Latin phrase Cogito ergo sum –“I think therefore I am. Is the keystone of Descartes’ concept of self. For him, the act of thinking about the self –of being self-conscious –is in itself proof that there is a self. He is confident that no rational person will doubt his or her own existence as a conscious thinking entity –while we are aware of thinking about ourselves. For Descartes, this is the essence of the human self –a thinking entity that doubts, understands, analyzes, questions, and reasons.
  22. 22. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self John Locke – For English philosopher John Locke, the human mind at birth is tabula rasa or a black slate. He feels that the self. Or personal identity, is constructed primarily from sense experience –or more specifically what people see, hear, smell. Taste and feel. These experiences shape and mold the self throughout a person’s life. For Locke, conscious awareness and memory of previous experiences are the keys to understanding the self. Locke believes that the essence of the self is its conscious awareness of itself as a thinking, reasoning and reflecting identity. He contends that consciousness accompanies thinking and makes possible the concept people have of a self. Self-consciousness is necessary to have a coherent personal (self) identity or knowledge of the self as a person. Consciousness is what makes identity of a person similar in different situations.
  23. 23. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self David Hume – Scottish philosopher David Hume suggests that if people carefully examine their sense experience through the process of introspection, they will discover that there is no self. According to Hume, what people experience is just a bundle or collection of different perceptions. Hume maintains that if people carefully examine the contents of their experience, they will find that there are only distinct entities: impressions and ideas. Impressions are the basic sensations of people’s experience such as hate, love, joy, grief, pain, cold, and heat.
  24. 24. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Immanuel Kant – He asserted that it is the human mind which creates experiences. These experiences are similar among human on the level of abstraction as we share important characteristics that resemble in specific points of interests. Human experiences make up our persona according to logical effects provided by certain causes. Evidently, the development of individuality and the self is a result of unique human experiences as it forges significant learning within the person. More so, Kant said that every person has an inner and outer self which comprises the consciousness. According to Kant, the intellect as well as the psychological state of a being is what we call as the inner self while the other self is made of the senses and the physical self. Largely, the object of the inner self is the ‘soul’ while the outer self is directed to the ‘body’.
  25. 25. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self – Sigmund Freud – Sigmund Freud (/frɔɪd/ FROYD; German: [ˈziːkmʊnt ˈfʁɔʏt]; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.
  26. 26. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Gilbert Ryle – Gilbert Ryle was a British philosopher, principally known for his critique of Cartesian dualism, for which he coined the phrase "ghost in the machine." He was a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers who shared Ludwig Wittgenstein's approach to philosophical problems. Ryle initially showed some interest in modern German philosophy, but in his paper ‘Systematically misleading expressions’ (1931) he announced his conversion to the new linguistic philosophy. He further developed his views in his most original early paper, ‘Categories’ (1937).
  27. 27. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Paul Montgomery – Paul Montgomery Churchland (1942-) was from Vancouver, Canada. He is a modern- day philosopher whose studies greatly focuses on the working of the brain. He argued that nothing but matter exists, which is also known as materialism. Paul hypothesized that the human consciousness can be explained through the neural networks communicating through its hub in the brain which is the thalamus. As we begin to use empirical evidence to describe how our brains and bodies function we learn to determine how we feel and how certain situations affects us. Churchland believes that many are unaware of the appropriate terms to determine the exact emotions and sentiments that they are undertaking. Hence, this leads to confusion as to how we understand ourselves.
  28. 28. Different Perspectives in the Explanation of Self Maurice Merleau-Ponty – Merleau-Ponty, a French philosopher wrote the book Phénoménologie de la perception [Phenomenology of Perception, PP] in 1945. In this book, he expounded his thesis on “The Primacy of Perception” where he revealed how the body is central to one’s perception. As an existentialist, he argued that perception is the determinant of one’s consciousness. It is our prejudice that creates the perception that we have in our mind. This is the “primacy of perception” where he said “there is harmony between what we aim at and what is given, between intention and performance”. The same provides an explanation as to Merleau-Ponty’s claim that “consciousness is primarily not a matter of “I think that” but og “I can”. Hence in this argument, it shows how action is required in the formation of self-perception as well as self-concept.
  30. 30. WORKLOAD 2.2 EXAMINE IT! Directions: Elaborate on your relevant insights about the following philosophical statements. State in your own words with the minimum of 5-8 sentences only 1. “Know thyself” 2. “I think; therefore, I am” 3. “Nothing but matters exists” 4. “We are ghost in the machine”
  31. 31. Topic 3: Sociology Perspective –The Self as a Product of Society
  32. 32. Sociology – Sociology as a scientific study of social groups and human relationships generates new insights into the interconnectedness between the self and other people. Hence, sociologist offer theories to explain how the self emerges as a product of social experience. The looking glass self by Charles Horton Cooley and the theory of the social self by George Herbert Mead are helpful in understanding how a person views himself or herself as he or she interacts with the social environment that includes family, school, peer groups, and mass media.
  33. 33. The Looking-Glass Self – The looking-glass self describes the process wherein individuals base their sense of self on how they believe others view them. Using social interaction as a type of “mirror,” people use the judgments they receive from others to measure their own worth, values, and behavior. According to Self, Symbols, & Society, Cooley’s theory is notable because it suggests that self-concept is built not in solitude, but rather within social settings. In this way, society and individuals are not separate, but rather two complementary aspects of the same phenomenon.
  34. 34. Core Assumptions According to Society in Focus, the process of discovering the looking-glass self occurs in three steps: – An individual in a social situation imagines how they appear to others. – That individual imagines others’ judgment of that appearance. – The individual develops feelings about and responds to those perceived judgments.
  35. 35. Development of Self – According to Mead, three activities develop the self: language, play, and games. – In the preparatory stage (0-3 years old) Language develops self by allowing individuals to respond to each other through symbols, gestures, words, and sounds. Language conveys others' attitudes and opinions toward a subject or the person. Emotions, such as anger, happiness, and confusion, are conveyed through language. – During the play stage (3 to 5 years old) Play develops self by allowing individuals to take on different roles, pretend, and express expectation of others. Play develops one's self-consciousness through role-playing. During role-play, a person is able to internalize the perspective of others and develop an understanding of how others feel about themselves and others in a variety of social situations.
  36. 36. Development of Self – In the game stage (begins in the early school years; above 8 or 9 years old) Games develop self by allowing individuals to understand and adhere to the rules of the activity. Self is developed by understanding that there are rules in which one must abide by in order to win the game or be successful at an activity.
  37. 37. THE SELF AS A PRODUCT OF MODERN AND POST MODERN SOCIETIES – Gerry Lanuza’s (2004) article, “The Constitution of the Self”, discusses the relationship between societies and the individual. According to him, in modern societies the attainment and stability of self-identity are freely chosen. It is no longer restricted by customs and traditions.
  38. 38. SYNTHESIS – The looking-glass self, a concept introduced by Charles Horton Cooley, describes the development of one’s self and identity through interactions with others. – Mead suggests that the self has two divisions: The I and the me. The I is the subjective element and the active side of the self, whereas the me is the objective element of the self. – According to Mead, the self passes through three stages of development: preparatory, play and game. – According to Lanuza, self-identity continuously changes due to the demands of multitude of social contexts, new information technologies, and globalization. – Buadrillard explains that individuals achieve self-identity through prestige symbols that they consume.
  39. 39. WORKLOAD 3.1 EXAMINE IT!
  40. 40. Topic 4: Concepts of Self – Eastern & Western Philosophy
  41. 41. Buddhism – The basic doctrines of early Buddhism, which remain common to all Buddhism, include the four noble truths: existence is suffering ( dukhka ); suffering has a cause, namely craving and attachment ( trishna ); there is a cessation of suffering, which is nirvana ; and there is a path to the cessation of suffering, the eightfold path of right views, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Buddhism characteristically describes reality in terms of process and relation rather than entity or substance.
  42. 42. Hinduism – major world religion originating on the Indian subcontinent and comprising several and varied systems of philosophy, belief, and ritual. Although the name Hinduism is relatively new, having been coined by British writers in the first decades of the 19th century, it refers to a rich cumulative tradition of texts and practices, some of which date to the 2nd millennium BCE or possibly earlier. If the Indus valley civilization (3rd–2nd millennium BCE) was the earliest source of these traditions, as some scholars hold, then Hinduism is the oldest living religion on Earth
  43. 43. General nature of Hinduism – More strikingly than any other major religious community, Hindus accept—and indeed celebrate—the organic, multileveled, and sometimes pluralistic nature of their traditions. This expansiveness is made possible by the widely shared Hindu view that truth or reality cannot be encapsulated in any creedal formulation, a perspective expressed in the Hindu prayer “May good thoughts come to us from all sides.” Thus, Hinduism maintains that truth must be sought in multiple sources, not dogmatically proclaimed.
  44. 44. The five tensile strands – Across the sweep of Indian religious history, at least five elements have given shape to the Hindu religious tradition: doctrine, practice, society, story, and devotion. These five elements, to adopt a typical Hindu metaphor, are understood as relating to one another as strands in an elaborate braid. Moreover, each strand develops out of a history of conversation, elaboration, and challenge. Hence, in looking for what makes the tradition cohere, it is sometimes better to locate central points of tension than to expect clear agreements on Hindu thought and practice.
  45. 45. TAOISM – Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE) which contributed to the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China and became the official religion of the country under the Tang Dynasty. Taoism is therefore both a philosophy and a religion. It emphasizes doing what is natural and "going with the flow" in accordance with the Tao (or Dao), a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them.
  46. 46. Origins – The historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE) tells the story of Lao-Tzu, a curator at the Royal Library in the state of Chu, who was a natural philosopher. Lao-Tzu believed in the harmony of all things and that people could live easily together if they only considered each other's feelings once in a while and recognized that their self-interest was not always in the interest of others. Lao-Tzu grew impatient with people and with the corruption he saw in government, which caused the people so much pain and misery. He was so frustrated by his inability to change people's behavior that he decided to go into exile.
  47. 47. Yin-Yang Thought – A good reason to believe that Lao-Tzu was not the author of the Tao-Te-Ching is that the core philosophy of Taoism grew up from the peasant class during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) long before the accepted dates for Lao-Tzu. During the Shang era, the practice of divination became more popular through the reading of oracle bones which would tell one's future. Reading oracle bones led to a written text called the I-Ching (c. 1250-1150 BCE), the Book of Changes, which is a book still available today providing a reader with interpretations for certain hexagrams which supposedly tell the future.
  48. 48. Taoism & Confucianism – The philosophy of Taoism grew into a religion of the peasant classes of the Shang Dynasty, who lived closely with nature. Their observations of the natural world influenced their philosophy, and one of the things they incorporated was the concept of eternity. The tree which seemed to die came back to life in the spring season and the grass grew again. They concluded that when people died they went somewhere else where they continued to live, they did not just disappear. Everyone's ancestor who had ever died still lived on in another place and in the presence of the gods; Confucians believed in this same concept and revered their ancestors as part of their daily practices.
  49. 49. Taoism – Taoism significantly influenced Chinese culture from the Shang Dynasty forward. The recognition that all things and all people are connected is expressed in the development of the arts, which reflect the people's understanding of their place in the universe and their obligation to each other. During the Tang Dynasty, Taoism became the state religion under the reign of the emperor Xuanzong because he believed it would create harmonious balance in his subjects and, for a while, he was correct. Xuanzong's rule is still considered one of the most prosperous and stable in the history of China and the high point of the Tang Dynasty. –
  50. 50. CONFUCIANISM – Confucianism identifies personality as a product of one’s upbringing and environment. This shows that the individual is a social being which makes us social animals. In this doctrine it is believed that every person is born with four beginnings which lead to the formation as of self. It includes the following components which are the perfection of virtues that is founf innately in the heart of every human:
  51. 51. CONFUCIANISM – Heart of compassion; – Heart of righteousness; – Heart of propriety; and – Heart of wisdom
  52. 52. Congratulations! You did it! Tap your shoulder or give yourself a treat for a job well done.
  53. 53. REFERENCES Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 1-64. Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 1-66.. Magalona, E. et al. 2018. Understanding the Self. Mindshapers Co., Inc.: Manila. Miontilla. M. & Ramirez, N. 2018 Understanding the Self. C&E Publishing, Inc: Quezon City.