Ego

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Ego is a Latin word meaning "I", which derives from the Greek word "Εγώ (Ego)" meaning "I", often used in English to indicate the "self", "identity" or other related concepts. Definitions and relations of such an entity to the world in various psychological models of religious, spiritual, scientific and medical traditions can vary significantly. It is one of three aspects of the human psyche, along with the id and super-ego in the psychological models of Sigmund Freud.

See also:
Egotism
Alphabetized by author or source
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P -Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · External links

A[edit]

  • Every autobiography is concerned with two characters, a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza, the Self.
    • W. H. Auden, The Dyer's Hand (1962), pt. 3, "Hic et Ille", sect. b

B[edit]

C[edit]

  • I took some bad acid in November of 1965, and the after effect left me crazy and helpless for six months. My mind would drift into a place that was very electrical and crackly, filled with harsh, abrasive, low grade, cartoony, tawdry carnival visions. There was a nightmarish mechanical aspect to everyday life. My ego was so shattered, so fragmented that it didn't get in the way during what was the most unself-conscious period of my life. I was kind of on automatic pilot and was still constantly drawing. Most of my popular characters — Mr. Natural, Flaky Foont, Angelfood McSpade, Eggs Ackley, The Snoid, The Vulture Demonesses, Av' n' Gar, Shuman the Human, the Truckin' guys, Devil Girl—all suddenly appeared in the drawings in my sketchbook in this period, early 1966. Amazing! I was relieved when it was finally over, but I also immediately missed the egoless state of that strange interlude.
    • Robert Crumb, in his sketchbook (28 March 1998), reproduced in The R. Crumb Handbook (2005) by Robert Crumb and Peter Poplaski, p. 372p. 132
  • To be fully alive is a stupendous struggle! We want the rewards without the struggle — a fatal error! … No such thing as an easy life! Everybody has a hard time … struggle or die! To find out what's really going on it's necessary to get around the ego … an art requiring persistent and determined effort … Me, me, me… myself & I … oh no!!! Trapped in my stupid self!
    • Robert Crumb, in his sketchbook (28 March 1998), reproduced in The R. Crumb Handbook (2005) by Robert Crumb and Peter Poplaski, p. 372

D[edit]

E[edit]

F[edit]

  • The ego is not master in its own house.
    • Sigmund Freud, in A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)
  • It is easy to see that the ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.
  • Towards the outside, at any rate, the ego seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation. There is only one state — admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological — in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that "I" and "you" are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.
  • One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.
    • Sigmund Freud, in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932), Lecture 31 : The Anatomy of the Mental Personality
  • Where id is, there shall ego be.
    • Sigmund Freud, in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932), Lecture 31 : The Anatomy of the Mental Personality

G[edit]

H[edit]

  • Of greatest significance to me has been the insight that I attained as a fundamental understanding from all of my LSD experiments: what one commonly takes as "the reality," including the reality of one's own individual person, by no means signifies something fixed, but rather something that is ambiguous — that there is not only one, but that there are many realities, each comprising also a different consciousness of the ego.
    One can also arrive at this insight through scientific reflections. The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a central concern of philosophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experience. The first planned LSD experiment was therefore so deeply moving and alarming, because everyday reality and the ego experiencing it, which I had until then considered to be the only reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations.
    Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receiver, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank.
  • Ego and the outer world are separated in the normal condition of consciousness, in everyday reality; one stands face-to-face with the outer world; it has become an object. In the LSD state the boundaries between the experiencing self and the outer world more or less disappear, depending on the depth of the inebriation. Feedback between receiver and sender takes place. A portion of the self overflows into the outer world, into objects, which begin to live, to have another, a deeper meaning. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings. This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition of cosmic consciousness, which under favorable conditions can be evoked by LSD or by another hallucinogen from the group of Mexican sacred drugs, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.
    • Dr. Albert Hofmann, in LSD : My Problem Child (1980), Ch. 11 : LSD Experience and Reality

I[edit]

J[edit]

  • The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.
    • Carl Jung, in The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man (1934)

K[edit]

L[edit]

  • The Satanist believes in complete gratification of his ego. Satanism, in fact, is the only religion which advocates the intensification or encouragement of the ego. Only if a person's own ego is sufficiently fulfilled, can he afford to be kind and complimentary to others, without robbing himself of his self-respect. We generally think of a braggart as a person with a large ego; in reality, his bragging results from a need to satisfy his impoverished ego.
  • ALL religions of a spiritual nature are inventions of man. He has created an entire system of gods with nothing more than his carnal brain. Just because he has an ego, and cannot accept it, he has to externalize it into some great spiritual device which he calls "God".
  • Religionists have kept their followers in line by suppressing their egos. By making their followers feel inferior, the awesomeness of their god is insured. Satanism encourages its members to develop a good strong ego because it gives them the self-respect necessary for a vital existence in this life. If a person has been vital throughout his life and has fought to the end for his earthly existence, it is this ego which will refuse to die, even after the expiration of the flesh which housed it.

M[edit]

  • Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you.
    • Anthony de Mello, in Awareness : The Perils and Oppurtunities of Reality (1992), edited by J. Francis Stroud, "Assorted Landmines", p. 148
  • To those who seek to protect their ego true Peace brings only disturbance.
  • One always treads with a joyful step when one has dropped the burden called the ego.

N[edit]

O[edit]

  • An unripe ego cannot be thrown, cannot be destroyed. And if you struggle with an unripe ego to destroy and dissolve it, the whole effort is going to be a failure. Rather than destroying it, you will find it more strengthened in new subtle ways. This is something basic to be understood: the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained an integrity — only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved.
    • Osho, in My Way : The Way of the White Clouds (1995)

P[edit]

  • Campus speech codes, that folly of the navel-gazing left, have increased the appeal of the right. Ideas must confront ideas. When hurt feelings and bruised egos are more important than the unfettered life of the mind, the universities have committed suicide.
    • Camille Paglia, in No Law in the Arena : A Pagan Theory of Sexuality, in Vamps and Tramps : New Essays (1994), p. 51
  • The only reason why we are always thinking of our own ego is that we have to live with it more continuously than with anyone else's.
  • Egocentrism in children clearly appears to be a simple continuation of solipsism in infants. Egocentrism, as we have seen, is not an intentional or even a conscious process. A child has no idea that he is egocentric. He believes everybody thinks the way he does, and this false universality is due simply to an absence of the sense of limits on his individuality. In this light, egocentrism and solipsism are quite comparable: both stem from the absence or the weakness of the sense of self.
    • Jean Piaget, in 'The First Year of Life of the Child (1927), "The Egocentrism of the Child and the Solipsism of the Baby", as translated by Howard E. Gruber and J. Jacques Vonèche
  • Every observer has noted that the younger the child, the less sense he has of his own ego. From the intellectual point of view, he does not distinguish between external and internal, subjective and objective. From the point of view of action, he yields to every suggestion, and if he does oppose to other people's wills — a certain negativism which has been called "the spirit of contradiction" — this only points to his real defenselessness against his surroundings. A strong personality can maintain itself without the help of this particular weapon.
    • Jean Piaget, in The Moral Judgment of the Child (1932), Ch. 1 : The Rules of the Game, § 8 : Conclusions : Motor Rules and the Two Kinds of Respect
  • Egocentrism in so far as it means confusion of the ego and the external world, and egocentrism in so far as it means lack of cooperation, constitute one and the same phenomenon. So long as the child does not dissociate his ego from the suggestions coming from the physical and from the social world, he cannot cooperate, for in order to cooperate one must be conscious of one's ego and situate it in relation to thought in general. And in order to become conscious of one's ego, it is necessary to liberate oneself from the thought and will of others. The coercion exercised by the adult or the older child is therefore inseparable from the unconscious egocentrism of the very young child.
    • Jean Piaget, in The Moral Judgment of the Child (1932), Ch. 2 : Adult Constraint and Moral Realism
  • There is little mysticism without an element of transcendence, and conversely, there is no transcendence without a certain degree of egocentrism. It may be that the genesis of these experiences is to be sought in the unique situation of the very young child in relation to adults. The theory of the filial origin of the religious sense seems to us singularly convincing in this connection.
    • Jean Piaget, in The Moral Judgment of the Child (1932), Ch. 2 : Adult Constraint and Moral Realism
  • As long as the child remains egocentric, truth as such will fail to interest him and he will see no harm in transposing facts in accordance with his desires.
    • Jean Piaget, in The Moral Judgment of the Child (1932), Ch. 2 : Adult Constraint and Moral Realism

Q[edit]

R[edit]

  • This māyā, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud. The sun cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun. If by the grace of the guru one's ego vanishes, then one sees God.
    • Ramakrishna, as quoted in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (1942) as translated by Swami Nikhilananda, p. 169
    • Variant:
    • The sun can give heat and light to the whole world, but he cannot do so when the clouds shut out his rays. Similarly as long as egotism veils the heart, God cannot shine upon it.
      • As quoted in Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna (1960), p. 99
  • The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as "I am such an important man" or "I am so and so". Level the mound of "I" to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion.
  • As a piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge.
    • Ramakrishna, as quoted in Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna (1960), p. 132
  • I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breath air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me.
  • The ability to say 'Yes' or 'No' is the essence of all ownership. It's your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a single basic function — the act of valuing. 'Yes' or 'No,' 'I wish' or 'I do not wish.' You can't say 'Yes' without saying 'I." There's no affirmation without the one who affirms. In this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.
  • You can fake virtue for an audience. You can’t fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge, they run from it. They spend their lives running.
  • As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egoism and altruism. Egoism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism — the sacrifice of self to others. This tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self. ... Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal — under the threat that sadism was his only alternative.

S[edit]

  • Bourgeois morality tries to maintain an illusion of altruism, whereas in all other areas bourgeois thinking has long since assumed a theoretical as well as an economic egocentrism.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 45
  • Psychologically speaking, enlightenment always meant an advance in the training of mistrust — in the construction of an ego concerned about self-assertion and control of reality. Freud’s methodology can be summarized, in a way, as the attempt to keep the path to the unconscious open without using hypnosis. One may consider whether, in Freud’s procedure, a finesse born of mistrust is not at work.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 47
  • The subject of a radical ego enlightenment cannot be socially identified with certainty — even though the procedures of this enlightenment are anchored in reality.
    In this point, the majority of societies seem to strive for a conscious nonenlightenment.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 60
  • Crosswise to all political fronts, it is the “ego” in society that offers the most resolute resistance against the decisive enlightenment. Scarcely anyone will put up with radical self-reflection on this point, not even many of those who regard themselves as enlighteners.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 60
  • As the political ego strives for hardness and agility, it is trained in the way of seeing of generals and diplomats: reconnoiter the terrain; coldly consider the given circumstances; survey the numbers; tack as long as necessary; strike as soon as the time is right. ... In this cold romanticism of grand strategic overviews, the political camps of the Left and the Right are quite close to each other. These realpolitik ways of thinking now penetrate down to the person on the street. This "sovereign" thinking, borrowed stateman's optics and general's disposition work on posturingly, even in the minds of the impotent. The principal psychopolitical model of the coming decades is the 'cothinking' cog in the machinery.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 470
  • Nowhere does an ego experience it-"self" in modern scientific knowledge. Where this ego still bends over itself, with its obvious tendency to a worldless inwardness, it leaves reality behind. Thus, for present-day thinking, inwardness and outwardness, subjectivity and things, have been split into "alien worlds"; at the same time, the classical premise of philosophizing falls away. "Know thyself" has long since been understood by modern people as an invitation to an ego trip for an escapist ignorance. Modern reflection expressly renounces any competency in embedding subjectivities without rupture into objective worlds. What it uncovers is rather the gulf between both.
    • Peter Sloterdijk, in Critique of Cynical Reason (1983), as translated by M. Eldred (1987), p. 537
  • To have ego means to believe in your own strength. And to also be open to other people's views. It is to be open, not closed. So, yes, my ego is big, but it's also very small in some areas. My ego is responsible for my doing what I do — bad or good.
    • Barbra Streisand, in an interview in Playboy (1977), as quoted in No Glass Slipper : Surviving and Conquering Painful Life Experiences (2006), p. 32

T[edit]

U[edit]

V[edit]

W[edit]

  • The prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East — in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man's natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction.
    We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.
    • Alan Watts, in The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966)
  • We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated "egos" inside bags of skin.
    • Alan Watts, in The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966), Inside Information
  • The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.
    • Alan Watts, in The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966), Inside Information
  • If you know that "I", in the sense of the person, the front, the ego, it really doesn't exist. Then...it won't go to your head too badly, if you wake up and discover that you're God.
    • Alan Watts, in Alan Watts Teaches Meditation (1992)
  • Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word "water" is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.
    • Alan Watts, in Buddhism : The Religion of No-Religion (1999)
  • The Saint is a man who disciplines his ego. The Sage is a man who rids himself of his ego.
    • Wei Wu Wei (Terence James Stannus Gray), in Fingers Pointing Towards The Moon (1958)
  • There seem to two kinds of searchers: those who seek to make their ego something other than it is, i.e. holy, happy, unselfish (as though you could make a fish unfish), and those who understand that all such attempts are just gesticulation and play-acting, that there is only one thing that can be done, which is to disidentify themselves with the ego, by realising its unreality, and by becoming aware of their eternal identity with pure being.
    • Wei Wu Wei, in Fingers Pointing Towards The Moon (1958)
  • At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. There is the "edge of history." There would be a real New Age.
  • The single greatest world transformation would simply be the embrace of global reasonableness and pluralistic tolerance — the global embrace of egoic-rationality (on the way to centauric vision-logic).
  • The real problem is how to get people to internally transform, from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric consciousness, which is the only stance that can grasp the global dimensions of the problem in the first place, and thus the only stance that can freely, even eagerly, embrace global solutions.
  • Put bluntly, there is an archaic God, a magic God, a mythic God, a mental God, and an integral God. Which God do you believe in?
    An archaic God sees divinity in any strong instinctual force. A magic God locates divine power in the human ego and its magical capacity to change the animistic world with rituals and spells. A mythic God is located not on this earth but in a heavenly paradise not of this world, entrance to which is gained by living according to the covenants and rules given by this God to his peoples. A mental God is a rational God, a demythologized Ground of Being that underlies all forms of existence. And an integral God is one that embraces all of the above.
    Which of those Gods is the most important? According to an integral view, all of them, because each "higher" stage actually builds upon and includes the lower, so the lower stages are more fundamental and the higher stages are more significant, but leave out any one of them and you're in trouble. You are, that is, less than integral, less than comprehensive, less than inclusive in your understanding of God.

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