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In philosophy, the self is the idea of a unified being which is the source of an idiosyncratic consciousness.

See also:


All self, the phenomenon of self, is perhaps one field, one consciousness – perhaps there is only one ‘I’, perhaps our brains, our selves, our entire identity is little more than a label on a waveband. We are only us when we are here. At this particular moment in space and time, this particular locus, the overall awareness of the entire continuum happens to believe it is Alan Moore. ~ Alan Moore
The key to self-generated happiness (the only reliable kind) is the refusal to take oneself too seriously. ~ Tom Robbins
  • There is good evidence for a sensorimotor self, an emotional and motivational self probably represented in the right hemisphere, a social self-system, and perhaps an appetitive self. All these self-systems ordinarily work in reasonable coordination with each other, though they can be in conflict at times.
    • Bernard J. Baars, "Understanding Subjectivity: Global Workspace Theory and the Resurrection of the Observing Self" Journal of Consciousness Studies, 3, No. 3, 1996, pp. 211-16
  • One way to think of 'self' is as a framework that remains largely stable across many different life situations. The evidence for 'self as stable context' comes from many sources, but especially from the effects of deep disruptions of life goals. Contextual frameworks are after all largely unconscious intentions and expectations that have been stable so long that they have faded into the background of our lives. We take them for granted, just as we take our health and limbs for granted. It is only when those assumptive entitlements are lost, even for a moment, that the structure of the self seems to come into question. Losing a loved friend may be experienced as a great gap in oneself. ...It helps to take this common tragedy seriously as a basic statement about the self in human psychology.
    • Bernard J. Baars, ibid., "Understanding Subjectivity: Global Workspace Theory..."
  • Oddly enough, in the sensorimotor area on top of the cortex there are four maps of a little upside-down person, distorted in shape, with every bit of skin and muscle represented in detail. This upside-down map is called the sensorimotor homunculus, the little human. The nervous system abounds in such maps, some of which appear to serve as 'self systems', organizing and integrating vast amounts of local bits of information.
    • Bernard J. Baars, ibid., "Understanding Subjectivity: Global Workspace Theory..."
  • The Arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man’s self.
  • The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one’s own mind.
  • Cogito, ergo sum.
  • I think, therefore I am.
    • Descartes Discours de la Méthode, Discourse on the Method (1637)
  • Identity is an illusion, a temporary state. Everyone is searching for it, but it’s only a brief reflection in a very shallow pool of time.
    • Olivia Dresher (b. 1945), American poet and publisher. ‘Aphorisms by Olivia Dresher’ on, Olivia
  • Self-correction begins with self-knowledge.
  • The best mirror is an old friend.
    • George Herbert Jacula Prudentum (1651) (17th Century English proverb)
  • It appears to be an inborn and imperative need of all men to regard the self as a unit. However often and however grievously this illusion is shattered, it always mends again. The judge who sits over the murderer and looks into his face, and at one moment recognizes all the emotions and potentialities and possibilities of the murderer in his own soul and hears the murderer’s voice as his own, is at the next moment one and indivisible as the judge, and scuttles back into the shell of his cultivated self and does his duty and condemns the murderer to death. And if ever the suspicion of their manifold being dawns upon men of unusual powers and of unusually delicate perceptions, so that, as all genius must, they break through the illusion of the unity of the personality and perceive that the self is made up of a bundle of selves, they have only to say so and at once the majority puts them under lock and key, calls science to aid, establishes schizomania and protects humanity from the necessity of hearing the cry of truth from the lips of these unfortunate persons.
    • Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, B. Creighton, trans., (New York: 1990), pp. 58-59
  • If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now — when?
    • Hillel, from Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations (1972,) p. 459
  • How much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization!
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely'"; in The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 60
  • In its widest possible sense, however, a man's Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank-account. All these things give him the same emotions. If they wax and prosper, he feels triumphant; if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down.
  • Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
    • Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963)
  • “A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation.”
  • Self: that invisible chain that snaps tight whenever we stray.
    • Yahia Lababidi (b. 1973), Egyptian-Lebanese essayist and poet. Signposts to Elsewhere (2008)
  • Knowing others is wisdom.
    Knowing oneself is enlightenment.
    • Laozi, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 33, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)
  • Self-awareness is a complex, but carefully constructed illusion: we rightly place high value on the work of those mental agencies that appear able to reflect on the behavior of other agencies—especially our linguistic and ego-structure mechanisms.
  • One's present personality cannot share all the thoughts of one's older personalities—and yet it has some sense that they exist. This is one reason why we feel that we possess an inner Self—a sort of ever-present person-friend, inside the mind, whom we can always ask for help.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Society Of Mind (1986)
  • Should one think of a city as having a Self?
  • It strikes me that self, not just my self, but all self, the phenomenon of self, is perhaps one field, one consciousness – perhaps there is only one ‘I’, perhaps our brains, our selves, our entire identity is little more than a label on a waveband. We are only us when we are here. At this particular moment in space and time, this particular locus, the overall awareness of the entire continuum happens to believe it is Alan Moore. Over there – [he points to another table in the pizza restaurant] – it happens to believe it is something else.
    I get the sense that if you can pull back from this particular locus, this web-site if you like, then you could be the whole net. All of us could be. That there is only one awareness here, that is trying out different patterns. We are going to have to come to some resolution about a lot of things in the next twenty years time, our notions of time, space, identity.
    • Alan Moore, in "Alan Moore Interview" by Matthew De Abaitua (1998), later published in Alan Moore: Conversations (2011) edited by Eric L. Berlatsky
  • Of course, "O'Blivion" was not the name I was born with. That's my television name. Soon, all of us will have special names — names designed to cause the cathode ray tube to resonate.
  • This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
  • People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.
    • Thomas Szasz (b. 1920), Hungarian-American psychiatrist, writer and academic. The second Sin (1974)
  • What we do belongs to what we are; and what we are is what becomes of us.
  • To love oneself is the begining of a life-long romance.
    • Oscar Wilde, 'Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young', (1894)
  • Self-image is the beginning and ending of living, I think.
    • Henry Winkler (b.1945), American actor, producer and director. Stated in his appearance on, The One Show, BBC1 (UK) television talk show, 15th May 2009.

External links[edit]

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