How do you see your Self ? Depending on your perceptive and cognitive tendencies, your world may be informed variously by one of these narratives (for the auditory brain) and/or images (for the visual brain). Some folks even have kinesthetic models. Because I am primarily visual, below I have sketched a few images which I think are the main common understandings of Self. I think that understanding our model of Self can be very helpful in discussing religion. [Note: For you supernatural folks, an upcoming post will include mind-models that include the Divine.]
Probably the most common image of Self. The Homunculus — a little you inside of you. A vision of a continuous, fairly consistent Self. The person sees themselves as ONE person, living inside their own head. The see themselves as owning beliefs and ideas.
This image of Self emphasizes materialism and offers no frills. You are your brain. There are many complex implications for this model, but this is the image. But like the ONE Self image, this model also has the feel of a singular Self. This has the feeling of ONE brain — not a divided one. It still sees Self as unitary.
The mind has a multitude of impersonal, unconscious modules. Some are complex, some are simple. They each have different functions. Their complex interactions creates consciousness and the illusion of self. This is a version of the computational theory of mind. Some hold this model while still feeling like they have ONE Self inside — illustrated by the one computer which has created an image of self similar to the ONE Self model.
My “Many Selves” model is based on the Modular Selves model but where each of the figures represents a temporary fluxing alignment of the modules which are triggered by the environment and habits of attention. These Selves are in people shape to illustrate that they are connected to emotions, sensations and physical habits. That is, they are not mere calculators independent of a body — they have a feel to them.
In this model, there is no singular consistent unchanging Self. The multiple players sometimes work independently, sometimes together. Sub-groups of these Selves separate off to form different behavior patterns. This notion of Many Selves is so contrary to the notion of ONE Self that it might as well be saying that there is NO (ONE) Self.
Question to readers: Which image is closest to the one you use? If your model is different from those listed, how would you draw it? Please remember, for communication purposes, try to keep the image relatively simple with a brief explanation.
My Related Posts:
- My Cognitive Narratives: Index post of “Self” related posts