Journeys of the True Self

True-Self-ModelsThe “True Self” model informs many religious views, and even some secularist use it in their views on justice and punishment.  But the model is based on a dualist illusion.  My above illustrations shows just some of the mythical Journeys of the True Self.

The vast majority of us are naturally Mind-Body Dualists — we feel that people (especially ourselves and our loved ones) have an incorporeal essence that inhabits our material bodies. It is not just religious folks that believe in soul-like things, even religion-free people can intuit people as having a spooky essence. Essentialism is a prevalent mental illusion. See Paul Bloom’s lecture “Natural-Born Dualists“.

Religious people who believe that essence survives death have to wonder what survives death when that essence changes radically — for instance, by strokes or dementia. One religious solution to this dilemma is the “True Self” solution — as my diagram above tries to illustrate. The “true self” allows Christians, for instance, to feel that grandma lives with Jesus in her relatively young true soul (restored by Jesus). New Agers, on the other hand, try to meditate or undergo psychotherapy or learn from Taro readings so as to recover their “True Self” before they are reabsorbed in the Universe or reincarnated into endless cycles of trying to return to being a “True Self”.

Sure, the varieties of stories and nuances of the “true self” journeys is huge. But you get my point which I have tried to illustrate above with this “Journeys of the True Self” for part of my short series on “Doubting my Many-Selves Metaphor“.

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