Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quotes on the self

Bishop Berkeley:
Philonous--.... I know what I mean by the term I and myself; and I know this immediately, or intuitively, though I do not perceive it as I perceive a triangle, a colour, or a sound. (Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, 1713) 
William James:
This attention to thought as such, and the identification of ourselves with it rather than with any of the objects which it reveals, is a momentous and in some respects a rather mysterious operation. (The Principles of Psychology, Ch. 10, p. 296, 1890)
David Hume:
For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is further requisite to make me a perfect nonentity. (Book I, Part 4, Section 6 of A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739)
Thomas Szasz:
People often say that this or that person has not yet found him or herself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates. (The Second Sin, p. 49, 1973)
Man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. ('Existentialism is a Humanism', 1946)
According to the latter view, he need only reflectively consider how he would most like to be, and he would be it; that is its freedom of the will. Thus it really consists in a person being his own work.... I, to the contrary, say: .... He cannot resolve to be such or such a person, nor can he become another, but he is once and for all, and after that recognizes what he is. (The World as Will and Representation, vol. 1, Fourth Book, sect. 55, 1819, Aquila-Carus translation)
 Simon Gray:
[I]in order to reinvent, you have to invent, and who therefore is this self-inventing and self-reinventing self, rather like that definition of God as thought thinking on itself, yes, that’s it, I suppose, people who say they have reinvented themselves are thinking of themselves as god-like, and people who describe other people as reinventing themselves are attributing god-like powers to the self, which is a poor, miserable, partly suffocated thing, on the whole. (The Smoking Diaries, p. 163)
This song was written by Leonard Bernstein for a production of Peter Pan, but Simone added some of her own lyrics. 

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