Who am I: the conscious and unconscious self

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 11: 126. Some excerpts:

“In this article we suggest the idea that the processing of self-referential stimuli in cortical midline structures (CMS) may represent an important part of the conscious self, which may be supplemented by an unconscious part of the self that has been called an ’embodied mind’ (Varela et al., 1991), which relies on other brain structures.”

“When we describe the self as structure and organization we understand it as a system. But the concept of the embodied self states that the self or cognition is not an activity of the mind alone, but is distributed across the entire situation including mind, body, environment (e.g., Beer, 1995), thereby pointing to an embodied and situated self.”

“Furthermore, we argue that through embodiment the self is also embedded in the environment. This means that our self is not isolated but intrinsically social. […] Hence, the self should not be understood as an entity located somewhere in the brain, isolated from both the body and the environment. In contrast, the self can be seen as a brain-based neurosocial structure and organization, always linked to the environment (or the social sphere) via embodiment and embeddedness.”

4 thoughts on “Who am I: the conscious and unconscious self

  1. I would be very happy to discuss this paper and related “embodied” self / mind materials. I do think one can go too far with it. Slippery slope which can cause one to end up in woo-woo muck. To make the most of this important perspective on mind, must think hard about what natural selection would favor in a mind, remembering that natural selection designs and regulates all organismal traits and capacities to help the individual maximize lifetime gene propagation or “inclusive fitness.” — Paul

    PS: I will miss the next meeting (October) due to travel, but will begin attending regularly thereafter. Best wishes to all.

  2. This article, as well as the Lakoff article, were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, so hardly woo woo. As to judging everything according to natural selection and inclusive fitness, Dennett makes a good point in a previously posted video that humans are now intelligent designers, which supplements natural selection. I know, some don’t think much of Dennett, but other scientists are on board with this notion of top-down causation given human evolution. We could even make that a future topic, at which time I’ll provide sources from respected scientific journals.


  3. I am not rejecting or trying to minimize the importance of this line of thinking. Just saying we must be very careful. Human minds are designed to become mired in the woo-woo muck, especially when it comes to any aspect of self-understanding. Care is always called for. Best — Paul

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