Understanding the Self: Philosophical Perspectives
3. Before school, you articulate and write your
Parents thought painstakingly about names;
Names represent us, and who we are.
Human beings attach names that are
meaningful for these names are supposed to
designate us in the world;
We are given also nicknames to identify who
we are called for.
4. As students, you are told to write your names
on papers, projects, or any output for that
Our names signify us;
Death cannot stop this bond between the
person and his/her name even names are
inscribed into one’s grave.
6. A person who was named after a saint most
probably will not become an actual saint.
The self is thought to be something else than
The self is something that a person
perennially molds, shapes, and develops.
The self is not static thing that one simply
born with like a mole on one’s face or
The self is just assigned by one’s parents just
like the name.
12. Prior to Socrates (Pre-Socratics), Thales,
Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, and
Empedocles and other Socrates’ time were
preoccupied themselves about arché that
explains the multiplicity of things in the world
that is the how the world is made up for, why
world is so, and what explains the changes
13. Tired about mythological accounts shared by
poet-theologians like Homer and Hesiod who
explaining about the nature of change,
seeming permanence despite the change,
and the unity of the world amidst the
14. This man is Socrates who
was more concerned with
the problem of self.
The first philosopher
engaged in a systematic
questioning about the
The true task of the
philosopher is to know
15. “Unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates affirms, claimed by Plato in his
He had the trial for allegedly corrupting the
minds of the young and old inAthens to the
presuppositions about themselves and about
the world, particularly about who they are.
Most men were really not fully aware of who
they were and the virtues that they were
supposed to attain to preserve their souls
Socrates that this is the worst to happen to
anyone.To live but die inside.
17. Plato, Socrates’ student, added
three components to the soul:
1. The rational soul
2. The spirited soul
3. The appetitive soul
18. The rational soul forged by reason
and intellect has to govern the
affairs of the human person;
The spirited soul, which is in charge
of emotions, should be kept at bay;
The appetitive soul in charge of
base desires, like eating, drinking,
sleeping, and having sexual
intercourse, is controlled as well.
20. Following the ancient view of Plato and
infusing it with the new found doctrine of
Christianity,Augustine agreed that MAN IS
A BIFURCATED NATURE.
There is an aspect of man, which dwells in
the world, that is imperfect and continuously
yearns to be with the divine while the other
is capable of reaching immortality.
21. The body is bound to die on earth and the soul
anticipate living eternally in the realm of
spiritual bliss in communion with God.
This is because the body only thrive in the
imperfect, physical reality that is the world,
whereas the soul can also stay after death in an
eternal realm with the all transcendent God.
The goal of every human person is to attain this
communion and bliss with the Divine by living
his life on earth in virtue.
22. The most eminent 13th century scholar and
stalwart of medieval philosophy, appended
something to this Christian view:
Adopting some ideas from Aristotle,
Aquinas said that, INDEED, MAN IS
COMPOSED OFTWO PARTS:
1. MATTER (Hyle in Greek)
2. FORM (Morphe in Greek)
23. MATTER refers to the common stuff that
makes up everything in the universe. Man’s
body is part of this matter.
FORM refers to the essence of a substance or
thing. It is what makes it what it is.
In the case of the human person, the body is
something he shares even with the animals.
What makes a human person a human person
and not a dog or tiger is HIS SOUL, HIS
The soul is what animates the body, it is what
makes us humans.
25. The Father of Modern Philosophy conceived
that the human person as having a body and a
In his famous treatise,THE MEDITATIONSOF
FIRST PHILOSOPHY, Descartes claims that
there is so much that we should doubt.
One should only believe that which can pass
the test of doubt.
If something is clear and lucid as not to be even
doubted, then that is the only time when one
should actually buy a proposition.
26. In the end, Descartes though that the only
thing that one cannot doubt is the existence
of the self.
For even if one doubts oneself, that only
proves there is a doubting self, a thing that
thinks and therefore, that cannot be
Thus, his famous COGITO ERGO SUM or
ITHINKTHEREFORE I AM.
27. The self is also a combination of two distinct entities:
COGITO or a thing that thinks, which is the mind,
and the EXTENZA or the extension of the mind,
which is the body.
The body is nothing else but a machine that is
attached to the mind.
Human person has it but it is not what makes man a
“ But what then, am I? A thinking thing? It has been
said. But what is a thinking thing? It is a thing that
doubts, understands/conceives, affirms, denies, wills,
refuses; that imagines also, and perceives.”
29. The self is not an entity over and beyond the
Empiricism is the school of thought that
espouses idea that knowledge can only be
possible if it is sensed and experiences.
Men can only attain knowledge by
The self is nothing but a bundle of
impressions. (What are impressions?)
30. If one tries to examine his experiences,
Hume finds that they can all be categorized
into two: IMPRESSIONS and IDEAS.
Impressions are the basic object of our
experience or sensation.They, therefore,
form the core of our thoughts.When one
touches an iced cube, the cold sensation is
31. Impressions, therefore, are vivid because
they are products of our direct experience
with the world.
IDEAS are copies of impressions because
they are not as lively and vivid as our
impressions.When one imagines the feeling
of being in love for the first time, that still is
32. Self, according to Hume, is simply “A bundle
or collection of different perceptions, which
succeed each other with an inconceivable
rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and
Men simply want to believe that there is a
unified, coherent self, a soul or mind.
In reality, what one thinks as unified self is
simply a combination of all experiences with
a particular person.
34. Kant recognizes the veracity in Hume’s
account that everything starts with
perception and sensation of impressions;
However, the things that men perceive
around them are not just randomly infused
into the human person without organizing
principle that regulates the relationship of all
35. There is necessarily a mind that organizes
the impressions that men get from the
Time and space, for example, are ideas that
one cannot find in the world but is built in
our minds. He calls it the APPARATUS OF
Without the self, one cannot organize the
different impressions that one gets in
relation to his own existence.
36. The “self” is an actively engaged intelligence
in man that synthesizes all knowledge and
The self is not just what gives one his
It is also the seat of knowledge acquisition
for all human persons.
37. What truly matters is
the behaviors that a
person manifests in his
Looking for and trying
to understand a “self”
as it really exists is like
a visiting your friend’s
university and looking
for the “university”.
38. One can roam around the campus, visit the
library and the football field, meet the
administrators and faculty, and still end up NOT
FINDING the university.
This is because the campus, the people, the
systems, and the territory all form the
The self is not an entity one can locate and
analyze but simply the convenient name that
people use to refer to all the behaviors that
39. The mind and body
are so intertwined
that they cannot be
separated from one
All experience is
body is his opening
towards his existence
to the world.
40. Because of these
bodies, men are in the
He dismisses the
that has spelled so
much devastation in
the history of man.
41. For him, the
Cartesian problem is
nothing else but plain
The living body, his
and experiences are
43. In your own words, state what is the
meaning of self for each of the following
philosophers. After doing so, explain how
your concept of self compatible with how
they conceived of the self.
Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Descartes,
Hume, Kant, Ryle, and Merleau-Ponty