reflections on the notion of Self (Identity)

     The sense of Self seems to arise out of the assumption that the chain of reference produced by our inquiry into this notion (the chain that results from reflecting upon the contents of this notion of self, in which the contents themselves are found to be only composed of a series of reflections upon the self—ad infinitum) at some point ends.

Otherwise, the Self would amount to being that which posits itself as Self—the epitome of circular reasoning.

This would mean that Selfness is pure auto-referentiality.

If the Self is pure auto-referentiality (self as self-reference) then it would reveal that the Self is a process and not a finished product.

It would be the pure activity of singular reference (attentiveness/awareness/focus) to itself.  

So the process of self-reflection produces as an effect the very thing that was supposed to have been its cause. Selfness itself is produced by the circuitous inquiry into the basis of self.

Then, it would seem that the Self generates itself in the process of referring to the groundless nature of itself—that there is no final Self at the end to be found (No-Self).

In the positing of No-Self, the inquiry into the contents of this object of thought “no-self” reveals that this object of thought is itself a referent, which refers back to the reference-giver from which it borrows attention to sustain singular definition. The reference-giver was that which posited the notion of No-Self, which is revealed to be a Self.

Now it would appear that Self and No-Self refer to each other, with each grounding the other in the movement of auto-referentiality.

From this we can gather that while on the one hand, there is no such thing as a final, everlasting, persistent self-identity—there is also no such thing as a world without self.

To posit one or the other—Self or No-Self—as the ultimate truth of the matter would be to arbitrarily and abruptly end the chain of reference by which self and non-self endlessly (re)constitute one another.

It would seem then, that the real “truth” of the matter is to be found within the activity of pure focus/attentiveness/awareness. Such a truth appears to be beyond discursive intelligibility, and would be a truth which is understood in experience and not reflection.

The issue, however, is how to sustain the activity of pure focus/attentiveness/awareness without looping into itself (auto-referentiality), and thus reproducing the cyclical chain of reference by which self and non-self are constituted? Such is a question resolved by practical means, not merely theoretical, in which the ability to sustain duration in pure focus is cultivated as a life project. 

 

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