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What is the "self"? (section 2)

  • May 21, 2013 · 6:30 PM
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This is for members who cannot attend the Sunday session because of their schedule or from being wait listed. I am reducing the number of participants in the other meeting for sake of space.

"Self" has been defined as "a person's essential being that distinguishes them from others." But what does that mean? What is a person's essential being? Is a person just a human body/brain? Or does a person have a soul? What does it mean to be a "person"? How does one distinguish himself from another? These and other questions regarding the "self" will be answered from a variety of perspectives.

All perspectives, including those considered those more "theistic" or more "atheistic" will be entertained, so don't come if you don't want your perspective to be challenged. This is an opportunity to exchange ideas in a respectful way with others with different opinions on some of life's most basic and important questions. We learn from each other.

If you would like the opportunity to present a mini-paper on the subject, let me know, and I will try to work you into the schedule.


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  • Sue

    Enjoyed the discussion! Thanks for hosting, Mark!

    1 · May 22, 2013

  • Amit

    I enjoyed it very much, specially the cookies. Thank you to all.

    May 21, 2013

  • Mark B.

    Those attending this night's meeting might want to also take a look at the conversation in the comments of Section 1 of this topic (the last meet up) for some discussion ideas.

    May 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    BBC Video on self.

    This is a story of a man who tries to discover what the self is. By going through a number of tests and talking to current brain doctors doing research, he learns where science is in the understanding and how far they have to go to understand, the self.

    This is very interesting starting from when children become self-aware to how our brains perceive are bodies in space. One of the things I found most interesting in the story, is that using an fMRI machine they could read the answers a person would give 6 seconds before the subject knew what answer they were going to give. That begs the question, where did the answer to the question come from, the unconscious brain and who is that “self” in the unconscious that gave the answer?

    2 · April 30, 2013

    • Sue

      The research on a decision being made before the "consciousness"­ was aware of it has been going on for a long time - it's the main scientific argument against "free will." I think Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman puts it into perspective - we couldn't possibly function if we had to consciously evaluate everything. Most routine decisions are relegated to our "fast" thinking, which we aren't aware of. But it's not like our brains just randomly make decisions - these systems are formed by our experiences. I think this is all part of the "self" and just shows that there are many different things that go into the "self."

      1 · May 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would like to thank Mark for this change, not because I felt that we did not have open interactions, but for his allowing the meetings to flow and take any direction, even if he did not agree with the arguments.
    I think this shows a belief that everyone’s views are important and should be respected.

    May 2, 2013

    • Mark B.

      Thanks! Of course, a good moderator will help keep a discussion on track, and make sure no one is dominating the discussion. :)

      May 3, 2013

  • Mark B.

    I've updated the description of the group to reflect what we've agreed are the values of this group: An openness to all perspectives, even on metaphysical issues, and a commitment to treating others with respect and kindness. We do not censure views or suggest that only certain perspectives be entertained. This applies to our conversations online as well. I have learned to appreciate our diversity, and I enjoy interacting with you very much!

    2 · May 2, 2013

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