John G. Kuna, PsyD and Associates: What is the Self?

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Information about John G. Kuna, PsyD and Associates: What is the Self?
Health & Medicine

Published on March 5, 2014

Author: John_Kuna_PsyD



A brief presentation on the nature of the self based on the work of social psychologist R. Braumiester.

John G. Kuna, PsyD and Associates CHAPTER 5 THE SELF


WHO AM I? 1. I am a ______________. 2. I am a ______________. 3. I am a ______________. 4. I am a ______________. 5. I am a ______________.

WHAT IS THIS SELF? • Answers may be reflective of: • Social relationships (I am a father, sister, brother, student, athlete, etc.) • We tend to portray ourselves in most favorable social attributes (“I’m a good friend”) Braumeister would note that these answers are indicative of the connection between self and society.

SOCRATES AND PSYCHOLOGY  Theory vs. Common Sense  Common sense: Concrete, things defined in relation to ourselves  Theory: Systematic, scientific. Things defined in relation to themselves and their formal operations • • • • What is justice? What is virtue? What is self ? Easy to identify, difficult to define systematically. Philosophy, psychology, sociology, neurology all trying to answer: what is the Self ? • Paradigm shift from Common Sense to Theory

BRAUMEISTER • Definition by negation: • The self is not: • Part of the brain • Not an illusion • No “true self ” in some magical realm (Not an illusion—so was it observed? Measured? Replicated?)

SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY • Psychology as science and study of the Self. • Neuropsych? • Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MFC) more active when: • Making self-judgments vs. non-value laden, descriptive judgments • (“I’m a good listener vs. “It’s time for break”) • Recalling self-memory vs. fictional character • Not very conclusive, however.

SCIENCE OF PSYCHOLOGY • Only the observable is the real (a la Behavioralism) • Concepts like Self and Consciousness are NOT observable. • How should Psychology synthesize this? • Epistemological issue?


BACK TO BRAUMEISTER • p. 139: “…the Self is an essential part of the interface between the animal body and the social system.” • Animal body? Why not corporeal body? Or just body? Nitpicky. • The Self is necessarily linked to the social system in which it resides.

STILL BRAUMEISTER • P. 139, “human social systems-including culture and civilizations—are much more complex than the social systems of the great apes…the human self has to have capabilities and properties that enable it to deal with these.” • How is this definition different than a sociological one?

STILL B RAUMEISTER • Braumeister’s name analogy • Your name is not part of your brain, but the brain uses it • Your name locates you within a social milieu (identity)

SELF AND CULTURE • Is the self composed of universal properties, transcending cultural influences (Nominalism and the problem of universals) or • Is it a construction particular to specific conditions of history, culture, individuality, etc.? • Braumeister: • Different cultures produce different version of selfhood • Western independence • East Asian selfhood as interdependent

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW • Two early, prevailing psychological paradigms • I. Behaviorism (Skinner, Watson) • Only observable behavior matters, not non-empirical mental states • Black Box (known through input-output function, not internal mechanisms)

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW • II. Freud • Id • Ego • Superego • Early basis for psychological theories of Self. • Then Braumeister just skips ahead to Anthony Greenwald. No discussion of Jung, Kohut, etc. in his history.

SOOO.…WHAT IS THE SELF? • Three basic roots of self-hood • I. Reflexive consciousness • Braumeister non technical. • Reflexive Consciousness is being aware of yourself (memories, experiences) and knowing things about yourself (height, weight) • Knowledge of physical properties is reflexive consciousness? • Braumeister confusing self knowledge with consciousness?

REFLEXIVE CONSCIOUSNESS (IMO) • Consciousness is not self knowledge. • Self knowledge is knowing with regard to specific cognitional acts (experience, understanding, judgment). • Consciousness is the experience of knowing (ie, experiencing understanding, judgment, etc.) • So, all cognitional activities are conscious, but only some are KNOWN. • For example, both seeing and understanding are conscious (you don’t unconsciously know something). Most people KNOW what seeing is, whereas most have no clue how to systematically define understanding.

BASIS OF SELF-HOOD • II. Interpersonal Relations • Self is formed in interactions and relationships with others • Self does not emerge from within the person • Self functions to create and sustain relationships

BASIS OF SELF-HOOD • III. Decision making and exertion of control • • • • What to study in school? Who to date/marry? What to wear? What school clubs to join? Such decisions formulate and give structure to the Self.

GOING FORWARD Science of Psychology? To what extent is Psychology a science? To what extent should it mimic the methods and paradigms of other sciences (chemistry, physics)  To what extent is inquiry/discussion of the Self dichotomous and polarizing? (Us vs. them)

GOING FORWARD…  Problems with the philosophy of Self ? Talking about the Self as a linguistic impossibility It is self-referential (i.e., circular argument, no objectivity).


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