Defining the Self: Exploring Analytic Theories of Self
AuthorPark, Tara Rachel
AdvisorYoung, Benjamin D.
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The thesis compiles multiple theories for the existence of self from analytic philosophy ranging from minimal reduction accounts to broad narrative conceptual accounts. The initial focus is on Galen Strawson’s minimal self theory which states that the self is a mental thing, subject of hiatus-free experience. The minimal self exists briefly during short-lived experiences without influence to one’s personality and agency. Other accounts of self are evaluated to determine if there is a logical argument for self that encompasses other potential features. Two experiential self theories, Dan Zahavi’s experiential self and Matt Ratcliffe’s interpersonal self, have a minimal notion of “for-me-ness” that acknowledges a sense of ownership. Two narrative self theories, Ulric Neisser’s narrative self and Dan Dennett’s self as a center of narrative gravity, use past experiences spun together by the person to form a narrative self-image. Shaun Gallagher’s pattern theory of self and Antonio Damasio’s self process argue for a self that can include both an immediate minimal self and accept a reflective self-image component. The thesis ends with an original theory of self referred to as the persisting self. It claims that the self is a mental thing that provides a sense of persisting during conscious states. The compilation of theories demonstrates how the accounts compare and contrast to one another while recognize the implications that come of each claim.