Philosophy Essay on Self

1800 Words8 Pages
Exploring the essence of self in the western context

Udit Agarwal

Principles of Philosophy & Critical Thinking

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I certify that this literature review is my own work and contains no material which has been accepted for the award of any degree or diploma in any institute, college or university. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person, except where due reference is made in the text of the dissertation.


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The most fundamental of the questions man asks himself in his lifetime
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They disregarded the place of divine-will in their conception of self, basing it on mere experience, empirical evidence and mathematical formulations. This shift of conception is termed 'demythologization', where everything works without a purpose and results from mechanical interaction of particles regulated by universal laws which can be mathematically formulated (Greetham, B., 2006). Consequently, began the search of the self by looking within for purpose and meaning.

The modern view of self is articulated in the works of 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes. He pioneered the dualistic understanding of the human being, which is made up of the "mental substance (mind) and the physical substance (body)" (Warburton, N., 1992). Here, the body has physical properties like having weight and using space, whereas the mind is a non-material substance, responsible for thought and experience and hence is the abode of consciousness. In his view, the self is a spiritual "subject of experience" which is fundamentally different from the body and nature, where the body inessential and the mind can exist independently. His radical scepticism led to the formation of the "Illusion argument", where the bodily senses are deemed unreliable and thus the existence of the external world and body is uncertain. The only thing one can be

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