The Self Is An Illusion

Updated: May 5

The more psychology and behavioral economics I read, the clearer became the malleability of the self. You can modify pretty much all aspects of a man’s behavior and personality. You can induce and cure fear. I had a huge problem when I was given the last assignment in Business Policy, back in 2017. It was called Personal Planning Project. We had to come up with three core values, a mission statement and a vision statement for life. The project sounded very stupid to me because I knew that the self is very fluid. What people consider their core values are simply a summary of or a rationalization for their past actions. I just could not decide my core value because I had no values. I had no fixed personality, no fixed values, nor did I want to box myself into a lie. Reluctantly, I somehow declared three core values to finish the project.

Right after graduation, I saw through the game. Sitting in the woods, I wondered if anything was consistent about the self. If there is really nothing consistent, where is that which makes an individual an individual? Wait, that is a reductive idea of the self, a point of consciousness or something of similar nature that makes Roger Roger, not Kane. How would an anti-reductionist perceive the self? If the self is elicited by the situation, as we see in psychology and behavior economics, since most are driven by their situation rather than by their individual attitudes, it is the outside that is being manifested in them. And the outside is everything. Where is the self then? And that was it. The individual is as much as everything as everything is the individual. Why do people use ‘I’? Because they have been taught so. There is no ‘I’.

The reason my classmates struggled to find their core values and a mission statement was that there is no such thing as core values, because there is no core.

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