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Collective Self Part I: Conceptions and Neuroscience of Self

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Tram Ho Dac

on 30 October 2013

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Transcript of Collective Self Part I: Conceptions and Neuroscience of Self




Dan Zahavi – Core Self
Non-Self Theories
Thomas Metzinger – Minimal Self Model
Narrative Self
Antonio Damasio – Layered Model of Self
Protoself – Basic Awareness
Core Self – Core Consciousness
Autobiographical Self – Extended Consciousness
Minimal requirements?

Self-Specifying Processes
Divergence-Convergence Regions
Lateralization of Self
Aim: strengthen group identification in SOUMA to support collective decision-making, shared intentions and joint action
Further Literature
Shaun Gallagher – Minimal Self
[1] Zahavi, D. (2011). The Experiential Self: Objections and Clarifications. In Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological & Indian Traditions. Oxford University Press.
[2] Metzinger, T. (2013). Selbst, Selbstmodell, Subjekt. In Handbuch Kognitionswissenschaft. J.B.Metzler'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH in Stuttgart.
[3] http://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_damasio_ the_quest_to_understand_consciousness.html
[4] Gallagher, S. (2000). Philosophical conceptions of the self: implications for cognitive science.
[5] Zahavi, D. (2013). Consiousness and Self. In Subjectiviy and Selfhood. MIT Press.
[6] Devinsky, O. (2000). Right Cerebral Hemisphere Dominance for a Sense of Corporeal and Emotional Self. In Epilepsy & Behavior, 1(1), 60–73.
[7] Damasio, A. (2010). The Autobiographical Self. In Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. New York: Pantheon Book.
[8] Christoff, K., Cosmelli, D., Legrand, D., & Thompson, E. (2011). In Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Slawa Loev
Ngan-Tram Ho Dac
Study Project: Cognitive Networks
University of Osnabrueck
23rd July 2013

Self-Related Processing
Self-Specifying Processes
Thank you for your attention!
the self is a specific mode of how experiences can be given, namely a
first-personal givenness
that reveals their mineness
pre-reflective sense of mineness
grounds any reflective construction of a narrative, or autobiographical, self
the self is not the independent spectator of experiences (transcendent ego), but an
integral part
(immanent) to a conscious engagement with the world
The Phenomenological Core Sense of Self
= the
subject(ivity) of experience
, that distinguishes my own from other's experiences, constitutes the minimal and
basic core self
it cannot be "non-existent", considered nothing more but a narrative construction or a mere self-awareness of experiences, but a basic (sense of) self is experientially given in the
phenomenal structure of every experience
Contrasted with Other (Non-)Self Theories
experiences are acquaintances that consciousness has with itself
Non-Egological Self Models
there is
no central unifying subject
, or abstract identity principle (Kant), that transcends the ever-changing flow of experiences
the ego is a product of reflection or of linguistic construction, which only appears when we adopt a distancing and objectifying stance towards it as an object of conscious analysis
the person is a dynamical socially situated system whose
self-consciousness is a systemic property
or process of the whole system
there is no self, but only a
– a representation of systemic properties (e.g. global somato-sensory, motor, affective, intentional states) which cannot be recognized as such by the system
consciousness has
no ego
that stands apart as an observer of experience
Against Egological Conceptions of the Self
The Self in the Hermeneutic Tradition
the self is a
social and narrative construction
(Paul Ricoeur)
it is constructed through narration and interpretation during life-time, through which values, goals and character traits are embedded into
overarching life stories
that explain their origin and development
it presupposes the necessity to be part of a
linguistic social community
, which collectively authors an individual life story interwoven with others and situates it in a shared meaningful historical and cultural context
"To be conscious of oneself, consequently, is not to capture a pure self that exists in separation from the stream of consciousness, but rather entails just being conscious of an experience in its first-personal mode of givenness; it is a question of having first-personal access to one’s own experiential life." [6], p.115
Dennett on Narrative Identity
the self is wholly constituted by our descriptions; it is not more than a linguistic and social invention
No Self – but a Minimal Self Model
we mistake the content of a

transparent self-model
for our selves
Notion of Self that is Refused
there is
no time-enduring unchanging self
or soul substance that exists as an ontological entity or objective thing
in the end, the self is nothing but a
complex brain state
" 'Phänomenal transparent' ist eine Repräsentation dann, wenn das kognitive System, in dem sie auftaucht, sie introspektiv nicht mehr als eine Repräsentation erkennen kann und sich
deshalb als direkt mit ihrem Inhalt in Kontakt erlebt [...]
Wir sind Wesen, die ihr eigenes inneres Modell von sich selbst nicht mehr als ein Modell erleben können und die deshalb naive Realisten auch bezüglich ihrer eigenen Existenz sind." [2], p.12
Sense of self-ownership: sense that I am the one who is having an experience

Sense of self-agency: sense that I am the one who is generating an action (or a thought)

Two components
A Minimal Concept of Self
the minimal self is the

point of origin of action, experience and thought
Naturalistic Mapping of the Self to the Brain
= the self can be reduced to
neural representations of the body interior
which serve as a stable reference point for all other representations
the self as a conscious mind is constituted, as experiences are
consolidated, modified and re-constructed in memory
representations of the self as
subjective perspective, epistemic agent and owner of a body
in relation to an environment
neural patterns that map the
current physical state
of the organism moment-by-moment and remain non-conscious
brain stem
Neural Correlates of the Autobiographical Self
function: coordination across the brain to save, organise and retrieve
single autobiographical objects
and association with
patterns of impulses
updated by intero-, exteroceptive and skeleto-muscular information
it is not monolithic, but can be divided into
hierarchical levels
mechanism: convergence-divergence architecture of regions with high cortical interconnectivity; particularly the
postero-medial cortices (PMC)
The PMC as a Hub within the Brain
receives interoceptive info from inner organs, propriorecepetive and kines-thetic afferences from muscles, and exteroreceptive info from the world
reciprocal connectivity to central cortical and subcortical areas for multi-modal integration, motor planning and execution, attention and reward
shows distinct activity or metabolism during anesthesia, sleep, coma, vegetative states, in Alzheimer patients, and in neuroimaging studies
"The left hemispheric linguistic and praxis self, which is defined by verbal thought and skilled movements, appears to be complemented by a more basic self, both corporeal and emotional, that lies largely within the right hemisphere."
[7], p.61
Left Hemisphere (LH) – Reflective Self
established classical view: the LH is constitutive for the self, understood as reflective consciousness or self-awareness
Right Hemisphere (RH) – Corporal Emotional Self
generates a body image and is essential for an individual's awareness of his own corporal being
it is considered an "integrator system" of unified consciousness linking sequences of experiences into a unified (verbal) narrative
it allows for introspective verbal reports, plans and intentional behaviour
represents the relation of the self to its physical environment and social world, which underlies social perception and behaviour
is associated with the sense for familiar/unfamiliar things; right hemispheric lesions can lead to experiential phenomena, e.g. fear, mania
predominant research paradigms for cognitive neuroscience investigate the attribution of mental and physical features to
as an object
another essential aspect of self-experience consists in perceiving ourselves as the
, the knowing subject and agent in world-directed interactions
processes that specify this "I-self" implement a
functional self/non-self distinction
by distinguishing
reafferent signals
(caused by own efferent signals) from
exafferent signals
(caused by environmental signals)
sensorimotor integration
homoestatic regulation
affective and cognitive
regulatory/evaluative loops
Self-specifying process
Self-specific perspective as
subject/agent of perception, action, and feeling at the more bodily level
subject of emotion and cognition at the more reflective level
from spatial localization to processes underlying the self
from a one-sided towards an integrated multi-facetted conception of the self
the self need not be understood as a transcendent time-enduring and unchanging soul-like substance or thing, challenged by no-self theories
Summary of Results
there are two central ideas common in a multi-facetted view of the self
basic self-experience is constituted by a specific mode of givenness, the
subjectivity inherent to experience
, which is pre-reflective
the reflective self is constituted through
narrative interpretation
through which an autobiography is constructed within a social world
different functional mechanisms can implement these aspects
how would
on an online communication platform need to be constituted, so we can apply analogous dimensions to them?
self-specifying processes
that implement a distinction between changes I produced myself and external environmental changes
mechanisms that coordinate the formation of
autobiographical memory
by integrating external and internal information
through these interactions a common perspective onto the world develops, which is our
(inter-)subjective perspective
as a group
Souma strengthens the
, especially communication and planning of common projects, among the members of a group
a visual and modifiable model of shared interests, values, commit-ments could serve as a representation of the
group identity
the group page tells the
story of the group
about its origin and development, which is constantly modified
Within the network there is
no physical bodily boundary
that grounds a strict difference between personal and group selves
it is
not extended in time
and is characterized by what is
immediately accessible
to self-consciousness

this first person content may be
void of concepts
and is not restricted to humans
Full transcript