Tuesday, October 4, 2011


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Consciousness, the Self, and Personality Theory A Critical Survey of Theories of

Philosophical Arguments and Modern Psychological Personality Theories.

This paper will concern itself with some main philosophical arguments

and dilemmas and how they correlate with modern psychological personality

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theories. This survey will include dilemmas about the mind and body, the

concept of the self, and inner and outer reality. Also, it will discuss six

personality theorists and their scientific and philosophical developments.

Psychology, science, and philosophy are interconnected and rooted within

each other. In the book Metapsychology, the author, Sam Rakover, states that

Scientific knowledge grows and changes with time, and all three of the

subsystems of science-the philosophical, the theoretical, and the experimental-

are constantly developing (Rakover 7). These developments are systematic

processes. Psychology must engage in pursuit of explanation and causality. As

well as how the mind interacts with the body. Gathering information, drawing

conclusions and finding valid theories; as well as understanding biological and

social problems, constitute psychologys philosophical background.

The concept of the self is a large factor in the study of personality as

well as philosophy. The self, generally speaking, includes subjective

experience and conscious awareness. In the book Philosophy of Mind the author

speaks about self-consciousness, ...the possession of the concept of the self

and the ability to use this concept in thinking about oneself (Guttenplan, 1).

This unique quality of human beings allows for the question of thoughts,

beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions, memories; along with the responsibility

of these qualities, makes us truly unique. The problem with this way of thinking

is that it leads to us thinking we are more than our bodies. That a person is

something more that just the physical body. Another problem with our supposed

uniqueness is that we seem to have a will, drive, and intention. Samuel

Guttenplan continues by saying persons are self-motivated beings with a

considerable degree of autonomy over and above a material body (Guttenplan 14).

This led Renee Descartes to postulate that the only thing he couldnt doubt was

his thinking existence, that there is a soul a non-material part of human beings

that couldnt be denied. Since our bodies dont make decisions the self must

have more than a human body. The pure ego.

David Hume had a different idea about the self in relation to

experience. In a book of readings called Self and World, Hume is quoted as

saying The idea of the self as an entity that owns experiences should be

replaced with the idea of the sum of those experiences themselves (Olgilvy.

107). One can not know about oneself without experience to show it. He

believed that nothing about the self could be concluded without experiential

content. The identity of a person is successive perceptions. The self is not

any one impression. He is quoted in the book of readings as saying memory does

not so much produce as discover personal identity, to give reason why we can

thus extend our identity beyond our memory (Olgilvy 108). He, however held the

Cartesian way of thinking that mental items are the objects of thought in an

interior realm. This view invites the inner observer to witness these.

Immanuel Kant, in the same book of readings expanded on Humes ideas,

he wanted a differentiation between objectivity and subjectivity attempting to

prove that ...there are certain concepts whose application within experience

is presupposed by the very possibility of experience (Olgilvy 144). It is the

judgments that must conform to self-consciousness. There is room within

experience for the thought of experience.

John Lockes view includes a more temporal idea. The idea that the

sameness of a rational beening

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