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Reconceptualizing the Separative Self

V. Hari Narayanan
In S. Menon, A. Sinha, B.V. Sreekantan (eds.), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the Self, 2014, 65-72.

Abstract:

The idea of the self plays a pivotal role in human life. The most common way of conceptualizing the self may be called the free-floating or separative self. This amounts to treating the self as something away from the web of life and as something in need of protection and aggrandizement. Another major characteristic of the free-floating self is the belief in free will. There have been many studies questioning the empirical validity of free will, and this takes cudgels against the free-floating self-conception also. Even though some traits associated with this kind of self-conception might have had evolutionary advantages, it is not difficult to see that the moorings of many human problems can be traced to the separative self-conception. Therefore, efforts need to be made to develop an alternate way of understanding the self. It is contended in this chapter that the conception of the free-floating self is primarily a case of gut feeling of certainty and our present environment is conducive to overcome this inveterate way of understanding ourselves.