This week’s reading by Thomas Keenan on the nature of windows and the gaze, got me thinking about some of my readings for my contemplative studies class. In the understanding of modern cognitive science, there is no “I” or “me”. The idea of a self separate from one’s body is a myth. In the words of Ray Jackendoff, co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts, “Consciousness is not good for anything…[but] seems too important to one’s life- too much fun- to conceive of it as useless.”
In Keenan’s discussion of the public, he writes that “the public is ‘in’ me, but it is all that is not me in me, not reducible or containable within ‘me’, all that tears me from myself, opens me to the ways I differ from myself and exposes me to that alterity in others.”
When Freud first discussed the concept of the superego, he explained it as an internalization of parental morality. The more modern school of Psychoanalysis that functions under Object Relations Theory, discusses the view that all aspects of personality are in fact internalized copies of people we’ve encountered and the behaviors in them that we saw as beneficial. These copies function as agents, which react to external stimuli through our thoughts, behaviors and emotions. Together they create the illusion of a homogenous, separate self.
If we are to rethink the relationship between the public and the self, it is no longer that the public presents us with something that is different from an immutable “me”, but that the public sphere presents us a multitude of options with which we can construct our sense of self.