It is facinating trying to figure out whether there is such a thing as the self, and how modern philosophers and scientists, by probing the brain and analysing behaviour the self as we know it may need to be revised. This argument more than any clarifies the deficiencies of science and modern thinking, and where reductionism falters.
Although the arguements against the Self seem pretty strong, where it falls short and possibly collapses is the insistence by thinkers like Daniel Dennett who says “each normal individual of this species makes a self, out of its brain it spins a web of words and deeds and like other creatures it doesn’t have to know what it’s doing, it just does it. Out tails are spun and for the most part we don’t spin them” he further explains by comparing it to the centre of gravity using the analogy of “But a center of gravity is not an atom or a subatomic particle or any other physical item in the world. It has no mass; it has no color; it has no physical properties at all, except for spatio-temporal location.”
I actually believed the self might be an illusion until I read Dennett’s arguement which contrary to its intentions proved to me without a doubt that there is such a thing, just like other things. His arguement defeats itself by denying the existence of anything that is made up of many things. To use another analogy, I can say that Dennits book does not exist, because all it is are papers with ink written bound together “it spins words” etc. etc.
He talks about the self not being an atom or subatomic particle or any other physical item in the world. While someone may deny for this same reason the existence of stories, waves, history, philosophy etc. because they are not physical things as a materialist would say. My response would be to to ask what what he means by physical things. Nothing physical exists because everything is made out of something else. What he calls “physical” is made of molecules, and they don’t exist because molecules are made out of atoms. Atoms don’t exist because they are made out of protons, neutrons and electrons, and those don’t exist because they are made out of quarks, and other fundamental particles and so on.
The “Self” just like any other word, is just a word that tries to define something. We communicate experiences and events by using words and language. Dennett may need to eliminate language, word by word, before he gets to what he perceives as reality, which would make me wonder what are we talking about in the first place.
Maybe he needs to clarify what “thing” is, and what is meant by “exists” before I waste more time moving my fingers on a keyboard to create something that doesn’t exist refuting another that doesn’t exist, called an argument.
Information is the only thing that exists!