I wrote this about 8 years ago.

Consider the following ideas as though I, me, my and mine were substituted for the word self. · Self-awareness ·Self-concept · Self-consciousness · Self-identity · Self-image · Self-perception · Self-realization · Self-esteem · Self-knowledge. The only pronoun that actually may work on all of them is ‘my’. · my-awareness · my-concept · my-consciousness · my-identity · my-image · my-perception · my-realization · my-esteem · my-knowledge. The revised concepts are now possessive abstractions (they belong to ‘me’) and not independent, or relative to the self since the abstractions are now concrete (in possessive terms). The subject is the same, the object is different. (Or, is it the context that is different?)

My summation is that the self is not a possessive abstraction. We are taught that self / I / me / my / mine are all possessive references. That it is a relativistic referential abstraction. That without a referential context for self you would experience a form of amnesia.

Is this a phenomenology, neo existentialism, or some other form of post-modern philosophy? I tend to think of it as Neo-Relativism, but it does not seem to fit any forms I can currently find. (is this too many questions?

2 Answers 2


I'm inclined to read "self" as fundamentally self-referential in all cases, whilst it isn't necessarily possessive in the same way as "my". "Self" seems, fundamentally, to signify some relation to itself, which doesn't follow for the uses of "my", where the relatum of the something like "my perception" or "my knowledge" is not necessarily the self, but could very easily have, as its subject, some external, non-self entities. On the other hand, the subject relatum of "self-knowledge" or "self-perception" is the self, and so stands in a direct relation to itself analytically.

Although to answer your question at the end there, it would likely fall into a branch of phenomenology within neo-existentialism. This sort of thought about the relation of the self to itself and the world seems to share some parallels with the work of Sartre (I have in mind here the chapter "The Look" from "Being and Nothingness"), Marleau-Ponty (I have in mind here "The Primacy of Perception") and those who took inspiration from them.

  • I had a non stop 5 hour flight to California thirty years ago and brought "Being & Nothingness" with me. The paperback version. I found the translation barely functional. I'd read some pages two to three times to glean out the essentials from the translation. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:48
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    Yeah, it's notoriously inaccessible. You are likely to have read this before, but if you haven't read Sartre's 'Nausea', this is a beautiful example of phenomenological and existential investigation in the form of fiction. Far more accessible and, dare I say, entertaining. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 16:11
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    Please read Sartre's early important essay "The transcendence of the Ego" where he replaces Husserl's transcendental Ego by psychical Ego consisting of I (Je) and selfness (moi) and releases pre-reflective consciousness, selfless, which is the real source of the unity for Ego. In Being and Nothingness, he continues these concepts especially in chapter II.3 (temporality...reflection) in much more dense language.
    – ttnphns
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 21:15
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    That comment was mostly to @Norman.
    – ttnphns
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 21:18

Perhaps the problem is that the Self (as I understand it) needs no possessive. To say 'my self' is redundant in that 'my' is self, from your point of view (POV).To speak of others' Selves, they would be, unlike 'your-self', 'them-selves'. The term 'self' is itself a possessive, regardless of its own POV.

  • The 'self' brought up here is the technology we use to reference our identify structures. And 'my-self' should be the same as 'me' really. At least we are taught that. The difference here is that primarily, that 'self' only exists as a referential subject. There is no concrete 'self'. What there is instead is an abstraction of experiences and thoughtful discretions of both cultural and personal POV's. So this 'self' is more subjective - relativistic - than it is a possessive. The 'self ' experiences, and the 'me' (as an object) possesses. That last sentence is incomplete. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 19:16
  • I agree. There is no concrete 'Self'. Other than perhaps neuronal. As with all concepts it is a symbol (in Reality) for the existence experienced. It is a term we have come to agree on for this. I experience mySelf experiencing existence. I am Self aware. The term 'Self" has no meaning other than that to which it refers. How would you describe 'me'?
    – Gary Reist
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 16:00
  • "Me"? Good question, thanks. Most personal pronouns relate to abstract possessives (my fiction found a publisher."), and tangible possessions ("That belongs to me"). So, 'me', 'my' etc., usages are related to personal integrity, internal and external. The dilemma happens in statements like; "I don't trust myself." There is a clear duality occurring when 'my' (personal integrity) and, 'self '(abstract reference) are connected. Where is the judgement on 'my' coming from (in this sentence) if they (my & self) are the same? An investigation began by deconstructing pronouns from self. Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 16:52
  • Being self-aware, it is no surprise that we can have opinions about our selves. And opinions about ourselves in relation to the known or assumed opinions others have about ourselves. As to 'deconstructing pronouns from self' you've left me behind.
    – Gary Reist
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 20:55
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    I think we may be 'of a mind'. However, as I understand it the eSelf is not 'the animations', nor is it its undertakings (occurring simultaneously with animations but from the eSelf's POV. The eSelf knows why it is doing something (the Reality of it), others can only experience the animation in Existence, from which to make assumptions about the eSelf's Reality. All us eSelves are alone in our own Realities, for others to only experience (our Existence). This is why language, (communication) has evolved, making a necessary Collective Reality possible.
    – Gary Reist
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 17:48

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