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A person is perceived and judged by their actions. Frequently the intention or motive of a person's actions can be misunderstood or misinterpreted for a variety of factors.

A few possible factors being:

The observers:

  • belief system
  • agenda with respect to the constructs of their relationship with that person
  • societal values and norms

Also a person can be misguided by the same factors in what is good, helpful and other subjective qualities. A person can go through life never really knowing or understanding themselves.

The perceived construct of a person may be completely different from what that person thinks, feels, and intentions are throughout life.

What is the reality of who that person is; how others perceive them, or how they perceive themselves; or some mixture of both?

How or can this be determined?

Can a person truly exist without the perception of observers or self-perception?

What is the reality of self?

What allows a mind to become self-aware?

Please interpret this how you like, as it is the diversity of interpretation that pushes the boundaries of our thinking.

closed as too broad by Joseph Weissman Dec 15 '13 at 19:47

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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All sense perception is "through a glass dimly". We know that our external senses—or extrospective senses—are pretty bad if and until we tune them. What some do not know is that we have good reason to think that our introspective senses are also pretty bad until we tune them; see Eric Schwitzgebel's 2008 The Unreliability of Naive Introspection:

We are prone to gross error, even in favorable circumstances of extended reflection, about our own ongoing conscious experience, our current phenomenology. Even in this apparently privileged domain, our self-knowledge is faulty and untrustworthy. We are not simply fallible at the margins but broadly inept. Examples highlighted in this essay include: emotional experience (for example, is it entirely bodily; does joy have a common, distinctive phenomenological core?), peripheral vision (how broad and stable is the region of visual clarity?), and the phenomenology of thought (does it have a distinctive phenomenology, beyond just imagery and feelings?). Cartesian skeptical scenarios undermine knowledge of ongoing conscious experience as well as knowledge of the outside world. Infallible judgments about ongoing mental states are simply banal cases of self-fulfillment. Philosophical foundationalism supposing that we infer an external world from secure knowledge of our own consciousness is almost exactly backward.

A slightly more formal way to explain error is as following, which I recently used to reach common definition of 'belief' and related concepts. Consider the following overlapping sets:

     (1) every action is predicated on a set of { A }
     (2) every thought is predicated on a set of { T }
     (3) every belief is basic or predicated on a set of { B }
     (4) a person will report a set of beliefs { R }

We can debate as to whether every element of ATBR is called a 'belief'. For example, I often say 'tentative belief' to describe some elements of AT. I would also question whether R ⊂ ( ATB ), given Schwitzgebel's work. That is, not all reported beliefs are 'actual beliefs', where I define 'actual' as precisely ATB. Note that we could have the same 'belief' in two different sets, but at differing confidence levels. Anyhow, the important aspect of the above system is that it lets us talk about error. There are two types:

     (I) extroverted sense error (in TB)
     (II) introverted sense error (in BR)

Error of type (I) will thwart my ability to understand what others are communicating and what they are like. Error of type (II) will thwart my ability to understand what I am thinking and what I am like. Now I am ready to address your questions:

What is the reality of who that person is; how others perceive them, or how they perceive themselves; or some mixture of both?

I opt for mixture of both. This is because we all commit both type (I) and type (II) errors.

Can a person truly exist without the perception of observers or self-perception?

This depends on how similar one mind is to another—at all levels of similarity. If there is sufficient similarity, then just as understanding a vast number of different types of rocks gives us additional knowledge about any one rock, understanding a vast number of different minds will give us additional knowledge about any one mind—including our own!

What is the reality of self?

In my above answer, I basically rephrased your question: what allows a mind to become self-aware? An imperfect reality is our knowledge of atoms: we say we 'know' about them because we have A) identified many properties of them; B) predicated many thoughts and actions on those properties; the result being that we gained increased understanding about how to manipulate reality (which is the test that differentiates between 'just-so story' and 'theory'). When we make ourselves the subject of study, self-awareness comes when R sufficiently matches ATB. That is, when our introspective senses start reliably 'meshing' with our extrospective senses.

  • I'm sorry , I missed the ping for the answer cheers – user19651 Oct 31 '13 at 5:22
  • I am happy for you to redefine the Q in your A, as it is a difficult concept to examine in a Q&A format (well I think that? Or do I? lol) – user19651 Oct 31 '13 at 5:24
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    Edited, tell me what you think, I'm new here – user19651 Nov 1 '13 at 4:00