X-Message-Number: 10998
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 16:27:24 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Again Self, Non-Self

George Smith, #10992, wrote

>Mike Perry wrote under "Subject: Self, Non-Self":
>>George Smith (#10979) writes,
>>>I personally think the "experiencer" is a mental illusion and can be very
>>>successfully lived 
>>>WITHOUT.  In fact FAR more successfully! 
>>This sounds very much like the doctrine of "non-self" that is prevalent in
>>Eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism. 
>What I am suggesting is rather difficult at first but should not be
identified with any known 
>religion or philosophy.  I have found the basics in Albert Ellis' work and
a few others, but 
>usually not many clear examples outside of psychology.
Well, I'm still not clear how what you say about the "experiencer" being an
illusion, etc. *is* really different from the basic ideas in Buddhism,
Taoism, etc.
You put a lot of weight on the work of this Albert Ellis (hadn't heard of
him before--though it doesn't mean he doesn't have something worth saying).
It would be interesting to get his opinions on cryonics. (If he is signed up
though, it would seem he is being secretive about it.)

>I am remaining very firmly grounded in the demonstrable fact that in any
honest search for "the 
>self" you cannot find "it" in any experience.

Not in any one (finite) experience, I would hope. (Immortality demands more
than that, surely.) But what about the sum total of one's experiences in
life, or, say, the subset of experiences that are remembered and exert an
influence throughout life?

>  Take any experience and you can ask "yourself" 
>"Can I know about this exerience?"  If the answer is "Yes", then IF there
"is" an experiencer 
>you call "you", quite clearly there is "you" (the experiencer) and "it"
(the experience).  This 
>can be applied to any "external" experiences (the physical universe) and
any "internal" 
>experiences (thoughts, memories, dreams, etc.).  
But you still might think of the experience as "part" of you in some sense,
without being the whole ball of wax. The whole can contemplate the part
without being the part. That way, indeed, you don't just identify "yourself"
with this one experience, but are not forced to the opposite extreme of
concluding that whatever "you" are must be entirely separate and disjoint.

>When someone drops identification with something he gains emotional freedom
>from defending its 

Again, though, this does not (in my "experience") require total dissociation
as the thrust of your argument seems to imply. 

>For example, if I stop identifying with BEING an Egyptologist, and instead
recognize I am 
>"doing" Egyptology, I quickly discover I no longer feel emotionally
pressured to "defend" what I 
>do.  Instead I can treat Egyptology as a "tool" in that I can use it,
question it, and even 
>possibly improve on it.
For example, I *was* once a "grade-schooler"--some time ago. But neither at
that time nor now did (do) I think of that as what I WAS (AM) in some
absolute sense. However "grade-schooling" was not simply a "tool" that was
(is) entirely separate and disjoint from "me" much as a wrench or pencil
might be said to be. Grade-schooling was something I did, it was part of me
then, it is still part of me today, and even a valued part, though not
something I have done for quite a long time or expect to do. I don't see any
reason to "defend" my grade-schooling in any sense beyond what what I think
most objective persons would agree is reasonable. I know I wasn't perfect
then. I have outgrown some of the imperfections, shortcomings, etc, but
certainly not all of them. Perhaps I even picked up some I didn't have then.
But I hope to progress further with time, even indefinitely. Where's the beef?

>For example, if I stop identifying with my memories and behavior patterns
as George Smith, and 
>instead recognize that I am "using" the George Smith personality, I quickly
discover I no longer 
>feel emotionally pressured to "defend" George Smith.  Instead I can treat
George Smith as a 
>"tool" (actually a bunch of tools) that I can use, question, and even
possibly improve on.
I don't see any reason I couldn't question and possibly improve on the "Mike
Perry" personality--and indeed I hope and am trying to do this--while all
the while remaining "Mike Perry."

>I have found no need to identify with anything in particular but great
value in dropping the 
>illusion of identifying with many "things" (and processes). 
To me there is some value in identifying a personality or self with my life
as I've lived it, a sort of "in toto" identification that is not focused on
any one part as if that were everything, but is not dissociated from it
either. Other "selves" too, other people, of course have value, and valuing
oneself does not preclude valuing them as well, nor need it lead to behaving
in a narrowly "selfish" way to the disadvantage of others. Instead I have
some confidence in the pursuit of "enlightened self-interest" which, I
think, takes on a whole new meaning if the possibility of transcending one's
humanity is taken into account.

Mike Perry--whoever me am.

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