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January 12, 2023


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Surely, although a belief of being a particular enduring self is illusory, to have a continuous sense of self is just plain necessary to navigate one's environment. The sense of self or the awareness of self – as most other creatures have – is a necessary and natural tool for survival. The obvious sense of self comes through having a body and a brain capable of recalling past information as the situation demands.

Perhaps its all a case of performing a task – whether its a physical or mental action – where we find ourselves 'in the flow' so to speak; an occasion where the self is not consciously active but memory or 'motor muscles' take over. We probably all at some time wonder how we did something or how we thought of something, it is just part of being a human.

I don't think positing a distinction between "endurants" and "transients" is helpful in understanding our self structure – it doesn't feel necessary. The 'self' can more readily be recognised as an ever shifting (natural) phenomenon, not a permanent, concrete entity.

Wow, is that a thing? This is the firs I've heard of this --- heard of the terms, and more importantly, heard that there are these two different classes of ...experiences? experienants? whatever.

Hmmmm, me? I'm completely endurant. Certainly hour-to-hour and day-to-day, but also when I think back to years ago. I mean, obviously one changes, grows hopefully; but in the sense these terms are used here, I'm endurant, absolutely. In fact, so endurant am I, that I'd have imagined ---- had I had occasion to think about this, which before this I haven't ---- that that is the only way to be, and that that is the only kind of people there are.

Very cool, to know this.


Does he, Galen Strawson, say which kind is more common, transient or endurant? And in what proportion, roughly?

And also whether generally what one is one stays for life (bar extremities like trauma or whatever, given extremities all kinds of personality changes can happen, bar that kind of thing)? Or might an endurant, in the normal course, often end up becoming a transient later life; or a lifelong transient, later in life, 'freeze' up into endurant-hood/endur-ance?

That kind of detail might be interesting to know, in case he's spelt out anything along those lines in there.

To clarify: When you speak of "figuring oneself out", I'm assuming you're talking about how one thinks of oneself at the gut level, and without getting into one's intellectual appreciation of the impermenance, the transience, of self-hood. Clearly that latter, the intellectual appreciation of this business, is something I'd not had to begin with, but I've grown into in later years. I'm assuming that isn't what we're talking about here. I mean, it can hardly be that.

I'm assuming what we're talking about here is how one sees oneslef spontaneously and at the gut level, and completely independent of whether one has ever even had occasion to think about and think through what exactly the self might be, or any of that.

Whether ‘endurant’ or ‘transient’ it is always relevant to remember that what we call the ‘self’ is a mental construct. Strawson makes the point when talking about the ‘transient’ that: “. . . one is perfectly well aware that one has long-term continuity considered as a whole human being.” Such a sense of ‘long-term continuity’ I would say comes from the fact that we are a body, along with a brain, that continually confirms who we are – as informed by the senses!

To take this ‘sense of being me’ further into the realm of our mental processes is to open the flood gates to interpret all the information that is the mind as being ‘me’ and assuming such personal history is who I am. We are then on the slippery path to seeing this ethereal ‘me’ or ‘self’ as being something ultra-special, perhaps eternal like a soul etc.

"Whether ‘endurant’ or ‘transient’ it is always relevant to remember that what we call the ‘self’ is a mental construct. "

...Sure, agreed, Ron.


I got the impression, though, that what we have here is entirely different than that essentially intellectual understanding. The impression I got from this excerpt and this commentary of Brian's is that this is akin to the MBTI thing, where you have "types", with some types more commonly found that other, rarer types, and that ...well, we can take the similarities further, and look at dissimilarities as well. Essentially a personality type, is what I gathered, except this one's of a more exotic flavor.

(Of course, MBTI itself may or may not be a thing. Opinion seems divided over that, with many swearing by it, and some dismissing it as pseudoscience and charlatanry. But that's a whole separate discussion.)

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