This weekend I have been hosting live webinars to introduce a new course “Exploring the Self: From Being to Becoming” (spots still available!). In these webinars I have tried to highlight something curious about the nature of the self in regards to its core and its potential: the fact that it is more wildly free then we often times recognize.
In order to demonstrate this point let me use two examples that I find helpful for the highest level of comprehension. First, a planet. Second, a dog. These examples may seem random but they serve a simple function. When we think about a planet or a dog, what could we say is the core and the potential of these phenomena? Well, of course, for the planet we have the core of the thing being the physical structure of the planet, with its temperature, its density, its atmosphere, and so forth. What is its potential? Its potential is its possible pathways that it can take throughout the duration of its physical configuration in being. This potential, as we all know, is governed by laws of physics (most notably gravity).
That’s straight forward.
What about a dog? Well the core of a dog may be a little more complex than the physical structure of a dog. We might also include the internal states that the dog experiences in relation to sensation (touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste). We can assume a planet does not have sensations on this order (although some may debate about internal states of non-living things). What about the dog’s potential? Well the dog’s potential is mostly governed by instincts programmed by a genetic code (which is itself a construct of natural selection). This means that a dog (its core) is something which expresses itself in relationship to basic needs which will be beneficial for long-term survival and reproduction.
Again, pretty straight forward.
However, does this same logic apply to the self? To our experience of what we may call human self-consciousness? Things get complex pretty quickly. What really is the core of a self? Is it our ability for reflection? Awareness? Intimate feelings? Dreams? Desires? All of the above? Are these phenomena governed by physical laws? Are these phenomena governed by genetic programming?
I don’t really think so.
For me, the self’s core and potential is so much more mysterious then the core and the potential of a planet or a dog. The core and the potential of a self seems to be enacting itself in relationship to a space of possibilities which is not accessible to a planet or a dog. The rules or laws governing the self (if there are in fact such rules or laws) seem to be totally different then the rules or laws governing a planet or a dog.
These are open questions and I think they are central philosophical questions. They are also the types of questions I want to approach with YOU in the course “Exploring the Self: From Being to Becoming”. That is why I am starting this course. I am starting it because I am interested in self-becoming, I am interested in the space of potentials or possibilities which we have unique access to as human beings. In order to better understand this space of potentials or possibilities, I want to use the greatest philosophical works as practical tools to better self-understanding. I believe that if we can work through a deeper self-understanding together, we can build a life where our knowledge is connected with our true freedom and desire in a way that will serve for a much more interesting and meaningful existence.