“Despite their many differences, it is possible to identify a general picture of “the self” and “the person” emerging from contemporary developments in the brain sciences. In this picture, consciousness, with its image of the person a sunified, purposive, intentional, and self-aware, is by no means the master in its own house. Consciousness is an effect, a metarepresentation, which creates an illusory, but probably evolutionarily advantageous, sense of coherence and self-direction.” (Rose, Abi-Rached pp. 219)
“A Mutation in Ethics and Self-Technologies?” What are the moral implications of a self no longer seen as fully autonomous, but instead arising out of a multitude of neural processes that are largely unconscious? When is the self at fault, or accountable for its actions? Where do we draw the line? I think that we can use the modern neurodynamic model of the self in tandem with atavistic philosophical and spiritual traditions that have been addressing these questions for thousands of years. I believe there can be a synergy between the scientific models of the times and the wisdom of ancient spiritual traditions. We may now know what we have always intuitively known about the human experience. I seek to bring awareness within my egocentric self and the the sociocentric self of relationships. I believe that in order to bring about a greater balance and synergy between humans and their environment we must learn to use the tools and technology of our times to re-invenent and re-qualify the human image. With greater awareness and greater intention we can overcome unsustainable modes of living. The mission statement for the philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness program at California Institute of Integral Studies reads in part “This multifaceted crisis requires a fundamental reorientation of our civilization, one in which a compassionate humanity becomes a mutually enhancing presence within Earth’s complex systems of life.” I think that the current neuro-imaging technologies can provide a way of mapping our own complex evolutions both as individuals and societies. It may be romantic, but I believe we can use these tools to evolve our species in a way that is more efficient, much like a “self-aware” computer program that can make changes to its own coding.
“The contemporary Western conception of the Self – individualized, bounded, with interior depth and temporal continuity, self-possessed, autonomous, free to choose – was not natural, given, or universal, it was historical and cultural achievement.” (Rose, Abi-Rached pp. 203)
Their are two basic models of the self: the interdependent, sociocentric self that arises out of relationships between the group, community, or tribe and then there is the egocentric model that has arisen in the West. The self is holoarchic (a holon is both a part and a whole). The self perceived as separate and individualized from the social unit, with it’s own autonomy and free will; and the self perceived as indistinguishable from the social unit form a dualistic gap that in my opinion gives rise to many forms of psyhcopathology in the “individual”. How do we bridge the gap between these dual aspects of the self? Deconstructing social dualisms can be part of this reconciliation, but in order to understand how the dynamics of the self, it many be helpful to understand the plastic nature of the brain and the neurological basis for the formation of personhood.
“Further, as we have seen in chapter 2, evidence from brain scans or other neurobiological tests does not ‘speak for itself’ – it must be spoken for. Images do not convince by means of their own intrinsic plausibility: interlocutors are required, and expert witnesses such as the clinicians who have requested and interpreted the brain scans of the accused must make the claim that the scan shows relevant anomalies”. (Abi-Rachad, Rose pp.178)
Neurolaw. Neuroethics. Neurocriminology. My mind projects a possible permutation a la Philip K. Dick. Imagine a future, where psychic mutations have led to a new kind of science – a new model – complete with its own questions of human ethics. Imagine, a clinician (government employed totalitarian style) analyzing the dreams of three coma-induced precognates – three oracle-gods whose powers must be harnessed for the ‘good’ of humankind. Imagine a world, where a crime can be seen before its inception (seemingly at least). Imagine this poor clinician, so set in the model of the current times, whose world is shaken to the core when he sees his own reflection, scryed in the mirror of the sleeping demiurges. Questions arise: Is he responsible for a crime he has not yet conceived. Does the medium and the image preemptively diagnosis criminal behavior and abnormality or does it call it in to being. Is this evidence inculpatory? Exculpatory? Psy-law. Psy-criminology. Psy-ethics? Are we playing God? Haven’t we always?
“Becoming aware of the social and biological conditions that underpin our actions can, it seems, help each of us develop our competencies and understand and manage our cognitive facilities.” (pp.160)
Developing a cognitive-map, a self-imaging process. Memetics – information stored in the memory bank of society. The self- image is a reconstruction of fragmentary data, filtered through largely unconscious processes. Information stored as logos (history) forms a hermeneutic exegesis of our human cultural history, which is an extension of the cognitive-map. Social cognition reflects the structure and hierarchy of the human brain. A hall of mirrors. Of Mirrors. Reflection and replication of memes – like DNA. THe human world is fit together by the fusion of an invisible soul. Mentalization is key to our cognition (built-in intersubjectivity). From mans synergetic roots, we have had the capacity to mirror – to empathize – with our environment. A symbiosis between predator and prey, internalization of the mind-state of the place and place-beings of our environment.