Re: virus: "the self"

Mark Hornberger (
Sat, 26 Apr 1997 07:17:31 -0500

At 03:59 PM 4/25/97 EDT, you wrote:
>> I have a corporate body, a mind,
>> consciousness, whatever, a collection of traits that together I call my
>> "self."
>I still often wonder what I mean when I say "I". I can talk about "my body",
>"my mind", "my thoughts", "my self", etc. as if they are simply posessions
>separate from the core me. So what's left over? Is that what we're
>to when we say "I"?

Did you ever think that you're over-analyzing it? Language is at best an
imperfect and imprecise tool we use to describe what we see (or think we
see) around us - the term "I" is no exception, but I think it does it's job
passably well. It is just a pronoun used to denote the person speaking -
to let us know you are speaking of you, rather than me or that guy over
there. It is language, nothing more. If there were no one else other than
you, pronouns would be irrelevant, as would all language.

I know there's the approach that perhaps there is no distinct "I" apart
from the rest of the world, that we are merely parts of the whole deluding
ourselves into thinking we are discrete, sentient beings, but I think that
idea is (to be flip) a bit loopy. I revert back to my original question -
if I punch you in the nose, who feels the pain? To me, it's "you." To
you, it would be "I". If there isn't anyone around to punch you in the
nose, go slam your hand in the door, then ask whose hand is in pain.
That's the "I" you're looking for.

thanks (and this is sort of fun, no?)