The Open
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What is a “self”?

Who am I? What am I talking about when I say “I”? What is a “self”? Where does it come from? How does it work? Who, in fact, is even asking these questions?

On Sunday, January 18th at 2pm PST in Los Angeles, we will be asking such questions at the second live event of The Open. The topic of the conversation will be, “What is a “self”?”

If you are local to LA, please join us! Reach out to me via email for location information, and we can discuss specifics. We will also be setting up Skype and possibly a Google Hangout so community members abroad can get involved.

In preparation for this event, please start thinking about what a “self” means to you. Here are some starting points, but of course you are encouraged to bring new perspectives to the table:

  • What are the origins of identity?
  • What is the relationship between language and our “self”?
  • What are the metaphors we use to structure reasoning about our “self”?
  • What do we mean when we talk about “authenticity”?
  • Is the “self” virtual, an epiphenomenon?
  • How do culture, politics, and power create “selves”?
  • Is there a “soul”?
  • What is an “ego”?
  • What is our phenomenal experience of interiority, and what is our relationship to the interiority of others?
  • What is the origin of consciousness?
  • What is “self-reflexivity”?
  • How might the “self” arise through biology?
  • What is the role of evolution in the development of the “self”?
  • What is a “self-model” in cognitive science?
  • What aspects of our cognitive machinery participate in the creation of a “self”?
  • What are the implications of “self” on artificial intelligence?
  • What other creatures in our world might have different conceptions of self-identity and collectivity?
  • What are the effects different political systems have on individuality?
  • What are some different ways of thinking the “self” through philosophy, psychoanalysis, semiotics, cognitive science, biology, and religion?

We hope to see or hear from you this weekend!

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