Consciousness, The Self, And Personality Theory: A Critical Survey Of Theories Of
Philosophical Arguments And Modern Psychological Personality Theories Essay, Research Paper
Consciousness, the Self, and Personality Theory: A Critical Survey of Theories of
Philosophical Arguments and Modern Psychological Personality Theories.
This paper will concern itself with some main philosophical arguments
and dilemmas and how they correlate with modern psychological personality
theories. This survey will include dilemmas about the mind and body, the
concept of the self, and inner and outer reality. Also, it will discuss six
personality theorists and their scientific and philosophical developments.
Psychology, science, and philosophy are interconnected and rooted within
each other. In the book Metapsychology, the author, Sam Rakover, states that
“Scientific knowledge grows and changes with time, and all three of the
subsystems of science-the philosophical, the theoretical, and the experimental-
are constantly developing” (Rakover 7). These developments are systematic
processes. Psychology must engage in pursuit of explanation and causality. As
well as how the mind interacts with the body. Gathering information, drawing
conclusions and finding valid theories; as well as understanding biological and
social problems, constitute psychology’s philosophical background.
The concept of the self is a large factor in the study of personality as
well as philosophy. The self, generally speaking, includes subjective
experience and conscious awareness. In the book Philosophy of Mind the author
speaks about self-consciousness, “…the possession of the concept of the self
and the ability to use this concept in thinking about oneself” (Guttenplan, 213).
This unique quality of human beings allows for the question of thoughts,
beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions, memories; along with the responsibility
of these qualities, makes us truly unique. The problem with this way of thinking
is that it leads to us thinking we are more than our bodies. That a person is
something more that just the physical body. Another problem with our supposed
uniqueness is that we ’seem’ to have a will, drive, and intention. Samuel
Guttenplan continues by saying “persons are self-motivated beings with a
considerable degree of autonomy over and above a material body” (Guttenplan 214).
This led Renee Descartes to postulate that the only thing he couldn’t doubt was
his thinking existence, that there is a soul a non-material part of human beings
that couldn’t be denied. Since our bodies don’t make decisions the self must
have more than a human body. The pure ego.
David Hume had a different idea about the self in relation to
experience. In a book of readings called Self and World, Hume is quoted as
saying “The idea of the self as an entity that owns experiences should be
replaced with the idea of the sum of those experiences themselves” (Olgilvy.
107). One can not know about oneself without experience to show it. He
believed that nothing about the self could be concluded without experiential
content. The identity of a person is successive perceptions. The self is not
any one impression. He is quoted in the book of readings as saying “memory does
not so much produce as discover personal identity, to give reason why we can
thus extend our identity beyond our memory” (Olgilvy 108). He, however held the
Cartesian way of thinking that mental items are the objects of thought in an
interior realm. This view invites the inner observer to witness these.
Immanuel Kant, in the same book of readings expanded on Hume’s ideas,
he wanted a differentiation between objectivity and subjectivity attempting to
prove that “…there are certain concepts whose application within experience
is presupposed by the very possibility of experience” (Olgilvy 144). It is the
judgments that must conform to self-consciousness. There is room within
experience for the thought of experience.
John Locke’s view includes a more temporal idea. The idea that “the
sameness of a rational beening