The understanding of what it is to be a person oneself is the natural and unavoidable basis on which any intelligible psychology necessarily builds. This can also be put in the form of a slogan: "Knowledge of others presumes self-knowledge". In fact, we can never eliminate our self-understanding - all we have learned about ourselves as human beings - from any other kind of understanding. Though this fact is sometimes acknowledged by psychologists, its crucial importance and many of its implications are often still overlooked. The fact is ignored or suppressed by those who believe psychology can be completely neutral as to values and 'objective' like a natural science.

Each of us already has our personal understanding of what persons are, which obviously varies a great deal from one person to another. The same applies to psychologists, and their subject itself has arrived at no single, widely-accepted and overall theory of personality, though a great deal of empirical knowledge about human behaviour and the development of personality has been recorded, validating many sub-theories bearing on personality. Our understanding of persons is originally derived from our own experience and becomes part and parcel of our personality and awareness. Our understanding of people is continuously influenced in many ways: we will have taken in ourselves the judgements of others, either directly or through indirect means such as literature and other media. Some of us think deeply about what happens to us and why. So both outer and inner influences contribute to who we regard ourselves to be.


As we mature and we experience people of very different backgrounds and cultures, we may say that we 'know' more about other people. There will be many and diverse grounds for feeling this because we are in a position generally to anticipate fairly well many of their reactions to the environment or ourselves, how they may think or act and so forth. Those who have partaken in important or formative experiences together have a better basis for knowledge of each other than those who have simply broken bread together. Yet even half a lifetime of shared experiences with another person need not at all be sufficient for knowledge of each other, as broken friendships and marriages demonstrate on a huge scale. It seems that those whose friendship survives a number of major testing experiences are those who can best lay some claim to knowledge of each other. Though there are instances enough that even such bonds can be broken by some unexpected differences.

Life is so multifarious that we cannot reliably hope fully to analyses and classify the various elements that go to make for a deep and reliable understanding of other people. It is not even possible to do this for oneself. The best we can hope for is probably a teaching that takes account of the broadest possible range of human social experience and inter-personal understanding. Any such doctrine must surely lay much emphasis on the question of the subjectivity of understanding. For it is our own perceptions and interpretations that are the primary source of error in judging the meaning of others' behaviour and misunderstanding of their nature, character and personality.

The very great diversity of human beings throughout the world and history, and the extraordinary range of phases of the ego and/or selfhood we can encounter, cannot be fully known or set down as systematic knowledge once and for all. Those who have wide and intensive experience of the world will agree that there is an almost unlimited diversity of kinds of persons and it is seldom given us to penetrate the deepest reality of most of them. Yet self-knowledge is distinct from this in having the unitary aim of reaching the truest essence of selfhood, that which contains the solution to the questions of human identity and destiny which apply to all us differing individuals. So self-knowledge has both diversely particular and general unitary aspects.


The purpose of self-investigation is to know about one's identity... to answer the questions 'Who am I?' in terms of both individual and collective knowledge. It is often considered to be connected to questions like 'Why was I born' and 'What is the meaning or purpose of life?' These questions are not answerable purely or even primarily in subjective experiences, being the subject of the collective efforts of the many sciences and related disciplines. Subsequently, as conceptions develop through knowledge and experiential understanding, the personal realization of this individual identity within the whole of existence becomes much more embracing than at the outset.

In practice, self-investigation as a personal project proceeds by trial and error along various avenues of action and possible fulfillment. This inevitably leads one to learn what is not essential to living the good life, what only has temporary as compared to lasting relevance and thus what is insecure as a basis for one's self-developmental identity. To learn what is best, however, is not necessarily to be able to practice it. This usually comes through a very long search for personal fulfilment of many kinds, including trial and error leading - if successful - to the satisfaction of practical needs and desires and not least the attainment of a high level of inner security and peace of mind.

The be-all-and-end-all of psychology is not only the relief of mental-emotional suffering or the adjustment to life and its adversities we call happiness, therefore, but also the self-knowledge that helps secure it. Without this vital principle, psychology may serve little more than a ritual of organizing information, or become an instrument of profit-based corporations, conglomerates, manipulative state bodies. Without the purpose of self-understanding within the greater whole environment it is unlikely that lasting psychic benefits can be obtained.


The personality is often interpreted as the sum of one's subjective ways of identifying oneself in distinction to the environment. Unfortunately, some use the word 'ego' as interchangeable with the personality. In psychology, the ego is usually as a conception about traits of thought, emotion and behaviour which serve to protect, develop and grow the personality. The Freudian distinctions between ego, id and superego were a seminal advance in helping distinguish the effects of certain human actions and reactions. The term 'ego' is defined in numerous ways, how exactly according to the varied purposes in using the term. Originally, 'ego' simply meant 'I' (in Latin). It came to be used to refers to those desires of a possessive or 'selfish' origin, as most easily seen in attitudes, behaviour and reactions which aim to defend and strengthen oneself in relation to any perceived threats. The ego - or structure of functioning personality living in the world - is an unavoidable part the human make-up. It is not a static entity, but develops and changes in various ways through life. In common language the word 'ego' is frequently used as a substitute for egotism (or egoism), by which is meant the undue and even forceful assertion of oneself.

The development of ego in general occurs firstly at a bodily and sensory level, gradually expanding into the inter-personal sphere. The ego can be said to comprise those emotional and mental attitudes which involve drawing boundaries between the person and the environment and thus underlies any defensive or aggressive kinds of expression. Though the idea of selfhood differs from person to person, there is a common experience in that none of us can really regard ourselves as other than whole 'identities' or integral persons, however incomplete or unfulfilled we may know or think ourselves yet to be. Each our 'inner model' of the self gets straightened out, develops and is refined as we make progress towards greater self-understanding.

Our most basic identity is not dependent on the body, which alters greatly from childhood to old age. It may not even depend much on others or the social roles and qualities with which our social identity is tied up. But our basic inner 'I' identity is not itself observable to others. Therefore people are identified by externals like bodily features, social characteristics and outward personality. This is not how a person experiences selfhood, of course. Underlying the idea of 'personal integrity' is a human urge to org anise one's experience and relate it emotionally and mentally to an idea of oneself. The word 'oneself' expresses the intuition of one self, which is thought to be a unitary and thus consistent whole. Where this is found not to be reasonable (in cases of schizophrenia, multiple personality, chronic amnesia etc.) it has mostly been assumed that harmonious development has been disturbed or arrested, causing cognitive derangement and partial or even full 'loss of identity'.

In contradiction to that view, the philosopher Julian Baggini has challenged traditional 'common sense' concept of personal identity. Against the belief in a 'hard core' of self it is held that we do not have - or experience - any stable, single, united self. We have no permanent identity because our entire psycho-physical personal existence is a dynamic and changing flow of bodily growth and decay, mental perceptions and memories. According to this, the belief in an 'unchanging' self - one always having the same identity - is a conception that has been developed and embodied in culture and languages and taken over during the socialization process. The interactive physical and social environments influence both body and mind, while the perception of oneself is also variable. People behave in different ways according to situations, not always showing the same character traits or responses. One who is truthful to most people may be deceptive or untruthful in other circumstances, so there is no unvarying self involved.

The body is the commonsensical origin of identity on which the rest is built. Recent neuroscientific research shows that that the self - expressed as feelings - is grounded in the way the brain stem to body coupling 'maps' the body, which is more stable (i.e. less often changing) than perception, thought, and other brain functions. Antonio Damasio has demonstrated this and wrote: "The management of the chemistries in out bodies operate within clear and quite narrow parameters, creating a sameness from day to day. There is a physiological, permanently-maintained bond between the body-regulating parts of the brain and my own body. The brain stem - between the cerebral cortex and the spinal cord is where this occurs.

The pseudo-scientific idea of 'true self': In some cultures and in most religions, the ego is considered as the cause of human misery and suffering, distinguished from the 'Self' ( which is a supposed higher expression of the human psyche, and is presumed to be an unchanging 'true' or transcendental identity. Ego as commonly confused with egotism is most simply characterised by the words 'me' and 'mine' which is a supposed higher expression of the human psyche, which (paradoxically) is supposed to be the essence of 'selflessness' and universality. Paradoxically, this 'eternal Self' is supposed in religions to be the essence of 'selflessness' and universality and is not individualized, but is identified with God). The word 'self' is also used in some psychology (eg. Jung) to represent the intelligent 'whole' of the human being, which is realized only as more far-reaching personality development than ego-growth takes place. This self is regarded by some as being inherent to us - rooted in our impersonal collective human identity but transcendental in essence - somewhat as the unchanging cinema as the screen underlies the images that play across it. The manifestations of the self in our lives are - on this speculative kind of theory - not easily distinguished because they are largely covered over by those of the ego. In this sense, the self is thought not to be a material phenomenon, but an ideal entity towards which we strive through spirituality, religiosity, or practices like yoga, self denial, service to mankind etc. In these doctrines, the ego's drives are regarded as 'worldly' and suited to survival and growth in the physical and social world. Thus, they are seen as being self-seeking, outgoing and ultimately fruitless to personal 'spiritual enlightenment'. The ego is not seen by such moralizing doctrines as a vehicle for gaining recognition of one's higher good in the shape of true vision or secure peace of mind. For this, a preliminary prescribed by priests, gurus, moralists and zealots is recognition of the ego's limitations and what is not in accordance with one's true self. The ego's drives and most of what has followed from them are considered merely to obscure the proper 'I', and must therefore be controlled and directed into useful channels in the interests of the whole self. As soon as the ego is defined, however, in wider terms and studied systematically from various angles and within various contexts and cultures, it becomes evident that the dualism 'ego vs. self' is a non-empirical construct and hence is invalid as a tool for understanding the psyche.

A most common view in Western scientific psychology denies the existence of any self as a non-physical (id)entity of some sort existing independently of the ego. If one hypothetically considers the situation of a human being born without senses at all and asks whether such a being could develop any sense of self-awareness (which is a necessary function of the mature ego or self) one realizes that it is highly unlikely. The brain would not have any external impressions and would therefore not be able to distinguish between what is 'self' and what is 'not self'. The brain's neuron activity would slow down in the absence of signals and without stimuli could never reach the level of activity necessary for self-recognition. This opinion is concurrent with the view that our brains receive both external and internal impressions (i.e. perceptions in a time sequence) and are constantly comparing present and past impressions - both in the short term memory and later also long term. The brains builds up an awareness of time, of otherness and consequently also selfhood (this being learned by children in their first two years or so).
It has been widely hypothesized that, without such a process, there would be no possibility of self-awareness in any meaningful sense.


Because only outward identifiers as bodily or social behaviour can be observed, the social sciences have long ruled out the inner 'I' from all their considerations The phenomenal nature of each human being's self-experience has thus been lost to many psychological theories which have concentrated on our various external or behavioural aspects. A scientific approach to human psychology necessarily results in analysis and specialization on many separate and carefully delimited aspects of psyche. This results in a filed of knowledge which appears fragmented and 'compartmentalised', since it provides no empirical knowledge of the human psyche per se, or as we experience ourselves as 'whole selves'. Much science-based psychology and psychiatry rely on analyses of people which neither start out from any clearly expressed or pre-cognitive understanding of the person as a whole nor reach any synthesis of knowledge which accounts for this experiential selfhood. To the present-day there is a lack of any unifying theory or 'paradigm' in empirical or analytical psychologies, where a multiplication of incompatible schools of thought and sub-disciplines continues. Natural scientific and quantitative statistical research methods are also widespread, which seldom have any obvious bearing on the so-called layman's understanding of himself and others.

Many psychologists therefore opt for careers where more humanistic and common sense experience can be used, such as in various forms of therapy, rather than in pursuing psychological science, which is often abstract and considerably alienated from life as it is lived and has to be dealt with. Specialists in psychology and psychiatry also frequently and necessarily deal so often with special cases and analyse unusual mental or emotional problems in detail that their word soon fails to address the everyday, ordinary psychological needs of the non-pathological sides of persons. When the specialist outlook begins to dominate the whole outlook on human kind, such as it has come to do in many criminal lawsuits involving acts of extremely obscure or incomprehensible psychological kinds.

In all forms of investigation, not least in self-investigation, which matters one chooses to examine and test among all the many alternatives is crucial for how one's insight develops or fails to develop. There are many blind alleys and short-sighted approaches which raise neither oneself nor society. The scientific method which relies on (past) experience often looks more backward than futureward. A wider and more far-reaching approach is required to provide a clearer map of the terrain, also one which relates more nearly to our actual experience of ourselves and others than to the more abstract, statistically generalising and clinical sphere of thought. Psychology aims, in many cases, to help people avoid dead-ends and byways in personal development and forward on to the main highway of autonomy and realization of one's potentialities.

Again, the attempt to reach an understanding of the human condition strictly by scientific observation and analysis from a neutral 'value-free' position has not been completed by fa, even if it were to prove directly fruitful to situated self-understanding. It may even prove self-defeating insofar as it often methodically eliminates any investigation of self-understanding as a natural human propensity (or merely 'assumes' this self-understanding without further ado). An attempt to build up an objective, scientific theory of the as a self-reflecting and understanding agency may well be a practical impossibility due to the utterly vast variety of individual variables and special factors involved in any given society and culture, besides which such variables are also always changing at varying rates. In addition comes the most completely unpredictable 'factor', that degree of human freedom by virtue of which persons can reject or transcend their previous standpoints or even entire world-views. Hence the confusion spread in most 'serious' psychological literature today, because of the methods not taking into account all the underlying values and assumptions either of the scientist or his 'subjects' and of the great synthesis of many parts that makes for sane and human persons.

If one investigates and understands people without taking account of the wider, supra personal aims that give intelligible purpose to the work in making it useful to individual seekers and practically applicable to the cultural or social environments involved, the attempt itself 'lacks value'. Human studies cannot afford to ignore the perspective of our highest aspirations and deepest motivations without losing full import and meaningfulness.

Our knowledge of ourselves as human subjects arises in self-awareness, and requires on-going self-inquiry for its development. This is because of the impenetrability of private consciousness itself to the neutral, external observer. Knowledge about oneself can neither be isolated from the common culture of scientific information about the psyche. The view that the intelligent subject is the actual starting point of all knowing, so acceptable to common sense, has also been recognized through the ages by astute observers and thinkers. The common culture is far from being independent of the human spirit, but so is the universe we experience no objective quantity in itself, but inevitably is always the cosmos-as-viewed-by-myself. Without self-observation - just as without independent empirical investigation, insight into human nature can obviously hardly arise. Recognition of this would provide more direction and meaning to psychology where empirical and specialist studies can be integrated as important, yet secondary, information. Otherwise psychology becomes a collection of unrelatable hypotheses, a theoretical beast without definite direction.


Through ages of human existence and dozens of major civilizations, the belief in the human soul or spirit has persisted. Scientific psychology (i.e. having assumed the thesis of universal physicalism) denies in advance that the 'psyche' or 'soul' has existence as an entity separate from the psycho-physical being. Often, such psychology unfortunately also overlooks or struggles to explain the ever-present reality of the inner life and its vital importance. Correctly, however, this applies particularly to all belief-based theories smacking of the supra-physical or transcendental. One unfortunate consequence of this is that it eschews investigation of phenomena (known as para-psychological) Though the empirical basis for parapsychology is shaky in scientific terms, this may well be because of the stigma attached to those who practice it. One cardinal difficulty is that paranormal phenomena are very largely (though not entirely) inimical to empirical measurement or experimental standardisation. Scientific psychology is most effective at behavioural studies and invariably involves the assumption of some form of physical reductionism. This presumes that each human action and purpose is the result of some (seldom identified) physical cause, as physical responses to physical 'stimuli'. By claiming that very complex neurological processes are at work, such physicalistically-based psychology distorts the object-field by overlooking or eliminating the subjective experience of the human subject (as reported) from its methodic investigation.

Though human beings are bodily objects, we experience each other as being more than that, and our consciousness is not locatable (so far) as measurable or observable in or through the body. Recognition of the special nature of mind as a function of the physical brain or of consciousness, requires more than an external, object-oriented understanding.

The insistence of most modern or scientific psychology that 'objective' physical existence alone is worthy of study long hindered the rise of empirical research methods to investigate, say, the imaginary, abstract ideas, a future plan, a symbolic interpretation or a sublime experience (as reported throughout history and not least as a result of psycho-active agents). What is 'in' our minds is evidently inseparable from our personalities, yet this meaning-filled world of that we almost inevitably think of or have to call the 'soul' or 'inspiring spirit' is almost a closed book to psychological science. The opening of that book may be underway through neuroscience and its real-time study of the brain, though there is a great deal of vastly complex questions that yet remain to be investigated before thoughts, emotions and visions etc. can be accessed as clearly identified and predicted through brain scanning and other technologies. Whether one can reasonably postulate a soul or spirit of any kind resembling key religious - an eternal essence or body-independent 'soul' - remains simply a question of belief.

Such qualities as care, altruism, love, charity, compassion, hope, purity... in short, all of the qualities that make up the human aspects of people, are all too seldom made the direct subject of studies in 'official' social and psychological science. This are intrinsically inaccessible to physical measurement or empirical research methods as the study of all the most used textbooks and accepted research literature at most universities will show. They are all too seldom made the direct subject of studies in 'official' social and psychological science. Methods of statistical measurements are constructed which cannot penetrate the interiority or qualitative nature of values, their meaning and purpose, will tend to create fictions and fallacies about human activity. It is comparable to people interpreting a non-subtitled film from a very foreign country without understanding the language... all one sees is all the scenes, the outward 'action', missing the chief meaning, the motives, values and incalculable other inner considerations in full human interaction. An established type of research in the social sciences still hopes to understand human behaviour by inference from the study of monkeys and rats. It has scant success as regards human psychology, referring as it does only to evolution's lower, most animal-like aspects of human behaviour. It ought to be obvious that the danger is to make too far-reaching inferences from such studies. There is less problem of this perhaps at the physiological level, but behavioural inferences should be drawn with the very greatest caution, if at all. When the psychologist ignores as 'subjective' or 'anecdotal' individual human motives and purposes as influential in motivating many of our actions or will allow only natural-physical causes like drives, instincts, reactions and environmental adjustments instead, the resultant view of mankind must surely be truncated and distorted.

The idea that body and mind interact is unavoidable in our self-understanding, and this implies a degree of separation (though not necessarily outright dualism). On the other hand, certainly what we call the mind is a function of activities within the brain, rather than what people believe to be of 'spiritual' and transcendental inspiration. A degree of dualism is always necessary for analytic understanding and at any rate it is unavoidably used, it being impossible to speak sensibly and coherently about the fuller human reality without assuming such differences, but the goal of this will always be a synthesis (or whole) of understanding.


The mind-body duality of traditional philosophies, as redefined and reinvigorated by Descartes has increasingly been rejected by much recent human science. Yet the assumption of a subjective 'internal motor' of the mind is hard to eliminate, embedded as it is in so much culture and language forms. That this motor could be 'universal consciousness' of some supra-human or divine nature is not even a testable hypothesis, yet it still sustains countless religious thinkers! What is not at all physically-measurable was explained as 'epi-phenomena', which virtually means secondary or just apparent effects of physical events has equally led to the kind of alienation from the experiential world where one regards people too much as 'stimulus-response systems', however complex, (though there are ever fewer who really do this!) or as a passive 'object' of research (a more common requirement). Thus to deny the essentially human trait of having the will or power awarely and actively to transcend or alter the given conditions of life negates the humanity of a person, and may well rob people of will and active spirit.

Scientific doctrine necessarily rejects as invalid the ideas of an everlasting soul and abolishes notions of the human as having a mind-independent 'divine spirit' as phantasms. It may be that humanity is emerging from religious belief and all forms of 'spiritual superstition' and that the role these currently fulfil may be changed or made superfluous. The fears that religious ideas (soul, spirit etc.) seem to assuage can often - if perhaps not always - be dissipated in other ways. Nonetheless, the problem remains: though the many sciences may ultimately prove to explain far more that possible today (such as when instrumentation and computing power develops beyond what we can imagine now), the deeply ingrained human faith in transcendental values can be transcended by forms of self-understanding that make ideas like the 'perennial soul', the 'spirit' or the 'Self' redundant. Traditional mechanistic and deterministic assumptions tend to live on in psychology, though largely discarded in physics today, are becoming less relevant in the life of human beings than in an earlier more 'mechanistic' atmosphere. The genetic code and the increasing predictive knowledge about the human make-up and functioning appears to support the more deterministic thinkers (deniers of any kind or degree of 'free will' or real choice). Here I have tried to indicate how this need not lead to undue or misplaced 'objectification' of human subjectivity or complex human conceptions like values, ethical dispositions and so forth.

The prime fact is that no individual's nature is given or fixed in all respects and that we can consequently develop and sometimes even bring about changes in personality or undergo considerable transformations as a result of crucial experiences. The tendency to classify and label is very common (and there is no common knowledge without generalisations, which are all too often too general). Classification of human activities and motivations are 'objectifying' in tendency and can have deleterious effects on a person's life, such as arresting self-development. It is very common indeed to characterised people through verbal descriptions, which also tend to fixate understanding and avoid openness to new perspectives and evaluations. Likewise, we often generalise about persons on the basis of known national, social and many other group factors. Such methods, though based on statistics etc., still tend to do injustice to the individual. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are even trained to categorise people according to theories of personality, as will be examined later. In all these attempts at characterizing others, we must be very careful not to hypostatise thought, treating the individual as an entity whose nature is somehow given once and for all in 'objective' traits.)


By 'outer' or 'external' being, is here meant the physical or that which is registered by us as sensory impressions. This has been analysed most succinctly as the conception of physical extension, which is to say, 'that which exists in time as having length, breadth and depth'. Matter is said to be 'extended', meaning simply that it occupies space. By 'inner being' or 'internal being' is meant the 'interiority' of consciousness having its own limited sphere which has no apparent 'physical' being (though instrumentation can detect it in the brain) and which cannot be observed through the sensory organs. It is revealed in self-reflection and this area of 'intention' is the realm of the idea and the ideal, but it certainly does not exist in isolation from the entire environment within which it is generated. The mind 'intends' its ideas, its hopes and regrets and it also 'intends' those action which, with the aid of the will, we carry over into physical 'extension'. The mind is of course real indeed, yet is not given to consciousness as other than subjective experience of itself in perceiving whatever it directs itself towards.

Concentrating exclusively on the world of external things, our modern pragmatic training hinders us in understanding the 'interiority' of the psyche, the internal sphere where meaning and intention arise. Nor can the various relationships between 'inner' and 'outer' then be properly appreciated.

The human mind is like the focus of the lens of a film camera; for anything to be brought to light, it must pass through this 'filter'. It also acts somewhat like a film projector, imprinting certain expectations, interpretations and beliefs on the screen outside it. Add to this the fact that we can and unavoidably do exercise our will, which drives some of our inner desires through to expression in the 'outer world'. Through the mind and the will, working in coordination, we select and modify what we 'take in' and also what to 'put out' into words or action. The result is surely that the human subject (i.e. person) - through the truly vast valence of alternatives the neural complexity provides in the brain - has considerably greater long-term influence than any external cause which affects the body or the environment. We are the only point of contact between the internally-experienced consciousness and observable physical environment, where the ideas of the mind and matter meet. This latent power of the individual mind - though - often misinterpreted as a disembodied or transcendent spirit is still much neglected and overlooked in modern world culture and education which concentrates much more on the 'outward' factors that affect us to the relative neglect or taking for granted of our 'inward' mental and emotional resources. The potential indominatability of 'the human spirit' in the face of any sort of challenge, as seen realised in some of the greatest persons of history, is no miasma or superstition of the unscientific mind!

One may well be confused, especially in the present climate in many universities, by words like 'inner', 'internal world' and 'interiority'. Broadly, these refer to anything that is known through introspection, whether this be in the normal course of daily thought processes or in altered states of consciousness from dream to meditation 'states', from hallucinatory or pathological experiences to expanded awareness by psychoactive agents of many kinds. Consciousness itself is an 'inner' phenomenon, inaccessible to any form of direct 'objective physical' investigation. No one can directly perceive and study the actual awareness of another person, though we are in various ways able to know something of the contents of another's person's consciousness, not least through speaking about it! Further, neurology is fast developing the technology and science of the empirical investigation of consciousness. Consciousness and its non-quantitative interior 'objects', the mind's 'materials', are just as important in understanding the 'hows and whys' of human endeavour as external scientific observation and experiment.

Philosophers have long shown that subject knows subject better than object. 2 The doctrine that 'motivation is causation seen from the inside' helps to explain the immediacy of self-understanding, despite this latter often being erroneous. Schopenhauer considered that, in the self-transparency of conscious motivation "we stand as it were behind the curtain, and learn the secret how the cause in its innermost nature induces the effect;" While in physical causation, the cause and effect are supposedly only 'external events' to the knowing subject. Schopenhauer also held that the identity between 'I who know' and 'I who will' is the great and perpetual miracle of mental life; the "phenomenon par excellence," which distinguishes us from the world of which we only see the outside. However, as empirical knowledge increases so rapidly, one might say that human understanding emerges more and more from the limitations of the subjective condition of seeming to know and becomes better understood in the light of the vast collective or 'inter-subjective' sphere of knowledge. The will or motivation is subjective to the person, but can also become the object of common investigation and analysis, whereupon it can be revealed in new perspectives in relation to the world. Where the subjective mind is unrealistic, too fanciful, makes false interpretations, builds 'castles of cognitive error', the sciences are the decisive in determining if this is so.

One can indeed measure and statistically quantify human behaviour in its physical aspects and likewise study the artifacts of human work as material products. One can also investigate the mind indirectly by observing its effects on a person's behaviour. Yet this fails to penetrate the interaction satisfactorily where intrinsic human qualities are involved. 3 The human qualities include values, which are all introspective 'subjective' intuitions, meanings and judgements. The many inwardly-known contents of the mind and modes or transformations of consciousness itself all remain inaccessible to outward observation. Qualities thus defined are accessible to 'inward observation'.

Our values or ideals and all that pertain to them are known to us inwardly, but through the medium of our perception of the environment as learned from infancy onwards. The source of our intuitions of right and wrong, of conscience and each our world view seems to be contained only within individual mind or consciousness. Yet this is a subjective bias. Emotions, thoughts, intuitions and ideas are not only 'inner phenomena'. Though none of these are directly 'observable' to any other than oneself, their effects or consequences can be examined once they reach some kind of expression. This examination can take many forms, including analysis of the consequences of actions expressing them, but the motivation behind them must be deduced from a combination of both stated intentions and observable facts. This makes for an increasingly verifiable science of conscious human behaviour. Independent observation cannot deal with that which is interior, for the inner world of a person is obviously vastly more multifarious and convoluted than any observation can achieve. It encompasses all knowing, memory, imagining, extended sentiments, visions of psychical, intellectual and other nature, creative inspirations and transports (whether musical, artistic, intellectual or allegedly transcendental and mystical).

The dualistic model, that of 'inner' and 'outer' spheres, or those intention and extension, traditionally implied two distinctly different orders of being which are respectively material and immaterial. This dualism is real from the subjective human viewpoint, and accords with most of our perceptions, though it is not absolute. At a higher level, the unity of being is conceivable and is conceptually that towards which all science strives. Consciousness (or awareness of perceptions) and its countless physical objects need not be essentially different in nature. However one chooses to resolve the apparent schism between mind and matter - whether in philosophically, empirically or in reconciliation involving both - the dualism is unsatisfactory to the intellect. One cannot build a meaningful theory from higher to lower any more than one can put a cupola in place without the foundations and walls that must support it. Whatever theory or meta-science may evolve, it must do so on the basis of fact and testability, not mere speculation or overarching belief. No wholly consistent, thorough and intelligible monistic explanation of the human condition can be achieved, not only because every concept in language itself 'divides to rule' but also because the expression and interpretations of observation and reasoning are legion. Dualism of in one or another sphere and gradation is probably unavoidable as long as precise concepts and descriptive language based on verifiable fact are lacking. Nevertheless, dualism is not to be absolutised. It is mentally qualified by monism, namely, the thesis that ultimately there is only one existence and that all diversity involves only passing phenomena, however lasting. Dualism has shown itself to be a necessary and even unavoidable assumption for the development of knowledge, but it is also a stepping-stone which eventually leads towards a more all-inclusive understanding, well beyond what can actually be expressed unambiguously and comprehensively once and for all (if only due to practical limitations). Modern physics has long assumed monism (such as in the conservation of energy hypothesis), 4, and has proven successful beyond the wildest dreams of even 18th century scientists

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1 Julian Baggini The Ego Trick: What Does It Mean To Be You? - Granta Books, 2011

2 Antonio Damasio Professor of psychology, neuroscience and neurology. University of Southern California