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WIREs Cogn Sci
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The self: as a construct in psychology and neuropsychological evidence for its multiplicity

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Abstract What is the self? Philosophers and psychologists pursuing an answer to this question immediately find themselves immersed in a host of questions about mind and body, subject and object, object and process, the homunculus, free will, self‐awareness, and a variety of other puzzling matters that largely have eluded satisfying theoretical explication. In this paper I argue that some of this difficulty is attributable to our implicit, phenomenologically‐based belief that the self is unitary entity—i.e., a singular “I” that remembers, chooses, thinks, plans, and feels. In this article I address the question of what the self is by reviewing research, conducted primarily with neuropsychological participants, that converges on the idea that the self may be more complex and differentiated than many previous treatments of the topic have assumed. Although some aspects of self‐knowledge such as episodic recollection may be compromised by cognitive and neurological disorders, other aspects—for instance, semantic trait summaries—appear largely intact. Taken together, these findings support the idea that there is no single, unified “I” to be found. Rather, I argue “the” self may best be construed as a set of interrelated, functionally independent systems. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This article is categorized under: Psychology > Memory

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