A concatenation of its ephemeral contents

Let’s consult the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a moment.

Berkeley famously rejected material substance, because he rejected all existence outside the mind. In his early Notebooks, he toyed with the idea of rejecting immaterial substance, because we could have no idea of it, and reducing the self to a collection of the ‘ideas’ that constituted its contents. Finally, he decided that the self, conceived as something over and above the ideas of which it was aware, was essential for an adequate understanding of the human person. Although the self and its acts are not presented to consciousness as objects of awareness, we are obliquely aware of them simply by dint of being active subjects. Hume rejected such claims, and proclaimed the self to be nothing more than a concatenation of its ephemeral contents.

One damn thing after another, with an illusion that they all add up to a single Self.

In fact, Hume criticised the whole conception of substance for lacking in empirical content: when you search for the owner of the properties that make up a substance, you find nothing but further properties. Consequently, the mind is, he claimed, nothing but a ‘bundle’ or ‘heap’ of impressions and ideas—that is, of particular mental states or events, without an owner.

It’s quite a cheerful way of looking at it, because it loosens up the sense of personal investment.

Psychotherapy is also interested.

Neuroscience, social psychology, and artificial intelligence all agree that each of us consists of a multiplicity of identities that account for the richness and complexity of the human experience.

In other words, no one is a “unitary” self. At the same time, there’s more than one way to use this knowledge to elicit therapeutic healing, self-awareness, and growth. This workshop will showcase how two noted psychotherapists bring the concept of multiplicity into their therapeutic work.

  • Help clients not over-identify with a single part of themselves, and empower them to move beyond the diagnostic labels they feel define them

If one single part of yourself is giving you the pip, switch your attention to a different one.

It can be hard to sideline an identity if the outside world is intent on tormenting you over it. But when it’s not, and/or when we can escape from the outside world for awhile…we can be a bunch of different selves. We don’t have to nail ourselves to any of them.

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