Well? Just who do you think you are?
It sounds like a simple question but is it? You can give me your name or occupation or any number of “things” that describe you but that isn’t really “you” it’s just a label you wear for identification. The label lets me know how to treat you or which box I should put you in. But the label can never be you.
So who are you? Where do you start and finish? If you cut off your finger is it still you? If you sew it back on is it a part of you again? Where do you draw the line? What about the billions of dead skin cells you shed all the time, are they still you?
Where does your influence end – well this is an easy one – it is infinite. You affect everything in the universe and everything in the universe affects you, even things that don’t exist any more. What? You don’t believe me! What about gravity? Your gravitational field extends out to infinity and you are influenced by everything that exists.
So now we know for certain that your infuence extends to everything in existence and you are also influenced by everything that exists do you think it is possible that this can happen for more than just gravity?
Or for that matter how many of you are there? No, I don’t think you have multiple personality disorder but it is a fair question: How many of you are there?
Go with me on this for a while to see where we end up…
There is a thing called observation (or perception or awareness but for this post I’ll stick with observation) where there is an observer and the observed and the act of observation. If any one of these three parts is missing then there cannot be any observation. If you look at a flower then both you and the flower must exist, and if you don’t look at it (the act of observation) then there is no observation. All three are essential for observation.
Plenty of things are seen by your eyes but are not “observed” by your mind. If you look at a tree you don’t “observe” every single leaf in your consciousness even if every single one is seen by your eyes. Observation requires the act of observation, not just electrical impulses caused by light photons hitting your retina.
If you simply think of a flower in your mind (as you probably just did) then there is your mind (the observer), the created or remembered image of the flower (the observed) and the act of observing it with your mind. I don’t think you would really say that the image of the flower “is” your mind. It was created by your mind and then observed by your mind.
So far so good I hope, but how do you observe yourself? If you are to do it physically you need a mirror. Your eye cannot observe itself without some “thing” else acting as an intermediary. You still need the three elements of observer, observed, and the act of observation. Self-observation is not possible without an intermediary to reflect yourself to yourself.
So when you observe yourself mentally (as in self-awareness or consciousness) who is observing whom? When you talk to yourself who is talking to whom and why would you do that if you already know what you are going to say if there is only one of you doing it? How many of you are there?
If you really want to confuse yourself then what is happening when you observe yourself observing what you are thinking, or tell yourself to stop talking to yourself?
If you insist that there is only one of you, then what is the intermediary that reflects you to yourself so you can observe yourself?
If there is only one you and there is no intermediary then you must be a figment of your imagination and the “you” that is aware of you doesn’t really exist so it isn’t self-observation or self-awareness but a mental trick. If that’s true then how can you know you so well and why do you sometimes surprise yourself (if you made yourself up then you should be totally predictable to you) and why talk to yourself?
Just who do you think you are?