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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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BRAIN, MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 150-158

The contribution of prefrontal executive processes to creating a sense of self


Chair, Philosophy Department, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, USA

Correspondence Address:
William Hirstein
Department of Philosophy, Elmhurst College, Box 113, 190 Prospect Ave., Elmhurst IL, 60126
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.77432

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According to several current theories, executive processes help achieve various mental actions such as remembering, planning and decision-making, by executing cognitive operations on representations held in consciousness. I plan to argue that these executive processes are partly responsible for our sense of self, because of the way they produce the impression of an active, controlling presence in consciousness. If we examine what philosophers have said about the "ego" (Descartes), "the Self" (Locke and Hume), the "self of all selves" (William James), we will find that it fits what is now known about executive processes. Hume, for instance, famously argued that he could not detect the self in consciousness, and this would correspond to the claim (made by Crick and Koch, for instance) that we are not conscious of the executive processes themselves, but rather of their results.


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