Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Identity of the Knower and the Known: The 'I'

The question is often asked, "What is the 'I'?"

The "I" is the identity of the human consciousness, called the "knower", as it distinguishes itself from that which not part of its identity.  It comes down to something called the "ego-centric predicament":

"The epistemological predicament of a knowing mind which, confined to the circle of its own ideas, finds it difficult, if not impossible, to escape to a knowledge of an external world..." 

When it escapes to the knowledge of that external world, what is left is the identity of the knower, and the knower calls itself "I".

 This is concomitant to the "subject-object problem", [1] [2] which arises from the premise that the world consists of objects, things which are observed through perception and become the "known". Consciousness is defined by its awareness of these objects; a consciousness with no awareness of objects cannot be said to be consciousness at all since consciousness is consciousness "of something". The "subject" of knowledge is the individual knower considered as an act of awareness of an "object". 

Thus, the contents of consciousness come to be known to the consciousness as different from the objects themselves. The subject is not the apple nor any other thing of which it is conscious: that is the object. The subject is the knower.

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