What if the self is nothing other than physical nature?


We all want to say that the self is a vital force that orchestrates the quantum events at the synapse or axon hillock—something that controls neural pathway firing and the bodily movement (including speech and thought) that this effects.

But what if the self is not a ghost running a nerve network? What if the self is the whole fluxing material machine and its changing state?

  • Matter changing state is what BEING looks like from the outside; awareness and will is what matter changing state feels like on the inside.

This whole experience in three dimensions is just one gigantic atomic dance. What if that whole thing is the self? Then all of physical reality (including its Urgrund not currently comprehended in physics) is the self.

Consider this: your cells do exactly the right survival work necessary for you to stay alive. You are made hungry, horny, thirsty, and air-craving. All your organs function automatically. You convert glucose to ATP without difficulty or effort. The physical you is a plurality of nano-factories, while the conscious, willing, and intending you (the unity that stands over and above them all) is not needed to run the really important things. You do not will yourself—physical nature (your Self) does that.

Your Self runs automatically. Intentionality is superfluous. And what if your intentionality is, in turn, itself a consequence of automaticity? Sebastian Seung thinks it is and is glad for it. Then, you have the whole of nature supporting you.