You will have more luck getting a roomful of Biologists agreeing on a definition for the word ‘Alive’, or Logicians for the word ‘Reason’, than you will with a roomful of Psychologists defining the word ‘Subject’.
The Bio-Engineer knows it is a silicon-chip atop the neurons and between the firing synapse. The Geneticist sneers at this simplification at what is clearly a Gene [imminent in its discovery]. [DNA, perhaps?]
We won’t even broach the Mystics for now. But a particularly famous one from India is: ‘The sense of ‘I-ness”, which means whatever you want it to mean. [Inner-Self? Spirit? Soul?]
We go low-tech. We ask the Grammarian.
‘The Subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is doing or being something. It is what acts or is acted upon.’
Ego is Latin for ‘I’. The Cambridge definition reads: ‘Your idea or opinion of yourself’. Note the self-loop.
Is there a Little Fellow behind your nose and between your ears, a Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs, a Viewing Voyeur inside your eye and beneath your brow, that sees and thinks and feels and acts and makes you laugh and makes you cry?
If you find this language flip, I shall give it some gravitas.
Is there to be found, either by observation or by inference, and outside of an unexamined, inherited authority and unquestioned convention an ‘Independent and Separated Observer, ‘Self’, Subject’ in the guise of:
A Physical Body, a Cell, a DNA Code, an Awareness, a Totality, a Nullity, an Unity, an Ego, an Energy, a Life-Force, an Intelligence, an Existence, an ‘Organizing Principle’, an ‘Inner Being’, a Spirit, a ‘Soul’…
An ‘Independent and Separate Knowing Ontological Presence as Entity, Process or Abstraction’?
Go ahead and add any I may have missed. Don’t be shy.
Perhaps there is a Teddy Bear behind your heart and beneath your ribs. We are going to hunt the critter down.
‘Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me.‘ So chided Robert Frost.
Self-Deception is complete because there is no deception at all.
That’s The Joke. The great big one. The priceless howler. An artlessly honest Joke, not a clever play of words.
But there’s a big difference between reading it and realizing it. Same as between hearing it and getting it.
There is no ‘Self’ in torment at its own absence. Nor one feverishly seeking to affirm its presence. There is no ‘Self’ writhing in Error [Avidyā], nor one awakened in ecstatic Realization [Mukthi].
There is no Independent and Separated ‘Self’. And no ‘Self’ realizing [or needs to realize] that there is no ‘Self’. And no ‘Self’ realizing [or needs to realize] that there is no ‘Self’ realizing [or needs to realize] that there is no ‘Self’. And no ‘Self’…Ad Infinitum. All the way back to Shūnyam.
Like Silence, like Poetry, like Prayer, a Joke is not to be explained. If you explain the Joke, by that very act, you destroy the Joke. And what you have explained is not the Joke. But if you understand, you laugh. And just as often, weep.
A Joke is not always in the mood to make you laugh. And Absurdity, it’s kid-sister Irony, and it’s kid-brother Paradox, are not always funny. They can just as well make you wail, bring you to your knees. Especially if you didn’t get the Joke.
‘Let me get this straight.
Your asking me if there is a ‘Me’? You want me to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to: ‘Do I exist?’ What sort of a dumbassed question is that?
Of Course I exist. Of Course there is a ‘Me’. Jeez! Everybody knows that! Says so right here on my application. Plain as daylight. Take a look.’
1. Name [Family]
2. Name [First]
7. Religious Affiliation [If any]
8. Cell Phone Number and Email Address
9. Residential Address
10. Drivers License State-of-Issue and Number
11. Date of Birth
12. Place of Birth [ City, Country]
13. Current Nationality
14. Marital Status
15. Spouse’s Name [If any]
16. Names of Children [if any]
17. Education [High School, College]
19. Annual Income
20. Have you ever been convicted of a felony
[The Government agrees. Of Course you exist.]