The You-I Event: 4. The argument so far

Looking back over the first three blogs on the You-I Event, I ask: Have I proved that this Event is fundamental to self-awareness (meaning the kind of self-awareness that enables a baby to participate in peekaboo at 4 months or to distinguish the reachable from the unreachable a month later)? I cannot claim to have built an airtight proof. When a theory raises possibilities that have never been looked at, we can’t expect to find enough support in existing research. In the second blog, I used arguments from evolution and infancy research to show that a baby who is not self-aware can perceive a carer as attending. Self-awareness can follow, but I have no data to prove that it does come about in this way and not another.  Part of my argument is to say that there is no other way. For no alternative approach can solve the puzzle of how the self that is aware can be the same as the self it is aware of. (J. J. Gibson provides an answer for self-locomoting animals, but not for pre-crawling infants.) I claim to have presented not just the best explanation, but the only conceivable one. At first my answer looks crazy, but its strangeness subsides somewhat when we note that a baby can fabricate a kind of You-I Event by making effects on things (Blog 2). The strangeness subsides altogether in Blog 3, when I introduce self-talk (“talking with oneself” or “inner speech”), for at once we get an explanation for our current structure of experience: Each of us is an internalized You-I Event, while yearning for the true Event is suppressed by the dread of absolute dependence. In future blogs, I hope to continue the argument by showing the theory’s power of explanation for issues that arise in love, work, art, free will, conscience, faith, politics, time, and death.

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