The Self as Organizer

  • Rajesh Kasturirangan


We experience the world as a coherent, complete and seamless whole, despite the impoverished character of our representations of the world. Vision scientists study our perception of a stable three-dimensional world in the presence of fleeting two-dimensional stimuli; I believe that the problem of coherence and stability extends far beyond the domain of vision to the study of the mind as a whole. This chapter is an exploration of the “whole world” experience through the lens of cognitive science; I claim that neither traditional computational approaches nor the more recent embodied approaches to the mind account for the wholeness of the world. Instead, I argue that the whole world experience points to the existence of the self as an organizer that structures experience and makes it whole. If so, the self has a much larger role to play in the mind sciences than is currently acknowledged, and the study of the self is a bridge between traditional concerns of metaphysics and the modern cognitive sciences.


Cognitive Scientist Direct Perception Inattentional Blindness Perceptual Knowledge Plausibility Argument 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Browning, R., & Cook, T. (1994). The works of Robert Browning. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Chomsky, N. (2005). Rules and representations. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Damasio, A. (2010). Self comes to mind: Constructing the conscious mind. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  4. Dennett, D. C. (1998). Brainchildren: Essays on designing minds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Edelman, S., Fekete, T., & Zach, N. (2012). Being in time: Dynamical models of phenomenal experience. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Fauconnier, G. (1997). Mappings in thought and language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ganeri, J. (2007). The concealed art of the soul: Theories of self and practices of truth in Indian ethics and epistemology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. James, W. (1890). Principles of Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kanizsa, G., & Kanizsa, G. (1979). Organization in vision: Essays on Gestalt perception. New York: Praeger. Retrieved from
  11. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  12. Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the analysis of sensations. La Salle: Open Court.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mach, E. (1959). The analysis of sensations, and the relation of the physical to the psychical. New York: Dover Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Marr, D. (1982). Vision: A computational investigation into the human representation and processing of visual information. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  15. Metzinger, T. (2004). Being no one: The self-model theory of subjectivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Metzinger, T. (2010). The ego tunnel: The science of the mind and the myth of the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Nagel, T. (1974). What is it like to be a bat? The Philosophical Review, 83(4), 435–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Noe, A. (2004). Action in perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Pinker, S. (1995). The language instinct (Vol. 1st Harper Perennial). New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  20. Rensink, R. A. (2002). Change detection. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 245–277. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Simons, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception-London, 28(9), 1059–1074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sorabji, R. (2006). Self: Ancient and modern insights about individuality, life, and death. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Thompson, E. (2007). Mind in life: Biology, phenomenology, and the sciences of mind. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  24. Tippett, K., Metzinger, T., Thompson, E., & van Lommel, P. (2011). To be or not to be: The self as illusion. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1234(1), 5–18. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06181.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Varela, F. J., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E. (1991). The embodied mind: Cognitive science and human experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. von Uexküll, J. (1957). A stroll through the worlds of animals and men: A picture book of invisible worlds. In C. H. Schiller (Ed. & Trans.), Instinctive behavior: The development of a modern concept (pp. 5–80). New York: International Universities Press, Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HumanitiesNational Institute of Advanced StudiesBangaloreIndia

Personalised recommendations