Postgraduates work in progress
Speaker: Julien Hauser
Title: Self-models and inferring who I am
Abstract: Self-model theory, as I understand it, argues that we navigate with a specific type of self-representation, which institutes a basic distinction between the subjective and the objective. Call the subjective aspect the self-as-subject. Think of such a self in analogy with the blue dot on your smartphone navigation app that indicates your position. The self-as-subject indictates your current state along various dimensions. Human beings, however, do not only have a sense of their present state, they also conceive of themselves as having traits. I like philosophy, I'm habitually late, and tend to feel the urge to leave to join the birds in their migration to warmer climes. In this paper, I show how a self-modelling system can come to infer this second aspect of the self, the self-as-object, based on patterns in the trajectory of the self-as-subject. The trajectory of the self-as-subject is the sequence of self-as-subject positions on a self-model in the past up to the present moment. Interestingly, this account implies the following: (a) we can move from a very minimal account of the self-as-subject to a self-as-object with traits, (b) traits are real existing properties but not simply or necessarily properties of the body, and (c) while traits are real properties, the boundaries between self and other may depend on social factors and self-fulfilling prophecies.