The Ambiguity of “Self”

To put it mildly, “self” is said in many ways. To begin with, is it used as a noun, as an adjective, or as an adverb? As a noun, it may refer to an empirical “me”. As an adjective, it may name an abstract, pure reflexivity. It may also be used to adverbially describe something that has recursive structure that depends on details. I’ve always thought adverbs were the part of speech closest to reality.

The contrast between “self” in something like Hegelian self-consciousness and the “self” figuring in my recent Ego post could not be more extreme. Hegel’s use is definitely adverbial; as I have said several times, self-consciousness is anything but direct consciousness of a (noun) “self”. It has more to do with ethical awareness of limitations, and awareness of others. (See also Self, Infinity; Individuation.)