1.  The consciousness of self in time
John Barresi
Department of Psychology
Dalhousie University

     2.   Two Basic Kinds of Selves
               a.   Minimal (Present, Local, Core) Self: Locke, W. James, G. Strawson, S. Gallager,
          A. Damasio
               b.   Temporally Extended (Autobiographical, Narrative) Self: Locke, U. Neisser, D.
          Dennett, C. Moore & K. Lemmon (Self in Time: Developmental Perspectives,
               c.   Though interconnected, I believe that these two kinds of self should be treated as
          functionally distinct.

     3.   Minimal Self
               a.   The minimal self varies in degree of self-awareness, or self-reflection, from a pre-
          reflective, implicit, self-awareness found in many animals and young infants, to an
          intensely self-reflective Strawsonian self, which can claim not to be connected in
          any necessary way to any past or future self.

               b.   What each of these levels of self-awareness have in common is a focus on the
          present state of ‘self’, which  presupposes no active connection to any past or
          future states or selves.

     4.   Temporally Extended Self
               a.   Here also, there is wide variation in degree, from an awareness of immediate past
          and future states, which even a young infant can often be said to have, to the
          life-narrative perspective of human adults.

               b.   What is common, is that some aspect of one’s personal past or future affects
          current self-initiated activities, and, in the higher self-reflective levels, the very
          conception of what it is to be a self.

     5.   The Development of Self in Time
               a.   In this talk I will not deal with the -vertical -development of the minimal self; only
          with the -horizontal -development of the self in time.
               b.   My focus will be on two important landmarks in the development of the self in
                         i.   The formation of a temporally extended self at the age-four transition.
                         ii.  The formation of self-identity as life-story in late adolescence.

     6.   The Temporally Extended Self
                         i.   The Age-4 transition
               a.   Extending one’s self into the past
                         i.   Connecting to one’s past objective states.
                         ii.  Remembering one’s past subjective states.
               b.   Extending one’s self into the future
                         i.   Imagining and sympathizing with one’s future self.
               c.   Representing the present self as ‘now’ self
                         i.   Inhibiting acting on desires of one’s ‘now’ self.
               d.   Connecting past, present and future selves
                         i.   Forming a continuous self in time.

     7.   Self and Identity as Life-Story
                         i.   The Late Adolescent Transition
               a.   The late adolescent no longer conceives of the self as the same being at different
          times regardless of change, but conceives  the self as involving a process of
          constant self-creation and/or search for essence.
               b.   This self-creative activity extends far beyond the present, to the historic past and
          distant future.
               c.   Not all events in the past, or possible future, are seen as equally one’s self, one’s
          central being.
               d.   Only the narrative life-story one constantly creates and re-creates can give
          meaning to particular past and future events, thus determine one’s central being
          and identity.

     8.   From Temporally Extended Self to Self-Identity as Life-Story
               a.   Three periods of transformations connect the temporally extended self of the
          age-4 transition to the self-identity as life-story of the transition in late
                         i.   Transformations from 4 to 12
                         ii.  Transformations from Early to Middle Adolescence
                         iii. Transformations from Late Adolescence to Early Adulthood

     9.   From Temporally Extended Self to Self-Identity as Life-Story
                         i.   Transformations from 4 to 12
               a.   After the 4-year transition, the child begins to find -and/or maintain - continuity of
          self over longer stretches of time, but, at first, this involves multiple threads of
          relatively inconsistent selves.
               b.   Only gradually, does the youth acquire a sense of a topologically structured self,
          where some parts are more central than others.
               c.   Personal transformations over time come to be seen as involving surface and
          deeper aspects of self; and continuity of self depends only on the latter aspects.

     10.  From Temporally Extended Self to Self-Identity as Life-Story
                         i.   Transformations from Early to Middle Adolescence
               a.   During early adolescence a radical change occurs in experience of self - due, in
          part, to transformations in body (sexuality) and mind (formal operational
               b.   There is also an increasing demand by others to acquire an individual
          socio-cultural identity and prepare for an adult role in society.
               c.   The upshot is that there is a loss of sense of self - an ‘identity crisis’ - and a need
          arises to play a more active role in self-definition and self-creation.

     11.  From Temporally Extended Self to Self-Identity as Life-Story
                         i.   Transformations from Late Adolescence to Early Adulthood
               a.   Fortunately, a combination of new narrative skills makes it possible to form an
          identity as life-story:
                         i.   Temporal coherence - the ability to string out events in one’s life in a
               temporal order.
                         ii.  Cultural concept of biography - learning the rules of biography.
                         iii. Causal coherence - explaining how events and personality relate to each
               other and account for change.
                         iv.  Thematic coherence - provide organization to threads of personal change
               and life-history.

     12.  The Self in Time
                         i.   Conclusion
               a.   The conception of self in time transforms from infancy to late adulthood, but
          during all phases, it can be seen as a process of connecting of one’s present or
          minimal self to temporally distant selves.
               b.   I have focused on only two major transformations of self in time, and have
          indicated how these landmarks might connect to each other.
               c.   How both the minimal self and the self in time are experienced and develop
          throughout the life-cycle needs further theoretical and empirical investigation.

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