This week I posted different viewpoints on The Self.
Particularly I’m interested in self as a function of inputs. Just as the size of eyes a fly is born with is a function of the temperature of the eggs, so too, many facets of ourselves are a function of the environment, other people’s behaviour toward us, game-theoretic strategy, incentives, and so on.
Other people’s theories of us can be seen as functions as well. (For example, a hiring manager’s view of employee performance may assume school quality or GPA to be positively related to human capital.)
- Economics: I didn’t get to Jean Tirole’s theory of money-saving as bargains among multiple selves.
- Psychology: Jim Townsend found that self-versus-other dichotomies can be expressed as a negatively curved metric space.
- Personality: I’ve already written that the MBTI is too restrictive a theory of self. It maps from habits to
- Douglas Hofstadter's thoughts on the extension of the pronoun “we”. ‘We’ went to the moon, ‘we’ share a common ancestor with other primates, ‘we’ are overcrowding the planet, ‘we’ have a nice theory of quantum chromodynamics, ‘we’ do not know if ‘we’ are experiencing a simulation or actual reality, ‘we’ don’t really know what makes an economy grow.
- Criminology: My criminal output is a function of the crime level in the neighbourhood I’m raised in. Except when it’s a function of strongly held beliefs.
- Sociology: In contemporary OECD places, ‘we’ are coerced by our cultures to play roles. “There are” certain scripts — modifiable but still requisite or recommended in some sense; at the very least influential, even if only because benefits and rewards are socially tied to role performance.
- The topic of cultural coercion … is something I’ll return to.
- The concept of people-as-functions is one I want to return to later, in discussing history, economics, and a couple different ways of talking about human behaviour mathematically.
I can think of several other mathematics-inspired questions about ourselves. The difference between habit and personality; the yogic metaphor of a river cutting deeper as related to habituation; choice & free will; Markovian and completely-the-opposite-of-Markovian choices (how constrained we are by our past choices); … and a lot more. But you know what, writing is hard. So I do only a little at a time.
Update, 25 September 2013: I’ve written more on this topic now: