Any consciousness whatsoever – past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle, common or sublime, far or near: every consciousness – is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: “This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.”– Buddha Sermon on Anatta: “The Anattalakkhana Sutta,” Samyutta Nikaya XXII, 59
Modern cognitive neuroscientific studies of the Self indicate that virtually every higher cognitive function is influenced by the Self: Memories are encoded more efficiently when referred to the Self (Craik, Moroz, & Moscovitch, 1999; Fink et al., 1996; Kelley et al., 2002); feelings and affective responses always include the Self (Davidson, 2001; LeDoux, 2002); fundamental attributions of intentionality, agency, and Mind all concern selves in interaction with other Selves (Gallagher, 2000; Vogeley & Fink, 2003); and so on. Yet basic problems concerning the nature, representational properties, and functions of the Self remain understudied and unresolved.
The scientific study of the Self has been somewhat slow to mature because the nature of the Self appears to be so complex (Metzinger, 2003; Northoff & Bermpohl, 2004). The Self draws on several psychologic and neuropsychologic domains, such as autobiographical memory, emotional and evaluative systems, agency or the sense of being the cause of some action, self-monitoring, bodily awareness, mind-reading or covert mimicking of other's mental states, subjectivity or perspective in perception, and finally, the sense of unity conferred on consciousness when it is invested with the subjective perspective (Kircher & David, 2003; LeDoux, 2002; Metzinger, 2003).