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Personhood: Self

There are a number of misconceptions about the Christian conception of the Trinity. But, I will try to explain the ideas behind the doctrine of the Trinity in simple terms. It is one thing to state a doctrine. It is another thing to understand the doctrine the way Christians understand the personhood of Allah.

Lets begin by considering our own personhood.  At the core of what we are, as individual persons, there is a foundational self sometimes called, the soul, the ego, the spirit, the mind, the intellect or simply the I.'  From this foundational core emanates our thought life, our choices, and our desires. Since we are human beings, our old thoughts pass from us and our new thoughts emerge into our consciousness. In one sense, our thoughts are ourselves or what we are as persons. Our thoughts are like a stream of consciousness by which we are aware of our environment and by which we think and reflect about ourselves and our surroundings.  Since an individual human being has an intellect that thinks thoughts, there is an intrinsic relationship between the mind and its thoughts.

At this time, we should develop a clearer understanding of immaterial entities.  Material entities are the physical objects that surround us, such as, cars, dogs, oceans, paper, ink, and computers.   They are things that take up three-dimensional space, and we can put them on a scale and see how much they weigh.  Immaterial things are things that don't depend upon three-dimensional space, and they can't be placed upon a weighing scale.  For example, twenty five milliliters of ink and five hundred grams of paper are material objects.   But, the Bible and the Qur'an are more than just paper and ink.  There is 'meaning' and 'thoughts' in addition to the paper and ink.  The 'thoughts' are not measured in grams.  Just pouring ink onto pages of paper would not produce the Bible or the Qur'an.  It takes a mind expressing its thoughts to cause a Bible or Qur'an.  

Furthermore, when a mind thinks about a palm tree across the street, the palm tree is not in the mind with all of its leaves, roots, and tree trunk.  When the mind thinks about the tree, it uses an immaterial abstraction of the palm tree that it had previously seen across the street.  When a person looks at a palm tree, the person has an extrinsic relationship with the palm tree.  However, later, when the person is thinking about the tree, there is an intrinsic relationship between the mind and its immaterial recollection of the tree.  It is an intrinsic relationship because the mind and the thought of the tree are both within a person's being.  Furthermore, it is an non-material relationship because the intellect and its thought are both immaterial.  So, this shows there can be intrinsic relationships that are both immaterial and relate to personhood.

Since our thoughts are constantly changing and passing away, our thoughts are not our real foundational self. They are merely passing entities. Because, if our thoughts were ourselves, our personhood would pass away as our thoughts passed away.  When we sleep, we no longer think; unless, of course, we are dreaming.  So, it seems clear that the history of our thoughts are not our core self, because our thoughts take wings and fly away. But, what constitutes us as human beings and persons remains with us.  Our thoughts are not our personhood, but they are products or activities of our minds.  So, our personhood has a very basic and foundational Self, I, or intellect.  This foundational mind generates our thoughts, emotions, and desires by which we are self-conscious beings. 

So, in conclusion, human personhood has a foundational entity that is basic to whom we are as persons.  It is called variously the self, the I, the mind, and the intellect.

Last edited 12/20/1999

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