The Created Self: Reinventing Body, Persona, Spirit

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The Created Self takes readers to as-yet-unexplored regions in the modern psyche’s preoccupation with self-invention.

In today’s culture the self is considered largely a work in progress, and as we constantly reinvent ourselves, the challenge becomes one of coordinating change with the integrity and unity of the self. Using the insights of William James and evolutionary psychology as a springboard, Robert Weber explores the nature and meaning of our shifting selves. He proposes an ecology of the self based on three distinct but interdependent spheres: the body, the persona, and the spirit. Our bodily selves can be cosmetically nipped and tucked, and through new reproductive technologies extended in ways previously undreamed of. Our personas, comprising both our self-image and the image we present to others, are constantly assuming multiple roles in the course of our daily lives. And finally the modern changing self finds spiritual fulfillment in myriad traditional and nontraditional cultures, both sacred and secular, as we craft beliefs to suit our individual and communal needs.

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About the Author:

Robert Weber is a psychologist living in Albuquerque.

From Publishers Weekly:

To what extent does evolutionary psychology, which tends to characterize behavior as a means to the ends of genetic recombination and replication, fully characterize the personal and spiritual motives of the human self? According to Weber, a psychologist, having a self enables the individual to pursue creative endeavors, which though often adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint, actually extend beyond what can be explained in terms of biological, reproductive aims. Using the model of the self developed by William James (1842-1910), the first American psychologist, Weber attempts to show that the self is a constantly developing, "unitary system," consisting of bodily awareness, persona and spirit, over which the individual has control. Such a concept of the self, Weber argues, is necessary in order to account for personal motives that defy evolutionary explanation. That human beings often invest disproportionate amounts of time in activities that lead to personal satisfaction (such as achieving career goals) at the expense of increasing reproductivity is, he contends, "at variance with an evolutionary psychology explanation, and indicate[s] that the rules now are different." Written for a general audience, Weber's account of the self is certainly provocative, exploring phenomena such as body piercing in an effort to show some of the ways that selfhood extends behavior beyond the ends prefigured by our genetic endowment. Although Weber never calls his presupposition of a Jamesian, tripartite division of the self into question, his basic point--that human behavior is more complicated than many evolutionary psychologists portray it and may be rooted in the nature of a self--is worth considering.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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