1. According to Karl Jaspers, human being is self-
regulating will being.
2. Jose Rizal affirms that human reason makes a person
wonder about his/her existence.
3. Guilt does not lead human being to a greater
knowledge of himself/herself.
4. Immanuel Kant believes that human being is lost in
5. Karl Jaspers claims that human being is more than
what he/she can know of himself/herself.
I am something real and really
existing, but what am I?... a thing
At this point you know what it means to say that man is an
embodied spirit. Man has a body and a soul that together consist what he
calls his self. The problem of the self that is expressed in the question
“Who am I?” is one of the difficult problems in philosophy. Various
perspectives and debates sprung from it. As a beginner’s introduction,
you will be oriented with the problem, through brief discussions of
• Duality of body and soul
• Unity of body and soul
• Human consciousness and existence and
• Human faculty
A. Duality of Body and Soul
The duality of body and soul is the view held by those who believe
that our body is separate and distinct from our soul. The soul, though
conceived in many ways, is that aspect of our being that is not material.
The soul or the spirit is philosophically
discussed as mind since mental capacities and
abilities are attributed to it. For dualists, the mind
(mental) is not to be mistaken for the brain
(physical) since the mental is a unique
phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the non-
mental or physical.
Plato is one of those who argued for the dualism of body and soul.
The human soul, he theorized, exists prior to the body and even after the
body is long gone.
Rene Descartes also recognized dualism and expressed this in his
Meditations. In employing the method of doubt at the start of his
meditations, he arrived at the conclusion that he exists because doubt
requires a doubter. That he doubts is proof that he is existing.
When we ask question “who am i?” we are involved in thinking
about ourselves. We reflect or introspect. In doing so, we are looking
within or deep inside ourselves (at our soul or mind).
Despite numerous problems, perhaps one useful insight to be
drawn out from dualism of body and mind is, that the qualities of our
body are separate and distinct from the qualities of our soul, so that what
happens to our body in life and in death does not translate to the exact
occurrence to our soul.
B. Unity of Body and Soul
In contrast to dualism, monism is much simpler and avoids many
unresolved questions. To say that the body and soul together make one
entity does not require much proof as opposed to offering the dualist
Among those who did not subscribe to
dualism is St. Thomas Aquinas. Following
Aristotle’s notion of form and matter, Aquinas
claimed that body and soul are not two entities
that interact with each other but are being made
up of matter and form.
Christians believe that man is created body
and soul by God. Man is embodied soul. We have a
body but we are more than our body. Through the
body we express what is within ourselves.
C. Human Consciousness and Existence
Part of the reason why the mind-body problem could not be
entirely abandoned in philosophy is because humans naturally engage in
thought as they interact with the world. Nonetheless, the complexities of
thought could not be explained by nature. A special branch of
philosophy called Philosophy of Mind deals with this puzzle.
One of the things they looked into is John
Lockes’s notion of inner sense that is better
understood as reflection or introspection. Locke
was the first to point out that all thoughts are
conscious. Moreover, our consciousness is the
criterion for personal identity.
Immanuel Kant is also interpreted by philosophers of mind as
providing the basis for a rationalist approach. The self is a rational agent
who can know their own thoughts and attitudes, and be responsible for
The first -person being or the ‘I’ is so obvious and yet extremely
difficult to explain. This intrigued phenomenologists and existentialists,
too. The phenomenologists expounds on intentionality of consciousness
while the existentialist explores the feelings that are awakened by
Thus, it is clear that our mind presents phenomena that are
distinct from those experienced by our body. We can visualize pain and
experience despair, for instance without physical cause. We have reasons
to believe that who we are cannot simply be reduced o our corporeality
and yet we do not fully know or even understand the workings of our
D. Human Faculty of Reason
All these things are puzzling and intriguing. One does not have to
be a philosopher to relate with or understand these things. Humans have
a mental faculty or capacity that enables them to think, to reason, to
understand, to compare, to analyse, to associate ideas, and so on.
Philosophers are in agreement that human beings have this human
faculty of reason. But as to what reason can do and what it really is, there
are differing views.