Original Research - Special Collection: South African Science and Religion Forum

The metaphysical self and the self in metaphysics and religion: Ambiguities of mind and reality

Cornel W. du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 1 | a5125 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5125 | © 2019 Cornel W. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 May 2018 | Published: 25 February 2019

About the author(s)

Cornel W. du Toit, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa


The thesis of this article is that the self is a construct or illusion and simultaneously real. The notion of self is constitutive in metaphysics and operates subconsciously and indirectly in all human activities. The metaphysical self constitutes its own reality. The article is critical of developments in cognitive science and neuroscience where neurocentrism reduces self to brain processes. The tenet is that the self is more than its biological make-up and the measurement of brain processes. The metaphysical as well as illusory aspects of self are discussed. Some important aspects of self that are visited include the construction of the self, its bodylines, contextuality, intentionality and unity. The nature of human intuition as grounded in our evolutionary make-up is proposed as a basis for the unity of the self. The role of the self in religion is briefly dealt with, focusing on the link between the notion of self and the concept of God.


the metaphysical self; self-consciousness; mind-brain interaction; human intuition; self in religion


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