Little 'I's

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Part of the article series
Fourth Way
Fourth Way

The Fourth Way teaches that man in his normal state is not a single being. Rather, man is a collection of inconsistent habits, programs, or stimulus-response patterns; these rule all kinds of inner and outer behavior, and whichever resulting 'self' is active at the moment calls itself 'I' and sees itself always as the one, same person.

A metaphor that describes this state compares man to a nation where every citizen gets to be king for 5 minutes, with absolute power to enter into any commitments and to generally do what he pleases. The concept of the little 'I' is related to the concept of 'program,' 'personality' and 'buffer.'

The FotCM associates the concept of little 'I' with a neurological imprint or conditioned response or to a mental state that is characterized by typical conditional responses. Social roles which one assumes automatically without conscious decision are examples of different little 'I's coming in control in different combinations at different times.

Little 'I's are typical of the default state of man and are not a pathological condition like multiple personality disorder (MPD). Psychiatric conditions like MPD can arise if little 'I's are unusually split, which is not the case in normal 'sleeping' man. What contemporary psychology calls normal personality is however from the viewpoint of the Fourth Way a mechanical chaos of competing little 'I's, far removed from a 'fixed self' or 'real I.'

See also