You aren't you

I had an interesting thought the other day. What we normally think of as being ourselves is a very specific part of us. Sure, most of us would say that our physical body is our self, but if pushed we'd say the core of our identity sits in our brain. I'd go even further: when we introspect, the part we identify most strongly with is the part doing the introspecting. I don't just mean your mind, but the particular part of your mind that analyses and observes: Kahneman's System 2.

However, this belief doesn't align very well with reality. Most of your decisions and actions are actually made by your associative System 1. Your analytical process usually only comes in after the fact, and on the comparatively rare occasions where it's actually calling the shots it's enormously slow and resource-hungry. I would go so far as to say that if you want to define a self, it should be your unconscious, associative self.

It might seem counterintuitive to define your self as the part that isn't conscious, but I think it makes a lot more sense. Gone are paradoxes like "I really want to do things differently, but when the time comes I keep doing the same thing". Really, it would make more sense to say "My self-reflection says I'd be better off doing things differently, but I keep doing them the same way". From that perspective, there's no conflict, it's just clear that your self-reflection hasn't made a compelling argument for you to change.

That doesn't mean I think it's unreasonable to identify with your body, or your analytical mind, but we have some basis for thinking that our brain is more "us" than our foot is. That basis, I feel, is unfairly biased by the nature of introspection. If instead we base our identity on which part, if we understand it best, best predicts our behaviour, I think there's only one answer that makes sense: you aren't you, you're mostly the stuff that happens when you're not paying attention.