A short introductionDr. Donna Thomas (PhD Linguistics and the Social Sciences, Lancaster University, UK, 2013) is an independent researcher and part-time research fellow at the University of Central Lancashire. Her research interests include exploring the nature of self and human experience, ontology and epistemology in the social sciences. Donna is currently developing an interdisciplinary research study, exploring the nature of self with children from different cultural contexts across the world. This work involves the development of research methodology to capture and understand experiences that go beyond conventional space-time. In a voluntary capacity, Donna has established a webspace to support children and young people who experience self and the world in different ways (childrenselfandanomalousexperiences.co.uk). This work is framed by children as philosophers and researchers.
A child’s sense of Self
This special video production explores a child’s pre-intellectual, felt sense of self and other, which reflect age-old intuitions rooted in nature. The video is an invitation to revisit rooms in the palace of our minds that we’ve left behind many, many years ago; rooms that contain forgotten treasures whose unspoiled authenticity is an antidote to many of modern life’s ills.
Playing in the field: The nature of children and consciousness
Through their play and the extraordinary inner experiences they report, children reveal a broader, non-local, decentered and shared self. Because children are less conditioned than adults, this may be a clue to the true nature and scope of self and reality, as well as the role of consciousness within it, argues Dr. Donna Thomas.
Nadia Hassan reads ‘Re-thinking identity: Children’s experiences of self’
In the best episode of ‘Essentia Readings’ yet, Nadia Hassan introduces us to her young niece, a child who is aware, during sleep, of the fact that she is asleep. This suggests that our original, natural sense of self and consciousness, before culture tells us how to think about both, is much different than our adult understanding.
Keeping a close ‘I’ on ‘reality’ in social science
In seeking to ameliorate social injustices by debunking the egoic self as measure of all things, the social sciences risk inadvertently abolishing the very notion of a subject of experience, argues Dr. Donna Thomas. The way forward, according to her, is to embrace metaphysics and understand the self not as a separate social agent, but as the ontic ground of all reality, common to all of us.
Re-thinking identity: Children’s experiences of self
Dr. Thomas argues that children, before a conceptual, culture-bound notion of self is inculcated in them, have a more spontaneous, broader sense of identity that defies our current worldview. She argues that their more natural, fluid self is more conducive to overcoming the despair characteristic of our present situation, and that it has much to teach us about reality itself.
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