Even after he’d lost (and gotten injured), Boston Rob continued the grueling fire token challenge until he finished. He said that he loved the game of Survivor too much to quit. I believe he was being sincere, since he’s used Survivor to define his personality so much. I think this also helped his overall game because it was probably intimidating for the other players to watch his intense dedication. After this, all of them might be a little more likely to break before Rob, because they know how far he’ll go to win. There’s an essay to be written about natural selection here.
However, I want to focus on how Rob appears to have a very strong sense of self. There is currently a significant intellectual movement in the United States aimed at convincing people that they have no selves. Many proponents of this idea are gathered under the umbrella of “mindfulness.” These people claim that when we truly examine our consciousness itself, we discover that there are no selves there. In other words, when we turn awareness onto itself, becoming aware of the arena of awareness in which all experiences occur, then we see that awareness simply is. There is no “self” behind our eyes turning the gears. Awareness itself is the foundation, and what we mistakenly think are our core selves emerge from that awareness, not the other way around.
First, I would like to note that I agree with some of this idea. When I try to define my self and examine this definition, I eventually run up against the problem of whether my definition is complete. If the complete definition is available for examination, then it is encompassed by my arena of awareness. But then the definition doesn’t actually seem complete, because my arena of awareness seems larger than a definition that it can encompass. However, if parts of the definition are beyond my arena of awareness, then I can’t examine those parts, which would again seem to mean that my self-definition (as far as I can consider it as a definition) is incomplete. Thus, the sense of a hard fully-definable self can become more difficult to defend – unless the definition is actually equivalent to my arena of awareness. Thus the self (by this argument) would seem to be simply awareness, no more or less, which is similar to the argument of many mindfulness teachers.
However, when I mentioned the possibility of parts of a self-definition beyond our awareness, I think that I opened up a large hole in the mindfulness arguement. Humans also seem to have physical brains and genes that are objects in themselves. These objects seem to be arranged in ways that are unique to each individual. At a minimum, these combinations would seem to constitute some type of selves, even if they are not fully within our arenas of awareness. They are still there, guiding much of our idiosyncratic behavior. By emphasizing so much that selves are illusions, mindfulness teachers might be setting up themselves and their students to be blindsided by these parts of their minds (and possibly others) beyond awareness. And that seems potentially dangerous.