How is it possible that one can better their own self consciousness? There is an old Chinese saying: "Who Guards the Guards at the gate?" If the mind seeks to better itself, how can it do so? If the ego is what needs to be bettered, what is in check of the ego itself? Is this not possible, because the ego is what is seeking to be bettered? This seems impossible to me.

Let's say you want to overhaul some aspect of your mental life (e.g., you want to improve your analytical skills, or you want to become more attuned to your surroundings). Is your worry this: that either your whole mind is getting "replaced", in which case there's nothing directing the process of improvement, or only some part of your mind is getting bettered, in which case the improvement is being overseen by an unimproved facet of your mind. Either way, you might worry, there's no guarantee that an improvement will take place: in the first case the process isn't being guided by anything, and in the second it's being guided by an unimproved, possibly mediocre, area of your mental life.

I think we're in the second situation, but I'm not sure I'm worried about it. For one thing, it seems we have no options: wholesale cognitive make-overs do not seem possible. (Though in this connection, it's worthwhile thinking about rather large scale transformations that some people do seem to undergo, for instance, religious conversions.) For another, this doesn't appear to have condemned us to cognitive mediocrity: at least as judged by some criteria (e.g., our understanding of the natural world), our minds are ever improving.

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