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Philosophical Perspectives on the Self


Joao Fonseca and Jorge Goncalves

For the last decade the topic of the Self has been under intense scrutiny from researchers of various areas spanning from philosophy, neurosciences, and psychology to anthropology and sociology. The present volume addresses the Self under different and influent philosophical perspectives: from phenomenology and psychoanalysis to metaphysics and neurophilosophy and discusses several and distinct problems such as personal identity, the core/narrative self-distinction, psychopathologies, the mind-body problem and the nature of the relations between self, consciousness and emotions. The book reflects these different philosophical problems and approaches and aims to provide a map of current philosophical perspectives on the topic of the Self.
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How Consciousness explains the Self



What is the ‘Self’? This question has a long tradition in Philosophy of Mind. For some Philosophers, like Descartes, it is the entity which holds our consciousness, while others, like Hume, deny its existence. Whatever it is – whether it exists or not – there seems to be no doubt about how we can access something that we are inclined to call a ‘Self’. Since Descartes, this access has been our Consciousness. While trying – but still failing – to obtain an explanatory concept of Consciousness we are still in the state of determining whether the ‘Self’ really exists, and if so in what form. I therefore propose the following hypothesis: A concept of the ‘Self’ depends necessarily (but not sufficiently) on a concept of Consciousness. What will be the aim? Well, to establish a conceptual relation between Consciousness and the ‘Self’ and if possible to obtain a tool able to handle a concept of the ‘Self’. What we can gain from this approach is that our concept of the ‘Self’ will depend on the choices, experiments, ideas and conceptual background that also account for the concept of Consciousness. I will propose the following methodology: we have to introduce an epistemological relation, where Consciousness can be seen as the access to whatever it is we call a ‘Self’. This epistemological approach will depend in part on phenomenological reasoning since this kind of reasoning is able to show limits and problems regarding certain concepts. Furthermore, this approach seems...

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