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Philosophical Perspectives on the Self


Edited By 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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Self-Knowledge, Introspection and Memory




Self-knowledge (S-K) has a variety of dimensions and philosophers have proposed, and continue to propose, a host of different methods to explore or to establish the principles of a very particular form of knowledge such as this. What is quite impressive in the philosophical literature (by which I mean not only that of analytical inspiration but also that of the so-called continental philosophy) is the fact that the usual relationship between S-K, introspection and reflection leaves no space for the essential role of memory. Hence, it is memory’s role in S-K that I wish to look at here.

Traditionally, empiricist and rationalist approaches have dominated the epistemic views of S-K. The latter starts with Descartes, or even earlier, and continues until Kant; the former includes Locke and Hume2. ← 73 | 74 → In fact, if one thinks of Hume and Kant as the most relevant modern representatives and the culmination points of both approaches to S-K, it would seem perfectly acceptable to suggest that introspection plays a determinant methodological role. In the first case, let us remember what Hume famously said regarding his own mind and what he finds there: “For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of hot or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself, at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing...

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