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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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Empirical and conceptual clarifications regarding the notion of ‘Core-Self’ from Gallagher’s and Merker’s Behavioural-Neuroscientific Proposals



I. Introduction: Conceptual Confusions and Methodological Fragmentation

The notion of Core-Self’ has been used and formulated by several authors in different contexts and with different meanings, using diverse methodologies and approaches ranging from traditional conceptual analysis, Phenomenology, Cognitive Psychology and Neurosciences (Damasio, 1999; Gallagher, 2000; Northoff & Bermpohl, 2004; Pankseep & Northoff, 2009). This conceptual and methodological fragmentation threatens the very ambitions of the scientific task at stake.

As a result, the current scenario concerning the studies on the nature of the (Core) Self presents us with a confusing profusion of concepts that tends to obscure the intellectual endeavour itself. This problem has recently been identified as such by some of the most prominent authors in the field. (Gallagher & Zahavi, 2008; Praetorius, 2009). I share the authors’ worries and also their diagnosis regarding the main causes of the problem: the proliferation of different methodological and disciplinary approaches to the subject. For instance, Gallagher & Zahavi state that:

This disparity, which is both problematic and productive, is directly related to the variety of methodological approaches taken within philosophy and related interdisciplinary studies of the self. They include introspection, phenomenological analysis, linguistic analysis, the use of thought experiments, empirical research in cognitive and brain sciences, and studies of exceptional and pathological behaviour. One problem to be posed in this light is whether different characterizations of ← 165 | 166 → self signify diverse aspects of a unitary concept of selfhood, or...

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