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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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I. The Background

The quest for the nature and scope of the human Self has been one of the most important intellectual tasks in western thought. Nevertheless, It was not until Descartes and the rise of modern philosophy, that the cluster of problems we now associate to the notion of ‘Self’ were identified as such (eg.: self-identity, the nature of self-reflection, the epistemological status of self-evidence, the unity of conscious experience, among others). What was more, this set of problems were taken to be among the most crucial philosophical tasks to be addressed in the upcoming centuries. The work of such diverse authors as Hume, Lock, Kant, Nietzsche, William James, Husserl, Wittgenstein, or Sartre, to name just a few, testifies this importance.

In the last 10 to 15 years the topic of the Self has strongly re-emerged. This renewed interest is illustrated by the number of recent collections of essays and anthologies (Gallagher, 1998; Kircher, 2003; Gallagher, 2010). One of the main factors holding behind such interest has to do with the recent burst of different methodologies and approaches adopted to face the set of problems related to the Self. These methodologies include but go beyond the more traditional philosophical approaches (like phenomenology or linguistic analysis) (Dan Zahavi, 2005; Perry, 2002), into empirical researches in the areas of cognitive psychology (Gallagher, 2005, 2008; Hofstadter 2007) several branches of the neurosciences (Damasio, 1999; LeDoux, 2002; Kircher, 2003), analysis of psychiatric pathologies (such as schizophrenia) (Parnas,...

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