Identity as self-transformation: Emotional conflicts and their metamorphosis in memory [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 43 (2):267-285 (2010)
This paper develops the thesis that personal identity is neither to be taken in terms of an unchanging self-sufficient ‘substance’ nor in terms of selfhood ‘without substance,’ i.e. as fluctuating processes of pure relationality and subject-less activity. Instead, identity is taken as self-transformation that is bound to particular embodied individuals and surpasses them as individuated entities. The paper is structured in three parts. Part I describes the experiential givenness of conflicts that support our sense of self-transformation. While the first part develops an inter-subjective topography of emotional movements, the second part pays attention to their temporal dimension. We work with conflicts and get transformed by them also in the way we remember them. Part II focuses on the process of self-understanding that accompanies conflicts and their metamorphosis in memory. Part III compares and discusses different models of a ‘relational ontology’ of the person, which question the idea that we are defined only by how we define ourselves—just as they question the idea that one’s identity is independent of how one relates to one’s having changed
Keywords Personal identity  Substance  Self-transformation  Emotional conflicts  Memory  Passivity
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