What’s special about ‘not feeling like oneself’? A deflationary account of self(-illness) ambiguity

Philosophical Explorations 25 (3):269-289 (2022)
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Abstract

The article provides a conceptualization of self(-illness) ambiguity and investigates to what extent self(-illness) ambiguity is ‘special’. First, we draw on empirical findings to argue that self-ambiguity is a ubiquitous phenomenon. We suggest that these findings are best explained by a multidimensional account, according to which selves consist of various dimensions that mutually affect each other. On such an account, any change to any particular self-aspect may change other self-aspects and thereby alter the overall structural pattern of self-aspects, potentially leading to self-ambiguity. Second, we propose that self-ambiguity comes in degrees and should be understood as a spectrum (as opposed to there being qualitative differences among instances of self-ambiguity). Third, we argue that complexity is the most useful dimension to organize cases of self-ambiguity, with mundane instances of self-ambiguity on the one end and self-illness ambiguity on the other end of the spectrum. Fourth, we address the promises and perils of narrativity with regard to self-ambiguity. Finally, we link our deflationary account of self(-illness) ambiguity to pattern theories of self.

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Author Profiles

Leon De Bruin
VU University Amsterdam
Roy Dings
Radboud University