The Self: A History

New York: Oxford University Press (2021)
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Abstract

"No philosophical dictum is better known than Descartes's assertion about the intimate relation between thinking and existing. What remains unknown is how we are to understand the 'I' who thinks and exists. This book is about the ways that the concept of an 'I' or a 'self' has been developed and deployed at different times in the history of Western Philosophy. It also offers a striking contrast case, the 'interconnected' self, who appears in some expressions of African Philosophy. Appealing to philosophy to illuminate the concept of a 'self' may seem unnecessary. Anyone who can read this book is a self, so why can we not just tailor a concept to fit what we already know about ourselves? This objection has considerable force and provides a constraint on efforts to fashion a self-concept. Although there is a sense of 'self-knowledge' in which it is said to require a lifetime of serious effort to achieve, what is at issue here is simply knowing that one is a self"--

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Patricia Kitcher
Columbia University

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