The Spatiality of the Self

Dissertation, University of Ottawa (2000)

Authors
Erin McCarthy
St. Lawrence University
Abstract
In this thesis, I examine questions concerning personal identity from the point of view of the spatiality of the self. In order to investigate this aspect of self, I draw mainly on carefully selected texts from the Continental tradition. The literature and choices are vast, and so, for the purposes of this thesis I examine specific texts from the work of Heidegger and Husserl. I analyse the relevant sections of Heidegger's Being and Time---sections 22--24 and 70---as well as some of his later work, focussing on "Building, Dwelling, Thinking"' and "The Origin of the Work of Art." The first chapter critically examines Heidegger's underestimation of the spatial aspect of the self as Da-sein in Being and Time. Chapter Two examines Heidegger's later philosophy which can be read as a turning towards the spatial. I investigate whether this later picture of the self and its relations with the spatial complement the views found in Being and Time, or whether there is an unavoidable tension in his thought. ;From Husserl, I examine the spatiality of the self as found in Ideas II, the Cartesian Meditations, and some of Husserl's later meditations on space: "Foundational Investigations of the Phenomenological Origin of the Spatiality of Nature", and "The World of the Living Present and the Constitution of the Surrounding World External to the Organism." Here, I use Husserl as a "corrective" to the gaps in Heidegger's thought, showing that in Husserl's thought, self, space and body are interwoven, interdependent concepts. ;Finally, I move out of the Continental tradition to examine one more philosophical perspective---that of modern Japanese philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro. The role of space in the concept of self is critically examined as found in two of his major works---Climate and Culture, and Ethics. Here, I show how Watsuji critically appropriates both Heideggerian and Husserlian reflection. ;In the final chapter I attempt to articulate some elements for a new philosophical discourse, one which amalgamates temporal and spatial as well as Eastern and Western aspects of the self, providing a fuller response to questions of the self than the picture currently available.
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