In Michael Kuhler & Najda Jelinek (eds.), Autonomy and the Self. springer (2012)

Diana Meyers
University of Connecticut
It is not uncommon for people to suffer identity crises. Yet, faced with similarly disruptive circumstances, some people plunge into an identity crisis while others do not. How must selfhood be construed given that people are vulnerable to identity crises? And how must agency be construed given that some people skirt potential identity crises and renegotiate the terms of their personal identity without losing their equilibrium -- their sense of self? If an adequate theory of the self and agency must be able to account for this capacity to avert identity crises, I argue that it must include an account of agentic corporeity. After explaining what an identity crisis is, I examine Charles Taylor’s and David Velleman’s accounts of identity and agency and argue that their omission of agentic corporeity makes it impossible for them to convincingly account for the ability to avert an identity crisis. In the spirit of Merleau-Ponty’s account of the intentional arc and J. J. Gibson’s account of the relation between corporeity and affordances, I sketch an account of psychocorporeal practical intelligence that includes three main components – psychocorporeal insight, psychocorporeal values, and psychocorporeal versatility. I conclude by connecting my position to Aristotle’s views about practical understanding and by arguing that both Taylor and Velleman have reason to embrace my position.
Keywords self  identity crisis  embodiment  practical reason
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