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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-10-15
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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Over the centuries, the idea of the self has both fascinated and confounded philosophers. From the ancient Greeks, who problematized issues of identity and self-awareness, to Locke and Hume, who popularized minimalist views of the self, to the efforts of postmodernists in our time to decenter the human subject altogether, the idea that there is something called a self has always been in steady decline. But for Richard Sorabji, one of our most celebrated living intellectuals, this negation of the self is dispiriting. In Self, he sets out to recover the rich variety of positive accounts of the self from Antiquity right up to the present, while offering his own inspiring view of what precisely the self might be. Drawing on Eastern religion, classical antiquity, and Western philosophy, Sorabji proceeds to tackle a number of thematic debates that have preoccupied philosophers over the ages, including the concept of the self, its sameness and mutability, the idea of the resurrection of the body and spirit, and the fear of death. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. It is also neither a linguistic creation nor a psychological fiction, but something that owns both a consciousness and a body. Ultimately, Sorabji argues, the demise of a positive idea of the self stems from much older and more pervasive problems of identity than we realize. Through an astute reading of this tradition, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come.

Author Biography

Richard Sorabji is emeritus professor of ancient philosophy at King's College London, and fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

List of abbreviationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Existence of Self and philosophical development of the idea
The Self: is there such a thing?p. 17
The varieties of self and philosophical development of the ideap. 32
Personal identity over time
Same person in eternal recurrence, resurrection, and teletransportationp. 57
Stoic fusion and modern fission: Survival cannot depend on what happens to someone elsep. 83
Memory: Locke's return to Epicureans and Stoicsp. 94
Platonism: impersonal selves, bundles, and differentiation
Is the true self individual in the Platonist tradition from Plato to Averroes?p. 115
Bundles and differentiation of individualsp. 137
Identity and persona in ethics
Individual persona vs. universalizabilityp. 157
Plutarch: narrative and a whole lifep. 172
Self as practical reason: Epictetus' inviolable self and Aristotle's deliberate choicep. 181
Impossibility of self-knowledgep. 201
Infallibility of self-knowledge: Cogito and Flying Manp. 212
Knowing self through others versus direct and invariable self-knowledgep. 230
Unity of self-awarenessp. 245
Ownerless streams of consciousness rejected
Why I am not a stream of consciousnessp. 265
The debate between ancient Buddhism and the Nyaya schoolp. 278
Mortality and loss of self
How might we survive death?p. 301
Could we survive through time going in a circle?p. 316
If we do not survive death, is it irrational to feel dismay?p. 330
Table of thinkersp. 343
Select bibliography of secondary literaturep. 345
General indexp. 365
Index locorump. 387
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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