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Anscombe, G. E. M., , . The First Person
1975, In Samuel D. Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 45-65.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: Descartes and St Augustine share not only the argument Cogtto ergo sum – in Augustine Si fallor, sum (De Civitate Dei, XI, 26) – but also the corollary argument claiming to prove that the mind (Augustine) or, as Descartes puts it, this I, is not any kind of body. “I could suppose I had no body,” wrote Descartes, “but not that I was not”, and inferred that “this I” is not a body. Augustine says “The mind knows itself to think”, and “it knows its own substance”: hence “it is certain of being that alone, which alone it is certain of being” (De Trinitate, Book XI. Augustine is not here explicitly offering an argument in the first person, as Descartes is. The first-person character of Descartes’ argument means that each person must administer it to himself in the first person; and the assent to St Augustine’s various propositions will equally be made, if at all, by appropriating them in the first person. In these writers there is the assumption that when one says “I” or “the mind”, one is naming something such that the knowledge of its existence, which is a knowledge of itself as thinking in all the various modes, determines what it is that is known to exist.

Comment: This text is best suited to more advanced readers. Anscombe shows that ‘I’ is not a referring expression by taking the arguments to this effect to their logical conclusions, thus demonstrating their absurdity. She then moves on, in light of this, to explore the relationship between our command of the first person and self-consciousness – thus demonstrating the pragmatic role of ‘I’. The text is quite dense and some knowledge of arguments to the effect that ‘I’ is a referring expression (as well as the common issues with these) is required. This text would be suitable for advanced courses on the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind or 20th century analytic philosophy.

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Chakrabarti, Arindam, , . Ownerless Emotions in Rasa-Aesthetics
2011, In Ken-ichi Sasaki (ed.). Asian Aesthetics. National Univeristy of Singapore Press.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: Chakrabarti explores the possibilities of rasa theory via the question of whose emotion is experienced when an audience relishes a work of art. Chakrabarti argues for the existence of a “centerless non-singular subjectivity” according to which the special emotions savored in aesthetic experience do not have specific owners. These personless sentiments indicate an ethical relationship between aesthetic imagination and moral unselfishness.

Comment: This text could serve as both an overview of rasa theory in Indian aesthetics, as a basis for comparative work in cross-cultural aesthetics, as well as comparative philosophy.

Related reading:

  • Abhinavabhāratī. Abhinavagupta. In Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni: Text, Commentary of Abhinava Bharati by Abhinavaguptacarya and English Translation. M.M. Ghosh (ed.). Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation, 2006.
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Macdonald, Cynthia, , . Externalism and first-person authority
1995, Synthese 104 (1):99-122.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, the author explores the relation between content externalism, i.e., the idea that the content of our thought is determines by factors of the environment, and first-person authority, i.e., the idea that subjects are authoritive with respect to the content of their own intentional states. The author develps an account of first-person authoritive that results being compatible with externalism.

Comment: It is good as a further reading on the topic of content/semantic externalism.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Piper, Adrian M. S., , . Rationality and the Structure of the Self, Volume I: The Humean Conception
2008, APRA Foundation Berlin.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Adrian M. S. Piper

Publisher’s Note: The Humean conception of the self consists in the belief-desire model of motivation and the utility-maximizing model of rationality. This conception has dominated Western thought in philosophy and the social sciences ever since Hobbes’ initial formulation in Leviathan and Hume’s elaboration in the Treatise of Human Nature. Bentham, Freud, Ramsey, Skinner, Allais, von Neumann and Morgenstern and others have added further refinements that have brought it to a high degree of formal sophistication. Late twentieth century moral philosophers such as Rawls, Brandt, Frankfurt, Nagel and Williams have taken it for granted, and have made use of it to supply metaethical foundations for a wide variety of normative moral theories. But the Humean conception of the self also leads to seemingly insoluble problems about moral motivation, rational final ends, and moral justification. Can it be made to work?

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Schechtman, Marya, , . The Narrative Self
2011, In Shaun Gallagher (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Self. OUP Oxford.
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Added by: Rie Iizuka, Contributed by:

Abstract: This article examines the narrative approach to self found in philosophy and related disciplines. The strongest versions of the narrative approach hold that both a person’s sense of self and a person’s life are narrative in structure, and this is called the hermeneutical narrative theory. This article provides a provisional picture of the content of the narrative approach and considers some important objections that have been raised to the narrative approach. It defends the view that the self constitutes itself in narrative and argues for something less than the hermeneutical view insofar as the narrative is less agency-oriented and without an overarching thematic unity.

Comment: This chapter offers a good introduction to the concept of narrative self. It surveys a few different types of narrative self, and covers some representative objections. The article would be perfect in classes focusing on different concepts of self, and on personal identity in general.

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