The Situated Self

The Situated Self

The Situated Self

The Situated Self

Synopsis

J.T. Ismael's monograph is an ambitious contribution to metaphysics and the philosophy of language and mind. She tackles a philosophical question whose origin goes back to Descartes: What am I? The self is not a mere thing among things--but if so, what is it, and what is its relationship tothe world? Ismael is an original and creative thinker who tries to understand our problematic concepts about the self and how they are related to our use of language in particular.

Excerpt

There are some problems in philosophy that give you vertigo, and for the type of philosopher that is attracted to these kinds of problems, the question ‘What am I?’ is irresistible. There is a long tradition in philosophy, supported by powerfully persuasive arguments, that holds that selves resist incorporation into the natural order, i.e., that we cannot be mere things among things. The facts about our reflective view of ourselves that underwrite the philosophical arguments are closely related to the pressures that lead to the instinctive dualism of the man on the Clapham Omnibus. They include the intimacy of reflexive representation and its immunity to error, the privacy and the irreducible quality of our mental lives, the ability to separate oneself in imagination from all of one’s properties, and the simplicity and apparent unanalyzability of the notion of a self. This book is an attempt to gain some understanding of these pressures, to isolate them, and to see if they can be resolved. I see them as formal difficulties rooted in the structure of reflexive thought and argue that the obstacles they present to a naturalistic conception of the self are resolved when we adopt an embedded, embodied view of mind. In part I, I introduce the embedded view, taking a model of the mind derived from Frege as foil, and using an adaptation of Putnam’s Model-Theoretic Argument to motivate the transition. I argue that the Fregean Model has anomalies that reveal a deeper, supporting structure. In part II, I work through some of . . .

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