Rationality and the Structure of the Self a Two-Volume Study in Kantian Metaethics

By Piper, Adrian M. S. | Artforum International, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Rationality and the Structure of the Self a Two-Volume Study in Kantian Metaethics


Piper, Adrian M. S., Artforum International


Adrian Piper's practice as a first-generation Conceptual artist in the 1960s led her to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; and this, in turn, to an in-depth study of philosophy that culminated in a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard and a successful academic career as a professor of philosophy. Though Piper has referred to this as her "day job," she has also often said that her philosophical work is the theory that her artwork puts into practice. That theory is now available in its entirety in her Rationality and the Structure of the Self. Volume I: The Humean Conception critiques the prevailing desire-centered conception of the self, and Volume II: A Kantian Conception develops an original Kantian alternative. Encompassing the history of moral and political philosophy as well as engaging head-on with contemporary debates in ethics, economics and philosophical psychology, Piper's two-volume project has been praised by philosophers as "groundbreaking," "very powerful," "original and important," "brilliant," indispensable," and "a highly significant contribution." Art professionals will find it equally useful for understanding Piper's unique contribution to Conceptual art and to art theory more generally.

RATIONALITY AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE SELF, Volume I: The Humean Conception

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. …

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