Authority and Estrangement

Authority and Estrangement : An Essay on Self-Knowledge

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Since Socrates, and through Descartes to the present day, the problems of self-knowledge have been central to philosophy's understanding of itself. Today the idea of "first-person authority"--the claim of a distinctive relation each person has toward his or her own mental life--has been challenged from a number of directions, to the point where many doubt the person bears any distinctive relation to his or her own mental life, let alone a privileged one. In Authority and Estrangement, Richard Moran argues for a reconception of the first-person and its claims. Indeed, he writes, a more thorough repudiation of the idea of privileged inner observation leads to a deeper appreciation of the systematic differences between self-knowledge and the knowledge of others, differences that are both irreducible and constitutive of the very concept and life of the person. Masterfully blending philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Moran develops a view of self-knowledge that concentrates on the self as agent rather than spectator.
He argues that while each person does speak for his own thought and feeling with a distinctive authority, that very authority is tied just as much to the disprivileging of the first-person, to its specific possibilities of alienation. Drawing on certain themes from Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others, the book explores the extent to which what we say about ourselves is a matter of discovery or of creation, the difficulties and limitations in being "objective" toward ourselves, and the conflicting demands of realism about oneself and responsibility for oneself. What emerges is a strikingly original and psychologically nuanced exploration of the contrasting ideals of relations to oneself and relations to others.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 16.26mm | 340g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691089450
  • 9780691089454
  • 418,732

Table of contents

Outline of the Chapters xi Preface xxvii Acknowledgments xxxvii CHAPTER ONE The Image of Self-Knowledge 1 1.1 The Fortunes of Self-Consciousness: Descartes, Freud, and Cognitive Science 4 1.2 The Possibility of Self-Knowledge: Introspection, Perception, and Deflation 12 1.3 Constitutive Relations and Detection 20 1.4 "Conscious Belief": Locating the First-Person 27 CHAPTER TWO Making Up Your Mind: Self-Interpretation and Self-Constitution 36 2.1 Self-Interpretation, Objectivity, and Independence 38 2.2 Self-Fulfillment and Its Discontents 42 2.3 The Whole Person's Discrete States 48 2.4 Belief and the Activity of Interpreting 51 2.5 The Process of Self-Creation: Theoretical and Deliberative Questions 55 2.6 Relations of Transparency 60 CHAPTER THREE Self-Knowledge as Discovery and as Resolution 66 3.1 Wittgenstein and Moore's Paradox 69 3.2 Sartre, Self-Consciousness, and the Limits of the Empirical 77 3.3 Avowal and Attribution 88 3.4 Binding and Unbinding 94 CHAPTER FOUR The Authority of Self-Consciousness 100 4.1 Expressing, Reporting, and Avowing 100 4.2 Rationality, Awareness, and Control: A Look Inside 107 4.3 From Supervision to Authority: Agency and the Attitudes 113 4.4 The Retreat to Evidence 120 4.5 First-Person Immediacy and Authority 124 4.6 Introspection and the Deliberative Point of View 134 4.7 Reflection and the Demands of Authority: Apprehension, Arrest, and Conviction 138 4.8 The Reflective Agent 148 CHAPTER FIVE Impersonality, Expression, and the Undoing of Self-Knowledge 152 5.1 Self-Other Asymmetries and Their Skeptical Interpretation 153 5.2 The Partiality of the Impersonal Stance 158 5.3 Self-Effacement and Third-Person Privilege 166 5.4 Paradoxes of Self-Censure 170 5.5 Incorporation and the Expressive Reading 182 5.6 "Not First-Personal Enough?" 187 Bibliography 195 Index 201
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Review quote

"Authority and Estrangement is simply one of the most striking and original books in the Philosophy of Mind written in the last ten years. It is a terrific book. It has been anticipated for a long time, and it will not disappoint. In quality of content, it is first rate through and through. Moreover, it is positively exciting to read." - George Wilson, University of California at Davis
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About Richard Moran

Richard Moran is Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University.
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Rating details

54 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
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4 30% (16)
3 35% (19)
2 9% (5)
1 0% (0)
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