Dream, Death, and the Self

Dream, Death, and the Self

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"Might this be a dream?" In this book, distinguished philosopher J. J. Valberg approaches the familiar question about dream and reality by seeking to identify its subject matter: what is it that would be the dream if "this" were a dream? It turns out to be a subject matter that contains the whole of the world, space, and time but which, like consciousness for Sartre, is nothing "in itself." This subject matter, the "personal horizon," lies at the heart of the main topics--the first person, the self, and the self in time--explored at length in the book. The personal horizon is, Valberg contends, the subject matter whose center each of us occupies, and which for each of us ceases with death. This ceasing to be presents itself solipsistically not just as the end of everything "for me" but as the end of everything absolutely. Yet since it is the same for everyone, this cannot be. Death thus confronts us with an impossible fact: something that cannot be but will be. The puzzle about death is one of several extraphilosophical puzzles about the self that Valberg discusses, puzzles that can trouble everyday consciousness without any contribution from philosophy.
Nor can philosophy resolve the puzzles. Its task is to get to the bottom of them, and in this respect to understand ourselves--a task philosophy has always set itself.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 520 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 31.24mm | 709g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 1 halftone. 2 line illus.
  • 0691128596
  • 9780691128597
  • 946,125

Back cover copy

"Valberg's book is thoughtful, original, and challenging. He contends that the right sort of attention to the skeptical possibility that one might now be dreaming and to the fact that one will die reveals a common subject matter: that within which all one's experience unfolds, what he calls 'the personal horizon' and sometimes 'consciousness.' Valberg argues further that a proper understanding of central problems about self-reference, self-knowledge, embodiment, and personal identity demands attention to this same horizonal sense of self."--Randall Havas, author of Nietzsche's Genealogy

"In J. J. Valberg's extraordinary book, one finds a distinctive conception of philosophical problems, a highly original response to dream skepticism, a deep interpretation of the meaning of death, and a groundbreaking discussion of personal identity. Valberg's position is both striking and masterfully developed. The puzzles he discusses are of considerable philosophical importance."--Douglas G. Winblad, Vassar College
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Table of contents

Preface xv INTRODUCTION: Philosophical Discovery and Philosophical Puzzles 1 Int.1 Discovering What We Already Know 1 Int.2 The Socratic Conception of Philosophical Discovery 2 Int.3 Wittgenstein: Insidership and Philosophical Discovery 3 Int.4 Philosophical Discovery and Resistance 6 Int.5 The Presumptuousness of a Claim to Philosophical Discovery 7 Int.6 Conceptual Analysis and the Communal Horizon 9 Int.7 The Personal Horizon 11 Int.8 Philosophical Anticipations of the Personal Horizon 13 Int.9 Two Types of Philosophical Puzzle 18 Int.10 The Extraphilosophical Puzzles 20 PART ONE: Dream THE MEANING OF THE DREAM HYPOTHESIS Chapter 1: The Dream Hypothesis and the Argument from Internality 27 1.1 Our Purpose in Raising the Dream Hypothesis 27 1.2 That the Dream/Reality Contrast Is Extrinsic to the Subject Matter of the Dream Hypothesis 28 1.3 The Argument from Internality 31 1.4 Dream and the Law of Excluded Middle 34 1.5 The Dream Hypothesis and Space 40 1.6 The Dream Hypothesis and Time 43 1.7 The Dream Hypothesis and the World 48 Chapter 2: The Dream Hypothesis: Identity and the First Person 53 2.1 A Puzzle about Identity 53 2.2 Representation and Identity 54 2.3 A Way out of the Puzzle 57 2.4 The Dream Hypothesis and the First-Person Singular 61 2.5 The Subject versus the Dreamer of a Dream; The Positional Conception of the Self 64 2.6 Emerging from a Dream and the First Person 68 Chapter 3: The Confusion of Standpoint 71 3.1 Dreams and the Infinity of Time 71 3.2 Time and the Confusion of Standpoint 74 3.3 Descartes and the Dream Hypothesis 76 3.4 Dream Skepticism versus Memory Skepticism 78 3.5 Real-Life Uncertainty about the Dream Hypothesis 80 Chapter 4: The Subject Matter of the Dream Hypothesis 84 4.1 Is the Argument from Internality Valid? 84 4.2 The Subject Matter of the Dream Hypothesis and Grammatical Illusion 86 4.3 Alternative Formulations of the Dream Hypothesis 88 4.4 Reality 91 4.5 What Is the Subject Matter of the Dream Hypothesis? 94 4.6 The Horizonal versus Phenomenal Conception of Mind 97 DREAM SKEPTICISM Chapter 5: The Dream Hypothesis and the Skeptical Challenge 101 5.1 The Skeptical Argument 101 5.2 The Usual Argument for Dream Skepticism; Immanent versus Transcendent Dream Skepticism 105 5.3 The Uniqueness of Transcendent Dream Skepticism 108 5.4 Dream Skepticism and the External World 110 5.5 Nozick on the Tank Hypothesis 113 Chapter 6: Responding to Dream Skepticism 119 6.1 Is the Dream Hypothesis a Pseudo Hypothesis? 119 6.2 Whether It Would Matter if THIS Were a Dream 122 6.3 The General Form of My Response to the Dream Hypothesis 126 6.4 I Am with Others: Metaphysical Equality and the Claim to Preeminence 128 6.5 The Commitment to (O) 131 6.6 Raising the Dream Hypothesis in Conversation: Forcing a Withdrawal to the First Person 134 6.7 Withdrawing to the First Person and the Horizonal Use of the First Person 136 6.8 Why It Is Rationally Impossible to Believe the Dream Hypothesis 138 6.9 The Space of Horizons 141 6.10 Other Minds 144 6.11 Skepticism and Solipsism 146 PART TWO: Death THE MEANING OF DEATH Chapter 7: I Will Die 153 7.1 Dream and Death; Discovering the Meaning of Death 153 7.2 Being Disturbed by the Prospect of Death 154 7.3 That the Prospect of Death Holds Up Something Not Just Awful but Incomprehensible; Death and Self-Deception 157 7.4 Reacting to the Prospect of Death: A Text 160 7.5 Philosophical Reflection and Real-Life Disturbance 165 Chapter 8: The Subject Matter and "Mineness" of My Death 168 8.1 The Prospect of Death 168 8.2 I Will Cease to Be 171 8.3 Death and the Stream of Mental States 173 8.4 The World and the Subject Matter of Death 177 8.5 The "Mineness" of My Death and the Horizonal Use of the First Person 181 DEATH AND SOLIPSISM Chapter 9: Solipsism 185 9.1 My Horizon and the Horizon 185 9.2 The Solipsism of Wittgenstein's Tractatus 188 9.3 Solipsism and Self-Consciousness 192 9.4 Kripke on the Solipsism of the Tractatus 195 9.5 Negativism 198 Chapter 10: Death and the Truth of Solipsism 201 10.1 Solipsism and My Life with Others 201 10.2 Relativized Solipsism 204 10.3 Solipsism and the Meaning of Death 206 10.4 Qualifying the NOTHINGNESS of Death 209 Chapter 11: The Awfulness and Incomprehensibility of Death 215 11.1 The Awfulness of Death 215 11.2 The Two Forms of the Impossibility of Death 219 11.3 The Temporal Impossibility of Death 220 11.4 Consciousness and Causation 222 11.5 The Solipsistic Impossibility of Death 227 11.6 The "Aloneness" of the Dying Subject 228 11.7 The Puzzles of Death and the Causation of Consciousness 232 PART THREE: The Self POSSIBILITY AND THE SELF Chapter 12: Imagination and the Cartesian Self 237 12.1 What Is "the Self"? 237 12.2 The Cartesian Argument 237 12.3 Imagination and Proof 240 12.4 Exhibiting Possibilities in Imagination 242 12.5 Imagination and Experiential Possibility 245 12.6 Experiential Possibilities and Possibilities of Essence 247 12.7 The Paralogism of Imagination 249 12.8 The Cartesian Reply 251 Chapter 13: Metaphysical Possibility and the Self 255 13.1 Metaphysical Possibility 255 13.2 Metaphysical Possibility and the Self 257 13.3 The Logic of the Self 259 13.4 Naturalizing the Self 261 THE POSITIONAL CONCEPTION OF THE SELF Chapter 14: Preliminary Reflections on the Positional Conception of the Self 264 14.1 Nagel's Puzzle about "Being Me" 264 14.2 Individual Essence: Frege on Our "Particular and Primitive" Mode of Self-Presentation 265 14.3 My Body and Me (the Human Being That I Am) 269 14.4 The Multiplicity of the Phenomenology of the Subject Position 271 14.5 The Standing/Operative Ambiguity 273 14.6 Causal Centrality 275 14.7 Causation and the Phenomenology of the Subject Position 279 14.8 Orientational Centrality 281 14.9 The Sense in Which the Positional and Horizonal Conceptions of the Self Are "Always in Play" 282 Chapter 15: The Phenomenology of the Subject Position 286 15.1 Perceptual Centrality: The Visual and Tactual Appearing of My Body 286 15.2 Perceptual Centrality: The Visual Appearing of Myself 290 15.3 Perceptual Centrality: Views of Myself 293 15.4 Centrality of Feeling: Figuring as the Space of Feeling 297 15.5 The Centrality of Feeling: The Sense in Which the Space of Feeling (My Body-Space) Is a "Space" 299 15.6 Centrality of Feeling: The Ontological Dependence of My Body-Space on My Body 304 15.7 Volitional Centrality: Acting/Will and the Phenomenology of the Subject Position 307 15.8 Volitional Centrality: The Phenomenology of Will 309 15.9 Volitional Centrality: The "Mineness" of My Actions 315 15.10 Volitional Centrality: Phenomenology and Causality 319 THE FIRST PERSON Chapter 16: The Uses of the First Person 321 16.1 Introduction 321 16.2 The Referential Use of the First Person 322 16.3 Reference and the Use of "I" as Subject/Object 324 16.4 "I Am Thinking ... /I See ..." 329 16.5 The Positional Use of the First Person 334 16.6 The Horizonal Use of the First Person 337 Chapter 17: What Makes First-Person Reference First Personal? 342 17.1 The Meaning of the Question We Are Asking 342 17.2 Following the Rule for the Use of "I" 343 17.3 Inner First-Person Reference 346 17.4 Attitudes de Se 351 17.5 First-Person Reference and the Positional Conception of the Self 354 17.6 The First Person and Emptiness at the Center 355 TIME AND THE SELF Chapter 18: Temporalizing the Self 359 18.1 Introduction 359 18.2 Tense and the Phenomenology of the Subject Position 360 18.3 The Tense Asymmetry in the Phenomenology of the Subject Position 364 18.4 Tense and the Horizonal Self 366 Chapter 19: The Problem of Personal Identity 370 19.1 The Special Philosophical Problem of Personal Identity: The Problem of First-Person Identity 370 19.2 Imagining Myself Persisting through a Change of Human Beings (Bodies) 373 19.3 Locke's View of Personal Identity 376 19.4 Persistence and the Horizon 380 19.5 Remembering; The Past-Self Ambiguity 382 19.6 Possibility, Personal Identity, and Naturalizing the Self 387 Chapter 20: Time and the Horizon 394 20.1 The Oneness of the Horizon 394 20.2 Skepticism about the Oneness over Time of My Horizon 397 20.3 Kant's Third Paralogism: The Self "in Time" and the Self That "Time Is In" 400 Chapter 21: My Past 408 21.1 The Availability in Memory of Past Events 408 21.2 The Argument from Pastness 410 21.3 Being Open to the Availability of the Past 413 21.4 Memory Images 417 21.5 Letting the Past Be Past 420 21.6 Moving from Inside to Outside the Sphere of Phenomenological Reflection 422 21.7 The Puzzle of Memory and the Puzzle of Experience 426 21.8 The Puzzle of Memory and the Problems of First-Person Identity 429 Chapter 22: My Future 432 22.1 My Future versus the Future 432 22.2 My Future and My Brain: Jumping over Death 434 22.3 Parfit on My Future Self 439 22.4 Nozick's "Closest Continuer" Theory 444 Chapter 23: My Future: The Puzzle of Division 450 23.1 Personal Identity and Possibility (Review) 450 23.2 The Possibility of Division 451 23.3 Parfit on Division 454 23.4 Other Responses to the Puzzle of Division: Nozick and Lewis 458 23.5 The Puzzle of Division and the Identity-Framework 463 23.6 Horizonal Doubling versus Splits within the Horizon 465 23.7 The Impossibility of Horizonal Doubling 468 23.8 The Unity of Consciousness 470 23.9 The Puzzle of Division 472 Chapter 24: Conclusion: The Extraphilosophical Puzzles 474 24.1 The Extra- versus Purely Philosophical Puzzles 474 24.2 The Puzzle of Division as an Extraphilosophical Puzzle 476 24.3 The Puzzle of Division and the Puzzle of the Causation of Consciousness 478 24.4 Our Causal Entrapment in the World 480 24.5 The Extraphilosophical Puzzles and the Horizonal Subject Matter 482 Bibliography 487 Index 491
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Review quote

"In this long, meditative, worrying book Valberg explores and defends these thoughts about himself and searches for their sources and their implications for all of us. It is an intense, personal book, aspiring to the kind of philosophical reflections that brings to light something we all know about ourselves already, but for various reasons are unwilling or unable to acknowledge."--Barry Stroud, Times Literary Supplement
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About J. J. Valberg

J. J. Valberg is Senior Fellow of Philosophy at University College London. He is the author of "The Puzzle of Experience".
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