The Constitution of Selves

The Constitution of Selves

3.63 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

An amnesia victim asking "Who am I?" means something different from a confused adolescent asking the same question. Marya Schechtman takes issue with analytic philosophy's emphasis on the first sort of question to the exclusion of the second. The problem of personal identity, she suggests, is usually understood to be a question about historical life. What she calls the "reidentification question" is taken to be the real metaphysical question of personal identity, whereas questions about beliefs or values and the actions they prompt, the "characterization question," are often presented as merely metaphorical. Failure to recognize the philosophical importance of both these questions, Schechtman argues, has undermined analytic philosophy's attempts at offering a satisfying account of personal identity. Considerations related to the characterization question creep unrecognized into discussions of reidentification, with the result that neither question is adequately addressed. Schechtman shows how separating the two questions allows for a more fruitful approach to the reidentification question, and she develops her own narrative account of characterization. She suggests that persons constitute their identities by developing autobiographical narratives that bear the right relation to facts about the environment, the general concept of a person, and other people's concepts of who they are.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 10mm | 367.41g
  • Ithaca, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0801474175
  • 9780801474170
  • 937,407

Back cover copy

An amnesia victim who asks "Who am I?" means something different from a confused adolescent asking the same question. Marya Schechtman takes issue with analytic philosophy's emphasis on the first sort of question to the exclusion of the second. The problem of personal identity, she suggests, is usually understood to be a question about historical life. What she calls the "reidentification question" is taken to be the real metaphysical question of personal identity, whereas questions about beliefs or values and the actions they prompt - the "characterization question" - are often presented as merely metaphorical. Failure to recognize the philosophical importance of both, Schechtman argues, has undermined analytic philosophy's attempts to offer a satisfying account of personal identity. Considerations related to the characterization question creep unrecognized into discussions of reidentification, with the result that neither question is adequately addressed. Schechtman shows how separating the two allows for a more fruitful approach to the reidentification question, and she develops her own narrative account of characterization.
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Review quote

"This excellent and engaging book succeeds in raising questions about the dominant approach to asking questions about our identities and our concern for the future, as well as in offering... the beginnings of an alternative way to ask and answer such questions. That's quite a lot of philosophical work in such a short book." * Ethics * "Schechtman has greatly enriched the discussion of personal identity. This stimulating book enlarges our sense of the philosophically possible." -- Christopher Williams, University of Nevada at Reno * The Philosophical Review *
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About Marya Schechtman

Marya Schechtman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
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Rating details

22 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 23% (5)
4 36% (8)
3 27% (6)
2 9% (2)
1 5% (1)
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