Chapter 4 self lecture Consciousness and the Self Chapter section: A. Consciousness and the Self: From Descartes to Kant

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Beyond Individualism

  1. Jacques Derrida's movement, "deconstruction," is the attempt to offer a social analysis and criticism that recognizes its own identification with the culture it criticizes. To "deconstruct" a theory is not to destroy it nor to rebuild it but rather to "reread" it. Derrida claims that the "unified self" is just a product of Western culture and that it is now dying at the hands of its own creator. If there is self, he suggests, "it must be plural."

Lecture 4. The Concept of Personal "Essence"
Chapter section: D. One Self? Any Self? Questioning the Concept of Personal "Essence"

  1. A Literary Self, the Myth of the Body Herman Hesse, in his novel Steppenwolf, presents a character whose "self" is a multiple or pluralistic self. Harry Haller lives with the myth of "two selves": one human, rational, and well behaved; the other beastly, wild, and wolflike. Harry's unhappiness stems from his oversimplified notion of self, according to Hesse. Hesse believes that the simile self is a strictly "bourgeois convention." Why do we have to regard the self as a single unit? He suggests that it is because we have one body, so we assume that we have one self.

  2. Feminist Notions of Selfhood

    1. Luce Irigaray claims that the "essential" self is limiting and oppressive, particularly when applied to women. She claims that the genuine and free identity of a woman is a multiplicity or plurality of characters. She believes that the female is not a sex at all. She is claiming that there may not be any natural masculinity or femininity at all in the plural "self" from which we sort them out.

    2. Genevieve Lloyd criticizes the mind-body distinction from a feminist perspective. This is because our society has come to accept the stereotype of the "masculinity" of the mind and the "femininity" of the body. Feminists believe that this forces sexism into our notions of human nature.

  3. Eastern Religions Eastern religions have long criticized the notion of the unified "self." Some Eastern religions claim that the idea of the self is just an illusion that one accepts out of moral weakness or backwardness.

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