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Know thyself

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The burden of this article is that although the idea of ‘the self’which Galen Strawson decribes in his target article is initially very attractive, it eventually doesn't work. There is a lot of competition for a ‘pole position’notion -- ‘human’, ‘person’, psuche, ‘soul’, even ‘sake’-- and the idea of ‘self’does not seem to deserve the prize. What Strawson wants to do with the notion of a ‘self’can be done equally well, and more economically, by the first-person pronoun. A question raised repeatedly is: ‘What is a self worth wanting?’Perhaps the greatest area of disagreement with Strawson's article is with his idea that ‘the self’needs to have little or nothing to do with time-related plans and emotions: guilt and remorse; pride; hope and expectation; career choices . . . even such apparently mundane things as pension-plans -- in fact, any long-term forward- or backward-looking psychological phenomena. The question of realism (about ‘the self’) is pressed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: St Hilda's College, Oxford OX4 1DY, U.K.

Publication date: January 1, 1998


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