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Phenomenology and agency: methodological and theoretical issues in Strawson's ‘the self’

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‘Phenomenology and Agency,’ an invited response to Galen Strawson's article on ‘The Self,’ shows how Strawson's putative phenomenological approach to the problem of the self fails to qualify as phenomenology and in turn fails to undergird his metaphysics of the self. It shows further how an item on his own list of fundamental experiences or conceptions of the self languishes for want of attention: Strawson virtually ignores ‘agency.’ The phenomenological procedure of bracketing, the concept of the non-alien that Husserl presents in his Fifth Cartesian Meditation, and developmental accounts of the self are discussed. Conclusions and implications are specified, including the dual implication that a metaphyiscs offered in advance of a bona fide epistemology is imprudent and that a recognition of the metaphysical corollary of materialism--animism, in the sense of being imbued with life, animated--is required for a veridical concept of ‘the self.’

Keywords: 'I govern'; Buddhist thought; animate organism; emergent sense of self; metaphysics; phenomenological methodology; tactile-kinesthetic body

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.

Publication date: April 1, 1999


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