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What's Missing in Episodic Self-Experience?

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: Galen Strawson has articulated a spectrum of 'temporal temperaments' populated at one end by 'Diachronics,' who experience their selves (understood as a 'present mental entity') as persisting across time, and at the other end by 'Episodics', who lack this sense of temporal extension. Strawson provides lucid descriptions of Episodic self-experience, and further argues that nothing normatively significant depends upon Diachronicity. Thus, neither temperament is inherently preferable. However, this last claim requires a non-reductive phenomenology of Diachronicity that Strawson does not supply. I offer Kierkegaard's account of 'contemporaneity' as a candidate for this missing phenomenology of Diachronic self-experience. Kierkegaard offers a compelling description of Diachronic self-experience that offers more parsimonious explanations for certain puzzling features of Episodicity than Strawson's account does. Yet Kierkegaard's account is irreducibly normative in character; if Strawsonians reject this account of Diachronicity, they must either provide another, normatively-neutral one, or abandon neutrality between Episodicity and Diachronicity.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Soeren Kierkegaard Research Centre, University of Copenhagen., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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