Kristina Bodetti, “Survey of the Metaphysics of Self”
The purpose of this paper is to review some prominent philosophical theories of self from the Medieval, Modern and Contemporary eras and to examine their commonalities as well as to see where they diverge. Bodetti also explores how science attempts to answer questions about the self and where it fails, arguing that the places where science fails is not due to a lack of advancements yet to come but rather to a misunderstanding of the question. The paper argues that the concept of self refers to an abstract idea that can only be adequately answered by means of abstract thought. It is also argued that it is the proper place of philosophy to answer these questions since philosophy is the means by which we partake in abstract thought experiments aimed at the type of intangible knowledge we search for when speaking of the self. The field dedicated to the understanding of non-physical concepts is rightly known as metaphysics. Finally, Bodetti attempts to demonstrate how philosophy fills in where science fails and why science will not be able to replace philosophy in these areas in the future.
This study considers the importance of using clothing as an indicator to examine how social positions have been shaped for women, particularly in nineteenth century. Liao locates here analysis of social identity and self identity in Alva Noë’s arguments about the dynamics of self and environment. Liao found that the shift from household role to economic independence that women gained during the late nineteenth century compelled with social mobility enabled women to develop consumer power and to express themselves via clothes that were chosen personally, rather than emulating the upper social class . Women gradually gathered opportunities in the work place and leisure sphere due to growing social equality with men. These social conditions afforded greater opportunities for the realization of self and the articulation of particular personae.
The theoretical concert of neuroscience, personal narrative, phenomenology and affect offers critical insight into the primacy of corporeality in comprehending selfhood. Shona Mari Sapphire orchestrates a cross-disciplinary analysis on the theories of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, literary author Siri Hustvedt, and feminist cultural philosophers Elizabeth Grosz and Lisa Blackman, demonstrating the validity of the body’s generative function in understanding selfhood. Sapphire identifies surprising consonance within these disparate methodological standpoints, which are sometimes characterized as oppositional to one another in basic, foundational ways. How do a neuroscientist and a feminist cultural philosopher view the vitality of the body’s active and reactive life-forces in a similar manner? Why are body image and body schema deduced comparably by thinkers from phenomenological, affective, and neurological perspectives? How do a literary author and cultural philosopher traverse theoretical thresholds in their assessment of the blurred borders between self and other? These questions form the basis of a meaningful dialogue on the relationship between corporeality and selfhood-revealing the permeability of perceived boundaries between body, self, mind, and other.
Defining the self is a difficult task and has been the undertaking of philosophy and, more currently, neuroscience and biology for years. On the formulation of consciousness and the self, most conceive neuroscience and philosophy to be at separate ends of the methodological and conceptual spectrum. Philosophy tends to focus on the conceptual level, using logic and reason to define the self through subjectivity and phenomenology, while neuroscience puts emphasis on empirical research and experimentation to find the self in the brain. It is the goal of this paper to illuminate a common dialogue between the contemporary leaders in each field to show that the two are actually complementary in arriving at a complete understanding of the self. Because the concept of the self is broad and difficult to define with any singular discipline, a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach is necessary. Therefore, this dialogue between philosophy and neuroscience could work to elucidate a more refined understanding of the self. In showing how philosophy informs neuroscienctific research and how empirical neuroscientific evidence informs philosophical analysis, we should arrive at a constructive, collaborative effort in defining the self.