The Illusion of the Enduring Self

In Martine Nida-Rümelin & Julien Bugnon (eds.), The Phenomenology of Self-Awareness and the Nature of Conscious Subjects. Routledge (forthcoming)
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This paper is primarily about metaphysics; specifically, about a Cartesian view of the self, according to which it is a simple, enduring, non-material entity.I take a critical look at Nida-Rümelin’s novel conceptual arguments for this view and argue that they don’t give us decisive reasons to uphold the Cartesian view. But in Nida-Rümelin’s view, what is at stake in these arguments is not merely theoretical: the truth – and our beliefs about it – has practical consequences as well. In her view, if the Cartesian simple view of the self were false, we would have no reason to love and care for family and friends, and our special interest in our own future would be pointless. In the last section of this paper, I will say something about the sense in which it is right and the sense in which it is wrong to think that the metaphysics of the self has broader relevance for our lives.

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Katalin Balog
Rutgers University - Newark


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