Selves beyond the skin: Watsuji, “betweenness”, and self-loss in solitary confinement and dementia

Journal of Consciousness Studies (forthcoming)
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I develop Tetsurō Watsuji’s relational model of the self as “betweenness”. I argue that Watsuji’s view receives support from two case studies: solitary confinement and dementia. Both clarify the constitutive interdependence between the self and the social and material contexts of “betweenness” that define its lifeworld. They do so by providing powerful examples of what happens when the support and regulative grounding of this lifeworld is restricted or taken away. I argue further that Watsuji’s view helps see the other side of this deprivation, how reconstructing aspects of betweenness is, at the same time, a reconstruction of the self. I conclude by briefly indicating further consequences of this view.

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Joel Krueger
University of Exeter


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