Phenomenological approaches to personal identity

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (2):217-234 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This special issue addresses the debate on personal identity from a phenomenological viewpoint, especially contemporary phenomenological research on selfhood. In the introduction, we first offer a brief survey of the various classic questions related to personal identity according to Locke’s initial proposal and sketch out key concepts and distinctions of the debate that came after Locke. We then characterize the types of approach represented by post-Hegelian, German and French philosophies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We argue that whereas the Anglophone debates on personal identity were initially formed by the persistence question and the characterization question, the “Continental” tradition included remarkably intense debates on the individual or the self as being unique or “concrete,” deeply temporal and—as claimed by some philosophers, like Sartre and Foucault—unable to have any identity, if not one externally imposed. We describe the Continental line of thinking about the “self” as a reply and an adjustment to the post-Lockean “personal identity” question. These observations constitute the backdrop for our presentation of phenomenological approaches to personal identity. These approaches run along three lines: debates on the layers of the self, starting from embodiment and the minimal self and running all the way to the full-fledged concept of person; questions of temporal becoming, change and stability, as illustrated, for instance, by aging or transformative life-experiences; and the constitution of identity in the social, institutional, and normative space. The introduction thus establishes a structure for locating and connecting the different contributions in our special issue, which, as an ensemble, represent a strong and differentiated contribution to the debate on personal identity from a phenomenological perspective.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,656

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Narrative identity and phenomenology.Jakub Čapek - 2016 - Continental Philosophy Review 50 (3):359-375.
The Crucial Relation in Personal Identity.Patricia Kitcher - 1978 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):131-145.
Personal identity.Eric T. Olson - 2002 - In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell.
Narrative and Characterization.Karsten Witt - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (1):45-63.
Locke on Personal Identity: A Response to the Problems of His Predecessors.Ruth Boeker - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (3):407-434.
Personal identity is social identity.David Carr - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (2):341-351.
On what matters. Personal identity as a phenomenological problem.Steven Crowell - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (2):261-279.
Personal identity and the otherness of one’s own body.Jakub Čapek - 2019 - Continental Philosophy Review 52 (3):265-277.
When time becomes personal. Aging and personal identity.Christian Sternad - 2021 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (2):311-319.
Asymmetric Personal Identity.Theodore Sider - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (2):127-146.


Added to PP

84 (#172,974)

6 months
10 (#114,181)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Jakub Čapek
Charles University, Prague
Sophie Loidolt
Technical University of Darmstadt

References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.

View all 62 references / Add more references