Raymond Martin and John Barresi trace the development of Western ideas about personal identity and reveal the larger intellectual trends, controversies, and ideas that have revolutionized the way we think about ourselves.
This book is a major contribution to the philosophical literature on the nature of the self, personal identity and survival. Its distinctive methodology is one that is phenomenologically descriptive rather than metaphysical and normative. On the basis of this approach Raymond Martin shows that the distinction between self and other is not nearly as fundamental a feature of our so-called egoistic values as has been traditionally thought. He explains how the belief in a self as a fixed, continuous point of (...) observation enters into our experience of ourselves and the world. He also reveals the explosive implications this thesis has for recent debates over personal identity and what matters in survival. This is the first book of analytic philosophy directly on the phenomenology of identity and survival. It builds bridges between analytic and phenomenological traditions and, thus, to open up a new field of investigation. (shrink)
William Hazlitt's moment occurred in 1794, when he was sixteen years old. In that moment Hazlitt thought he realized three things: that we are naturally connected to ourselves in the past and present but only imagina-.
This article examines the historical conception of the words self and person in philosophical theory. It discusses John Locke's definition of the self as the conscious thinking thing and the person as a thinking intelligent being. It describes the Platonist view of the self as spiritual substance and Aristotelian belief that the self is a hylomorphic substance. It also explores the relevant topics of Epicureanism atomism, Cartesian dualism, and the developmental and social origin of self-concepts.
_Naturalization of the Soul_ charts the development of the concepts of soul and self in Western thought, from Plato to the present. It fills an important gap in intellectual history by being the first book to emphasize the enormous intellectual transformation in the eighteenth century, when the religious 'soul' was replaced first by a philosophical 'self' and then by a scientific 'mind'. The authors show that many supposedly contemporary theories of the self were actually discussed in the eighteenth century, and (...) recognize the status of William Hazlitt as one of the most important Personal Identity theorists of the British Enlightenment, for his direct relevance to contemporary thinking. Now available in paperback, _Naturaliazation of the Soul_ is essential reading for anyone interested in the issues at the core of the Western philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Why do we interpret the past as we do, rather than in some other way or not at all? What is the significance of the fact that we interpret the past? What are historical interpretations? Raymond Martin's approach to these questions transcends both the positivist and humanistic perspectives that have polarized Anglo-American philosophy of history. Martin goes to the source of this polarization by diagnosing a deep-seated flaw in the dominant analytic approach during the period from 1935 to 1975, namely, (...) the emphasis on conceptual analysis rather than the examination of actual historical controversies. As an alternative, Martin proposes an empirical approach that examines what makes one historical interpretation better than its competitors. In addressing how historians should decide which explanations are better, Martin opts for a case-by-case analysis of historiographical practice as opposed to establishing general criteria. His book offers several detailed case studies, involving such topics as the collapse of Lowland Maya civilization in the ninth century A.D., the fall of Rome, and the alleged historical priority of St. Mark's gospel over the other synoptic gospels. Originally published in 1989. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905. (shrink)
My thesis is that there is a deep, intractable difference, not between history and science per se, but between paradigmatically central kinds of historical interpretations-call them humanistic historical interpretations-and theories of any sort that are characteristic of the physical sciences. The difference is that unlike theories in the physical sciences, good humanistic historical interpretations reveal subjectivity, agency, and meaning. I use the controversy provoked by Gordon Wood's recent reinterpretation of the American Revolution to illustrate and substantiate this thesis. I also (...) use it to support the claim that unless one attends to the ways in which humanistic historical interpretations reveal subjectivity, agency, and meaning one has no hope whatsoever of getting the epistemology of historical studies right. (shrink)
Many contemporary historians and philosophers are dissatisfied both with the accounts traditional analytic philosophers have given of the epistemological dimensions of historical studies and also with the ways many continental philosophers more recently have brushed aside the need for any such accounts. Yet no one has yet proposed a unified research program that could serve as the central focus for a better epistemologically-oriented approach. Such a research program would not only address epistemological problems from a perspective that would be of (...) methodological interest to historians but would also be directly responsive to fundamental motivations people have for caring about historical studies in the first place. The main purpose of this review essay is to sketch and then illustrate the main outlines of such a research program.Basic to this research program is the recognition that the overwhelmingly central epistemological complication that arises in the attempt to say what happened in the past and what it means that it happened is that there are always competing ways to interpret evidence. The problem is to discover which among these competing interpretations is best, which involves, among other things, discovering which among them is most likely to be true. Strategies are suggested for solving this problem, which, at the limit, would result in the articulation of generally applicable criteria for assessing competing historical interpretations. (shrink)
Does anyone ever survive his or her bodily death ? Could anyone? No speculative questions are older than these, or have been answered more frequently or more variously. None have been laid to rest more often, or — in our times — with more claimed decisiveness. Jay Rosenberg, for instance, no doubt speaks for many contemporary philosophers when he claims, in his recent book, to have ‘ demonstrated ’ that ‘ we cannot [even] make coherent sense of the supposed possibility (...) that a person's history might continue beyond that person's [bodily] death’. (shrink)
What really matters fundamentally in survival? That question—the one on which I focus—is not about what should matter or about metaphysics. Rather, it is a factual question the answer to which can be determined, if at all, only empirically. I argue that the answer to it is that in the case of many people it is not one’s own persistence, but continuing in ways that may involve one’s own cessation that really matters fundamentally in survival. Call this the surprising result. (...) What are we to make of it? According to several philosophers, not much. I argue that these philosophers are wrong. What best explains the surprising result is that in the case of many people one’s special concern for oneself in the future is not fundamental, but derived. I explain what this means. Finally I explain why the task of explaining empirically what matters fundamentally in survival is in some ways more like a meditative quest than a traditional inquiry in western philosophy or social science and, as such, is best answered not by psychologists, but by philosophers. (shrink)
“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all, . . . Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” – Luis Buñuel..
Judgments which assign relative importance to the causes of particular results can be objective. Historians usually do and can use a factual principle of selection to distinguish between causes and conditions and between more and less important causes. The judgments which distinguish between causes and conditions and the judgments which distinguish between more and less important causes require radically different analyses. In A. M. Jones's work on the decline and fall of Rome, he argued that increased barbarian pressure on the (...) West was the most important cause of Rome's fall. It is possible to understand this statement as an instantiation of the following: A was a more important cause of P relative to 0 than was B if 1) A and B were each a cause of P relative to 0 and 2) either A was necessary for P or B was not necessary for P and 3) had B not occurred, something would have occurred which more closely approximates P than had A not occurred. (shrink)
himself or a proper object of his egoistic self-concern. Hazlitt concluded that belief in personal identity must be an acquired imaginary conception and that since in reality each of us is no more related to his or her future self than to the future self of any other person none of us is 2 ‘.
This exceptional anthology immerses students in such powerful ideas that they will find themselves not just reading about, but actually participating in, the kind of philosophical thinking that can change the way they look at their lives and the world around them. Now in a new edition, The Experience of Philosophy features eighty-five readings that challenge students' thinking about God, freedom, reality, nothingness, death, and their own identities. Provocative and accessible, these selections have been carefully chosen for their ability to (...) draw students out of an ordinary frame of reference into exciting new territory. Although the editors include many classic sources from philosophers such as Plato, Descartes, Locke, and Kant, the emphasis is on contemporary writings. Articles by Derek Parfit, Bertrand Russell, and others help students see philosophy's links to literature, the natural sciences, and the physical and social sciences. The sixth edition features twelve new essays--by Augustine, Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Kolak, Georges Rey, Fred Dretske, David Reisman, Paul Teller, Clea F. Rees, Padmasiri de Silva, Daniel Kolak, Karl Marx, Anand Chandavarkar, and Vincent Hendricks--as well as more text boxes offering excerpts from other relevant works. The Experience of Philosophy, Sixth Edition, integrates helpful pedagogical aids including section introductions, a brief introduction to each selection, biographical information on each author, and questions before and after each reading to reinforce main ideas and promote thinking. Further readings after each selection direct students to additional material on related issues. Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, The Experience of Philosophy, Sixth Edition, encourages students to "do" philosophy, rather than just read about its history. (shrink)
God Matters is a state-of-the-art, accessible anthology of the major issues in philosophy of religion. Its accessibility is due to its mix of classic readings and brand new readings about contemporary issues, commissioned specifically with an undergraduate student in mind. These commissioned readings make the difficult concepts of contemporary philosophy of religion easy to understand, and are complemented by key excerpts from more technical philosophers' writing on the same subjects. The result is an engaging, comprehensive reader that introduces students to (...) the most important ideas in classical and contemporary philosophy of religion, to the most important thinkers, and even to excerpts from the key texts in which these thinkers presented their groundbreaking theories. (shrink)