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University of Chicago Press
Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life, and Death

Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life, and Death

by Richard SorabjiRichard Sorabji
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Drawing on classical antiquity and Western and Eastern philosophy, Richard Sorabji tackles in Self the question of whether there is such a thing as the individual self or only a stream of consciousness. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. Unlike a mere stream of consciousness, it is something that owns not only a consciousness but also a body.
Sorabji traces historically the retreat from a positive idea of self and draws out the implications of these ideas of self on the concepts of life and death, asking: Should we fear death? How should our individuality affect the way we live? Through an astute reading of a huge array of traditions, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject of self in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come.

“There has never been a book remotely like this one in its profusion of ancient references on ideas about human identity and selfhood . . . . Readers unfamiliar with the subject also need to know that Sorabji breaks new ground in giving special attention to philosophers such as Epictetus and other Stoics, Plotinus and later Neoplatonists, and the ancient commentators on Aristotle (on the last of whom he is the world's leading authority).”—Anthony A. Long, Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226768250
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/01/2006
Edition description: 1
Pages: 446
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Richard Sorabji is emeritus professor of ancient philosophy at King’s College London and a fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Besides coediting The Ethics of War: Shared Problems in Different Traditions, and editing seventy volumes so far of The Ancient Commentators on Aristotle, he is the author of Matter, Space and Motion; Animal Minds and Human Morals; Emotion and Peace of Mind; Aristotle on Memory; Necessity, Cause and Blame; and Time, Creation and the Continuum, the last three of which are also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations

Part I: Existence of Self and philosophical development of the idea
1 The Self: is there such a thing?
2 The varieties of self and philosophical development of the idea

Part II: Personal identity over time
3 Same person in eternal recurrence, resurrection, and teletransportation
4 Stoic fusion and modern fission: Survival cannot depend on what happens to someone else
5 Memory: Locke’s return to Epicureans and Stoics

Part III: Platonism: impersonal selves, bundles, and differentiation
6 Is the true self individual in the Platonist tradition from Plato to Averroës?
7 Bundles and differentiation of individuals

Part IV: Identity and persona in ethics
8 Individual persona vs. universalizability
9 Plutarch: narrative and a whole life
10 Self as practical reason: Epictetus’ inviolable self and Aristotle’s deliberate choice

Part V: Self-awareness
11 Impossibility of self-knowledge
12 Infallibility of self-knowledge: Cogito and Flying Man
13 Knowing self through others versus direct and invariable self-knowledge
14 Unity of self-awareness

Part VI: Ownerless streams of consciousness rejected
15 Why I am not a stream of consciousness
16 The debate between ancient Buddhism and the Nyaya school

Part VII: Mortality and loss of self
17 How might we survive death?
18 Could we survive through time going in a circle?
19 If we do not survive death, is it irrational to feel dismay?

Table of thinkers
Select bibliography of secondary literature
General index
Index locorum

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