Philosophy 290-7

Spring 2008

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-7 Graduate Seminar: Unity of the Self in 17th&18th c. Philosophy Warren/Rozemond W 2-4 234 Moses Hall

This seminar will take as its starting point two connected issues: the simplicity of the self and the identity of the self. The former concerns whether or in what sense the mind could be made up of distinct parts, which is sometimes described as a question about unity at a time; the latter concerns whether or in what sense the mind is something that can persist through change of state, i.e., has unity over time. Both of these issues are addressed by Kant in the “Paralogisms” section of the Critique of Pure Reason, and play a central role in the “Transcendental Deduction.” However they were also discussed in depth and considered of fundamental philosophical importance by many philosophers of the early modern period prior to Kant. Issues concerning the simplicity and identity of the self were thought of as tied to a number of concerns: whether the self could be a material thing, whether the self is a substance and whether that question is answerable by us or even intelligible, whether such skepticism about the self’s being a substance led to consequences that were in some way unacceptable, what the nature of thought and self-awareness is, and what this entails regarding these questions about the self. We will be discussing the views of Descartes, Locke, Bayle, Clarke, Leibniz, Hume, and finally Kant, on the unity of the self and some of these related questions. Roughly half the seminar will be devoted to early modern philosophers before Kant, half to Kant.