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A Theory of Feelings Anger and Forgiveness"My Madness Saved Me"10 Good Questions about Life and Death12 Modern Philosophers50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a GodA Cabinet of Philosophical CuriositiesA Case for IronyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to FoucaultA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to HumeA Companion to KantA Companion to Phenomenology and ExistentialismA Companion to PragmatismA Companion to the Philosophy of ActionA Companion to the Philosophy of BiologyA Companion to the Philosophy of LiteratureA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Critical Overview of Biological FunctionsA Critique of Naturalistic Philosophies of MindA Cursing Brain?A Delicate BalanceA Farewell to AlmsA Frightening LoveA Future for PresentismA Guide to the Good LifeA History of PsychiatryA History of the MindA Life Worth LivingA Manual of Experimental PhilosophyA Map of the MindA Metaphysics of PsychopathologyA Mind So RareA Natural History of Human MoralityA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Natural History of VisionA Parliament of MindsA Philosopher Looks at The Sense of HumorA Philosophical DiseaseA Philosophy of BoredomA Philosophy of Cinematic ArtA Philosophy of CultureA Philosophy of EmptinessA Philosophy of FearA Philosophy of PainA Physicalist ManifestoA Place for ConsciousnessA Question of TrustA Research Agenda for DSM-VA Revolution of the MindA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Stroll With William JamesA Tapestry of ValuesA Tear is an Intellectual ThingA Theory of FreedomA Thousand MachinesA Universe of ConsciousnessA Very Bad WizardA Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the CurtainA Virtue EpistemologyA World Full of GodsA World Without ValuesAbout FaceAbout the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the SelfAction and ResponsibilityAction in ContextAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionAction, Contemplation, and HappinessAction, Emotion and WillAdam SmithAdaptive DynamicsAddictionAddictionAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAdvances in Identity Theory and ResearchAftermathAfterwarAgainst AdaptationAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HappinessAgainst HealthAgency and ActionAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and EmbodimentAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, Freedom, and Moral ResponsibilityAl-JununAlain BadiouAlain BadiouAlasdair MacIntyreAlien Landscapes?Altered EgosAn Anthology of Psychiatric EthicsAn Ethics for TodayAn Intellectual History of CannibalismAn Interpretation of DesireAn Introduction to EthicsAn Introduction to Kant's Moral Philosophy An Introduction to Philosophy of EducationAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of MindAn Introduction to the Philosophy of PsychologyAn Introductory Philosophy of MedicineAn Odd Kind of FameAnalytic FreudAnalytic Philosophy in AmericaAncient AngerAncient Models of MindAncient Philosophy of the SelfAngerAnimal LessonsAnimal MindsAnimals Like UsAnnihilationAnother PlanetAnswers for AristotleAnti-ExternalismAnti-Individualism and KnowledgeAntigone’s ClaimAntipsychiatryAre We Hardwired?Are Women Human?Arguing about DisabilityArguing About Human NatureAristotle and the Philosophy of FriendshipAristotle on Practical WisdomAristotle's ChildrenAristotle's Ethics and Moral ResponsibilityAristotle, Emotions, and EducationArt & MoralityArt After Conceptual ArtArt in Three DimensionsArt, Self and KnowledgeArtificial ConsciousnessArtificial HappinessAspects of PsychologismAsylum to ActionAt the Existentialist CaféAtonement and ForgivenessAttention is Cognitive UnisonAutobiography as PhilosophyAutonomyAutonomy and Mental DisorderAutonomy and the Challenges to LiberalismBabies by DesignBackslidingBadiouBadiou's DeleuzeBadiou, Balibar, Ranciere: Rethinking EmancipationBare Facts And Naked TruthsBasic Desert, Reactive Attitudes and Free WillBattlestar Galactica and PhilosophyBe Like the FoxBeautyBecoming a SubjectBecoming HumanBefore ConsciousnessBehavingBehavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic EraBeing AmoralBeing HumanBeing Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory Being No OneBeing Realistic about ReasonsBeing ReducedBeing YourselfBelief's Own EthicsBending Over BackwardsBerlin Childhood around 1900Bernard WilliamsBertrand RussellBetter than BothBetter Than WellBetween Two WorldsBeyond HealthBeyond Hegel and NietzscheBeyond KuhnBeyond LossBeyond Moral JudgmentBeyond PostmodernismBeyond ReductionBeyond SchizophreniaBeyond the DSM StoryBioethicsBioethics and the BrainBioethics in the ClinicBiological Complexity and Integrative PluralismBiology Is TechnologyBiosBipolar ExpeditionsBlackwell Companion to the Philosophy of EducationBlindsight & The Nature of ConsciousnessBlues - Philosophy for EveryoneBlushBob Dylan and PhilosophyBody ConsciousnessBody Image And Body SchemaBody ImagesBody LanguageBody MattersBody WorkBody-Subjects and Disordered MindsBoundBoundaries of the MindBoyleBrain Evolution and CognitionBrain FictionBrain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive ScienceBrain-WiseBrainchildrenBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrainstormingBrave New WorldsBreakdown of WillBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBrief Therapy Homework PlannerBritain on the CouchBritish Idealism and the Concept of the SelfBrute RationalityBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBut Is It Art?Camus and SartreCartesian LinguisticsCartographies of the MindCarving Nature at Its JointsCase Studies in Biomedical Research EthicsCassandra's DaughterCato's TearsCausation and CounterfactualsCauses, Laws, and Free WillChanging Conceptions of the Child from the Renaissance to Post-ModernityChanging the SubjectChaosophyCharacter and Moral Psychology Character as Moral FictionCharles DarwinCherishmentChildhood and the Philosophy of EducationChildrenChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingChoices and ConflictChoosing Not to ChooseChristmas - Philosophy for EveryoneCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingCity and Soul in Plato's RepublicClassifying MadnessClear and Queer ThinkingClinical EthicsClinical Psychiatry in Imperial GermanyCodependent ForevermoreCoffee - Philosophy for EveryoneCognition and the BrainCognition of Value in Aristotle's EthicsCognition Through Understanding: Self-Knowledge, Interlocution, Reasoning, ReflectionCognitive BiologyCognitive FictionsCognitive Neuroscience of EmotionCognitive Systems and the Extended MindCognitive Systems and the Extended Mind Cognitive Theories of Mental IllnessCoherence in Thought and ActionCollected Papers, Volume 1Collected Papers, Volume 2College SexComedy IncarnateCommitmentCommunicative Action and Rational ChoiceCompetence, Condemnation, and CommitmentConcealment And ExposureConceptual Analysis and Philosophical NaturalismConceptual Art and PaintingConceptual Issues in Evolutionary BiologyConfessionsConfucianismConnected, or What It Means to Live in the Network SocietyConquest of AbundanceConscience and ConvenienceConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousnessConsciousness ConsciousnessConsciousness and Its Place in NatureConsciousness and LanguageConsciousness and Mental LifeConsciousness and MindConsciousness and the NovelConsciousness and the SelfConsciousness EmergingConsciousness EvolvingConsciousness ExplainedConsciousness in ActionConsciousness RecoveredConsciousness RevisitedConsciousness, Color, and ContentConsole and ClassifyConstructing the WorldConstructive AnalysisContemporary Debates In Applied EthicsContemporary Debates in Moral TheoryContemporary Debates in Philosophy of BiologyContemporary Debates in Philosophy of MindContemporary Debates in Political PhilosophyContemporary Debates in Social PhilosophyContemporary Perspectives on Natural LawContested Knowledge: Social Theory TodayContesting PsychiatryContext and the AttitudesContinental Philosophy of ScienceControlControlling Our DestiniesConversations About Psychology and Sexual OrientationCopernicus, Darwin and FreudCrazy for YouCreating a Life of Meaning and CompassionCreating ConsilienceCreating HysteriaCreating Mental IllnessCreating Scientific ConceptsCreating the American JunkieCreation, Rationality and AutonomyCreatures Like Us?Crime and CulpabilityCrime, Punishment, and Mental IllnessCrimes of ReasonCritical New Perspectives on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderCritical PsychiatryCritical PsychologyCritical ResistanceCritical Thinking About PsychologyCritical VisionsCross and KhoraCruel CompassionCTRL [SPACE]Cultural Psychology of the SelfCultural Theory: An IntroductionCulture and Psychiatric DiagnosisCulture and Subjective Well-BeingCulture of DeathCultures of NeurastheniaCurious EmotionsCurrent Controversies in Experimental PhilosophyCurrent Controversies in Values and ScienceCustom and Reason in HumeCustomers and Patrons of the Mad-TradeCutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together AgainCylons in AmericaDamaged IdentitiesDamasio's Error and Descartes' TruthDangerous EmotionsDaniel DennettDaniel DennettDark AgesDarwin and DesignDarwin's Dangerous IdeaDarwin's LegacyDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDarwinian PsychiatryDarwinian ReductionismDarwinizing CultureDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeathDeathDeath and CharacterDeath and CompassionDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDebating HumanismDecision Making, Personhood and DementiaDecomposing the WillDeconstructing PsychotherapyDeconstruction and DemocracyDeeper Than DarwinDeeper than ReasonDefending Science - within ReasonDefining Psychopathology in the 21st CenturyDegrees of BeliefDelusion and Self-DeceptionDelusions and Other Irrational BeliefsDelusions and the Madness of the MassesDementiaDemons, Dreamers, and MadmenDennett and Ricoeur on the Narrative SelfDennett’s PhilosophyDepression Is a ChoiceDepression, Emotion and the SelfDepthDerrida, Deleuze, PsychoanalysisDescartesDescartes and the Passionate MindDescartes' CogitoDescartes's Changing MindDescartes's Concept of MindDescribing Inner Experience?Descriptions and PrescriptionsDesembodied Spirits and Deanimated Bodies Desert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Desire and AffectDesire, Love, and IdentityDesire, Practical Reason, and the GoodDeveloping the VirtuesDiagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersDialectics of the SelfDid My Neurons Make Me Do It?Difference and IdentityDigital SoulDimensional Models of Personality DisordersDisability, Difference, DiscriminationDisjunctivismDisorders of VolitionDisorientation and Moral LifeDispatches from the Freud WarsDisrupted LivesDistractionDisturbed ConsciousnessDivided Minds and Successive SelvesDo Apes Read Minds?Do Fish Feel Pain?Do We Still Need Doctors?Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?Does the Woman Exist?Doing without ConceptsDon't Believe Everything You ThinkDonald DavidsonDonald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the MentalDoubting Darwin?Dreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV-TR CasebookDworkin and His CriticsDying to KnowDynamics in ActionDysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic DepressionsEccentricsEducational MetamorphosesEffective IntentionsElbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth WantingEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbodied RhetoricsEmbodied Selves and Divided MindsEmbryos under the MicroscopeEmergencies in Mental Health PracticeEmerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in BionanotechnologyEmotionEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion and PsycheEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotional ReasonEmotional ReasonEmotional TruthEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions in the Moral LifeEmotions, Value, and AgencyEmpathyEmpathy and AgencyEmpathy and Moral DevelopmentEmpathy and MoralityEmpathy in the Context of PhilosophyEmpirical Ethics in PsychiatryEnchanted LoomsEngaging BuddhismEngineering the Human GermlineEnjoymentEnvyEpicureanismEpistemic LuckEpistemologyEpistemology and EmotionsEpistemology and the Psychology of Human JudgmentEros and the GoodErotic MoralityEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssays in the Metaphysics of Mind Essays on Derek Parfit's On What MattersEssays on Free Will and Moral ResponsibilityEssays on Nonconceptual ContentEssays on Philosophical CounselingEssays on Reference, Language, and MindEssays on the Concept of Mind in Early-Modern PhilosophyEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEsssential Philosophy of PsychiatryEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthical Conflicts in PsychologyEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthical Issues in Human CloningEthical TheoryEthicsEthicsEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics in Plain EnglishEthics in PracticeEthics in Psychiatric ResearchEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEuropean Review of Philosophy. Vol. 5Everyday IrrationalityEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolutionEvolution and the Human MindEvolution's RainbowEvolutionary Origins of MoralityEvolutionary PsychologyExamined LifeExamined LivesExistential AmericaExistentialismExistentialism and Romantic LoveExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental PhilosophyExperimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and NaturalismExperiments in EthicsExplaining ConsciousnessExplaining the BrainExplaining the Computational MindExplanatory PluralismExploding the Gene MythExploring HappinessExploring the SelfExpression and the InnerExpressions of JudgmentExtraordinary Science and PsychiatryFaces of IntentionFact and ValueFact and Value in EmotionFacts, Values, and NormsFads and Fallacies in the Social SciencesFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFatherhoodFear of KnowledgeFearless SpeechFeeling Pain and Being in PainFeelings and EmotionsFeelings of BeingFellow-Feeling and the Moral LifeFeminism and Its DiscontentsFeminism and Philosophy of ScienceFeminist Ethics and Social and Political PhilosophyFeminist Interpretations of Rene DescartesFeminist TheoryField Notes from ElsewhereFinding Consciousness in the BrainFingerprints of GodFlesh in the Age of ReasonFolk Psychological NarrativesFolk Psychology Re-AssessedForces of HabitForgivenessForgiveness and LoveForgiveness and RetributionFoucault 2.0Foucault and PhilosophyFoucault NowFoucault, Psychology and the Analytics of PowerFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Ethical Practice, Research, and Teaching in PsychologyFour Views on Free WillFrank Ramsey (1903-1930)Free WillFree WillFree WillFree WillFree Will and Action ExplanationFree Will and LuckFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will as an Open Scientific ProblemFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free WillFreedomFreedom and DeterminismFreedom And NeurobiologyFreedom and ResponsibiltyFreedom and ValueFreedom EvolvesFreedom RegainedFreedom vs. InterventionFreedom, Fame, Lying, and BetrayalFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud's AnswerFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFriedrich NietzscheFrom Chance to ChoiceFrom Clinic to ClassroomFrom Complexity to LifeFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the HumanitiesFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Passions to EmotionsFrom Philosophy to PsychotherapyFrom Valuing to ValueFrontiers of ConsciousnessFrontiers of JusticeFurnishing the MindGalileo in PittsburghGenderGender and Mental HealthGender in the MirrorGender TroubleGenesGenes, Women, EqualityGenetic Nature/CultureGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetic SecretsGenocide's AftermathGenomes and What to Make of ThemGerman Idealism and the JewGerman PhilosophyGetting HookedGilles DeleuzeGlobal PhilosophyGluttonyGod and Phenomenal ConsciousnessGoffman's LegacyGoing Amiss in Experimental ResearchGoodness & AdviceGrassroots SpiritualityGrave MattersGrave MattersGreedGreek Models of Mind and SelfGut ReactionsHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHabits of MindHallucinationHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of EmotionsHappinessHappinessHappinessHappinessHappiness and EducationHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHard LuckHarmful ThoughtsHaving the World in ViewHealing PsychiatryHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHealth, Illness and DiseaseHealth, Science, and Ordinary LanguageHegelHeidegger and a Metaphysics of FeelingHeidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of BeingHermann von Helmholtz's MechanismHermeneutics As PoliticsHeterophobiaHeterosyncraciesHeuristics and BiasesHeuristics and the LawHidden ResourcesHidden SelvesHiding from HumanityHigh Art LiteHistorical OntologyHistory of Psychiatry and Medical PsychologyHistory, Historicity And ScienceHobbesHomosexualitiesHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisHot ThoughtHow Can I Be Trusted?How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?How Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains?How Do We Know Who We Are?How Emotions WorkHow Emotions WorkHow History Made the MindHow Images ThinkHow is Nature Possible?How Propaganda WorksHow Science WorksHow Scientific Practices MatterHow Scientists Explain DiseaseHow The Body Shapes The MindHow the Body Shapes the Way We ThinkHow the Mind Explains BehaviorHow the Mind Uses the BrainHow to Make Opportunity EqualHow to Solve the Mind-Body Problemhow to stop timeHow to Think More About SexHow We HopeHow We ReasonHuman CloningHuman Development, Language and the Future of MankindHuman EnhancementHuman Evolution, Reproduction, and MoralityHuman GoodnessHuman Identity and BioethicsHuman NatureHuman NatureHuman Nature and the Limits of ScienceHuman-Built WorldHumanismHumanism, What's That?HumanityHumans, Animals, MachinesHumeHumeHume on Motivation and VirtueHusserlHystoriesI of the VortexI Was WrongIdeas that MatterIdentifying the MindIdentity and Agency in Cultural WorldsIgnorance and ImaginationIllnessImagination and Its PathologiesImagination and the Meaningful BrainImagining NumbersImmortal RemainsImproving Nature?In Defense of an Evolutionary Concept of HealthIn Defense of SentimentalityIn Love With LifeIn Praise of Athletic BeautyIn Praise of Natural PhilosophyIn Praise of the WhipIn Pursuit of HappinessIn Search of HappinessIn the Name of GodIn the Name of IdentityIn the Space of ReasonsIn the SwarmIn Two MindsInclusive EthicsIncompatibilism's AllureIndividual Differences in Conscious ExperienceInfinity and PerspectiveInformation ArtsInformed Consent in Medical ResearchIngmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInhuman ThoughtsInner PresenceInsanityIntegrating Psychotherapy and PharmacotherapyIntegrity and the Fragile SelfIntelligent VirtueIntentionIntentionality, Deliberation and AutonomyIntentions and IntentionalityIntentions and IntentionalityInterpreting MindsInterpreting NietzscheIntroducing Greek PhilosophyIntrospection and ConsciousnessIntrospection VindicatedIntuition, Imagination, and Philosophical MethodologyIntuitionismInvestigating the Psychological WorldIrrationalityIrrationalityIs Academic Feminism Dead?Is It Me or My Meds?Is Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Is Oedipus Online?Is Science Neurotic?Is Science Value Free?Is the Visual World a Grand Illusion?Is There a Duty to Die?Issues in Philosophical CounselingJacques LacanJacques RancièreJacques RanciereJean-Paul SartreJohn McDowellJohn SearleJohn Searle's Ideas About Social RealityJohn Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill and the Writing of CharacterJoint AttentionJokesJonathan EdwardsJudging and UnderstandingJustice for ChildrenJustice in RobesJustice, Luck, and KnowledgeKantKant and MiltonKant and the Fate of AutonomyKant and the Limits of AutonomyKant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral ActionKant on Freedom, Law, and HappinessKant on Moral AutonomyKant's Anatomy of EvilKant's Anatomy of the Intelligent MindKant's Theory of VirtueKarl JaspersKarl PopperKey Concepts in PhilosophyKierkegaardKierkegaard as PhenomenologistKierkegaard's Concept of DespairKierkegaard's MuseKinds of MindsKinds, Things, and StuffKnowing, Knowledge and BeliefsKnowledge MonopoliesKnowledge, Belief, and CharacterKnowledge, Possibility, and ConsciousnessLacanLack of CharacterLack of CharacterLanguageLanguage in ContextLanguage, Consciousness, CultureLanguage, Culture, and MindLanguage, Vision, and MusicLaw and the BrainLaw, Liberty, and PsychiatryLaws, Mind, and Free WillLeaving YouLectures on the History of Political PhilosophyLevelling the Playing FieldLiberal Education in a Knowledge SocietyLiberatory PsychiatryLife and ActionLife at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1857-1997Life Is Not a Game of PerfectLife of the MindLife's FormLife, Death, & MeaningLife, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of UtilityLife, Sex, and IdeasLight in the Dark RoomLike a Splinter in Your MindLiving and Dying WellLiving NarrativeLiving Outside Mental IllnessLiving with DarwinLiving With One’s PastLockeLocke LockeLogic and the Art of Memory Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and LiteratureLooking for SpinozaLooking for The StrangerLost SoulsLOT 2LoveLoveLove's ConfusionsLove's VisionLove, Friendship, and the SelfLove, Sex & TragedyLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLustLyingMachine ConsciousnessMad for FoucaultMad TravelersMade with WordsMadness And Death In PhilosophyMadness and DemocracyMadness at HomeMadness Is CivilizationMaking Natural KnowledgeMaking Sense of EvolutionMaking Sense of Freedom and ResponsibilityMaking the DSM-5Making the Social WorldMaking TruthMale Female EmailMan, Beast, and ZombieMandated Reporting of Suspected Child AbuseManiaManic Depression and CreativityMapping the Edges and the In-betweenMapping the Future of BiologyMarcus AureliusMaster PassionsMatters of the MindMe++Meaning and Moral OrderMeaning and Value in a Secular AgeMeaning in LifeMeaning in Life and Why It MattersMeaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and MindMeanings of ArtMeasuring HappinessMeasuring PsychopathologyMedia MadnessMedical Enhancement and PosthumanityMedicine and Philosophy in Classical AntiquityMedicine of the PersonMedicine, Mental Health, Religion, Science and Well-BeingMelancholy And the Care of the SoulMelancholy and the Otherness of GodMementoMemory and NarrativeMental ActionsMental CausationMental Causation and OntologyMental HealthMental Health At The CrossroadsMental Health Policy in BritainMerit, Meaning, and Human BondageMerleau-PontyMerleau-Ponty and the Possibilities of PhilosophyMetacognition and Theory of MindMetacreationMetaethical SubjectivismMetaethicsMetal and FleshMetaphors of MemoryMetapoliticsMethods in MindMichel FoucaultMill's UtilitarianismMindMindMind and ConsciousnessMind and CosmosMind and MechanismMind GamesMind in a Physical WorldMind in Everyday Life and Cognitive ScienceMind in LifeMind TimeMind's LandscapeMind, Brain and the Elusive SoulMind, Brain, and Free WillMind, Reason and ImaginationMinding MindsMindreadersMindreading AnimalsMinds and PersonsMinds, Brains, and LawMinds, Ethics, and ConditionalsMindshapingMindsightMindworldsMirror, MirrorMixed FeelingsMockingbird YearsModels of the SelfModern Social ImaginariesModern Theories of JusticeModernity and SubjectivityModernity and TechnologyMoody Minds DistemperedMoral BrainsMoral DimensionsMoral FailureMoral ImaginationMoral LiteracyMoral MachinesMoral ParticularismMoral PsychologyMoral Psychology and Human AgencyMoral Psychology, Volume 1Moral Psychology, Volume 2Moral Psychology, Volume 3Moral Psychology: Volume IVMoral RepairMoral Responsibility and Alternative PossibilitiesMoral TribesMoral Value and Human DiversityMorality and Self-InterestMorality in a Natural WorldMorality, Moral Luck and ResponsibilityMotherhoodMotive and RightnessMoving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New PsychiatryMultiple Analogies in Science and PhilosophyMultiple Identities & False MemoriesMusic, Madness, and the Unworking of LanguageMy Brain Made Me Do ItMy Double UnveiledMy WayNarrativeNarrative and IdentityNarrative MedicineNarrative PsychiatryNarrative Theory and the Cognitive SciencesNatural Ethical FactsNatural Kinds and Conceptual ChangeNatural MindsNatural-Born CybogsNaturalism and the First-Person PerspectiveNaturalism and the Human ConditionNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalism in the Philosophy of HealthNaturalized BioethicsNaturalizing the MindNatureNature and NarrativeNear Death ExperienceNeither Bad nor MadNeither Victim nor SurvivorNeuro-Philosophy and the Healthy MindNeuroethicsNeuroethicsNeurological Foundations of Cognitive Neuroscience Neurophilosophy at WorkNeurophilosophy of Free WillNeuropoliticsNeuropsychoanalysis in PracticeNeuroscience and PhilosophyNew Essays on the Explanation of ActionNew Philosophy for a New MediaNew Versions of VictimsNew Waves in Philosophy of ActionNietzscheNietzsche and Buddhist PhilosophyNietzsche on Ethics and PoliticsNietzsche's TherapyNietzsche, Culture and EducationNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNihil UnboundNoir AnxietyNormative EthicsNormativityNorms of NatureNotebooks 1951-1959Notes Toward a Performative Theory of AssemblyNothing So AbsurdOblivionOn AnxietyOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn Being AuthenticOn BeliefOn BetrayalOn BullshitOn DelusionOn DesireOn EmotionsOn HashishOn Human RightsOn Loving Our EnemiesOn Nature and LanguageOn PersonalityOn ReflectionOn Romantic LoveOn the EmotionsOn the Freud WatchOn the Government of the LivingOn the Human ConditionOn the InternetOn the Meaning of LifeOn the Philosophy of LawOn the Pragmatics of CommunicationOn the Punitive SocietyOn TruthOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne Hundred DaysOnflowOnly a Promise of HappinessOntology of ConsciousnessOpen MindedOpen Your EyesOrgans without BodiesOther MindsOur Last Great IllusionOur Own MindsOur Posthuman FutureOur StoriesOut of Its MindOut of Our HeadsOxford Guide to the MindOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPanic DisorderPanpsychismPanpsychism in the WestPartialityPassionate EnginesPassionate EnginesPathologies of BeliefPathologies of ReasonPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perceiving the WorldPerception & CognitionPerception and Basic BeliefsPerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPerceptual ExperiencePerfecting VirtuePerplexities of ConsciousnessPersistencePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal IdentityPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonal Identity and Fractured SelvesPersonhood and Health CarePersonsPersons and BodiesPersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPersons, Souls and DeathPerspectives on ImitationPerspectives on PragmatismPessimismPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenal ConsciousnessPhenomenal IntentionalityPhenomenology and ExistentialismPhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophersPhilosophers on MusicPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPhilosophical DevicesPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical History and the Problem of ConsciousnessPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in PsychiatryPhilosophical Issues in Psychiatry IIPhilosophical MethodologyPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical Myths of the FallPhilosophical Perspectives on DepictionPhilosophical Perspectives on Technology and PsychiatryPhilosophical PracticePhilosophical Reflections on DisabilityPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophizing the EverydayPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy and LivingPhilosophy and PsychiatryPhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy and Science FictionPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the EmotionsPhilosophy and the Interpretation of Pop CulturePhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhilosophy and the NeurosciencesPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy As FictionPhilosophy BitesPhilosophy Bites BackPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for LifePhilosophy in a New CenturyPhilosophy in an Age of SciencePhilosophy in Children's LiteraturePhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of ActionPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of BodyPhilosophy of Film and Motion PicturesPhilosophy of LovePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of MindPhilosophy of Mind and CognitionPhilosophy of Personal Identity and Multiple PersonalityPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy of Public HealthPhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of SciencePhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhilosophy of the Social SciencesPhilosophy on TapPhilosophy PracticePhilosophy the Day after TomorrowPhilosophy's Role in Counseling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhilosophy, Politics, DemocracyPhotography and PhilosophyPhysical RealizationPhysicalism and Its DiscontentsPhysicalism and Mental CausationPhysicalism, or Something Near EnoughPhysician-Assisted DyingPillar of SaltPin-up GrrrlsPlant MindsPlatoPlatoPlato, Not Prozac!Platonic Ethics, Old and NewPluralistic CasuistryPolarities of ExperiencesPolitical EmotionsPopper, Objectivity and the Growth of KnowledgePornPorn StudiesPornography, Sex, and FeminismPortrait of the Psychiatrist as a Young ManPostcolonial DisordersPostpsychiatryPosttraumatic Stress DisorderPower and the SelfPower SplitPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical ConflictsPractical Identity and Narrative AgencyPractical PhilosophyPractical RulesPractical Tortoise RaisingPractically ProfoundPracticing Feminist Ethics in PsychologyPragmatic BioethicsPragmatismPragmatism, Old And NewPraise and BlamePredicative MindsPreferences and Well-BeingPrescriptions for the MindPresocraticsPrimary and Secondary QualitiesPrimates and PhilosophersPrivacyPrivileged AccessProblems in MindProblems of RationalityProzac As a Way of LifeProzac BacklashProzac on the CouchPsyche and SomaPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric Cultures ComparedPsychiatric Diagnosis and ClassificationPsychiatric EthicsPsychiatric HegemonyPsychiatric PowerPsychiatric SlaveryPsychiatry and Philosophy of SciencePsychiatry and ReligionPsychiatry as a Human SciencePsychiatry as Cognitive NeurosciencePsychiatry in SocietyPsychiatry in the New MilleniumPsychiatry in the Scientific ImagePsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsycho-Physical Dualism TodayPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and PhilosophyPsychology and the Question of AgencyPsychology's Interpretive TurnPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy and ConfidentialityPsychotherapy As PraxisPublic PhilosophyPunishmentPure ImmanencePurple HazePursuing MeaningQuality of Life and Human DifferenceQueer PhilosophyQuestions for FreudQuestions for FreudQuine and Davidson on Language, Thought and RealityRaceRace in Contemporary MedicineRadiant CoolRadical AlterityRadical ExternalismRadical HopeRational and Social AgencyRational CausationRational Choice in an Uncertain WorldRationality + Consciousness = Free WillRationality and FreedomRationality and the Reflective MindRationality in ActionRawls, Dewey, and ConstructivismRe-creating MedicineRe-EmergenceRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited BeingsReading AutobiographyReading Bernard WilliamsReading SartreReadings in the Philosophy of TechnologyReal MaterialismReal Natures and Familiar ObjectsReal ScienceRealism in ActionReason & EmancipationReason in ActionReason in PhilosophyReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReasoning About Rational AgentsReasoning in Biological DiscoveriesReasons from WithinReasons without RationalismReclaiming CognitionReclaiming the SoulReconceiving SchizophreniaReconstructing Reason and RepresentationReconstructing the Cognitive WorldRecreative MindsRediscovering EmotionRediscovering EmpathyReference and ExistenceReference and the Rational MindReflections On How We LiveReframing Disease ContextuallyRefusing CareRegulating SexReinventing the SoulRelativism and Human RightsRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyRelativism and the Foundations of PhilosophyReliable ReasoningReligion without GodRelying on OthersRemembering HomeResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility and PunishmentResponsibility from the MarginsRestraining RageRethinking ExpertiseRethinking IntrospectionRethinking Mental Health and DisorderRethinking RapeRethinking the DSMRethinking the Sociology of Mental HealthRethinking the Western Understanding of the SelfReturn to ReasonRevolt, She SaidRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard RortyRichard Rorty's New PragmatismRightsRights, Democracy, and Fulfillment in the Era of Identity PoliticsRise And Fall of Soul And SelfRitalin NationRobert NozickRousseauRousseau and the Dilemmas of Modernity Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to 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Being HumanReview - Being Human
The Problem of Agency
by Margaret S. Archer
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Review by Thomas Sturm
Nov 14th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 46)

This book is a programmatic plea for a new approach in sociology (the discipline of the author). Being Human is, as Archer points out, the third part of a trilogy, the other parts of which are Realist Social Theory (1995) and Culture and Agency (1996). I found no difficulty in reading only Being Human, however. In this book, Archer asks her colleagues to describe and explain human action in terms that thoroughly reflect, as she writes, "the stuff of life" (2). What does she mean by this, whom does she attack, and by what arguments?

First and foremost, Archer criticizes what she calls "Postmodernism's 'Death of Humanity'": the widespread views according to which certain ordinary views concerning our own self-identity and self-consciousness and self-understanding are hopelessly wrong. She connects such postmodernism, not without reason, to claims such as that one cannot but "dissolve the human being into discursive structures and humankind into a disembodied textualism". Roughly stated, the argument of postmodernists is that the self-representation each person has of herself is a "construct" of social conversation, or that our "continuous sense of self" derives from linguistic interaction with other human beings, instead of being prior to such interaction. Against this, Archer wants sociological and other empirical approaches to human action and its explanation, to take account of the fact - and it is a fact - that in ordinary life we view ourselves as acting in order to promote deeper concerns, as trying to make sense of our individual lives, and that this is in turn inconceivable without the assumption that we enjoy a kind of self-identity and self-consciousness. Sociology should not only take seriously our ordinary concerns and commitments, but also see them as rather intimate and constitutive parts of ourselves. Archer not merely argues that postmodern views regarding the self and the role it plays in each person's life are based on bad arguments. She also notes that if postmodernism cannot really be true - if we really were such postmodernist beings without self-identity and self-consciousness, "they are such a contradiction in terms that they could never get out of bed." (2) In science, the latter point cannot be enough; here we want good reasons even for criticisms of views which, in ordinary life, we do find absurd.

The argument of her book is divided into four parts. In Part I ("The Impoverishment of Humanity"), Archer discusses critically two views: a view of humanity as it has been developed during the Enlightenment, namely "Modernity's man", and the set of views subsumed under the heading of "Society's being". Enlightenment thinkers are said to have viewed human beings as essentially characterized by their instrumental, means-ends rationality: man is a "lone, atomistic and opportunistic bargain-hunter". Archer thinks that this model cannot deal with the human ability to have concerns and commitments that are not of mere instrumental value. It overlooks that precisely those ultimate concerns are what constitutes our self-identity. Consequently, according to "Modernity's Man" human being are never really agents: they are pushed and pulled around by their passions or preferences rather than having a certain control over them; also, being active, creative members of their society is not something they are fully capable of. Writers who view human beings as "Society's beings", again, explain all human properties and capacities, hence also the abilities to identify oneself and to be self-conscious, as being socially constructed. The self here is sometimes explained in terms of a capacity of mastering first-person pronoun statements, an ability which has to be learned during our social upbringing. Hence the self becomes a "grammatical fiction". Basically, Archer's point here is that it is to narrow to view ourselves as merely linguistic animals. We are biological creatures as well, even prior to being social creatures. We live in a natural environment we have to deal with and survive in.

Parts II-IV provide constructive considerations concerning the notion of the self and its role in sociology. Archer distinguishes between (i) the "natural", prelinguistic "sense of self", (ii) the practical self and (iii) the social self and theorizes over their development. Stated somewhat differently, she distinguishes between "self-consciousness" (the first and most simple kind of self), personal identity (the self we achieve by developing certain basic commitments), and social identity (the roles we take over in society). The most important point here is that she draws a major distinction between "evolving concepts of the self, which are indeed social, and the universal sense of self, which is not, being naturally grounded." (p. 124) Archer uses quite a bit of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and of some parts of modern neuroscience, here to make her views on (i) plausible. Our natural self, that is, our "continuous sense of self, or self-consciousness" derives from our practical activity in the natural world. Instead of being a product of the rather high-level practice of language, it is already achieved as soon as we start to talk. The continuity involved in the notion of self-identity is, from the view of modern neuroscience, based upon certain types of memory (briefly, eidetic as opposed to declarative memory).

Archer is sometimes a bit too repetitive and redundant about basic points, and her style is, especially in Part I, sometimes too close to the excessive rhetoric and the lack of argumentative rigor characteristic of many of the writers she is attacking, Yet, I am quite sympathetic with her criticism of postmodernism. I find postmodern writers usually so disagreeable that at least I myself won't get out of bed just in order to read them. Also her arguments are often more detailed and complex than can be shown here. Yet, unfortunately for Archer, one can point the reader to certain crucial problems that occur at the more basic levels of her approach. Let me point out three of them.

First, there seems to be a misuse of the notions of reduction, emergence, and epiphenomenalism. Archer defends a "critical realism": we should accept that one can neither explain human beings and all their properties and actions in terms of, or as a result of, purely social relations nor can one explain social relations completely in terms of human individuals, their properties and actions. We should be realists both with regard to some individual and some social phenomena. Her aim is to motivate the reader to become openminded to the idea that not everything deeply important for our human lives can be explained in social terms - in particular, the basic kind of self-consciousness that we enjoy cannot be explained in that way. Sociology should open itself to a cooperation with the natural sciences in this realm. That sounds moderate enough, and it is a fair methodological advice. However, it is a bit misleading that Archer says of both of the views she is rejecting in this context that they are "reductionist theories", where this means that either social phenomena or individual phenomena would be mere "epiphenomena" (pp. 4-6). Talk of reduction, emergence and epiphenomenalism comes from philosophical theories of the mind-body-relation. Here 'reduction' does not have the rather negative overtones it has in Archer's usage of the term. Moreover, to be a reductionist with regard to the mental is precisely not to be an epiphenomenalist. The latter is a kind of ontological dualist, whereas the former adheres to a variety of ontological monism. For instance, when a mind-body reductionist claims that my thought "It never rains in southern California" can be reduced to the set of neural firings in brain area so-and-so, or that my pain can be reduced to the set of neural firings in region blah-blah, he does by no means turn my thought or my feeling of pain into mere epiphenomena. He rather argues that thoughts and feelings are physical phenomena (under a different description), and so are firmly embedded in the whole network of causal relations of physical phenomena, whereas epiphenomena are epiphenomena just because they do not causally influence the physical world. The moral for sociology should be that to reduce a certain phenomenon of an individual human being's life to a social phenomenon would by no means turn it into a mere epiphenomenon. What she may want to say is that those "reductionist" views try to render certain properties as epiphenomena, hence as causally inert, hence as somehow superfluous. Usually views which reject the existence of mental states are called eliminativist. But it is unclear whether Archer wants to characterize her opponents as eliminativists: to claim, as she thinks her opponents do claim, that something is an epiphenomenon is not to claim that it does not exist. It is merely to claim that it does exert a causal influence to phenomena of a certain realm (typically the physical realm), while perhaps itself being causally produced by that realm. So the opponents of her "critical realism" are not characterized in a perspicuous way, with the consequence that it is not entirely clear what critical realists claim. I leave aside here the point that the debate over reduction, elimination, and emergence of mental properties has become so complex in the hands of contemporary analytic philosophers that things are more complex than it might seem right now.

Second, Archer's characterization of her enemies is sometimes too simplistic. My worry does not so much concern the postmodern authors she cites and criticizes but her depiction of the enlightened model of "Modernity's Man". Yes, some writers have defended the view that human beings are "lone, atomistic and opportunistic bargain-hunters". But by no means all Enlightenment thinkers have done so. Rather, many of the most important of them would have rejected such a claim. Archer qualifies her claim only mildly by noting that, say, David Hume did put a strong emphasis upon the fact that human beings often act quite altruistically, and that their capacity to express and further develop their sympathy is indeed one of humanity's most distinguishing features. But so did Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and even the - often misunderstood - Immanuel Kant. Moreover, these Enlightenment thinkers, and countless others besides them, viewed human beings as essentially social animals in other regards too. Kant was happy to accept Rousseau's view that human beings, due to their open nature - their "perfectibility" - need education, and that who educates a human being is himself just another human being, and so on ad infinitum. According to Kant, our most human capacity is indeed the capacity of reason (though not of instrumental reason, as Archer clearly sees). However, man, he also said, is not so much an animal rationale; it is an animal rationabile. This capacity has to be developed in a genuine social context, and cannot evolve without (as Archer doesn't seem to see). It is dependent upon the complex dynamics Kant called "the unsocial sociability" of mankind. And in part he got his ideas from Rousseau and Ferguson and Hume. There's little of sociological loneliness and atomism in these thinkers. Rather, in both Kant and Hume we find views that would qualify as varieties of "critical realism". They both accept that some of our properties are essentially social, whereas others are essentially individual in their nature. I leave aside here that other mistakes can be found in Archer's characterization of Descartes' views of mind, matter, and the Cogito (cf. p. 26). Her writing in those passages suffers from a kind of name-dropping instead of a thorough, and historically adequate, analysis of this thinker, of the problems he was concerned with, and of his detailed arguments and solutions. Descartes' problems and solutions are largely epistemological and metaphysical in highly specific and demanding senses. They have nothing to do, and cannot be substantial contributions, positive or negative, to how we understand ourselves in ordinary life or as viewed by the social scientist. Other historical points could be noted here. Perhaps Archer has become prey of the caricatures we find in Rorty or in Derrida of "the metaphysics of Modernity", and postmodernism's rather superficial despise for Descartes and rationalism. Otherwise I find it difficult to explain how she can seriously maintain that "practice has never been given primacy in the philosophy of Modernity." (p. 145)

Finally, and most importantly, Archer's notion of a "sense of self" is not quite an example of crystalline clarity. Clarity is required, however, given the significance of that notion for her crucial claim that the "sense of self" is prior to any kind of linguistic - hence also to any kind of social - practice, and given enormously complicated philosophical and psychological history of the notion of the self, its cognates, and the problems connected to it. In brief, my criticism is that although her intuition that many linguistic and other social practices presuppose that who performs the relevant actions also exercises certain kinds of self-identification is correct, her conceptual framework for analyzing and explaining that intuition is not.

Archer thinks that the self referred to in her formula "sense of self" is the most basic, prereflexive and prelinguistic kind of self. Is it? There is one sense of 'self' or 'I' which is also quite basic or "prereflexive" without being "sensed". I have in mind the well-known distinction between the self as subject and as object of thought, a distinction which is reflected, if crudely and superficially, in the distinction the personal pronoun 'I' on the one hand, and reflexive first-person pronouns like 'me', 'myself', and so on, on the other (one of the ways in which William James has tried to express the distinction). It is useful to try to make clear the significance of that distinction for a project such as Archer's by means of some examples.

Consider a list of various first-person-thoughts or -statements: "I have a dot on my forehead"; "I am shaving myself"; "I hereby marry you"; "I am truly devoted to tennis"; "I am the boss here, not you"; or "I am the son of my father". In some of these cases self-identification is made explicit through use of reflexive pronouns, in others it is not. It would be wrong to think that it is only by usage of the appropriate reflexive pronouns that we would identify ourselves as objects. As long as we assume that the statements or thoughts are understood or used correctly, we always assume that self-identification must be made at least implicitly. For instance, in the performative utterance "I hereby marry you", there seems to be no reference to the speaker or thinker himself, but we typically assume that the speaker knows who is speaking and what is involved in his statement; so he must implicitly identify himself. Nor is it correct to think that 'I' would always be used for the self-as-subject only: "I think I have mislaid the car keys" is a clear counterexample, where the word 'I' is used both for the self-as-subject and the self-as-object. That is all grist on Archer's mill that the basic sense of self is not all too closely connected to language. That being said, the question is: why must we distinguish at all between these two senses of self?

Thoughts or statements such as "I am truly devoted to tennis" or "I am the boss here, not you" do not work without some prior self and a way of identifying it. Equally, second-order reflection upon first-order desires or intentions requires such a basic notion of self, much as the playing of specific roles in society does. That, again, supports Archer's intuition that the selves of personal and of social identity presuppose rather then establish a basic self. But the problem is: Is one sensing or observing one's own basic self in the relevant sense? Take the thought "I think I have mislaid the car keys". What would be the self of Archer's formula "sense of self" underlying such a thought? It can hardly be what is referred to by the second occurence of 'I', since this occurence is, so to speak, embedded in the first occurence, in the 'I think...'. So maybe it is the first occurence which is most basic. But can we sense this self? The familiar, and still correct, answer is: we cannot. When I myself try to experience or point to the thinker indicated by the first occurence of 'I' in this thought, when I, to use Archer's words, try to sense that self, there seems to be yet another 'I' observing or even guiding me in doing this. And so on. Whenever I myself try to sense or capture my most basic self, it systematically evades my attention to it. It looks upon my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, and so on, as if from a detached point of view. As the philosopher Colin McGinn says, this 'I' again and again stands aside as if it wanted to mock at reality. It would be absurd to assume that the groom, while looking at and speaking to his bride, and while making his performative utterance, "I hereby marry you", would be also be looking and checking inside for his own self and make clear that it is him who is intending to say the words of his life, and then go out again and do it. That is not how the word 'I' functions here, nor is it how we should understand his way of identifying himself in making his utterance. Neither will ideas of an access to the 'I' through some non-observational "reflection" do the trick (so much seems to be agreed by Archer, given her claim that the basic self is "prereflexive"). All such reflection or presumed self-observation leads to the regress of self-identification noted above.

Archer briefly alludes to the problem of the elusiveness of the self (p. 95), but she does not realize the difficulty involved in her basic notion of the self. She mentions Hume's and Kant's views on this (pp. 95-97), but she does not really take up the debates over different notions of the self and of the complex relation between them. At that point, her target is merely Rom Harré's view that the self involved in the use of the first-person-pronoun is a "theory". That view is clearly implausible, at least if we assume that theories are sets of claims or models by which we explain phenomena. The self is no such thing. Archer finds objectionable that, by claiming that the self is a theory, Harré turns it into a hypothetical entity, and that may be a fair criticism too. I will not enter this question here. The point is that it is the self-as-subject, not a self-as-object that is the required condition of the possibility of second-order reflection and other first-person thoughts and acts (it is quite in place here to use a Kantian formula here), and that we have yet to understand our mode of access to that elusive 'I'.

Archer's notion of a "sense of self" stands in the tradition of classical empiricism (indeed, even in her choice of words), and such talk is dangerously seductive: it appeals to the idea that we would be able to identify ourselves somehow as isolated entities or objects one could sense, look at or point to, quite independently of any descriptions we give of these entities. And so many writers on the subject speak of "the Self". But though I can shave myself, I cannot shave my Self; and though I can know what I think, or though I can know my own position in space, I cannot know the thoughts of my Self, or know the location of my Self. Archer notes that her analysis of the notion of the self is "relational" (p. 97), but she does not seem to be aware of the consequences of that claim. Our mode of access to the self is not that of pointing to or feeling or touching or looking at an isolated entity. The self always shows up characterized in one way or another: "How could I overlook that dot on my head", or "I remember saying that to her", or "I would like to raise the following question...". It seems proper to that to be conscious of oneself as an object needs to be expressed, roughly, by a formula such as, "I know (or think/am conscious...) that I so-and-so", where 'so-and-so' stands for some description or other. The same formal structure even applies to when one is aware of the position of one's own limbs, say, or one's location in space: I realize that my legs are crossed, or I am surprized that I am suddenly standing on the edge of a very high building. The self that is present here need not be strongly dependent upon language or society. But it is a substantive question how one can think, or perhaps even sense or feel, that it is oneself rather than another person or thing to whom the description applies. If we do wish to say that in such self-identifying acts one is conscious of who exactly one is among the many things that there are in the world, then one presupposes that there is a certain kind of correct rather than incorrect application of descriptions. And then it seems plausible that standards of correct and incorrect applications of descriptions are required, and that at least invites the question of how we can apply standards completely independently of any social relations we are embedded in. Maybe it is the capacity for evaluating the correct application of those standards that is decisive for the possibility of that kind of basic self-consciousness that we connect to the ideas of the elusiveness of the self and of the self-as-subject. That this capacity is best described as "reason" is the suggestion of Kant and even of Kantians in our own times such as Tyler Burge. Archer, of course, embeds the basic self in our bodily behavior, especially as related to its natural environment. But what might appear to oneself to be the same in introspection or phenomenology need not be the same in fact. Maybe what she calls a "sense of self" is merely some sort of integrated sentience or mere consciousness, some basic form of integration of more basic bodily and mental acts with no self involved. If we want to say here that sentience or consciousness itself requires self-consciousness, that is a claim that cannot be assumed without further argument, on pains of begging the question.

We do not have to return to any of the social constructivisms Archer wishes to reject. But we should consider that, even from the point of view of contemporary developmental psychology and cognitive neurobiology, the development of the human brain, including its capacity of self-representation is no longer seen as something that can be understood outside of the natural and social co-evolution of every one of us. Perhaps Archer distinguishes too strongly between the natural and the social. And certainly her work is a piece that invites a closer connection between philosophical and scientific work on the self.

© 2001 Thomas Sturm

Thomas Sturm is currently completing his Ph.D. thesis in philosophy on Kant und die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Kant and the Human Sciences). He is coordinator of an interdisciplinary research group in the history and philosophy of psychology at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Berlin/Germany.

Revised review received December 10, 2001, posted January 6, 2002.


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