The present book focuses on the logical-grammatical analysis of natural language, which for Abelard is a fragment of "scientific Latin". Tools of modern categorial grammar are employed to clarify many of the problems raised by historiography such as meaning, abstract entities and universals. Among the merits of the volume is the fact that it has enlightened the radical interplay between the traditions of Aristotle's and Priscian's commentators and, in this context, Abelard's peculiar role in exploring a new field of linguistic inquiry.
Philosophy Philosophical Traditions. Buy eBook. Kukkonen follows the many-dimensional approach himself by discussing such questions that are relevant for selfhood as self-knowledge and self-identification, loss of self in Islamic mysticism, as well as the role of intellect and emotions in selfhood. He detects, among other things, Neoplatonic influences in the understanding of selfhood as bipolarised between reason and body, God and evil, and the connected idea that the object of care of the self and its ideal end is the rational and divine aspect of our being.
Sihvola philosophers of the West interpreted and built upon ancient views. One is the soul-body relationship and the other is the topic of self-consciousness. Gradually, the understanding of human beings as both bodily and intellectual gives rise to questions about the unity of self. How does human multiplicity fall together into one self, and where is the centre of this self, if there is one? Peter John Olivi claims that there is a single unified centre of the self, a self-consciousness which appropriates every action of the person as its own.
Part of what I meant by the self was the individual embodied owner of a body and of psychological states. I contrasted this conception with the idea that there is only an embodied stream of consciousness, without any owner of the consciousness. I rejected the claim that the only alternative to an embodied stream of consciousness would be some disembodied owner of consciousness, and I found the concept of disembodied ownership of consciousness problematic, even though I did not finally rule out the belief of some religions in an embodied human owner becoming disembodied.
So far, even the simplest animals might meet my description of the self as an embodied individual owner. But I added something else into my account of the self, that for the preservation of a human or higher animal way of life, it was necessary to view the world in terms of its relation to me and me again, not just in terms of its relation to a member or members of a stream. A self, I suggested, is an embodied individual owner who sees himself or herself as me and me again, and human or higher animal life would be impossible without this viewpoint.
So far, I have spoken only of the most basic metaphysics of what the self consists in. But every individual human develops a growing picture of itself, as male or female, son or daughter, American or Indian, baker or teacher, resourceful or victim of circumstances, public or private figure, subject to fate or past incarnations, or free. These pictures are not dictated by the metaphysical conception of self, which is too narrow to determine which pictures will be adopted. Nor are the pictures essential: they could be changed under pressure.
But they are very important to a complete picture of selfhood, although they are typically studied separately nowadays by different philosophers. My book benefited from the most helpful and perceptive comments of Christopher Gill, whom I take pleasure in thanking again.
Sorabji has been treated by Derek Parfit, the pictures of self by Charles Taylor. So far, these claims were not historical. I do not know how many ancients thought of the self as an embodied owner of a body and of psychological states.
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I think Aristotle did, and such a view has been ably defended in modern times by Peter Strawson in his Individuals,3 but there were other ancient philosophers who did not think that this was the right account. As for the pictures which each individual builds into the self, many of them involve social relations. Not all do so. But I do not think there could be humans who did not build social relations into their idea of self, such as son, teacher or American. The four terms in these two pairs could mean different things, but I am saying that any completed view of human selfhood will be participant, since it will include social relations among other things.
And I further take it for granted that Greek thinkers accepted this. The surprising thing would be if the modern West had gone so far in the direction of thinking that any individual was free to do whatever they felt like at any time that they never saw the individual self in terms of any social relation, such as daughter, teacher or American.
As regards the objective versus the subjective, my basic account of the self as the embodied owner of a body and of psychological states so far would be classified, if anything, as objective, since it has nothing very subjective about it. But I have added to that the idea of individuality, and the further idea of the individual seeing itself in terms of me. The latter could be said to import a subjective element, as also could the interest in self-awareness. This does not dictate whether philosophical accounts of selfhood will contain a subjective element.
As to how far Greek thinkers recognised one, my account would be that increasingly from the end of the second century, BC Greek thinkers did get interested in the me aspect of selfhood and in self-awareness. I do not see them as approaching in this a modern or Cartesian interest in subjectivity. Nor do I see the me aspect as providing any kind of core to the idea of self. Graeco-Roman Varieties of Self 15 very great deal. His comprehensive classification is based on the most extensive knowledge of texts and intellectual daring, and the result is of the greatest heuristic value.
Each of the four headings is illuminating, and their combination into pairs forces everyone to learn new things as they discover whether they agree. Insofar as he thinks that it is absent, I should disagree, and some of the examples below, drawn from Greek and Roman thought, are meant to show why I disagree. But the idea that the view is so weak as to be negligible is more nuanced.
In pursuing this line of thought, Gill allows that the ancient view of the self is not exclusively objective-participant and he allows what I also believe, that the individual aspect can be combined with a number of the others, not only with the subjective, but also with the objective. But his classification has led me to think that any of his four headings can be combined with any. In my own account, I believe I have combined the subjective with the objective in one story, and I believe some ancient texts combine these approaches. In fact, interest in me-ness and in self-awareness would not arise, unless there were such things as persons and higher animals which could be described in more objective terms.
This suggests to me that there may be certain priorities among the four terms. Any subjective account must at least presuppose that there is an objective one. Any attempt to include pictures of self must recognise the element of participation in society.
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Individuality can be discussed at a subjective or objective level, as Gill agrees. Gill does not agree with me that there was any shift in the thought of later antiquity towards a more subjective or individualist interest, and he supports his view by suggesting a certain exclusivity between the pairs. He allows that the presence of the objective-participative pair does not altogether exclude the subjective-individualist pair. But he speaks as if it can be used to discount it.
Similarly, in the discussion of personae, the presence of an objective-participant treatment of Regulus in another context is seen as somehow discounting the interest in the individual in the theory of personae. It discounts it, if not in the sense of showing it to be an illusion, at least by showing it to be in some other way negligible.
But I am not persuaded by the view that the presence of one pair can exclude or in any way discount the presence of either of the other categories. The difference between us, then, is that I do not see any of these four categories as excluding or discounting 16 R. Sorabji any other, and I actually expect the subjective and the individual to presuppose the objective and the participatory. At least subjectivity is less likely to be discussed in separation from individuality. Many of the texts discussed by Gill are about what it is to fall under the human type, rather than about the individual.
To that extent, we have in the past focused on different texts. Texts that examine the human type and exclude the individual are less likely to discuss me-ness. They might still discuss other forms of subjectivity, such as self-awareness, or forms of subjectivity that I have not brought into the discussion, such as what it feels like to have a human form of consciousness. When I say that interest increases in the individual and in me-ness and selfawareness in the later period, I do not deny that each period has accounts of each kind, so there is no more than an increase of interest.
But along with these presuppositions, I believe that discussions of the individual and of the subjective become more central than before. I want now to survey some 16 accounts of the self from different periods of antiquity, so that we can better assess what kinds of account there are. The variety is astonishing. The Varieties of Self The ancient philosophers often express their ideas of self just as we do, by the use of pronouns. What is happening is that the self is being identified with an aspect of the human being. Moreover the self selected varies not only according to different purposes and contexts of discussion.
But even within a single sentence, there may be radically different aspects selected as self, because one aspect is often seen as working on another, where each is regarded as a self. This means that I cannot agree with any account which says that, for the ancient Greeks, self meant so and so, because the 4 These 16 accounts are derived from chapter 2 of my book Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life and Death. Graeco-Roman Varieties of Self 17 notion can refer to different things in the same sentence. Often, but not always, what is picked out is viewed as a locus of importance, the importance differing with different purpose and context.
The self in the ancient philosophers is seldom identical with the soul. Often it is only one aspect of soul, its reason or will, for example, or a part of soul to be distinguished from the shade or ghost. In theories of reincarnation, the same soul may be successively borrowed by entirely different people, and so outlasts any one self.
Sometimes the self is the body, or includes the body along with the whole person. Although the pronouns pick out only a thin self, the specifications of what the self consists in are thick, and this contrasts with some of the very thin conceptions of selfhood passed on to us by certain 17th and 18th writers on selfhood.
Only some of the examples to be given below involve discussion of the individual and of me and I. The two discussions are so closely related that it would be artificial to confine oneself to the first of them. But I want to pass briefly in review a whole range of discussions. Then I spied the mighty Heracles [his shade, but he himself enjoys festivities with the immortal gods].
This led to many Platonist discussions of what his true self was. But I shall take next in the order of exposition Plato in the fourth century BC and subsequent Platonism. Plato held that the true self is the reason or intellect e. Phaedo 63b—c; c; 1st Alcibiades c4—6; Republic IX, a6—b6. This raises the worry whether the true self is sufficiently individual. Do we differ from each other in our reason in distinctive ways? On one interpretation, Plato is even conscious of a contrast between the true self and individuality at 1st Alcibiades d. Bel ed. De facie quae in orbe lunae apparet f, Loeb vol.
Besides the Plutarch reference, see Plotinus IV. SOC: However you like, provided you can catch me and I do not escape you. Phaedo c 3. I doubt if Aristotle agreed with Plato that our true self was the intellect, in quite the way that Plato meant.
Each of the four times he reports the doctrine, he reports it as something that is thought, rather than as something to which he is committed. So he does not believe that there will be a time when a human can become a pure philosopher, instead of an embodied social being who has to eat. At the very least the human needs the social and practical intellect, along with the theoretical intellect.
This fits with his view in On the Soul, that it is as wrong to say that our soul pities or is angry as it is to say that it weaves or builds. It was Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism six hundred years after Plato in the third century AD, who really wrestled with the problem of whether the Platonist self is sufficiently individual.
He was torn between two concerns. One was that of thinking that we should not separate ourselves out from the timeless universal Intellect from which we derive, or we will lose our identity as much as those who do not know their father V. The other concern was seeking to retain some separate individuality after all when we return to Intellect. It is only souls which do not attain that identification with intellect, but remain within time that can exercise memory, and Plotinus is anxious to show that they at least could still recognise each other through personality, even if they all received spherical bodies IV.
But what about the individuality of souls that do escape from time and achieve identification with the timeless Intellect? They can be accorded individuality only on the analogy with a theorem in mathematics, which has a certain uniqueness, but is intelligible only as part of a whole system. DA I 4, b5— If we succeed in identifying ourselves with the timeless Intellect, which is one of the selves within, we shall have escaped to a life outside of time in which our obsession with prolonging life makes no sense I.
Augustine, who was inspired by Plotinus, was also torn in his Confessions in two directions, between on the one hand love of his mother as an individual, and hopes that his unnamed dead friend will remember him,10 and on the other hand aspiration towards a heaven in which there is no genetic relationship and no memory.
Yet to the relief of Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, he interprets Aristotle On the Soul III 5 as saying that there is a plurality of distinct human intellects illuminated by the one intellect ,32—,6. Since it is the intellectual soul that Thomas Aquinas takes to be immortal, it is important that human intellect should be not only immortal, but also individually distinct. The seeds were sown in Plato, and the issue was brought to the fore by Plotinus, and reflected in the rival interpretations of Themistius and Averroes.
A number of the foregoing views about the self offer solace in the face of death, either, as in Plotinus, by making the happiest life exempt from time, or by offering immortality. But an opposite solace was offered by Epicurus who set up his school in Athens at the end of the same century in BC. The soul is a bunch of material atoms, which will be dispersed at death, so there is no need to fear that we will be punished or otherwise suffer after death. Lucretius thinks that the interruption of memory solves this, but whether by preventing it being us who suffer, or by making it a matter of no concern despite its being us, is hard to determine.
Augustine, Conf. Sorabji 7. The Stoics believed that I would return each time the universe repeats its history, though only Seneca regarded this as a solace. At the first mention in his letters, he suggests that our return might be seen as comforting, but later as the letters get more demanding, he offers only the solace that the preceding annihilation is shared by everything in the universe. A different solace is the idea that there is no continuous self anyhow. The idea that there is no continuous self was introduced early in the fifth century BC by the playwright Epicharmus, if the text is his, but only as a joke.
The idea was that just as the number 7 is replaced when it grows to 8, so a person is replaced when he or she grows. But philosophers are good at taking jokes seriously. The idea was used later by Platonists against the Stoic School under the name of the Growing Argument and answered with what I would call a Shrinking Argument, of which I have offered an interpretation elsewhere, by the Stoic Chrysippus in the third century BC. In the meantime, Aristotle had raised the problem about persistence through growth in a particular form GC I 5, a18—22; b26—8; a28— If there is not to be a collision between incoming food and what receives it, the persisting receiver had better be form, not matter.
Alexander, in An. His follower, Cratylus, is supposed to have said that you cannot do so even once. But Plato finishes by reducing the argument to absurdity. I have not been convinced by an interesting suggestion that the Cyrenaic philosopher Aristippus, who developed Socrates in a hedonistic direction in the fifth to fourth centuries BC, prefers pleasure over happiness because of uncertainty whether there is a continuing self to enjoy the happiness.
The consequences for fear of death are drawn out in a Buddhist text written in Pali, the Questions of Milinda. There may be traces of a similar argument having entered the consciousness of Greek and Roman philosophers in the first century AD, because this reason for not fearing death is found both in the Stoic Seneca and in the Platonist Plutarch.
But if they really mean the same, it will be incompatible with the rest of what they say, which suggests that it would be an alien growth. IV 5, a10— Plato, Theaetetus e—e. Horner, Sacred Books of the Buddhists vols. De tranq. Sorabji 9. Different from this is the denigration of the bodily self by the Stoic Emperor of the second century AD, Marcus Aurelius. It is actually completely wrong to suppose that something is just its matter. The form or organisation makes all the difference, as Aristotle always insisted, or else we would all be Shakespeares, since we can all produce the letters of the alphabet.
Marcus does not denigrate the governing mind, but he is not offering it immortal release from the body either. He is merely recommending that one imagines and welcomes the eventual ending of its enslavement to the denigrated body. We have already reached Seneca and Plutarch, who belonged to this time, and it was a particularly fruitful era for the subject. As he plaits it, he throws it over his shoulder, but does not notice that a donkey is eating it up behind him.
We shall also be like the people described in the Growing Argument, who have no continuous self. We must weave in the bad parts, as well as the good, for a picture needs dark patches as well as bright, and music needs low notes as well as high. How are we to understand this argument? The appeal to the Growing Argument and its denial of a continuous self suggests that it is about how to secure the continuation of one and the same self. But on the other hand, Plutarch retreats later in the passage and recommends that we weave not a self, but a life.
Marya Schechtman,33 without 29 Marcus Aurelius, Med. That Plutarch has in mind the same topic as Schechtman, the adoption of an identity by a person who already has a continuous history, is suggested also by the fact that the memories to be woven into the life are meant to be genuine memories of what the selfsame person experienced earlier. Again, it is perhaps even more important to weave in future projects.
The late Russian neuropsychologist, A. Luria, wrote a book about a man who had lost his memory of who he was through being shot in the brain in the Second World War. Luria comments that those of his patients who lost the ability to plan future projects disintegrated far more than those who had lost their memories. Justice is argued to be natural, because based on the natural attachment that the newborn feel first for their own persons and then for their nearest. The Stoics therefore examine the newborn closely and Seneca argues that, although at any time the attachment is felt towards the current constitution, which will change, it is the life-long self me, ego that is entrusted to my concern.
What draws the circles, to express the degrees of attachment it feels, is also a self a given self, autos tis , and this is described not so much as identical with the mind as possessing it heautou. Perhaps it is the composite of mind and body. If Hierocles thinks, like Chrysippus37 and Seneca, that the first target of attachment is a self, then one self will feel attachment to the body as self, and altogether three aspects of the person will have been treated as selves.
Seneca, Ep. Plutarchum, Mor. But Hierocles gives us a particularly vivid example. The Stoic idea reached the Christians, and we find Tertullian, who died c. In the same century as Plutarch, Seneca and Hierocles, the Stoic, Epictetus, gives us the idea of the inviolable self. Epictetus had had his leg broken when he was a slave. He imagines the following dialogue.
Put me in chains? Epictetus distinguishes good and bad will, and his idea is that ideally, but not without effort and training, he could identify himself with the one inviolable thing, his unperverted will. Your will can be frustrated only by an opposing will in you, but a good will cannot be frustrated at all.
The will is something that the tyrant cannot put in chains. But whereas Hierocles recommends this for social reasons, Epictetus in effect rejects it as making one violable, even though one owes justice to all humans. You must consider not only the fact that you are a rational being. That is only the first persona, although it is what Kant tells us to consider, when deciding how it is right to act. Complaints have been made about how thin a conception that of rational being is for the purpose of moral decision making.
Panaetius wants a thick concept. Graeco-Roman Varieties of Self 25 the choices you have made and what fortune has brought you. These personae are again, some of them, chosen, rather than being already there awaiting introspection. Acting according to personae has something in common with acting according to a life-narrative. It is further said that when Julius Caesar defeated his opponents at Thapsus, it was right for Cato to commit suicide in those circumstances, even though it would not have been right for anyone else in the same circumstances.
What is just for one is just for all Rhet. I 13, b14— In one way, I presume that Panaetius would agree that if there were anyone exactly like Cato and a Kantian could make that one of the relevant circumstances , then it would be right for that person in those circumstances to commit suicide. But that is not the interesting point.
The interesting point is that there was no one else like Cato among those defeated at Thapsus. He had always stood for a kind of austerity that no one else began to match. Cicero calls it gravity. One could say that he is presented as an example of authenticity. And that is why it would be right for him, but for none of the others defeated, to commit suicide in the circumstances that prevailed. That this is the interesting point about people has been brought out in modern times by Peter Winch.
Epictetus in the next century agrees in Discourses 1. The general point here and in Cicero Off. Epictetus brings out, incidentally, what a commitment he took it to be to adopt the persona of philosopher. It was then a badge of being a philosopher to wear a beard, and Epictetus says it is better for a philosopher to have his head cut off than his beard. The Romans assumed that the beard was the mark of a philosopher.
In modern times, Robert Nozick recognises both the possibility of contributing to self-formation and of doing so in the light of persona or profession. Sorabji The individual is here defined from the more impersonal point of view of the logician as a bundle of qualities that cannot be shared by any other individual.
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I will take a further example from the Platonist tradition. Plato in the Symposium e—e suggests that we want to have children, or to leave other works behind, because this is the nearest we can come to immortality. Here the self seems to be invested in offspring. In fact, however, this search for selfhood got them the opposite result. A final context in which there is relevant talk of self, as I have mentioned, is that of self-awareness. In the version found in On the Trinity The first person formulation is more dramatic and rhetorically effective. Plotinus V. Lichtenberg, Schriften und Briefe.
But what is true, I think, is that there were earlier and later developments in the concept of self. The First Alcibiades ascribed to Plato discusses the true self of humans in general, and Epictetus the true self once again of the individual. As already remarked, individuality is a subject of interest at various different periods. The Epicurean Lucretius, who discussed this in the first century BC, almost certainly influenced John Locke,51 who has been taken to represent a brand new modern treatment of personal identity.
Dispensing with Christian reliance on the idea of a continuing soul or substance, Locke appealed to memory as a source for deciding questions of personal identity over time, and this influenced many modern treatments which also rely on psychological linkages instead of on a continuing substance. But Lucretius, whom Locke read, had made the same move of appealing to memory instead of a continuing soul or substance. Before that, a threat relevant to personal identity had been raised in the fifth century BC, with the idea that all things are discontinuous. But persons, we saw, provided only one example of this threatened discontinuity.
But the interest in the idea of me is much more widespread later. Certainly not all. That would completely ruin many of the points being made. The existence of persons, humans and their aspects is rather a presupposition in these cases. Of course you can. The tyrant knew that. Similarly, Plutarch is not saying that a person or human can be woven.
Those are already there.
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What he is tempted to say is that the thing which can be woven is me. Nor is Socrates in the Phaedo reassuring his friends that some person will continue to exist. Cato is precisely not to think only about what it would be right for a person to do. Marcus does so by denigrating the bodily me. To the Epicurean Lucretius, the alarming thought is that it might be we who are by chance reassembled after death.
And to Seneca it is encouraging that it precisely will be we who return when the universe repeats its history. Plotinus was clearly anxious to avoid a total loss of individuality, in his discussion of souls retaining recognisable personality, or at least having the uniqueness of theorems. Self-Awareness The interest in another subjective element, self-awareness, had a chequered career.
The theory also makes self-awareness possible only through participation in social activity. In these discussions of self-awareness, Plato is talking in the First Alcibiades of knowing what type of thing a human is not of the knowledge of individuality. But there were others, the Pythgoreans, who practised self-interrogation of the individual self, perhaps as early as the fifth century BC, and passed the practice on to Seneca and other Stoics and eventually through Origen to Christianity.
But although it is intended to improve character, it remains at a very much more intellectual level than in the more thoroughgoing self-interrogation of Pythagoreans, Stoics and Christians. Self-inspection developed a different role again in Neoplatonism from the third century AD and hence in the Christian Augustine in the late fourth century. They find God and higher reality by looking within themselves.
He had read Latin translations of Plotinus, who repeatedly tells us to look for the chief divinities, the Intellect and the One, within ourselves,55 and who provides a famous autobiographical account of experiencing union with the divine Intellect, an account in which he says that he often withdraws into himself. This is not a selfevident interpretation of Plato. It took the Neoplatonist commentators on Plato to interpret in this spirit the First Alcibiades.
Proclum, in Alc. But Plotinus was not the first to look for truth within. Cicero in the first century BC borrows from the Stoics, when he says in connexion with natural law and justice that one finds them within in se see Leg. And in the next century, the Stoic Epictetus Diss. But the Stoics are not necessarily the first either. Cadiou p. If this logos is the same as the universal truth that he also calls logos in fragments 1 and 2, he will have anticipated the view that the most important truth is to be found within. But the modifications in Neoplatonism were small. Plotinus and Porphyry still saw themselves as teachers and some later Neoplatonists saw themselves as priests.
It seems to me that interest in the individual, in the idea of me and in selfawareness increases over time. Only some of the 16 cases I surveyed briefly earlier would illustrate this tendency. Gill takes two of those that might and interprets them differently. Personae The first persona is not individual but species-wide. It is rational human nature and, as Gill rightly says, the ethical requirement that we take that persona into account in all our decisions is very important. I think the requirement is important because it is meant to rule out the kind of modern individualism that Charles Taylor has 57 Plotinus I.
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Gerson ed. On the contrary, in the Stoic view, human nature calls on a person to behave in accordance with right reason and with virtue, or at least to progress in the direction of virtue by performing right actions. But individual differences come in, because that injunction leaves us with too little guidance about which we should pursue among the many ways of performing right actions. That leaves too much open to guide us. The late Stoic theory of personae avoids this criticism, because it supplies the guidance of more specific personae.
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