I Am a Lot of Things: A Pluralistic Account of the Self

Jiri Benovsky 1
  • 1 University of Fribourg, Department of Philosophy, Av. de l’Europe 20, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Jiri Benovsky

Abstract

When I say that I am a lot of things, I mean it literally and metaphysically speaking. The Self, or so I shall argue, is a plurality (notwithstanding the fact that ordinary language takes “the Self” to be a singular term – but, after all, language is only language). It is not a substance or a substratum, and it is not a collection or a bundle. The view I wish to advocate for is a kind of reductionism, in line with some – but not all – broadly Humean ideas. In short, I will defend the view there are the experiences and mental states we have, and that’s it: no additional substances, and no bundles. This does not mean, however, that there is no Self – the Self simply is the experiences. I will try to articulate and defend this view by showing that it can accommodate what I take to be the three main desiderata for any theory of the Self to satisfy: first, that the Self is the subject of experience (a subject of mental states, in general); second, that there is a unity to the Self in the sense that our (conscious, phenomenal) experience is at least partly continuous or ‘stream-like’; and third, that we do not die when we go to sleep or when we otherwise don’t have any (conscious, phenomenal) experiences.

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