: The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century (): Jerrold Seigel: Books. Cambridge Core – European History after – The Idea of the Self – by Jerrold Seigel. In this book, Jerrold Seigel provides an original and penetrating narrative of how major Western European thinkers and writers have confronted the self.
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The scholarship is both deep and sweeping. Seigel’s readings of a wide variety of texts over more than three centuries are cogent and beautifully nuanced, and he is remarkably adept at placing his texts in their relevant national contexts.
The result is intellectual history at its very best. The book historicizes its subject in ways that remove the distorting lenses to be found in much recent work. Its overarching argument constitutes a major new departure, providing an explanatory and interpretive framework for the historical study of the concept of the self that all scholars in the field will have to contend with, and that many will find indispensable for their own work.
The Self and the Calling of Philosophy, “Seigel’s geneaology of the postmodern critique of autonomous selfhood is an overwhelmeing accomplishment, not only in its panoramic scope but also in its intense critical engagement with so many complex texts by so many important thinkers. The text is dense, but also analytical, terse, clear. Seigel has created a theoretical model for assessing conceptions of selfhood in Western thought since that illuminates the individual texts of the most prominent thinkers and also creates a history, replete with contingency and possibility, that rescues the modern subject from its radical critics.
Toews, University of Washington “In its scope, depth, richness and occasional brilliance, it is an astonishing achievement; in its insistence on the historical and structural complexity of ideas of the self, it is a necessary corrective to overschematic histories. It deserves — and will likely get — the closest attention. He shows genuine acuity in analyzing philosophical views of often daunting intricacy” -Charles Larmore, The New Republic “This is a rare book It is nothing less than an extraordinary portal into experience, emerging ideas, and verbal interaction from the seventeenth century to the present.
Though in codex form, this portal also has the capacity to offer lenses of advancing resolution of each thinker from frame to biography to discourse, and current scholarship. But the portal does not overwhelm, it entices.
Hartman, University of Cincinnati, Canadian Journal of History “The Idea of the Self[‘s] pages overflow with insightful readings of familiar texts and striking recoveries of marginal ones.
It is safe to predict that it will set the agenda for research and debates about the history of the self for many years to come. Jerrold Seigel here offers a magisterial new account of how major Western European thinkers have confronted the self since the seventeenth century. Combining theoretical and contextural approaches, he explores the ways key figures have understood whether and how far individuals can achieve coherence and consistency in the face of inner tensions and external pressures.
He makes clear that recent “post-modernist” accounts belong firmly to the tradition of Western thinking they have sought to supercede, and provides a persuasive alternative to claims that the modern self is typically egocentric or disengaged.
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If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? What is the self? The question has preoccupied people in many times and places, but nowhere more than in the modern West, where it has spawned debates that still resound today. Jerrold Seigel combines theoretical and contextual approaches to explore the ways key figures have understood whether and how far individuals can achieve coherence and consistency in the face of inner tensions and external pressures.
Clarifying that recent “post-modernist” accounts belong firmly to the tradition of Western thinking they have sought to supercede, Seigel provides a persuasive alternative to claims that the modern self is typically egocentric or disengaged. Read more Read less.
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The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Review “The Idea of the Self is quite simply the most important and convincing book about Western thinking about the self that I have encountered.
Cambridge University Press March 28, Language: Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Showing of 3 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering seibel right now. Please try again later. It is astonishing that any one human being could master the vast range of material covered in this book, and I’m sure that specialists in all the philosophers and writers would quarrel with Seigel’s interpretations in whole or in part.
This would especially be true of his take down of Derrida. But, as someone who has studied some of these philosophers, I have to testify that I learned a great deal from Seigel, and I’m indebted to him. As it turns out, I’m temperamentally on his side anyway, so that helped. It’s fun, of course to have one of your teachers in my case Hubert Dreyfus kind of dissed for reasons that I think are quite accurate, and to have somebody you admire Charles Taylor also taken down a peg as well.
All in good fun, especially when the writing is so lucid. In some jerrlld and this is not a critique, unless jerold want it to be Seigel’s thumbnails of so many writers sounds like a smooth merging of many “very short introductions to Excellent, comprehensive treatment of the concept of self.
Very readable for philosophers and laymen alike. Thomas Llewellyn Top Contributor: As the author notes at the beginning of this massive study, the notion of the self is simultaneously jerroold weighty and slippery p.
The concept defines who we are, and perhaps more importantly, who we want to be. Our idea of self is multifaceted–incorporating our bodily image, our social relations, and usually some type of belief in transcendence or personal freedom. Professor Seigel articulates these as the three essential dimensions of selfhood in Western culture: The bodily element of our selves is perhaps the srigel basic and most familiar. It incorporates our physical appearance, which is very important in satisfying sexual desires possibly the prime driving force of our corporeal nature.
And of course physical attractiveness goes a long way in developing an active social life, as anyone who has ever gone to high school can readily attest to. And let’s not forget physical dexterity and mental prowess, both major components of our physicality.
For thousands of years the former probably had greater value; modernity has demanded more from the latter. The relational side reflects our lives as social creatures.
This part of our being is jerrkld in our social institutions and cultural interactions. Our values and goals are uniquely constituted by our place in society and our reaction to how others value us. Bill Gates would not be one of the world’s richest men if he had been born into an African Hottentot group or a Palestinian refugee camp.
It is an uncomfortable fact that we are, for better or worse, constrained and defined by our human others.
The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe Since the Seventeenth Century
The third part of our self, the seigrl, posits our consciousness as an active agent in determining who segiel are. Through our own powers we can overcome physical limitations and social stereotypes.
This relates of course to the ethical concept of personal responsibility. We can and must create ourselves. We alone determine our fate and must be held accountable.
The three great monotheistic religions are wedded to this idea of the self, as is the reactionary thinker Ayn Rand. Of course not all proponents seigeel the reflective self are religionists or right-wing nuts. Immanuel Kant and Jean-Paul Sartre are prominent counterexamples. As is Marx when he is promoting revolutionary consciousness.
Some major thinkers espouse a theory of the self that is one-dimensional. However, a truly reflective self is almost always aware of the ongoing demands of physical and social needs. So the nature of the self quickly becomes complicated, at least among the more sophisticated theorists. A few examples will help clarify the issue. The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant addressed what he considered a crucial problem: The conundrum can be outlined as follows: And without freedom there can be no morally significant actions.
In order to save morality Jerrolf thinks he must put forth a theory of human choice that is not constrained by the iron cage of scientific law. His solution is to posit a realm of “noumena” that is contrasted with the world of “phenomena,” the latter designating the ordinary world of everyday sense experience.
The former is composed seiel “things in themselves;” jerrolc such it is beyond or behind? The foundation of this noumenal domain is the “transcendental ego,” a theoretical entity that serves as a precondition for our experience. This postulated self is not to be confused with the “empirical ego;” seivel latter is jerrolr ordinary self of our common experience. The key point is that the transcendental subject–existing beyond the laws of science–is also the moral subject.
Existing in a totally free realm it uses its rationality to create the moral law. Thus for Kant we have within or behind? These few words can hardly do justice to Kant’s creative ideas. There have been volumes written on these topics. Seigel does a good job summarizing Kant’s position.