The Self and Its Shadows: A Book of Essays on Individuality as Negation in Philosophy and the Arts

ISBN : 9780199661787

Stephen Mulhall
352 Pages
163 x 241 mm
Pub date
Apr 2013
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Stephen Mulhall presents a series of multiply interrelated essays which together make up an original study of selfhood (subjectivity or personal identity). He explores a variety of articulations (in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the arts) of the idea that selfhood is best conceived as a matter of non-self-identity-for example, as becoming or self-overcoming, or as being what one is not and not being what one is, or as being doubled or divided. Philosophically, a sustained reading of the work of Nietzsche and Sartre is central to this project, although Wittgenstein is also fundamental to its concerns; Mulhall therefore draws extensively on texts usually associated with 'Continental' philosophical traditions, primarily in order to test the feasibility of a non-elitist form of moral perfectionism. Within the arts, several essays examine various films whose themes intersect with those of the philosophers under study (including Hollywood melodramas, recent spy movies such as the Bourne trilogy and the latest incarnation of James Bond, and David Fincher's 'Benjamin Button'); Wagner's Ring cycle is a recurrent concern; and the novels of Kingsley Amis, J. M. Coetzee and David Foster Wallace are also prominent.


Dramatis Personae
Exemplars of Identity: The Bearing of Proper Names in the Philosophical Investigations
Smoking in Wartime: Sartrean Scenes I
Orchestral Metaphysics: The Birth of Tragedy Between Drama, Opera and Philosophy
The Metaphysics of (Secret) Agency Or: Three Ways of Not Being James Bond
The Gamblers of Roulettenburg: Sartrean Scenes II
The Melodramatic Reality of Film and Literature Or: Elizabeth Costello's Cinematic Sisters
Fetters, Shadows and Circles: Freedom and Form in Human, All Too Human
The Trials of Desire: Sartrean Scenes III
Countering the Ballad of Co-Dependency: The Realistic Spirit of David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Promising Animal: The Art of Reading On the Genealogy of Morality as Testimony
The Decipherment of Signs: Sartrean Scenes IV
Quartet: Wallace's Wittgenstein, Moran's Amis

About the author: 

Stephen Mulhall is a Professor of Philosophy, and a Tutorial Fellow of New College, Oxford. He was previously a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Essex.

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