The Self: A Very Short Introduction [#750]
The Self: A Very Short Introduction [#750]


  • Explores the topic of self in an interdisciplinary way, drawing on philosophy, psychology, and sociology
  • Addresses questions of wide general interest as well as introducing academic approaches
  • The work points to a new picture of the self as an engaged, multi-dimensional being

'Know thyself' is said to have been one of the maxims carved into the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. On the face of it, this does not seem like a very difficult task. My self is with me at every moment of every day, I have access to its inner thoughts and feelings, and I am hardly liable to mistake someone else for me. At the same time, however, the self is surprisingly elusive and opaque. What, after all, is a self? Is it some kind of object? If so, what kind? If not an object, what then? Is our sense of self ultimately illusory? Something that disappears when studied too closely? Our understanding of the self is replete with puzzles and paradoxes: I cannot be anyone but who I am, and yet everyone will acknowledge that there are circumstances in which being oneself is an extremely difficult task. If I change enough, I can be said to have become a different person. I cannot get away from myself, and yet I can find and lose myself.
In this Very Short Introduction, Marya Schechtman uses insights from philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and popular thought to consider some of the most compelling and puzzling questions about the self, including questions about what kind of object a self is if it is an object at all, what it means to be oneself and why it is important, what kinds of changes the self can and cannot survive, whether a self can be separated from its body, whether more than one self can exist in a single body, and what role engagement with the environment and with other selves plays in constituting and maintaining the self. These investigations yield a complex, multi-dimensional picture of the self as a subject and agent embedded in and interacting with a natural and social world.


1:What is the Self? Metaphysics
2:Becoming Someone Else
3:Being Who You Are
4:Waxing and Waning Selves
5:Divided and Distressed Selves
6:Embodied, Social Selves

References and Further Reading


Marya Schechtman, Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois
Marya Schechtman is a professor of philosophy and member of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1988. Her work focuses on the philosophy of personal identity, particularly on the relation between metaphysical, ethical, and phenomenological approaches to this topic. She also has interests in the philosophy of memory and bioethics and has published numerous articles on these topics. She is the author of The Constitution of Selves (1996) and Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life (OUP, 2014).


ISBN : 9780198835257

Marya Schechtman
144 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions





The Self: A Very Short Introduction [#750]

The Self: A Very Short Introduction [#750]

The Self: A Very Short Introduction [#750]