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Persons, Selves, and Us: Who are we Anyway?

Calvin Normore smiling
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Calvin Normore
Mahoney Visiting Lecturer Series

Join us for Professor Calvin Normore's lecture titled, "Persons, Selves, and Us: Who are we Anyway?"

Professor Normore is the Brian P. Copenhaver Professor of Philosophy, UCLA, Emeritus William Macdonald Professor of Moral Philosophy, McGill University, and Honorary Professor of Philosophy, the University of Queensland. He is also the Edward P. Mahoney Visiting Professor in Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy at Duke University.

Abstract: The 'problems of the self' that dominate contemporary discussions link the concepts of self and person but not in helpful ways. Person is typically taken to signify an individual human being, and thus the problems of the self often become questions about what part(s) of the human being are essential to the self. This focus on what the self is ignores the more fundamental question of who the self is. To answer this question, we need to consider why the self is a problem for itself - what makes it so elusive to itself. Two different conceptions of person in medieval and early modern discussions - as loci of consciousness and as loci of agency-shape contemporary problems of the self. Only where the two conceptions coincide is it appropriate to regard a person as a self. At stake are issues about the relationship of reflexive awareness and agency to selfhood - and whether one discovers or constitutes oneself.