Human Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 363–374 | Cite as

The Atomistic Self versus the Holistic Self in Structural Relation to the Other



I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities.


consciousness emergent properties freedom holism identity meaning other significance structure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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