The Elusive Self

  • Hywel D. Lewis


I turn now to a further feature of dualism, already mentioned, and one which is, in my opinion, of altogether cardinal importance. This is the insistence that, in addition to states of mind distinct in nature from physical states but constantly interacting with them, there is also a subject, or a self or soul, which remains constant and is uniquely involved in all the flow of our mental states or experiences. This notion has a long ancestry. It appears, for example, in celebrated ways in the work of Plato, Augustine, Descartes and Kant. It is the version presented by Descartes that has attracted most attention, mainly critical, in recent times; and that is also the version which appears to me, though not adequate at all points, most satisfactory in essentials. This is also the view to which I myself subscribe and which I shall seek to present in this chapter in ways that do not seem to me open to the stock objections.


External World Passing State Bodily Continuity Distinct Person External Thing 
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  1. 1.
    C. A. Campbell, On Selfhood and Godhood, chs V–VII (Allen & Unwin, 1957)Google Scholar
  2. A. C. Ewing, Value and Reality ch. IV (Allen & Unwin, 1973)Google Scholar
  3. A. C. Ewing, The Self and Immortality, chs 2 and 3 (Macmillan, 1973).Google Scholar

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© Hywel D. Lewis 1982

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  • Hywel D. Lewis

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