The Personal Self in the Phenomenological Tradition

  • Dermot Moran


The interrelated concepts of ‘self’ and ‘person’ have long traditions within Western philosophy, and both have re-emerged, after a period of neglect, as central topics in contemporary cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind and action. The concepts of ‘self’ and ‘person’ are intimately related, overlap on several levels and are often used interchangeably. While some philosophers (in the past and at present) seek to separate them quite sharply, here I will treat being a self (with some degree of self-awareness) as at least a necessary element of being a person in the full sense. The phenomenological tradition tends to treat the person as the full, concrete, embodied and historically and socially embedded subject, engaged in social relations with other subjects, and does not treat the person as a primarily ‘forensic’ conception (as a legal or moral appellation), as in the tradition of John Locke.In this chapter, I will explore the essential elements of the concept of the self in the phenomenological tradition, concentrating primarily on the philosophy of Edmund Husserl. I shall also discuss briefly the contributions of Max Scheler and Edith Stein. The person is not just a free, rational agent, but primarily an embodied intentional meaning-maker with stratified senstive and emotional layers, whose identity is in part constituted by its history.


Personal Identity Human Person Phenomenological Tradition Sense Content Phenomenological Account 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dermot Moran
    • 1
  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland

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