Sense of Self, Embodiment, and Desire-Based Emotions

  • Michelle Maiese
Part of the New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science book series (NDPCS)


Many philosophers approach the issue of personal identity by seeking to address how it is that an individual can remain the same person over time despite various qualitative physical and psychological changes. Often such discussions raise questions about whether there is such a thing as a ‘person’ or ‘self’ that persists through time, and some philosophers have argued that this notion of a ‘self’ is a fiction and that self-consciousness is an illusion.1 Others have held that a self truly does exist and that through self-consciousness we can be assured of the existence of our own self.2 In the context of such debates, either the ‘self’ is treated as some sort of substantial entity that exists (according to Realists about the self) or else the ‘self’ is treated as a mere myth that does not exist (according to Irrealists about the self). As I hope will become clear, I wish to sidestep this debate, given that it arises only in the context of highly questionable assumptions to the effect that Realism and Irrealism about the self exhaust the relevant logical space of options. While I agree with the Irrealists that the self is not a solid, really existing substance that serves as a stable basis for our fleeting and momentary sensations, feelings, and motivations, this hardly shows that the self is merely a fiction or an illusion. We cannot conclude that the self is a ‘nothing’ simply on the basis that it is not a substantial ‘something.’


Bodily Experience Conscious Life Egocentric Perspective Coherent Sense Phenomenal Unity 
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Copyright information

© Michelle Maiese 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Maiese
    • 1
  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeBostonUSA

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