The department will be hosting a workshop on the theme ‘Self, Soul and World in the History of Philosophy’ on Friday the 13th of March.All are welcome, but please sign up here:
The programme is as follows:
10.00-11.15 John Callanan: Kant’s Metaphysics of the Self
Abstract: Kant is traditionally viewed as a critic of the metaphysics of the soul and a proponent of a non-metaphysical conception of selfhood. In recent decades however, many commentators have interpreted Kant as being committed to a metaphysics of the self. I review some of these recent interpreters and consider how their views might be reconciled with the Critical project’s approach to metaphysical explanation.
11.30 -12.45 Mark Textor: Lotze’s Master Argument: From the Unity of Consciousness to the Soul
Abstract: Influential 19th century German philosophers of mind promoted the idea of ‘a psychology without a soul’. Hermann Lotze is their main opponent. He argued that this project is doomed. In my talk I will assess his main argument.
Lunch break (own arrangements)
14.15-15.30 Rory Madden: Frege on Idealism and the Self
Abstract: It is not widely known that Frege’s ‘Thought’ contains an argument which, in the tradition of Kant’s Refutation of Idealism, aims to refute a sceptical or idealist hypothesis on the basis of premises about self-consciousness. In this talk I reconstruct and assess Frege’s argument.
15.45 – 17.00 Nilanjan Das: Can we Coherently Deny the Existence of the Self?
Abstract: Indian Buddhist philosophers defended the thesis that there is no substantially or ultimately real thing such as a self. The non-Buddhist Brahmanical philosophers resisted this claim. In this essay, I focus on one such philosopher: the 6th century Nyāya philosopher, Uddyotakara. He argued that the Buddhists cannot coherently deny the existence of the self, i.e., that the statement “The self doesn’t exist” involves a contradiction. Here, I unpack Uddyotakara’s arguments for this surprising thesis. I show that the thesis follows from three distinct components of his philosophy of language: (i) his semantics of negative existentials, (ii) his theory of how the first-person pronoun works, and (iii) his view that simple expressions of language must have referents.