Difference and Subjectivity: Dialogue and Personal Identity

Difference and Subjectivity: Dialogue and Personal Identity

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This prize-winning book, first published in France in 1982 and now available in an English translation, investigates the question of human subjectivity. Francis Jacques shows that this question, far from becoming outmoded or irrelevant, remains of central significance for philosophy and the social sciences. Jacques takes issue with two commonly held philosophical views about the self: that the subject really doesn't exist at all, and that the relationship between the subject and others is not important. Jacques develops a relational model of the subject; personal identity, he says, is largely defined in the course of communicating with others. And the self, or subject, must not only identify both parties to the conversation ("you" and "me"), but also the absent third party ("him" or "her"). To critique the views with which he disagrees and to support his own argument, Jacques draws upon linguistics, literary criticism, theories of artificial intelligence, communication theory, psychoanalysis, and theology, applying logic to works as diverse as "Walden" and "Alice in Wonderland".

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