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King’s History of Philosophy Workshop on the Self

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King's College London, Strand Campus

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Programme:

10.00-11.15 John Callanan: Kant's Metaphysics of the Self


11.30 -12.45 Mark Textor: Lotze's Master Argument: From the Unity of Consciousness to the Self

Influential 19th century German philosophers of mind promoted a psychology without a soul. Hermann Lotze is their main opponent. He argues 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?

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.

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