Selves In Time

Hatfield House, August 2010SELVES IN TIME
Temporal Emplacement and Affective Identification in Personal Identity Theory

A Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship project funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme on Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, 2010-12

Scientist-in-Charge: Prof. John Lippitt
Principal Investigator: Dr. Patrick Stokes

This project, hosted by the Philosophy Group, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire, developed a new approach to the problem of personal identity, establishing a productive new avenue of investigation for this important and highly contested branch of philosophy. While traditional metaphysics has treated the self as just another object (albeit one of a rather unusual kind), with objective identity and persistence conditions, recent philosophy has begun to appreciate that selfhood has something irreducibly subjective and first-personal about it. Yet it has not yet made the further move of considering the temporal corollary of this “from the inside” character: that questions about personal identity are never asked from an atemporal “nowhen” but always from the present moment. If this is true, then selves are always “tensed” in a way that alters the focus for discussions of the problems of personal identity. Instead of asking about a single entity stretched across time, questions about ‘the self’ now refer to the way this always-present-tense entity interacts – not just cognitively, but emotionally – with events in the past and future.

This project sought to develop and test a framework for discussing personal identity based on these premises, and applied it to three specific problem areas within the literature on personal identity: the relation of self-interested concern (including our concern for survival) to identity; problem-scenarios in which numerical identity and self-regarding concern seem to come apart; and the object of self-reflexive emotions such as remorse, pride and guilt.

The project concluded some months earlier than scheduled due to my taking up the position at Deakin. However Prof. Lippitt and I continue to collaborate on publications related to this project.

Core project publications

  1. Stokes, P. (2012) “Is Narrative Identity Four-Dimensionalist?” European Journal of Philosopy 20(S1): 86-106
  2. Stokes, P. (2012) “Ghosts in the Machine: Do the Dead Live On in Facebook?” Philosophy and Technology 25(3): 363-379
  3. Stokes, P. (2011) “Review of Galen Strawson Selves“International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19(4): 619-624
  4. Stokes, P. (forthcoming) “Crossing the Bridge: The First-Person and TimePhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences (online early)
  5. Stokes, P. (2013) “Will It Be Me? Identity, Concern, and PerspectiveCanadian Journal of Philosophy 43(2): 206-226
  6. Stokes, P. (2015) “Narrative Holism and the Moment” in J. Lippitt and P. Stokes (eds) Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
  7. Lipptt, J. and Stokes, P. (2015) “Introduction” in J. Lippitt and P. Stokes (eds) Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
  8. Lipptt, J. and Stokes, P. (eds) (2015) Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Other project outcomes

  • “Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self” conference held at the University of Hertfordshire, 4-5th November 2011. Over fifty attendees from across Europe, North America and Australasia heard speakers including Marya Schechtman, John J. Davenport, Anthony Rudd, George Pattison, Kathy Behrendt, Daniel Conway. Click here for the conference program.