front cover of Intersubjective Existence
Intersubjective Existence
A Critical Reflection on the Theory and the Practice of Selfhood
Oliva Blanchette
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
Intersubjective Existence, as the author notes, aims, first, to develop a wisdom about human life that takes the form of a theory of selfhood and, second, to reflect on what is called for in the ethical practice of human existence. Secondly, the ethical implications of this theory of selfhood are explored, specifically looking at conscience, prudential reasoning, justice, friendship, the law, temperance, courage, and concluding with a brief treatment of religion. Olivia Blanchette charts the path of his inquiry through an analysis of reflective self-consciousness in selves communing with one another. They are constituted in their substance as a union of body and soul, with intelligence and free will that give rise to cultures in communion with other selves. These cultures are over and above what is given to each self in sense consciousness and in sense appetites and which each one contends with in the exercise of selfhood and the rights that go with that in keeping with justice. Concern for right reasoning and justice leads to an analysis of temperance and courage. The chief arguments take the form of phenomenological reflections on the building blocks of the perennial philosophy. Blanchette recasts Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics from the perspective of a phenomenology of the mutual recognition of agents and the historical consciousness to which it gives rise.
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Makeover TV
Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity
Brenda R. Weber
Duke University Press, 2009
In 2004, roughly 25 makeover-themed reality shows aired on U.S. television. By 2009, there were more than 250, from What Not to Wear and The Biggest Loser to Dog Whisperer and Pimp My Ride. In Makeover TV, Brenda R. Weber argues that whether depicting transformations of bodies, trucks, finances, relationships, kids, or homes, makeover shows posit a self achievable only in the transition from the “Before-body”—the overweight figure, the decrepit jalopy, the cluttered home—to the “After-body,” one filled with confidence, coded with celebrity, and imbued with a renewed faith in the powers of meritocracy. The rationales and tactics invoked to achieve the After-body vary widely, from the patriotic to the market-based, and from talk therapy to feminist empowerment. The genre is unified by its contradictions: to uncover your “true self,” you must be reinvented; to be empowered, you must surrender to experts; to be special, you must look and act like everyone else.

Based on her analysis of more than 2,500 hours of makeover TV, Weber argues that the much-desired After-body speaks to and makes legible broader cultural narratives about selfhood, citizenship, celebrity, and Americanness. Although makeovers are directed at both male and female viewers, their gendered logic requires that feminized subjects submit to the controlling expertise wielded by authorities. The genre does not tolerate ambiguity. Conventional (middle-class, white, ethnically anonymous, heterosexual) femininity is the goal of makeovers for women. When subjects are male, makeovers often compensate for perceived challenges to masculine independence by offering men narrative options for resistance or control. Foregoing a binary model of power and subjugation, Weber provides an account of makeover television that is as appreciative as it is critical. She reveals the makeover show as a rich and complicated text that expresses cultural desires and fears through narratives of selfhood.

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Making Spirit Matter
Neurology, Psychology, and Selfhood in Modern France
Larry Sommer McGrath
University of Chicago Press, 2020

The connection between mind and brain has been one of the most persistent problems in modern Western thought; even recent advances in neuroscience haven’t been able to explain it satisfactorily. Historian Larry Sommer McGrath’s Making Spirit Matter studies how a particularly productive and influential group of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French thinkers attempted to solve this puzzle by showing the mutual dependence of spirit and matter. The scientific revolution taking place at this point in history across disciplines, from biology to psychology and neurology, located our mental powers in the brain and offered a radical reformulation of the meaning of society, spirit, and the self. Tracing connections among thinkers such as Henri Bergson, Alfred Fouillée, Jean-Marie Guyau, and others, McGrath plots alternative intellectual movements that revived themes of creativity, time, and experience by applying the very sciences that seemed to undermine metaphysics and religion. Making Spirit Matter lays out the long legacy of this moment in the history of ideas and how it might renew our understanding of the relationship between mind and brain today.

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Politics Of Selfhood
Bodies And Identities In Global Capitalism
Richard Harvey Brown
University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Looks at the ways social change is expressed through debates over identities and bodies. In bodies and selves, we can see politics, economics, and culture play out, and the tensions and crises of society made visible. The women's movement, lobbies for the elderly, pro-choice and pro-life movements, AIDS research and education, pedophilia and repressed memory, global sports spectacles, organ donor networks, campaigns for safe sex, chastity, or preventive medicine--all are aspects of the contemporary politics of bodies and identities touched on in this book. Three broad themes run through the collection: how the body is constructed in various ways for different purposes, how the electronic media and its uses shape selves and sensualities and contribute to civic discourse, and how global capitalism acts as a direct force in these processes. By taking a distinctly cross-cultural and comparative approach, this volume explores more fully than ever the political, economic, institutional, and cultural settings of corporeality, identity, and representation. Contributors: Antonella Fabri, Eva Illouz, Philip W. Jenks, Lauren Langman, Timothy W. Luke, Timothy McGettigan, Margaret J. Tally.
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Sculpting the Self
Islam, Selfhood, and Human Flourishing
Muhammad U. Faruque
University of Michigan Press, 2021

Sculpting the Self addresses “what it means to be human” in a secular, post-Enlightenment world by exploring notions of self and subjectivity in Islamic and non-Islamic philosophical and mystical thought. Alongside detailed analyses of three major Islamic thinkers (Mullā Ṣadrā, Shāh Walī Allāh, and Muhammad Iqbal), this study also situates their writings on selfhood within the wider constellation of related discussions in late modern and contemporary thought, engaging the seminal theoretical insights on the self by William James, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michel Foucault. This allows the book to develop its inquiry within a spectrum theory of selfhood, incorporating bio-physiological, socio-cultural, and ethico-spiritual modes of discourse and meaning-construction. Weaving together insights from several disciplines such as religious studies, philosophy, anthropology, critical theory, and neuroscience, and arguing against views that narrowly restrict the self to a set of cognitive functions and abilities, this study proposes a multidimensional account of the self that offers new options for addressing central issues in the contemporary world, including spirituality, human flourishing, and meaning in life.

This is the first book-length treatment of selfhood in Islamic thought that draws on a wealth of primary source texts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Greek, and other languages. Muhammad U. Faruque’s interdisciplinary approach makes a significant contribution to the growing field of cross-cultural dialogue, as it opens up the way for engaging premodern and modern Islamic sources from a contemporary perspective by going beyond the exegesis of historical materials. He initiates a critical conversation between new insights into human nature as developed in neuroscience and modern philosophical literature and millennia-old Islamic perspectives on the self, consciousness, and human flourishing as developed in Islamic philosophical, mystical, and literary traditions.

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