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How do we know and understand who we really are as human beings? The concept of 'the self' is central to many strands of psychology and philosophy. This book tackles the problem of how to define persons and selves and discusses the ways in which different disciplines, such as biology, sociology and philosophy, have dealt with this topic. Richard S. Hallam examines the notion that the idea of the self as some sort of entity is a human construction and, in effect, a virtual reality. At the same time, this virtual self is intimately related to the reality of ourselves as biological organisms. Aiming to integrate a constructionist understanding of self with the universalizing assumptions that are needed in natural science approaches, this text is unique in its attempt to create a dialogue across academic disciplines, while retaining a consistent perspective on the problem of relating nature to culture.
- Winner of the Media Ecology Association 2011 Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Social Interaction
Reviews & endorsements
"In this fascinating book, Hallam draws on a deep knowledge of philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience and anthropology to present a more complex and compelling view of ‘the self’ than has previously been offered. It is a model of what is possible when thinking is unconstrained by artificial disciplinary boundaries."
--Mary Boyle Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology, University of East LondonSee more reviews
"Showing a masterful grasp of the cross-disciplinary research on self, Richard Hallam provides an impressive, yet highly readable and sometimes humorous review of the different past and present thinking on the self. Virtual Selves, Real Persons lays the groundwork for an authentic dialogue between constructivists and natural scientists, neurophilosophy and social science and offers new insights to all students of self and serious self searchers."
--Kieron O’Connor, University of Montreal
"...Hallam brings together views on self from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology... In so doing, he allows the reader to see that struggling to understand self is perhaps more important to our nature as human beings than the answers that derive from that search. The historical perspective the author brings to the discussion serves as a unifying thread across the multiple disciplines. By viewing self in this manner, Hallam provides a launching place from which natural scientists, social scientists, philosophers, and historians can find a common topic of inquiry... this work would be an excellent choice for a course on history of science or for those interested in fostering dialogue (and academic courses) without disciplinary boundaries... Recommended..."
R E Osborne, Texas State University--San Marcos, Choice
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- Date Published: May 2009
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521509893
- length: 348 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.64kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. A constructionist framework for person and self:
1. The main themes: virtual selves, mind-body dualism and natural science
2. Conceptualising self
3. Generic persons and selves
4. Multiplicity within singularity
5. Sense-of-self: the first person perspective
6. Self in historical explanation
7. Self as historically positioned and narrated
Part II. Person and Self in Science:
8. Philosophy's legacy to a science of self
9. Self in mind and brain
10. Self, person as agent and natural causation
11. Self in child development
12. Self in human evolution
13. Loose ends and split hairs
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