History as Prologue

John Barresi and Raymond Martin

in The Oxford Handbook of the Self

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199548019
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 History as Prologue

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  • Philosophy
  • Moral Philosophy
  • History of Western Philosophy


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This article examines the historical conception of the words self and person in philosophical theory. It discusses John Locke's definition of the self as the conscious thinking thing and the person as a thinking intelligent being. It describes the Platonist view of the self as spiritual substance and Aristotelian belief that the self is a hylomorphic substance. It also explores the relevant topics of Epicureanism atomism, Cartesian dualism, and the developmental and social origin of self-concepts.

Keywords: self; person; philosophical theory; John Locke; intelligent being; thinking thing; spiritual substance; hylomorphic substance; Epicureanism atomism; Cartesian dualism

Article.  11060 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy

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