The Philosophies of the Self module (PI32022)

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • Semester 2
  • 24 places
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


What is the self? Is it a substance that remains constant through time and despite change? Is such constancy merely an illusion? Is it something else entirely? Or is it even the right way to approach whatever is most properly ours? What of the others and their selves? How might we approach them? Or, indeed, how have westepped back from them?

This course will measure the historical accounts of the self against essential and shared phenomena which might be thought to mark the edges, limits, or boundaries of individual selves and yet take a back seat in such accounts. As such, the course offers both a historical overview (inevitably a limited one) and an example of a particular type of philosophical investigation in practice: a phenomenological and deconstructive one.

The importance of the question of selfhood is integral to, not only, philosophy, but also to the construction and reproduction of the social fabric and the dominant worldviews we inhabit. This module will enable you to form your own conclusions about the different concepts of the self and their socio-ethical implications.

The core reading includes key texts within the history of philosophy which argue for different and sometimes competing notions of selfhood. The course reading includes extracts from works by Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Lacan, Althusser and Badiou amongst others. Topics covered in lectures and tutorials include the constitution of subjectivity and the self, the master-slave relationship and its relationship to the self in Hegel, the role of the Other, the transformation of the self, and the distinction between the self and the subject. It is suitable for students interested in the history of philosophy, the theory of the subject, political philosophy and ethics.


Dr Frank Ruda


Teaching and learning will be by lectures and tutorials, supported by a schedule of assigned reading and a formative exercise where students can hand in a draft of their essay or the final exam for comments and advice for improvement. 30 contact hours in total.


If the module is taught in semester one the assessed components will be:

  • ¬†one short essay (1500 words) (40%)
  • one long essay (3000 words) (60%)


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