Self-concern From Priestley To Hazlitt
Martin (Raymond) & Barresi (John)
Source: British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Aug2003, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p499-507, 9p;
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    In "An Essay on the Principles of Human Action", published in 1805, William Hazlitt, proposed theories of personal identity and of self-concern that are remarkably similar to Derek Parfit1's recent accounts. How did Hazlitt, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, come upon ideas considered radical toward the end of the twentieth century? The main influence seems to have come from an independent discussion that developed toward the end of the eighteenth century among Unitarian materialists, in which two original thinkers on the topic, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Cooper, as well as Thomas Belsham, were of particular importance. In this paper, we trace the chain of influence from Priestley, Cooper, and Belsham to Hazlitt.

    (???): Toward the beginning of the nineteenth century, William Hazlitt, in his book An Essay on the Principles of Human Action, proposed a theory of personal identity and self-concern. Hazlitt even asked in regard to possible resurrection fission scenarios, how he could decide which of the multiple copies of himself or of his continued consciousness that were created by God were really himself or a proper object of his egoistic self concern. Hazlitt concluded that belief in personal identity must be an acquired imaginary conception.

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