I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity
Glover (Jonathan)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Back Cover Blurb

  1. Am I the same person now as when I was a child? Is there some underlying unity that holds together every shred of an individual’s life? And can we, to a large extent, create our own personality and character?
  2. In this challenging book the author of "Glover (Jonathan) - Causing Death and Saving Lives" tackles the vexed questions of personal identity. Cases of split brains and multiple personalities suggest that our consciousness can perhaps be divided, fragmented or even shared: philosophers have upset many of our common-sense assumptions, yet few people doubt that they are the same unique person throughout their life. And that ‘person’ is not only a product of external influences but something we partly make for ourselves.
  3. Glover draws on Proust, psychology and Freudian theory, examines the roles of memory, tribalism and recognition by others, to provide intriguing evidence for his ideas; their implications are crucial for our attitude to society and politics.
  4. Jonathan Glover was born in 1941 and educated at Tonbridge School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is a Fellow and tutor in philosophy at New College, Oxford, and has written
    Responsibility (1970),
    "Glover (Jonathan) - Causing Death and Saving Lives" (Pelican, 1977) and
    What Sort of People Should There Be? (Pelican, 1983).
    He is married and has three children.
  5. ‘Fascinating ... the ideas which Glover pours forth in profusion deserve more detailed consideration’
    Anthony Storr in the Sunday Times
  6. ‘This hook is exceptional in that it is written by a philosopher who makes few mistakes about neurological and psychiatric facts, and also addresses concerns which are of immediate and practical interest’
    British Journal of Psychiatry
  7. ‘Psychology has now achieved its independence from philosophy and what is hard for us today is ... to bring them into any contact with one another. Jonathan Glover's book is a rare attempt to carry out this difficult task. He writes to be understood by non-specialists’
    David Pears in the London Review of Books

BOOK COMMENT:

Pelican, Penguin Books, London, 1988



"Glover (Jonathan) - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity: Preface"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity


Full Text
  • Despite the title ‘I’, this book Is not about me. It is about the personal perspective we each have on the world and, particularly, on ourselves. Throughout the book, points are made using the word *1’. But they are general points, about the personal perspective of anyone. Very little can be learnt about my life from what is said, and I hope the frequent use of ‘I’ will not be seen as megalomania.
  • It has been necessary to draw on work in philosophy, psychology and neurology to develop the argument of this book. In at least two of these fields, I have had the sense of talking about things that others know much more about. But there is sometimes point in trying to give a broad picture of a central aspect of people, and such a project, unless carried out by a polymath, is likely to run into this difficulty. No doubt there arc points in this book where those more knowledgeable would dissent. But something is lost if everyone sticks to their own special field and a larger picture is never attempted. I hope that the gains from trying to unite different perspectives compensate for the defects of the approach.
  • I am grateful to the British Academy for permission to use, in parts of Chapters Fourteen and Nineteen, material which was first used in my Henriette Hertz Lecture, published in the Academy’s Proceedings in 1983.
  • I have been helped in discussion, and by the suggestion of helpful things to read, by more people than I can mention here. On the topics of the first half of the book, I have learned more from Derek Parfit than from anyone else, first through discussion over many years, and then from his original and powerful book. Jonathan Miller has been very helpful about neurological issues, and has encouraged me to think that trying to link them with philosophy is worth doing. I have learned also from Richard Keshen, both in discussion and through reading his book on partly overlapping issues. I am grateful to Richard Lindley for reading part of the book and making some acute comments on it.
  • I have been helped by students I have taught over many years. It is easy, getting deeper into an academic field, to take so much for granted that you end up talking in a way only others in the field understand. Or, even worse, you end up talking to yourself. But students challenge all this. They do not take for granted that if it is in the journals it must be worth talking about. In trying to explain, I have sometimes come to see that a thing is not worth talking about, and at other times I have become clearer why it is.
  • In this book, I have tried at times to write about some fairly abstract philosophical issues without losing people who are not already familiar with them. I will not always have succeeded, and will at times have irritated professionals by what they will see as simplifications. But I am sure the effort is worth making. If philosophers have anything to contribute to the world, we cannot always talk only to each other.
  • My wife has for many years discussed the human mind with me, and we have tried to link up her perspective as a neurochemist with my philosophical viewpoint. Parts of the book are the result of this. It was mentioned above that little can be learnt from it of my own life. There is an exception. Part of the book celebrates the way people shape each other by doing things together and by sharing their responses. My picture has itself been shaped by experience of this with Vivette.



"Glover (Jonathan) - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity: Introduction"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity


Author’s Introduction
  1. This book is about what it is to be a person, to think of oneself as an ‘I’. It is about the ways people think of themselves, and how they use these ideas in shaping their own distinctive characteristics. It is about how far we create ourselves.
  2. An individual person is unique and valuable. This value we place on the individual finds expression in a cluster of ideas and attitudes. People should be treated as ends in themselves, and never merely as means. One person’s loss is not necessarily justified by someone else’s gain. People have rights. And, linked to these ideas (psychologically if not logically) is the pleasure we take in human variety, and a preference for a society in which individuality flourishes.
  3. These values are sometimes said to have emerged in Europe just after the Middle Ages, and to be a distinctive feature of our descendant Western culture. Perhaps this is right, but our interest in the individuality of ourselves and others is based on older and more universal features of human experience. The idea of the unity -and uniqueness of each person is part of what is expressed by the religious belief in the soul. It is understood at some level by anyone who thinks a friend is less replaceable than a car or a piece of furniture.
  4. The book falls into two halves. The first part is about what it is to be a person. The second is about how we are able to create ourselves. It is also about the importance this ability has for us, and the implications of this aspect of human nature for politics and society.

Sections
  • Being a person – 14
  • Self-creation – 16



"Glover (Jonathan) - Multiple Personality"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 1


Sections
  • Problems of interpretation – 24
  • Unconscious sub-systems – 26
  • Self-deception – 27
  • Are conscious sub-systems possible? – 29


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Split Brains"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 2


Sections
  • Disconnections and confabulation – 35
  • Rival interpretations of the split brain – 37
  • Can consciousness divide? – 37
  • Is the patients’ consciousness divided during the experiments? – 39
  • Is their consciousness divided at other times? – 40
  • Do we all have permanently divided consciousness? – 43
  • Ways of counting minds – 44


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Fragmentation of Consciousness"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 3


Sections
  • Objections to ‘impersonal’ experiences – 49
  • Sub-personal experience – 52


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Integration"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 4


Sections
  • Link-ups – 56
  • Hierarchies of control – 58


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Persons and Self-Consciousness"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 5
COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Word 'I'"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 6


Sections
  • Adhesiveness – 63
  • Elusiveness – 63
  • Irreducibility – 65
  • ‘I’ as an indexical – 66
  • The flexible reference of I – 67


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Body"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 7


Sections
  • The face – 70
  • The role of the body in perception – 72
  • The role of the body in action – 74
  • Links between perception and action - 76
  • Sharp boundaries – 77
  • My body perceived – 78
  • Disorders of body image – 79


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Am I My Body?"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 8


Sections
  • Is my whole body essential to me? – 84
  • My mental life – 85


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Ego"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 9


Sections
  • Language – 90
  • Our life history – 92
  • Hegel’s suggestion – 93
  • Subjectivity – 94
  • Perception – 95
  • Decision and action – 96
  • Has the ego a role? – 97


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Alternatives to the Ego"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 10


Sections
  • The partial convergence of the bodily and mental approaches – 99
  • Closest continuers – 101
  • From identity to survival: Parfit – 101
  • Some possible consequences – 103
  • The separateness of persons – 104
  • Some comments – 105


COMMENT: Part One: What is a Person?



"Glover (Jonathan) - Folk-Psychology"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 11


Sections
  • Psychology and common sense – 110
  • Some possibilities of progress in folk psychology – 113
  • Towards a folk psychology of personal identity – 116


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - Freud's Ego"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 12


Sections
  • Freud’s account in outline – 120
  • Eliminating the spatial metaphors – 123
  • The control centre – 124
  • Depersonalization and splitting – 126
  • Draining the Zuyder Zee – 127
  • The ego from Descartes to Freud – 129


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - Projects of Self-Creation"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 13


Sections
  • Work – 133
  • Style – 134
  • Avoiding some exaggerations – 135
  • ‘The real me’ – 136
  • Three entangled processes – 138


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Inner Story"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 14


Sections
  • H.M. – 140
  • Charged memory – 141
  • Proust’s explanation – 142
  • Past responses and the inner story – 145
  • The inner story as non-fiction – 147
  • Abridgment and editing – 149
  • The inner story and self-creation – 152


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - Belief"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 15


Sections
  • Systems of belief – 154
  • Beliefs and identity – 157
  • Discovering and creating beliefs – 161
  • Beliefs about beliefs – 162


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - Recognition"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 16


Sections
  • The need for recognition – 164
  • Relationships – 166
  • Commitments – 168


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - The Social Self"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 17


Sections
  • Role theory – 170
  • Doubts about role theory – 172
  • The social construction of the inner core – 175
  • Knowing what I am like – 176
  • The inner core and determinism – 178


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - Is Self-Creation Possible?"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 18


Sections
  • Determinism – 181
  • The rejection of fatalism – 183
  • Models of free action – 183
  • Defences of the reactive attitudes – 187
  • What would the world of hard determinism be like? – 191


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



"Glover (Jonathan) - We"

Source: Glover - I: Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity, Chapter 19


Sections
  • The view from Mars – 193
  • Some sources of group conflict – 195
  • Tribalism and identity – 196
  • Groups and recognition – 199
  • Alternatives – 201
  • Growing up – 202


COMMENT: Part Two: Self-Creation



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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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