New Book: How to understand the (non-existent) self

The book SELF: From One to Many and Back to None is the result of several years of work on the problems of consciousness and the self as they are currently posed in the modern philosophy of mind. The monograph interweaves ideas from several scientific works of Janko Nešić. Examples and case studies from psychopathology complement presentations of different theories of the self. The chapters in the monograph reflect the author’s professional and personal journey through metaphysics and the science of the self towards the most convincing answer to the question: what is the self, what am I?

On this journey, we are guided by phenomenology, our subjective experience of the self, and any philosophical and scientific theory of the self must align with this subjective phenomenology. A significant portion of this monograph is dedicated to the phenomenology of subjectivity, of what it feels like to be a subject of experience, and to various self-awarenesses that make up the feeling of ourselves, our self-experience. Self-awareness and self-consciousness are multifaceted phenomena. Psychopathology can be very illustrative of what the self can be or become. And what should we make of the split-brain patients and craniopagus twins? How many subjects/selfs are there in these strange cases? There is talk of ego dissolution, disintegration or ego death. In mystical experiences, the boundary between the self and the world sometimes weakens and disappears. How can we explain the case of Christina, the disembodied lady described by Oliver Sacks? Due to the loss of proprioception, her body became blind to itself and lost bodily self-awareness! How should we understand these pathological experiences, and do they tell us something about the self?

The choice of theories Dr Nešić debates in the book, to which most attention is dedicated, is such as to include an examination of approaches that have not been given enough (selfless) room in the literature (e.g. modern versions of dualism, panpsychism, structuralism, enactivism, predictive processing). As he tells the story of the Self, he also provides some possible arguments of his own for those positions, putting forward suggestions on how to solve some theoretical issues and even proposals for new directions of inquiry and what I believe to be the future ways towards a deeper understanding of selfhood. Despite some wild ideas and positions presented in the book, the monograph’s overarching (implicit) theme is the naturalisation of phenomenology. By the end of the monograph, a deeper insight into the complex aspects of enactivism and its application in the philosophy of psychiatry is put forward.

SELF: From One to Many and Back to None (pdf)

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Јавни конкурс за попуњавање радног места – директор Института друштвених наука

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30. 11. 2022.

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