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Imagining Ourselves with Aristotle

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Title: Imagining Ourselves with Aristotle
Author: Halls, Douglas Campbell
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Eardley, PeterDorter, Kenneth
Abstract: On three occasions in Rhetoric I.11, Aristotle alludes to a notion of a ‘phantasia of the self’: a concept that is explicitly broached, as far as I am aware, nowhere else in the Aristotelian corpus. The allusions are so fleeting that it would strain credibility to suggest that Aristotle really had a concept of ‘self-imagining,’ especially since his discussions of phantasia found in his general psychology (i.e., De Anima and the Parva Naturalia) already leave so much to the imagination, as it were. This thesis draws on Aristotle’s natural, psychological, and anthropological works in order to develop an Aristotelian concept of self-image, or, if to use a neologism, an ‘autophantasma.’ To determine the basic character of Aristotelian self-imagining, we proceed by determining Aristotle’s account of phantasia and phantasmatic images, on the one hand, and that of (human) selfhood on the other. While we look primarily to Aristotle’s general psychology to discern the nature of the phantasmatic and to the anthropological works (Nicomachean Ethics & Rhetoric) to account for the nature of self, we prioritize text that imbricates these orders of Aristotle’s thought to promote coherence in our model of Aristotelian autophantasma. The central aim of Part A (Prologue through Chapter 3) is to provide a comprehensive account of phantasia and phantasmata. Part B (Chapters 4 through Epilogue) then analyses the self’s structure, its most general animating object (the apparent good), its reception of that object through its ethos (character), and two registers of its social environment: one intimate, one political. Each dimension of our account of self shows not only that the work of phantasia is deeply and broadly implicated in its constitution and ongoing enactment but that self-relational exercises of phantasia already belong to the internal demands of many aspects of Aristotle’s thought. Thus, while the lines of the Rhetoric that reference the ‘phantasia of self’ may be at the margins of Aristotle’s thinking, they point to something that is, on the contrary, core and cardinal to the conceptual architecture underwriting his account of human selfhood.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/26485
Date: 2021-09
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International


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