Part I. Introductory: 1. Dimensions and contexts of selfhood; 2. Between ancients and moderns; Part II. British modernity: 3. Personal identity and modern selfhood: Locke; 4. Self-centeredness and sociability: Mandeville and Hume; 5. Adam Smith and modern self-fashioning; Part III. Society and Self-Knowledge: France from Old Regime to Restoration: 6. Sensationalism, reflection, and inner freedom: Condillac and Diderot; 7. Wholeness, withdrawal, self-revelation: Rousseau; 8. Reflectivity, sense-experience, and the perils of social life: Maine de Biran and Constant; Part IV. The World and the Self in German Idealism: 9. Autonomy, limitation, and the purposiveness of nature: Kant; 10. Purposiveness and Bildung: Herder, Humboldt, and Goethe; 11. The ego and the world: Fichte, Novalis, Schelling; 12. Universal selfhood: Hegel; Part V. The Past in the Present: 13. Dejection, insight, and self-making: Coleridge and Mill; 14. From cultivated subjectivity to the polarities of self-formation in nineteenth-century France; 15. Society and selfhood reconciled: Janet, Fouill, Bergson; 16. Will, reflection, and self-overcoming: Schopenhauer and Nietzsche; 17. Being and transcendence: Heidegger; 18. Deaths and transfigurations of the self: Foucault and Derrida; 19. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
This 2005 book explores how major Western European thinkers have confronted the self from the seventeenth century to the present.
Jerrold Seigel is William J. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History at New York University. His previous books include Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930 (1986) and The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp: Desire, Liberation and the Self in Modern Culture (1995).
'The Idea of the Self is quite simply the most important and convincing book about Western thinking about the self that I have encountered. The scholarship is both deep and sweeping. Seigel's readings of a wide variety of texts over more than three centuries are cogent and beautifully nuanced, and he is remarkably adept at placing his texts in their relevant national contexts. The result is intellectual history at its very best ... quite an event.' Anthony la Vopa, Professor of History, North Carolina State University '... an overwhelming accomplishment, not only in its panoramic scope but also in its intense critical engagement with so many complex texts by so many important thinkers.' John E. Toews, University of Washington 'The Idea of the Self will inevitably provoke thought, discussion and debate. It should. It is simply the best book we now have on the subject, comprehensive, astute and profound, original in approach, forthright in the presentation of its own interpretation of the self ... Any account of the idea of the self in modern times from now on will have to confront and absorb this magnificent accomplishment.' Modern Intellectual History 'In its scope, depth, richness and occasional brilliance, it is an astonishing achievement; in its insistence on the historical and structural complexity of ideas of the self, it is a necessary corrective to overschematic histories. It deserves - and will likely get - the closest attention.' Metapsychology Online Review 'Seigel has written an important and invaluable book.' The New Republic