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Phenomenology 2010

Volume 5, Issue Part 1, 2010

Selected Essays from North America Part 1

Peter Westmoreland
Pages 429-447

Rousseau’s Phenomenological Model for the Co-Constitution of Self and World

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Vicar in Emile provides a phenomenological model for the co-constitution of self and world out of experiences as they emerge in the first person perspective. Self and world or non-self are intertwined in experience. Self is a spontaneous activity that differentiates and selects items given in experience as belonging to it based on how those items are given: by feelings or sentiments originating in the self or by sensations originating in the external world. Making this differentiation is not easy due to the interpenetration of self and world. Self constitutes itself according to ontological categories of mind and body that sort the sentiments. Self is constituted as a union of mental and bodily sentiments. Self constitutes the world according to how sentiments orient it toward the world and how sensations give the world to the self.

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