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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 10, 2008


Byoung Ick Lee
Pages 269-276

A Classification of the Concepts of Subjectivity

This paper aims at proposing a criterion to analyze the concept of subjectivity by surveying and classifying the theories of some major figures in the history of the western philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Bentham, Kant, and Hegel. As proceeding in this work, I reveal two approaches which confront each other, self-centered viewpoint and system-centered viewpoint, and arrange Descartes, Hobbes, and Bentham into the former, and Aristotle and Kant into the latter. Also, I assign Plato and Hegel to an alternative, say, unified viewpoint. In this project, the subjectivity is defined as the fundamental status of a man. When dealing with it, two kinds of viewpoint present and distinguish themselves from each other by two factors as follows: one is whether or not it allows mediation with others to be involved in the configuration of subjectivity, and the other is whether it is determined by its formal features or by its contents. The self-centered viewpoint gets married with the no allowance of mediation and the contents-determining, and the system-centered one does with the allowance and the formality-determining. And the unified viewpoint is suggested as an overcoming account of those two. The significance of this attempt would be these three: one is that it can provide a clue to create new spectrum through which theories in the history of the philosophy are looked out over. Secondly, it can be groundwork to seek for a source of normative ethics by a way of re-determining personal identity. Finally, criticizing the self-centered viewpoint, a dominant account in present moral discourse, it can propose a footstone for an alternative theory of it.

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