The talk by Daniel Kelly first endorses Jenann Ismael’s critique of Dennett’s account of selves as narrative centers of gravity, and describe the positive theory that she advances in its place, with special emphasis on the distinction between self-organizing and self-governing systems. It then argues that while Ismael’s is the best naturalistic view of human selves currently on offer, it remains overly individualistic, and does not account for the crucial social functions that human selves perform, or how demands imposed by the need to navigate a cultural world have shaped selves. Kelly identifies several key ideas drawn from recent work in moral psychology and human cognition evolution, and consider how they might be integrated with the resources Ismael provides. He concludes that while the scientific image of selves suggested by this picture differs in important ways from the more intuitive manifest image, it is nevertheless best interpreted as supporting realism, rather than the idea that the self is an illusion.

 

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