The Institute of Philosophy, RCH, cordially invites you to the upcoming online workshop on

Ancient and Modern Selves: Tension or Complementarity?

Date: 16 April 2021

The notion of the self is not only a hotly contested topic of debate in modern ethics, but it is unclear whether the ancients at all possessed a clearly formulated concept of it. The work of Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault on spiritual exercises and the transformation of the self has stimulated some important recent work on the problems of the self in Hellenistic philosophy. Several important scholars and philosophers (like Brad Inwood, Christopher Gill, Charles Taylor and Bernard Williams) have argued, however, that our view of ancient thinkers on the self is profoundly distorted by the Cartesian subjective-individualist model of selfhood typical of modernity.

Our modern notion of the self tends to be subjective and private, based on interiority and self-consciousness, as opposed to Antiquity, where the self was generally defined in epistemologically and ethically relevant contexts, in terms of non-Cartesian categories. This opposition raises questions about early modern self-conceptions. Should we see early modern references to ancient pagan or Christian authors as documents of a cultural code, a taste for antiquity, a way of conceiving some original ideas in terms of some classical traditions? Or do they represent a genuine return to a real source of inspiration? Do these points of contact mark opposition, tension or continuity?

Registration is required:

ancient and modern selves tension or complementarity

Abstracts are available here.


08.55-09.00: Welcome

09.00-10.00: Jason W. Carter: Aristotle and the Cartesian Self

10.00-10.15: Break

10.15-11.15: Vili Lähteenmäki: Descartes on Subjects and Selves

11.15-11.30: Break

11.30-12.30: Simon Shogry: The Stoics on Perceiving Other Selves

12.30-14.00: Lunch break

14.00-15.00: Andreas Blank: The Morality of the Desire for Esteem: Gassendi and the Augustinian Challenge

15.00-15.15: Break

15.15-16.15: Tamer Nawar: Augustine on Self-Knowledge and the Mind

16.15-16.30: Break

16.30-17.30: Ursula Renz: For the Depths of his own Heart are Inscrutable to him” – Kant’s Skepticism Regarding Self-Knowledge of our Moral Motives

For further information, please visit the Facebook page or contact the organisers, Attila Németh and Dániel Schmal.