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I n t r o d u c t i o n 1 1 Introduction he injunction of the oracle at Delphi, “know yourself,” has long been a goal of philosophy. Understood in a practical sense, it has been taken as a condition for a moral life. When, for example, Socrates asserted that the unexamined life is not worth living, his claim was that self-knowledge is required for the practice of the virtues that define human goodness. Self-knowledge has also been the preoccupation of a host of theoretical disciplines, most notably epistemology and philosophy of mind. Here, it is understood as a knowledge of how the mind works. Its goal is a knowledge of the self’s capacity for knowledge. The very wording of this statement points to the special quality shared by the practical and theoretical inquiries into the self: they are all reflexive. By this I mean that the self that is their object is also the self that engages in them. The inquiries, thus, rely on its nature. Their success depends on its being transparent to itself. How transparent is the self? What are our capacities for selfknowledge ? In raising these questions, we seem to face a dilemma. If the self is self-transparent, then it can know itself as such. If, however, it is not, then this self-knowledge will be concealed. As a result, the self may be deceived into thinking that it is selftransparent , that it does know itself, when such is not the case. How then can we decide which is correct? How can we know that T 2 H i d d e n n e s s a n d A l t e r i t y we don’t know? The question is actually about how our lack of knowledge can show itself as such. It is about how we grasp that something is not given, not manifest. Practically speaking, we do this all the time. We recognize that there are things hidden from us. The nonmanifest does reveal itself as such. This implies, to put it somewhat paradoxically, that it gives itself as not given. The same point holds for the self. We do recognize that we are not completely transparent to ourselves. We realize that we often act from motives that are obscure to ourselves. Our privileged access to our memories and intentions is, we admit, not such that we can with confidence close the gap between how we appear to ourselves and the reality underlying this. Such an admission points to the fact that we do grasp ourselves as not completely graspable. This indicates that the hidden aspect of ourselves manifests itself as such. But how does it do this? This is the first question that animates this book. The second is: what does this self-hiddenness reveal about our selfhood?Thus, I shall be looking at not just the ways we apprehend our self-concealment, but also at the nature of the self that is selfconcealing . The key assertion here is that the hidden is the other. Self-hiddenness thus results from the other’s inclusion within the self. It is by virtue of the other that we have the inner alterity that characterizes our selfhood. The inquiry into our hiddenness will inform a corresponding inquiry into this alterity. Types of Hiddenness A more concrete sense of this examination of hiddenness and alterity can be gained by considering the questions that arise when we consider the notion of hiddenness. Its elementary sense can be expressed in terms of the objects around us. Their facing side appears to us and their back side is hidden. Of course, we can either turn them about or change our own position to view their hidden sides. Doing so, however, results in the formerly visible side now being hidden. This is part of the sense of our relation to three- I n t r o d u c t i o n 3 dimensional objects. We always view them from some given position , which results in one side appearing and the other being hidden . Here, hiddenness is inherent in appearing. What is hidden is correlated to what appears and can itself appear through a change in orientation. It manifests its nonappearing in the sense of appearing itself.What appears conceals what does not appear; it also points to it as what can appear. This sense of the hidden as the potentially apparent is present even...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780820705675
Related ISBN
9780820703664
MARC Record
OCLC
607623573
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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