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Title: On being oneself : a comparison of Heidegger and Buber on personal identity
Author: Munro, J. P. L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3432 0422
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1980
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The question is posed, what does it mean to be oneself? It is argued that to look for an answer in the psycho-physical characteristics of the individual himself does not take account of man's restless refusal to be content with what he is. The starting point of the inquiry is that an understanding of what makes man himself must take account of the 'beyond' in terms of which he seeks to define himself. It is this preliminary assumption which explains how Heidegger and Buber come to be considered together, for both philosophers share the view that man is an ec-static being, one who 'stands out' from himself in some way. However, it is precisely when Heidegger and Buber are juxtaposed that the problem of the thesis is set, for their views seem mutually exclusive. In Heidegger's understanding a. man is only himself when he steps forth towards his own possibility of nonexistence. In contrast for Buber it is the relation of love which enables a person to be himself. The purpose of the comparison is to attempt to face the reality of death for each person with its effect on identity, and also the reality of the love of another person freeing one to be oneself. The argument is presented that man's relation with man as Buber presents it requires a radical reconstruction of Heidegger's analysis of existence. It is suggested that through the reality of love which resists the world 'as it is', including the power of death, the boundaries of existence need to be redefined. If love is accepted as an ontological phenomenon, then its appearance does not seem to be explicable within Heidegger's ontology of Being-towards-death. It is noted, on the other hand, that if it is possible to build an alternative ontology on love, the final possibility of death cannot be sidestepped. It is here that Heidegger can be used to strengthen Buber's notion of relation, for Buber seems to ignore the finitude of man, and the threat it poses to the 'I-Thou' relation as an ontological category. In the final section of the thesis, it is argued that the phenomenon of love cannot have its roots in this dying world. It is suggested that an explanation of the reality of love and its power to create personal Being requires an eschatological perspective. Only from such a perspective, with its refusal to accept death as a condition of man being himself, can an alternative ontology to Heidegger's be found. The conclusion reached is that the concept of God is implicit in the view of selfhood developed in the thesis. In accordance with that conclusion, in the final chapter some theological implications of a relational view of the self are outlined. In particular, the question is asked whether Persons-in-Trinity can be viewed as the ultimate resource for personhood. Pinally, requirements for a Christological anthropology consistent with a relational selfhood, are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available