Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John Jones

Second Advisor

William C. Starr

Third Advisor

Michael G. Vater


Perhaps, one might argue, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit represents the commencement of a radical shift of emphasis concerning the way that we approach the question of subjectivity. Unlike Kant, for whom history had little part to play in providing a concept of the self, the Hegelian insistence that selfhood is to be construed as a dynamic, thoroughly historical notion, has led, via a diaspora of speculative postures, to the current polemic between hermeneutics and deconstruction. This study constitutes an attempt to formulate a conception of the self which is anti-metaphysical in that it opposes any essentialist reading of the notion of selfhood, yet takes seriously the need to posit a conception of the self which addresses the social and political demands of our epoch. I argue for an inherent interrelation between the 'subject' and what I term 'global responsibility'. The general framework for the study is the various strategies that have been developed in recent years in the fields of hermeneutics and deconstruction. Thus, I examine both the ways in which these enterprises seriously undermine essentialism (of all varieties) and a fortiori, the ways in which the essentialist picture of the self is critiqued. Given that the form of the study is systematic rather than historical, the writers that I deploy (Heidegger, Derrida and Foucault primarily) serve as catalysts for my formulation of a notion of 'global responsibility'.



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