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By Etienne Balibar

John Locke’s foundational position within the historical past of British empiricism and liberal political notion is definitely validated. So, in what experience can Locke be thought of a contemporary European thinker? Identity and Difference argues for reassessing this canonical determine. heavily studying the "treatise on id" additional to the second one version of An Essay pertaining to Human Understanding, Étienne Balibar demonstrates Locke’s function within the formation of 2 options imperative to the metaphysics of the subject—consciousness and the self—and the complicated philosophical, criminal, ethical and political nature of his terms.

With an accompanying essay by means of Stella Sandford, situating Balibar’s studying of Locke within the heritage of the reception of the Essay and inside of Balibar’s different writings on "the subject," Identity and Difference rethinks an important second within the background of Western philosophy.

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Extra resources for Identity and Difference: John Locke and the Invention of Consciousness

Sample text

But in these cases we are asked to make a judgment on the basis of whether a person, already assumed to exist, should be held accountable for a particular action, whereas Thiel’s different claim is that being-accountable brings the person into existence. 72 Drawing on Thiel and Schechtman, Galen Strawson’s recent book about Locke on personal identity (2011) also stresses the forensic nature of Locke’s concept of person, interpreting it as a theory of moral and legal responsibility. This recent and still-small body of literature represents, as I have said, a significant shift in the interpretation of Locke on personal identity, and it is significant in countering the two main forms of objections to Locke.

Thus it is not, straightforwardly, an English edition of the French text; it is a different book. This difference is, in part, an acknowledgement that the conditions must be created for a reception of Identity and Difference into English. For if Identity and Difference has, to this point, yet to make a significant Channel or Atlantic crossing, this has less to do with it having hitherto only been available in French than with some of the consequences of the historical antagonism in the English-speaking intellectual world between ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophy.

When the identity of consciousness to itself and its making of ‘the self’ is stressed over its interpretation as transparent awareness of perceptual or ideational content, Balibar suggests that the concept of consciousness in the Essay ‘doubles’ that of reflection, encompassing within itself both the distinction between sensation and intellectual operation (passivity and activity) that marks reflection off from sensation, and functioning as the condition of possibility for the ‘understanding’ that is the object of Locke’s study.

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