DOI: 10.30443/POI2018-0020

On the Problematic Notion of “Subject” Between Emotions and Reason

Nazareno Pastorino

This article will have as main theme the problem of subjectivity in the philosophy of Antonio Damasio. The Portuguese philosopher calls into question the traditional notion of subjectivity, showing that the unquestioned and granitic unity of consciousness falters or even shatters under the blows of biological and neuronal changes. What does it mean to have a character? What determines some attitudes? How is really possible to state that certain decisions belong to a specific subject and are completely aligned with his subjectivity? This work proposes to clarify all the previous questions, not neglecting to deepen the concept of person, revealing how we can still talk about the ego and of the cogito but with the awareness that it’s no longer possible to ignore the intrinsic reflexivity of the most important unreflective thing: the own body. The reference texts from which many reflections can be spread will be Descartes’ Error and Looking for Spinoza, texts in which more specifically and more effectively psychological motives and physical or biological factors intertwine. The dogma of subjectivity melts and becomes a real problem when we are forced to note, for example, that after the removal of a tumor or after a serious accident leading to serious impairment, the affected subject changes mood, personality and decision-making ability without any possibility of being free. So, what about the free will, the responsibility and the decision if the changes in physical structures and chemical ones lead inexorably to change also the choices, the decisions and everything that concerns the free and subjective basis of any action?

 

Key-words: Subjectivity, Free Will, Neurosciences, Decision, Biology, Action

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