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The First Person in Cognition and Morality$
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Béatrice Longuenesse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198845829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198845829.001.0001

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“I,” Singular and Universal

“I,” Singular and Universal

(p.1) Lecture 1 “I,” Singular and Universal
The First Person in Cognition and Morality

Béatrice Longuenesse

Oxford University Press

In each instance of its use, “I” refers to just one individual: the individual currently saying the sentence or thinking the proposition in which “I” (or, as the case may be, the first-person inflection of the verb) is in use. At the same time, having available the concept and word “I” is understanding that any other person using “I” thereby refers to herself, the thinker or speaker. Moreover, uses of “I” are not necessarily the expression of an egoistic obsession with our individual person. Some of the sentences in which “I” is in use display a striking combination of the singular character of the word and concept “I” and the universality of the claim we make on others, using the singular term and concept “I.” The chapter explores these contrasting features of “I” in relation to our cognitive and agential access to the world.

Keywords:   I, individual, singular, universality, reference, embodiment, self-consciousness

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