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Virtual Subjects, Fugitive SelvesFernando Pessoa and his philosophy$
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Jonardon Ganeri

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198864684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198864684.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 31 July 2021

Building Subjects

Building Subjects

(p.130) 18 Building Subjects
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive Selves

Jonardon Ganeri

Oxford University Press

Panpsychists do not, nowadays, claim that everything exhibits psychological features but, more modestly, that psychological features are among the most fundamental features there are. A version of panpsychism is to be seen at work in one of the principal schools of Buddhism, the Abhidhamma of Theravāda philosophers writing in Pāli, and especially in the writings of the fifth-century scholar Buddhaghosa. Pessoa was, surprisingly, well acquainted with Buddhaghosa’s philosophy, even if he didn’t know it under that description. There are hints of the sort of psychological constructivism that we find so elaborately worked out in panpsychist Abhidhamma in some of Pessoa’s remarks. Yet within his heteronymic philosophy of self a quite different approach to the topic of ‘building subjects’ is available. In the pages of this book I have described in some detail one Ego Machine, one system capable of generating a conscious self: Fernando Pessoa. Any system with the capacity to create and simulate heteronyms is an Ego Machine. Evidently enough, only a self-conscious being which already is an I can be ‘an other I’. The question, then, is not how to construct subjects ex nihilo out of impersonal sensations, but rather how, as a subject, to make oneself into another subject.

Keywords:   Thomas Metzinger, panpsychism, monads, Buddhaghosa, Abhidharma, psychological constructivism, heteropsychism

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