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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: 27 July 2021

The Enigma of Heteronymy

The Enigma of Heteronymy

Chapter:
(p.17) 3 The Enigma of Heteronymy
Source:
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive Selves
Author(s):

Jonardon Ganeri

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198864684.003.0003

The two poles around which Pessoa’s entire philosophy of self revolves are commitments to two extremely enigmatic propositions: [simulation] I am a subject other than the subject I am; and [depersonalization] I am merely a forum for the subject I am. What I am calling the ‘enigma of heteronymy’ is the challenge to provide an analysis of the functions of the first person, that is to say, the use or uses of the pronoun ‘I’ and so of the phenomenology of self-consciousness, according to which this pair of propositions is not trivially false but, on the contrary, interestingly and importantly true. I set aside a solution to the enigma which some interpreters of Pessoa have found tempting. The enticing solution is to deny that Pessoa is rational. To put it another way: has Pessoa made a fundamental discovery about the nature of subjectivity, or is he in the grip of a psychosis? It is clear though, first of all, that the depersonalization Pessoa is talking about does not satisfy the diagnostic criteria of the eponymous mental disorder. Contemporary philosophers of psychiatry agree that a characteristic of a genuine mental disorder is that it is something over which the sufferer has little or no control. Pessoa refers to Henri-Frédéric Amiel several times, and his experiences too are ‘philosophical experiences’, under the direction of his guided imagination.

Keywords:   enigma of heteronymy, depersonalization, depersonalization disorder, Yayoi Kusama, Henri-Frédéric Amiel

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