Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive SelvesFernando Pessoa and his philosophy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jonardon Ganeri

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198864684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198864684.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

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

The Multiplicity of I

The Multiplicity of I

(p.23) 4 The Multiplicity of I
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive Selves

Jonardon Ganeri

Oxford University Press

If in heteronymic simulation I am a subject other than the subject I am, there are evidently as many other I’s as there are possible acts of simulation. Pessoa, inhabiting countless lives, says that by creating in imagination a multiplicity of virtual subjects, each of which is him, he has ‘ubiquitized’ himself. So he affirms a thesis I will call ‘Subject Plurality’: I am many subjects other than the subject I am. We need, though, to distinguish two versions of this thesis, for it can be read as making either a diachronic claim or a synchronic one. Interpreters of Pessoa have been drawn to present the Pessoan self as a sort of parliament or confederation of souls. Despite Pessoa’s appeal, once, to the metaphor of a colony—and there only in connection with the phenomenal unity of consciousness rather than with reference to the multiplicity of heteronyms—the ‘confederation’ theory is not Pessoa’s. It is a Proustian, not a Pessoan, picture of multiplicity. An appreciation of this distinction is crucial to seeing why Pessoa’s multiplicity of I is not reducible to another mental illness, multiple personality disorder. The distinction between successive and simultaneous subject plurality has found a surprising application: understanding Afrofuturism’s experimentation with multiple sonic selves.

Keywords:   multiplicity of I, unity of consciousness, confederation of souls, multiple personality disorder, Marcel Proust, sonic selves, machine names

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .