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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: 17 September 2021

Intersecting Horizons

Intersecting Horizons

(p.33) 5 Intersecting Horizons
Virtual Subjects, Fugitive Selves

Jonardon Ganeri

Oxford University Press

How are we to imagine a situation in which I am simultaneously yet severally multiple subjects? Many contemporary writers on personal identity have said that one can imagine a scenario involving the fission of a person, a situation where as a result of division what was up to that moment a single person subsequently continues as two distinct people. One solution to the challenge of multiple embodiment is to defend the view that persons are individuals of a special sort, higher-order individuals somewhat akin to kinds. And yet the deeper issue is not metaphysical but phenomenological, and it isn’t a puzzle about the multiple embodiment of a single person but about a person’s simultaneous embrace of multiple first-person positions. Pessoa introduces the term ‘intersection’ as a philosophical term of art to denote the unified phenomenology of a doubled, interwoven experiential state. In one place he gives, as an example, the hypnagogic state. While the hypnagogic state occurs spontaneously, Pessoa claims that states of ‘intersecting sensation’ can also be brought about through the conscious exercise of guided attention. Yet Pessoa abandoned his experiments in intersectionist poetry, and his view seems to have undergone a shift. I wonder if he recognized that the force of the idea behind simultaneous subject plurality, that is, the experiential possibility to be in multiple subject positions simultaneously yet severally, is not fully realized in the concept of an emulsified experience.

Keywords:   intersectionist poetry, fission, higher-order individuals, divided attention, intersecting sensation, Slanting Rain, Las Meninas, intersectionism

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