Review of the book The Essence of the Self: in Defense of the Simple View of Personal Identity
This volume is the fourth book by Madell (formerly, Univ. of Edinburgh, UK). One might understand this as a belated follow-up to his earlier book on the self (The Identity of the Self, 1981). The text sits squarely in the analytic tradition of philosophy with its abstract argumentation. Madell’s focus centers on making sense of both the objective characteristics of lived experiences and the narrowly personal experience of individual existence. His treatment of this issue is situated within the rich literature on the topic, which provides a valuable backdrop for readers. His discussion of this literature, however, presumes familiarity with the constellation of positions. That is, though a few examples from the existing scholarship receive extended treatment, many examples and positions are only briefly referenced. Readers unfamiliar with the existing scholarship will be left to search out these arguments and positions before they can appreciate the extent of the argument. Accordingly, those unfamiliar with the scholarship will find the book close to impenetrable.
Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty.
Abraham Schwab (2015).
Review of the book The Essence of the Self: in Defense of the Simple View of Personal Identity. Choice.53 (2), 53-0709.