The Emergence of Subjectivity in the Ancient and Medieval World: An Interpretation of Western Civilization

ISBN: 0198854358

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Posted on 2020-10-12, by nokia241186.

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English | ISBN: 0198854358 | 2020 | 416 pages | PDF | 3 MB



The Emergence of Subjectivity in the Ancient and Medieval World: An Interpretation of Western Civilization represents a combination of different genres: cultural history, philosophical anthropology, and textbook. It follows a handful of different but interrelated themes through more than a dozen texts that were written over a period of several millennia and, by means of an analysis of these texts, presents a theory of the development of Western civilization from antiquity to the Middle Ages.

The main line of argument traces the various self-conceptions of different cultures as they developed historically, reflecting different views of what it is to be human. The thesis of the volume is that through examination of these changes we can discern the gradual emergence of what we today call inwardness, subjectivity, and individual freedom. As human civilization took its first tenuous steps, it had a very limited conception of the individual. Instead, the dominant principle was that of the wider group: the family, clan, or people. Only in the course of history did the idea of what we now know as individuality begin to emerge, and it took millennia for this idea to be fully recognized and developed. The conception of human beings as having a sphere of inwardness and subjectivity subsequently had a sweeping impact on all aspects of culture, including philosophy, religion, law, and art: indeed, this notion largely constitutes what is today referred to as modernity. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that this modern conception of human subjectivity was not simply something given, but rather the result of a long process of historical and cultural development.
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