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Home Introduction. Subjectivity and Individuality: Two Strands in Early Modern Philosophy

SUBJECTIVITY AND INDIVIDUALITY: TWO STRANDS IN EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY INTRODUCTION


Andrea Strazzoni*

For generations of scholars the emergence of the notion of human subjectivity has marked the shift to philosophical modernity. Mainly traced back toDescartes’s founding of philosophy on the Cogito and to Kant’s ‘Copernican Revolution’,1 the rise of subjectivity has been linked to the rise of the modern age in terms of a reconsideration of reality starting from an analysis of the human self and consciousness. Consequently, it has been related to long-standing issues of identity, individuation and individuality2 as a foremost topic on the agenda of the philosophers. Only in recent times, however, have comprehensive studies on early modern theories of subjectivity and individuality become available to scholars. Taking into consideration a range of philosophers from Descartes to Wolff and beyond, in his The Early Modern Subject. Self-Consciousness and Personal Identity from Descartes to Hume (2011) Udo Thiel has unveiled two strands in the treatment of these topics. First, an ‘ontological’ approach, i.e. the definition of what is an individual (either human or natural) in the light of considerations involving the notions of body, soul, and related concepts.

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