The Naked Self: Kierkegaard and Personal Identity

Author: Patrick Stokes
Publisher: Oxford University Press

The Naked Self Kierkegaard and Personal Identity

Across his relatively short and eccentric authorial career, Søren Kierkegaard developed a unique, and provocative, account of what it is to become, to be, and to lose a self, backed up by a rich phenomenology of self-experience.

Kierkegaard has been almost totally absent from the burgeoning analytic philosophical literature on self-constitution and personal identity.

How, then, does his work appear when viewed in light of current debates about self and identity—and what does he have to teach philosophers grappling with these problems today?

The Naked Self explores Kierkegaard's understanding of selfhood by situating his work in relation to central problems in contemporary philosophy of personal identity. 

Topics include: the role of memory in selfhood; the relationship between the notional and actual subjects of memory and anticipation; the phenomenology of diachronic self-experience; affective alienation from our past and future; psychological continuity; practical and narrative approaches to identity; and the intelligibility of posthumous survival. 

By bringing his thought into dialogue with major living and recent philosophers of identity (such as Derek Parfit, Galen Strawson, Bernard Williams, J. David Velleman, Marya Schechtman, Mark Johnston, and others), Stokes reveals Kierkegaard as a philosopher with a significant—if challenging—contribution to make to philosophy of self and identity.


About the author

Dr Patrick Stokes is a senior lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University and a Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire. He has previously held research fellowships in the UK, US, and Denmark. 

Dr Stokes is the author of Kierkegaard's Mirrors (Palgrave, 2010), co-editor with John Lippitt of Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), co-editor with Adam Buben of Kierkegaard and Death (Indiana University Press, 2011), a regular contributor to publications including The Conversation and New Philosopher, and a media commentator on philosophical matters.