"One is what one does"

from pragmatic to performative disclosure of the who

Ondřej Švec

pp. 209-227

After taking into consideration the most relevant criticisms questioning the capacity of the thinking “I” to grasp itself in a transparent and undistorting way, I will ask what remains of first-person authority with regard to one’s own identity. I argue that first-person authority is not to be abandoned, but rather reformulated in terms of public commitments that nobody else can take up in my place. After recovering the original meaning of Heidegger’s claim “one is what one does,” I turn to Arendt’s performative disclosure of the “who” through political initiative and suggest reading the requirement of public exposure as a model allowing for a better understanding of self-identification. In order to discern more clearly the shape of this new paradigm of self-identification, I draw on Ricoeur’s notion of self-attestation, Crowell’s analysis of our “being-answerable” and Larmore’s account of avowals in which we give ourselves a publicly binding shape. In synthetizing and prolonging the considerations of the abovementioned authors about the performative disclosure of the self, I demonstrate that one’s identity—in the sense of ipseity—is both constituted and manifested by the commitments that the self endorses and for which it is held accountable in front of others.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-020-09499-5

Full citation:

Švec, O. (2020). "One is what one does": from pragmatic to performative disclosure of the who. Continental Philosophy Review 53 (2), pp. 209-227.

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