Identity, memory and experience

Última actualización: 27/09/2013

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Our project aims at the analysis of three interconected notions --identity, memory and experience—paying heed to recent discusions on personal identity, of issues discussed in the field of moral and political philosophy and of identity issues in cultural studies (such as gender as race analyses). These debates have taken place both in the analytical tradition and in the diverse trends of continental philosophy –philosophical spaces to which the project aims to pay a balanced attention.


We aim to show, first, how the critique of a Cartesian model of identity (cognitivist and in first person attitude) foster alternative conceptions that, though retaining the trait of self-knowledge as a task, stress also the traits of self-determination and self-control. These non-Cartesian, alternative conceptions understand identity as linked to agency and can be put in relation with the notions of subjectivity and of the subject in the Analytical and Continental philosophical traditions. We claim that it can be fruitfully related to current discussions of the second-person perspective regarding identity and subjectivity. This last perspective will be here understood as the source of the normative dimension of identity criteria. In the second place, such a normative conception of agency allows for the understanding of temporal continuities in identity (which are crucial in the conception a agent may have of herself and in the processes of responsibility atribution) via a new memory-identity model. A memory-identity model allows for these cognitive and normative processes that, in diverse ways, are constitutive components of personal and collective identities (that seem to have structural parallelisms and interconnections that are not infrequently misunderstood). In spite of these differences narrative models of identity and similar models at the collective level point to the necessity of understanding the normative dimension of identity as a project, as an accomplishment or as Bildung, an understanding that introduces a temporal and historical vector. In the third place, these temporal or historical dimensions of identity, understood as an agency in a normative perspective, are constituted in process that we will understand as experiene (in the pragmatist sense of the term). We claim that a strong notion of experience allows for a clearer and more coherent notion of agency and explains how its normative constrains allow some narrative models of identity to avoid the critique of arbitrariness: certain experiences are necessary components of the normative dimension of agency and tie the way a subject is or might be with the reasons and justifications she can give for her actions.


This project aims to articulate, as shown, the three central concepts and the team will develop its work in the intersection of cultural studies, normative philosphy (in ethics and political philosophy), and in contemporary metaphysical discussions on identity.

Research Group