Dr. Marya Schechtman to present Suarez Lecture March 26

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 8:00pm

MOBILE, Ala. – The 2014 Suarez Lecture will be given by Dr. Marya Schechtman, Professor of Philosophy and member of the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her talk, “That Girl’s Gone: The Connections Between Literal and Figurative Survival,” will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26 in the Gautrelet Room on the Spring Hill College campus.

Schechtman’s work focuses on the nature of personal identity—what makes a person who he is, and what makes him the same person through time. According to the most prevalent views in philosophy, personal identity is either something biological, such as being the same living animal through time; or something psychological, such as having the same basic beliefs, memories, and personality through time. However, Schechtman argues in her 1996 book, The Constitution of Selves, neither of these views can adequately explain four of the essential features of persons: moral
responsibility, self-oriented concern, compensation (or ‘just deserts’), and basic survival. To address this problem, she develops the view that personal identity is tied to narratives: to be a person is to understand yourself in terms of a ‘story of your life.’ By forming a narrative conception of yourself, she claims, you are able to make sense of your actions as your own; see how they fit together into one organized biography; and relate to them as mattering to you, making a difference to how you understand your past and present, and how you go on acting in the future.

Schechtman further develops this line of thought in her forthcoming book, Staying Alive. There, she presents what she calls the ‘Person Life View.’ On this view, to be a person is to be a unified center of practical interaction with the world; and personal identity is a matter of living a kind of life that is made up of “dynamic interactions among biological, psychological, and social attributes and functions mediated through social and cultural infrastructure.” This year’s Suarez Lecture will draw from this latest philosophical account of personal identity.

The Suarez Lecture, Spring Hill College’s first annual lecture series, was started in 1965 by Tau Omega, the college philosophy club. The series brings nationally known scholars to lecture on topics that alternate between philosophy and theology. It is named in honor of Jesuit philosopher and theologian Francisco Suarez (1548-1617).

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Department of Philosophy at (251) 380-5220.