Project Participants

Self-understanding and self-alienation (SELFU&A)


Humans are self-interpreting beings. Although this is a key insight in philosophical hermeneutics (Heidegger 1927; Taylor 1985), it remains an open question exactly what it means to say that human beings are ‘themselves’, or have an ‘identity’, precisely through the fact of self-understanding. To answer this question the present project adopts a negative approach by focusing on experiences of self-alienation. How can self-understanding be fundamental to being human if it can also be lost? What does the possibility of self-alienation show us about the role of self-understanding in being human? We suggest that adopting such a negative approach will turn out to be particularly illuminating in showing how the relations to oneself, to others and to the world are intertwined in being human.


Private (National)


VELUX Foundations


Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy

Collaborative partners:

University of Copenhagen



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