Bringing back the magic: Reimagining the role of temperament in philosophical theory, a new model of the self as entwined, embodied and enchanted

Fred Abong, Salve Regina University


This dissertation examines the question of the ‘true’ or ‘essential’ self. It suggests two sets of interrelated propositions. The first set includes these following claims: 1) that all philosophical or scientific theories of the self are fundamentally driven by the personality type or temperament of the theorizer; 2) that the entire philosophical tradition has been dominated by two personality types or temperaments, what William James has called the ‘tender-minded and the ‘tough-minded’ temperaments; 3) that the question of the self, philosophically speaking, only really became a proper topic of study after the Renaissance, and especially after the work of Rene Descartes in the seventeenth-century; 4) that only in the eighteenth century did a third philosophical temperament, what I call the ‘self-minded’ temperament, appear in the form of Jean Jacques Rousseau; 5) that the dominant contemporary theories of the self, which I identify as social constructionist (entwined) theory and the neuroscientific (embodied) theory, are the creations of individuals bearing the tough-minded temperament and, 6) that both the tender-minded and tough-minded thinker is not temperamentally suited to describing or understanding the nature of the true or essential self. The second set argues the following claims: 1) that the self-minded temperament is the philosophical temperament best suited to understanding the nature of the true self; 2) that the true self is paradoxically contingent and metaphysical in nature; 3) that there are occult or esoteric technologies, such as Vedic and Western astrology and the Enneagram, that offer a powerful set of tools for understanding the individual self; 4) that these tools have been rejected by most thinkers in the Western philosophical, scientific, and religious traditions because they challenge the fundamental beliefs of those traditions, especially the belief in free will and scientific progress; 5) that this ‘third’ realm of insight into the human self is the realm of the ‘enchanted’, and 6) that any complete theoretical model of the human self must include some serious consideration of these ‘enchanted’ technologies if they are to truly be complete.

Subject Area

Neurosciences|Philosophy|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Abong, Fred, "Bringing back the magic: Reimagining the role of temperament in philosophical theory, a new model of the self as entwined, embodied and enchanted" (2015). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI10116235.