Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar


HSS Seminar

'I and Me: Oneself as another':  Metaphysics of the Self in the Parables of Jorge Luis Borges’



Bijoy H Boruah

 Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi, Delhi


Friday, April 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm,

Venue: Conference Room-1


Two of the several parables of Jorge Luis Borges—namely, ‘Borges and I’ and ‘The Other’—present fascinating, though intriguing, problems of the self in philosophically dense terms of self-awareness as well as self-understanding. There is a separation of the usual self into the I and the Other,into the anonymous, unindividuated, inarticulate and ever-unobjectified subject-self on the one hand, and the named, individuated,objectified public self in the world on the other. This fictive separation is, according to me, metaphysically motivated, even though that motivation is imputed to the author from the outside, that is, from the philosophical vantage point of Thomas Nagel. Borges’s fictive projection of ‘oneself as another’ echoes the ‘centerless view’ of the world expressed by Nagel: ‘The self that seems incapable of being anyone in particular is the self that apprehends the world from without rather than from a standpoint within it.’ In this talk I shall try to connect literary fiction with philosophy by bringing Borges and Nagel together on their respective explorations into the metaphysics of the self. While my philosophical basis is Chapter IV (‘Objective Self’) of Nagel’s The View from Nowhere (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), my analysis of Borges centers primarily on the one-page story ‘Borges and I’ and secondarily on the story ‘The Other’. Copies of the two stories are attached with the mail.   

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