San Raffaele School of Philosophy 2024 - SRSP

San Raffaele School of Philosophy 2024 - SRSP

Call for papers

Exploring Personal Identity. Philosophical Perspectives and Insights from Arts

San Raffaele School of Philosophy 2024

October 2nd–4th, 2024

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan

Faculty of Philosophy

Palazzo Arese Borromeo – Cesano Maderno

Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of Phenomenology and Mind.

What does it mean to be a person? What is personal identity? These are highly-debated and multifaceted questions that need to be investigated from different but interrelated perspectives. In this School we aim at exploring these issues from a variety of philosophical points of view and from the perspective of art and history of art.

First, in Phenomenology (Section 1), we seek to explore how and to what extent a person is constituted through their subjective experiences, being them proprioceptive, practical, affective, axiological, cognitive. Such a phenomenological analysis aims at identifying invariant structures of the experience of being a person, and focuses specifically on the topics of personal individuation and individual personal style. Moreover, in this perspective, personal identity is to be investigated in relation to the issue of sociality and its role in favoring or hindering the flourishing of the person themselves.

Second, in Philosophy of Mind (Section 2), we aim to address questions regarding the role of the body, perception, emotions, language, etc. These complex relationships inspire various orientations, from soul-body dualism (spiritualism) to radical organic reductionism (mereological physicalism). Additionally, proposals like animalism and constitution theory seek to analyze the body-mind relationship without radically denying the existence of either component.

Third, from the perspective of Ethics and Political Philosophy (Section 3), we wish to examine how social contexts shape one’s identity, particularly exploring the interplay between core identity and extreme circumstances. This involves unravelling the complexities of mechanisms of resistance and adaptation in the face of harsh realities.

Fourth, in Feminist Philosophy and Gender Studies (Section 4), our goal is to dissect the dynamics of oppression, empowerment, and social change concerning gender identity as a crucial aspect of personal identity. These inquiries prompt reflection on the inherent nature of social structures and the potential for transformative action to create a more equitable and inclusive society.

Finally, in Philosophy and History of Art (Section 5), we would like to examine the role that contemporary art plays in building and challenging, interpreting and deconstructing socio-cultural norms, while performing and reshaping notions of identity. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary proposals, aimed at connecting the philosophical and art historical discourse, and related to contemporary case studies and experiences.

Enclosed are some prompts for contributions to the call for papers, differentiated by sections.

Section 1: Phenomenology

  1. What does it mean to have a first-person perspective and what is its role for the constitution of personal identity?
  2. If we consider the human person as a unitarian whole, what should their constitutive parts be?
  3. What role do bodily and emotional experiences play in order to form and define a personal identity?
  4. What kind of experiences are fundamental for personal individuation?
  5. What role does the experience of value qualities have for the constitution of one’s personal identity?
  6. What is the relationship between position-takings and personal individuation?
  7. What is personal style and what kinds of acts reveal it?
  8. How may a personal identity change in contexts of social conditioning, or in times of crisis?
  9. Is it possible to identify a permanent and essential core of a personal identity?
  10. How do old age modifications impact on personal identity?
  11. What is a fully formed and flourished personal identity?

Section 2: Metaphysics and Philosophy of Mind

  1. What is it to be a person, as opposed to a nonperson?
  2. What makes a person the person she is?
  3. Is there a specific subset of properties that determines someone’s personal identity?
  4. Does our experience generally include an awareness of our personal existence? If so, how can this fact be explained?
  5. Is it enough and/or necessary to have an articulated mental life (self-awareness, intelligence, morality, sense of responsibility, etc.) to be a person?
  6. What are the acts or mental states that give us the impression, or the consciousness, of possessing a personal identity?
  7. Are we just a composition of bundles, worms or stages?
  8. If we transplanted the brain of one human being into the body of another, what would then be left of their personal identities?
  9. Is the human person just an animal, or do their characteristics suggest an ontological leap?        
  10. What kind of continuity is needed to ensure the persistence of the same person over time and thus of her identity in change?
  11. Are there important differences between Western and Eastern philosophies about how to understand personal identity?

Section 3: Ethics and Political Philosophy

  1. What are the moral implications of different theories of personal identity? Do different theories involve including or excluding certain subjects from moral consideration?
  2. What is the connection between personal identity and the different aspects of morality (metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics)?
  3. In moments of extreme adversity, such as those experienced in circumstances of deep deprivation, oppression and/or discrimination, how does one’s personal identity evolve or adapt?
  4. To what extent one’s personal identity is shaped by one’s social context or social circumstances?
  5. How does personal identity influence and interact with the capacity for political agency?
  6. Can we explore the interplay between one’s core identity and the transformative effects of extreme circumstances, particularly in situations where survival is at stake?
  7. What insights can phenomenology offer regarding the potential alterations to personal identity within invariant structures when faced with extreme existential conditions, such as those encountered in immigration or in societies characterized by deep deprivation?

Section 4: Feminist Philosophy and Gender Studies

  1. How should we conceive of gender social kinds?
  2. In debating over gender recognition, should we settle ontological questions first?
  3. How should the intersectional stance change traditional feminist assumptions?
  4. Can we ameliorate certain social categories for anti-oppressive purposes?
  5. Is the categorization of individuals into certain social groups inherently oppressive?
  6. How can emancipatory social movements best respond to categories that are bound up with oppression, such as gender and race?
  7. How do we navigate the complexities of addressing oppression while acknowledging the value that some individuals may find in belonging to certain social categories?
  8. Are there any social groups with a decisively emancipatory nature?
  9. What is the relationship between gender identity and personal identity?

Section 5: Philosophy and History of Art

  1. In what ways does artistic practice contribute to the exploration and redefinition of individual and collective identities within the context of diverse human experiences?
  2. What role does contemporary art play in challenging and deconstructing socio-cultural norms and conventions that have historically shaped notions of identity?
  3. How does gender identity intersect with artistic expression and representation in contemporary art, and what insights can be gained from exploring this intersection?
  4. How do artists navigate and negotiate the tension between preserving cultural heritage and embracing innovative approaches to identity expression in their work?
  5. How is contemporary art performing identity in connection to the evolution and challenges of the digital and post-digital age?


Submissions must be prepared for double-blind review. Manuscripts – in .doc format – should not contain any identifying information and they cannot exceed 4000 words (references included). Manuscripts must be written in English. Moreover, they must contain:

  • an abstract of no more than 150 words;
  • 4/5 keywords;
  • an indication of the section to which the submission is intended.

For stylistic details, see:

Submissions should be sent via the Phenomenology and Mind website by June 20th, 2024.

Authors should register here and then log in to submit their papers. Please, make sure to submit your paper to the section “Exploring Personal Identity. Philosophical Perspectives and Insights from Arts”. 

For further information, please contact Francesca Cesarano and/or Marco Di Feo and/or Eleonora Volta.

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