PHL305 The Self (8)

This subject explores philosophical ideas about the self and personal identity. Topics include the nature of the self, personal identity over time, personal identity and practical reason, self-deception, the self and personal relations (especially friendship), and the implications mental illnesses like multiple personality disorder, autism and psychopathy have for our concept of the self. We begin with the common-sense notion of the self due to Descartes, and then, in the light of a variety of concepts listed above we examine some key philosophical theories that have grown up in response to Descartes.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2018.

Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Assumed Knowledge

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to give an account of the main philosophical theories(especially Descartes') in the area of the self;
  • be able to give an account of the historical development of philosophical ideas of the self;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the problem of personal identity over time and central competing theories to its solution;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the conceptual links between questions of personal identity and practical reason;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the postmodernist critiques of the traditional cartesian idea of the self;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of selfdeception;
  • be able to give an account of the relevance of interpersonal relations (especially friendship) to the self; and
  • be able to demonstrate and understanding of the implications mental illnesses (e.g., multiple personality disorder, autism, psychopathy) have for our concept of the self.


This subject will cover the following topics:

- Descartes' theory of the self - history of ideas of the self - personal identity - personal identity and practical reason - postmodernist critiques of the self - self-deception - friendship and the self - mental illness and the self


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.