The invention of consciousness

The invention of consciousness: A French interpretation of John Locke

This five-month AHRC-funded project will produce a critical English-language edition of Étienne Balibar's 1998 Identité et différence: L'invention de la conscience (Seuil, Paris): a study of Book II, Chapter XXVII ('Of Identity and Diversity') of John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1694) - the chapter containing Locke's celebrated theory of personal identity. The AHRC Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Stella Sandford to complete the editing of the English edition and to write an accompanying critical essay. As well as offering a précis of Balibar's ground-breaking interpretation of Locke in Identité et différence, the accompanying essay will address three questions that are only implicit in Balibar's work itself. First, what is the significance of Balibar's interpretation of Locke for the largely Anglophone analytical discussion of the issue of personal identity in Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding? Second, what is the significance of this interpretation for the 'continental' history of the philosophy of 'the subject'? And third, following on from the previous question, what is the historico-political significance of Locke's theory of personal identity? The aim is to highlight the originality of Balibar's interpretation of Locke in the context of the Anglophone analytical literature on personal identity, and to prompt a reconsideration of the place of Locke's Essay for the self-understanding of the tradition of modern European philosophy.

The edition will be published by Verso in 2013, with a translation of Balibar's essay by Warren Montag.

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP)Arts and Humanities Research Council