An outline of a unified theory of the relational self: grounding the self in the manifold of interpersonal relations


PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE COGNITIVE SCIENCES, vol.18, no.3, pp.473-491, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11097-018-9587-6
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.473-491
  • Keywords: Self, Social relations, Mirror neurons, Structural realism, CORTICAL MIDLINE STRUCTURES, MECHANISMS, NEUROSCIENCE, ATTENTION, DEFENSE, TIME, MIND


The paper outlines a structuralist unification between two existing relational theories of the self, i.e., Beni's Structural Realist theory of the Self (SRS) and Gallese's Embodied Relational Self (ERS). Each one of these theories provides a structuralist account of some aspects of the self but leaves out some other aspects which are indispensable to a comprehensive account of the self. SRS accounts for the reflective aspects of the self, and ERS accounts for the environmental and social aspects of the self. In this paper, I argue that when paired with one another, SRS and ERS could amend one another's shortcomings, without giving way to a non-relational conception of the self. I draw on neurology of the connection between Cortical Midline Structures and the mirror neuron system to inform my unifying proposal. I also show that an informational framework can underlie the union.