Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

This paper proposes an analysis of some possible implications of aging focusing the effects that aging may have on one’s self-knowledge. The goal of the paper is in fact to connect research on aging with different accounts of self-knowledge and put forward the following hypothesis: (i) in the late stages of our lives we adopt a different way of looking at ourselves, and (ii) there are three main factors likely causing this change: cognitive problems (episodic memory impairment), motivational factors (coherence-seeking), and loss of a forward-looking way of structuring our lives. In addition, (iii) all that makes confabulation a potentially serious problem during the aging process. Though not all aging adults go through these changes, I contend that the possibility of this shift in self-knowledge needs to be analyzed further.

Aging people often have to face health issues and challenging, negative emotions, such as the fear of death. In this paper, I will not be concerned with death or health, though. I will also set aside any concern about practical issues linked to aging, such as where to find appropriate care or retirement plans. In contrast, here I plan to focus on the fact that old age potentially brings a different type of challenge: a changing and diminishing self-knowledge. This change is not constitutive of aging and is not a necessary feature of aging. In contrast, this paper puts forward the hypothesis that…


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