Rowman and Littlefield International


Individuation in the European Text

By Riccardo Baldissone

1 Review

Autós traces and reassesses the European construction of individuals from ancient Greece to the present in major literary, philosophical, juridical, scientific, and political texts.

Hardback ISBN: 9781786606754 Release date: Mar 2021
£92.00 €112.00 $120.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781786606761 Release date: Jul 2020
£23.95 €33.95 $34.95

Series: Experiments/On the Political

Pages: 292


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Are we doomed to construct reality with the language of being and individuality? Autós shows a different perspective by reconsidering the European textual production of individuals. Its narration progresses in reverse chronological order to escape teleology: it goes from the modern atomized and self-sufficient subject to her immediate precursor, namely, the isolated faithful of Reformation theology, and to the amazing proliferation of medieval bodies, after the Late Antique narrow individuation of the Christian persona. Roman law mostly escapes the latter’s definitional approach, which first appears in Greek speculation: here, the vocabulary of being and identity takes shape, as exemplified by the new Platonic deployment of the word autós, which has both the sense of ‘same’ and ‘self.’ The Homeric epic instead shows us a discursive regime that precedes the invention of body, mind, being, and self. Taking further old and new examples, the book seeks to provincialize the technologies of the self through a new vocabulary of incorporation, whose sphere of action is not the being of entities, but the performing of practices.


Introduction: A Reader’s (Short) Guide to Autós

Chapter One: Of Wounds and Woundings: Damages to the Relational Body

Chapter Two: The Invention of the Modern Self between Ḥayy and Robinson

Chapter Three: The Fundamentalist Reinvention of the Individual in the Age of Reformation and its Discontents

Chapter Four: Painted, Mirrored, and Mystical Bodies: A Medieval Proliferation

Chapter Five: A New Interiority in Christian Romania

Chapter Six: Roman Legal Actors: The Ordered Permutation of Personae

Chapter Seven: Keys to Greek Individuation: Oikeiōsis, Ousia, Autos

Chapter Eight: Greek Early Theoretical Bottlenecks and their Homeric Horizon

Chapter Nine: Not Just Autos: The Reinvention of Abundance

Epilogue: Provincializing the Individual: The Perdividuation of Relational Bodiesas a Conclusion

Appendix: A Note on Paradigms (And Relational Bodies)



Riccardo Baldissone is a Fellow at the University of Westminster's Law and Theory Centre, UK.

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1 Review

An ambitious, explosively erudite, vertiginously convincing, extremely important and indeed useful book. A maelstrom of a text, comprised of narration, literary analysis, history and philosophy, that offers an unexpected understanding of materiality as adumbrated within the textual. From Homeric gods to early Christian and Islamic ideas of commonwealth, and from Defoe’s Robinson to Medieval female mystics, Baldissone offers a completely novel yet centuries-old path to bodies, objects, gods and humans.

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, University of Westminster

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