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Article

Early Modern Subjects and the Self-Conception of Philosophy in Germany 1556-1599

Society and Politics. 2015. Vol. 9. No. 1. P. 10-24.

The paper discusses the concept of a subject as an actor’s category in early modern philosophy and asks whether contemporary notions of subjectivity can be meaningfully related to this early modern understanding of the concept. It defends the thesis that crucial elements of subjectivity in the modern sense, namely reflexivity and self-awareness, are at the same time characteristic features of a certain understanding of the subject of philosophy as a discipline in the early modern sense: namely for conceptions of philosophy as a transformation of the soul, most notably as a ‘medicine of the soul’. The paper traces conceptions of the subject of philosophy not only in various Ramist tracts, but also in writings of Melanchthon’s son-inlaw Heinrich Paxmann, the Helmstedt professor Duncan Liddell, and Reformed thinkers like Fortunatus Crell and Bartholomaeus Keckermann.