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Self-Consciousness

Edited by Kristina Musholt (Otto von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg)
Assistant editor: Felicia Höer
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Summary

Self-consciousness is consciousness of oneself as oneself. This is usually thought to distinguish self-consciousness from an awareness of what just happens to be oneself. In the latter, but not the former, case, one can fail to recognise that the object of one's awareness is oneself. We think of individual creatures as self-conscious, but we also think of particular psychological states as being instances of self-consciousness. Such states are often considered to possess certain special features that mark them out from non-self-conscious states. For example, it is plausible to suppose that self-consciousness is manifest in thoughts and other states that have first-person contents – thoughts of the form ‘I am F’ – and such thoughts are immune to certain sorts of error. For example, many claim that self-conscious thoughts have guaranteed reference, they cannot fail to refer. Others claim that, for a certain range of self-conscious thoughts, one cannot know somebody to be F and mistakenly think that it is oneself.

Much of the literature on self-consciousness focuses on how to articulate and account for such special features of first-person thought. A central question is whether self-consciousness is reducible. Further questions include: whether consciousness entails self-consciousness; whether self-consciousness involves an awareness of the self as an object; whether there can be non-conceptual or pre-reflective self-conscious states; whether the existence of self-consciousness poses a serious challenge to certain accounts of the nature of mind.

Key works The historical philosopher with the greatest influence on contemporary debates concerning self-consciousness is Kant, especially the First Critique. Ameriks 2000 and Keller 1998 are historically oriented accounts of Kant’s views in this area; Brook 2001 relates Kant’s views to more recent work.  The semantic peculiarities of first-person contents entered into the contemporary debate through the work of Kaplan 1977, Perry 1979, Castaneda 1966 and Lewis 1979, a central theme of which is the irreducibility of first-person thought. An earlier source is Wittgenstein 1958 who was influential on both Anscombe 1975, who defends the surprising view that “I” is not a referring term and Evans 1982, Ch.7, who offers a functionalist account of self-consciousness.  Shoemaker 1986 defends the claim, associated with Hume, Kant and Sartre, that self-consciousness does not involve an awareness of the self as an object. This claim had previously been rejected by Chisholm 1976 Ch.1.  Sartre 1957 defends the view that consciousness entails a pre-reflective form of self-consciousness. A similar view has recently been defended by Kriegel 2009. Bermudez 1998 articulates and defends the claim that some non-conceptual states are instances of self-consciousness.  Significant recent discussions of self-consciousness from the perspective of the cognitive sciences include Damasio 1999 and Metzinger 2003.
Introductions Cassam 1994 contains a number of classic papers and a useful introduction. Bermudez 2007 and Kriegel 2007 are also helpful introductions to some of the central issues.
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  1. Robert P. Adams, D. H. Wilken, W. M. Klein, G. Bryant & R. G. Walter (1975). RAPIC, The Missing Link? BioScience 25 (7):433-437.
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  2. David M. Armstrong (2006). Minimal Consciousness. In Maureen Eckert (ed.), Theories of Mind: An Introductory Reader. Rowman and Littlefield. 213.
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  3. Peter Baumanns (1969). About Moral Consciousness. Philosophy and History 2 (2):131-133.
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  4. J. L. Bermudez (1998). Nelkin, N.-Consciousness and the Origins of Thought. Philosophical Books 39:258-259.
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  5. José Luis Bermudez, Martijn Blaauw, Ruth M. J. Byrne, C. Casadio, P. J. Scott, R. A. G. Seely, R. G. Collingwood, Earl Conee, Theodore Sider & Ian Dearden (2005). Appearance in This List Neither Guarantees nor Precludes a Future Review of the Book. Bartsch, Renate, Memory and Understanding: Concept Formation in Proust's A la Recher-Che du Temps Perdu, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamin's Publishing Company, 2005, Pp. Ix+ 158, $114.00,€ 95.00. Bermudez, Jose Luis, Philosophy of Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction, London. [REVIEW] Mind 114:456.
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  6. Mark H. Bickhard (2005). Consciousness and Reflective Consciousness. Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):205-218.
    An interactive process model of the nature of representation intrinsically accounts for multiple emergent properties of consciousness, such as being a contentful experiential flow, from a situated and embodied point of view. A crucial characteristic of this model is that content is an internally related property of interactive process, rather than an externally related property as in all other contemporary models. Externally related content requires an interpreter, yielding the familiar regress of interpreters, along with a host of additional fatal problems. (...)
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  7. Charles Booth (2003). The Missing Link. The Philosophers' Magazine 22:59-59.
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  8. A. S. Briskin (1974). A Developmental Model of Self-Awareness. Counseling and Values 18:79-85.
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  9. Rosabel San Segundo Cachero (2010). Origen, evolución y diversidad de las lenguas. Una aproximación biolingüística, de José Luis Mendívil Giró. Teorema: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 29 (1):170-175.
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  10. José Luis Cárdenas (2006). Spinoza B.: Grammar Compendium of Hebrew.(José Luis Cárdenas). Ideas Y Valores 55 (130):102-105.
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  11. P. Carruthers (1999). Review. José Luis Bermúdez. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):483-486.
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  12. Peter Carruthers (2005). Reply to Bermúdez. Anthropology and Philosophy 6 (1/2):81-83.
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  13. Martiniano Casero Martin-Nieto (2000). Fray Luis de San José: Alcantarino Inmaculista. Verdad y Vida 58 (229):589-604.
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  14. Paola Cavalieri & Peter Singer (1993). A Declaration of Great Apes. In Peter Singer & Paola Cavalieri (eds.), The Great Ape Project. St. Martin's Griffin. 4--7.
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  15. Jennifer Church (1997). Ownership and the Body. In Diana T. Meyers (ed.), Feminists Rethink the Self. Westview Press.
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  16. R. Curtis (1992). A Process View of Consciousness and the "Self": Integrating a Sense of Connectedness with a Sense of Agency. Psychological Inquiry 3:29-32.
  17. Howard J. Curzer (2013). When Bad Thoughts Happen to Good People: A Thought-Experiment. American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):83-92.
    Bernard Williams quotes Charles Fried's description of an emergency situation in which a man (call him Joe) must choose between helping his wife and helping a stranger. Famously, Williams goes on to remark, -/- It might have been hoped by some (for instance, by his wife) that his motivating thought, fully spelled out, would be the thought that it was his wife, not that it was his wife and that in situations of this kind it is permissible to save one's (...)
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  18. Pedro Machado de Castro (2008). José Luis Turina. Retrato. Director: José Luis Temes. Critica 58 (956):92.
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  19. F. de Vignemont (2013). The Mark of Bodily Ownership. Analysis 73 (4):643-651.
    I am aware that this hand is my own. But is the sense of ownership of my hand manifested to me in a more primitive form than judgements? On the deflationary view recently defended by Martin and Bermúdez in their works, the sense of bodily ownership has no counterpart at the experiential level. Here I present a series of cases that the deflationary account cannot easily accommodate, including belief-independent illusions of ownership and experiences of disownership despite the presence of bodily (...)
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  20. David DeGrazia (2009). Self-Awareness in Animals. In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. 201--217.
  21. Rene Descartes (1998). G. Lynn Stephens. In N. Scott Arnold, Theodore M. Benditt & George Graham (eds.), Philosophy Then and Now. Blackwell Publishers. 237.
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  22. Howard W. Fulweiler (1993). The Other Missing Link. Renascence 46 (1):39-54.
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  23. Shaun Gallagher (2005). How the Body Shapes the Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    How the Body Shapes the Mind is an interdisciplinary work that addresses philosophical questions by appealing to evidence found in experimental psychology, neuroscience, studies of pathologies, and developmental psychology. There is a growing consensus across these disciplines that the contribution of embodiment to cognition is inescapable. Because this insight has been developed across a variety of disciplines, however, there is still a need to develop a common vocabulary that is capable of integrating discussions of brain mechanisms in neuroscience, behavioral expressions (...)
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  24. Gordon G. Gallup Jr, James R. Anderson & Daniel J. Shillito (2002). The Mirror Test. In Marc Bekoff, Colin Allen & Gordon M. Burghardt (eds.), The Cognitive Animal: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives on Animal Cognition. Mit Press.
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  25. Manuel García-Carpintero (1996). The Nature of Externalism: A Survey Prompted by John Perry's "The Problem of the Essential Indexical and Other Essays". Critica 28 (84):3 - 39.
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  26. Brie Gertler (2004). Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    Johannes Roessler and Naomi Eilan (eds.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology , Oxford, 2003, 400pp, $29.95 (pbk), ISBN 019924562..
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  27. Marcello Ghin (2005). What a Self Could Be (Commentary on Metzinger). Psyche 11 (5).
    Metzinger’s claim that there are no such things as selves has given rise to a lot of discussions. By examining the notion of self used by Metzinger, I want to clarify what he means when saying that nobody ever was or had a self. Furthermore, I want to examine if there could be a notion of ‘self’ which is compatible with the Self- Model Theory of Subjectivity (SMT). I will argue that there is a notion of self which is not (...)
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  28. K. R. Gibson (1992). Toward an Empirical Basis for Understanding Consciousness and Self-Awareness. Consciousness and Cognition 1 (2):163-68.
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  29. J. Glicksohn & S. Lipperman-Kreda (2007). Time, Thought, and Consciousness. Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (3-4):289-305.
    State of consciousness and reflective awareness are intrinsically related, in that the different states of consciousness entail "specific forms - including absence - of reflective awareness" (Rapaport, 1951, p. 708). Both phenomena of consciousness would also seem to bear an important relationship with various forms of thought. What has not, hitherto, been explicated is the relationship among time, thought and consciousness, and we have set ourselves the goal of doing just that. While our primary focus is on a theoretical discussion (...)
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  30. J. M. Govern & L. A. Marsch (2001). Development and Validation of the Situational Self-Awareness Scale. Consciousness and Cognition 10 (3):366-378.
    This article discusses the manipulation and measurement of levels of situational self-focus, which is generally labeled ''self-awareness.'' A new scale was developed to quantify levels of public and private self-awareness. Five studies were conducted to assess the psychometric properties, reliability, and validity of the Situational Self-Awareness Scale (SSAS). The SSAS was found to have a reliable factor structure, to detect differences in public and private self-awareness produced by laboratory manipulations, and to be sensitive to changes in self-awareness within individuals over (...)
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  31. Petra Hauf & Wolfgang Prinz (2005). The Understanding of Own and Others' Actions During Infancy:“You-Like-Me” or “Me-Like-You”? Interaction Studies 6 (3):429-445.
  32. Dennis Hirota (2011). The Awareness of the Natural World in Shinjin: Shinran's Concept of Jinen. Buddhist-Christian Studies 31 (1):189-200.
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  33. Shadworth H. Hodgson (1894). Reflective Consciousness. Mind 3 (10):208-221.
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  34. S. L. Hurley (2000). Jose Luis Bermudez on Consciousness in Action. European Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):106-109.
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  35. Z. Jakab (2000). Reply to Thomas Metzinger and Bettina Walde. Consciousness and Cognition 9 (3):363-369.
  36. L. E. Jakovleva (1996). José Luis Abellán y la «especificidad» de la Filosofía Española (Traducción de Elena Pliousnina). Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 13 (13):305.
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  37. Oliver Kauffmann (2000). On the Klawonntology of Consciousness and Selfhood. Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 35:55-72.
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  38. Michael R. Kelly (2004). Self-Awareness in Transcendence. Dissertation, Fordham University
    This dissertation examines the problem of self-awareness with respect to the phenomenological tradition. The problem of self-awareness concerns whether or not the self, the condition of the possibility for experience, can itself be experienced. Unlike Kant, phenomenology must answer this question in the affirmative, but it cannot hold that the self knows itself via an intentional act in the way that it knows other objects in the world. A solution to the problem requires the articulation of an alternative account of (...)
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  39. John Kultgen (1994). Oneself as Another. Review of Metaphysics 47 (3):636-637.
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  40. Ronald M. Lanner, Michael G. Ryan & Barbara J. Yoder (1997). The Missing Link. BioScience 47 (8):475-476.
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  41. Wolfgang Lenzen (2006). Auf der Suche nach dem verlorenen ≫Selbst≪ — Thomas Metzinger und die ≫letzte Kränkung≪ der Menschheit. Facta Philosophica 8 (1-2):161-192.
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  42. Janet Levin (1998). Consciousness and the Origins of Thought. Philosophical Review 107 (4):644-647.
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  43. Joseph Levine (2001). The Self and What It's Like to Be One: Reviews of José Luis Bermúdez, the Paradox of Self-Conciousness and Lawrence Weiskrantz, Consiousness Lost and Found. Mind and Language 16 (1):108–119.
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  44. Alphonso F. Lingis (1977). Sense and Non-Sense in the Sexed Body. Philosophy and Social Criticism 4 (4):345-365.
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  45. Michelle Maiese (forthcoming). Thought Insertion as a Disownership Symptom. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17.
    Stephens and Graham (2000) maintain that in cases of thought insertion, the sense of ownership is preserved, but there is a defect in the sense of agency (i.e. the sense that one is the author or initiator of the thought). However, these theorists overlook the possibility that subjectivity might be preserved despite a defect in the sense of ownership. The claim that schizophrenia centers upon a loss of a sense of ownership is supported by an examination of some of the (...)
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  46. Alain Morin (2009). Self-Awareness Deficits Following Loss of Inner Speech: Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's Case Study☆. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2):524-529.
    In her 2006 book ‘‘My Stroke of Insight” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor relates her experience of suffering from a left hemispheric stroke caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation which led to a loss of inner speech. Her phenomenological account strongly suggests that this impairment produced a global self-awareness deficit as well as more specific dysfunctions related to corporeal awareness, sense of individuality, retrieval of autobiographical memories, and self-conscious emotions. These are examined in details and corroborated by numerous excerpts from Taylor’s (...)
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  47. Teresa Mozejko (2012). Don Luis José de Tejeda y Guzmán: peregrino y ciudadano. Anclajes 16 (1):94 - 95.
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  48. María G. Navarro (2011). José Luis L. Aranguren: Influencia, Cambio, Movilidad. Vida y Obra de Un Intelectual Heterodoxo. Revista Ateneo de La Laguna 29:99-102.
    "Aranguren: filosofía en la vida y vida en la filosofía" llevó por nombre la exposición sobre la figura y el legado de José Luis L. Aranguren (Ávila 1909- Madrid 1996) que pudo verse desde el 4 de junio al 26 de julio de 2009 en el Pabellón Transatlántico de la Residencia de Estudiantes de Madrid con ocasión del centenario del nacimiento del filósofo abulense.
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  49. Barbara Noske (1993). Great Apes as Anthropological Subjects–Desconstructing Anthropocentrism. In Peter Singer & Paola Cavalieri (eds.), The Great Ape Project. St. Martin's Griffin. 258--268.
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  50. Adela Cortina Orts (1988). Antrhopos. Revista de Documentación Científica de la Cultura, nº 80 (1988), "José Luis L. Aranguren. Propuestas morales: Problematicidad y actitud ética". [REVIEW] Diálogo Filosófico 11:237-239.
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