David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Psychology 25 (1):1-27 (2012)
In The Paradox of Self-Consciousness, Jose Luis Bermúdez presents an abductive argument for what he calls ‘the Symmetry Thesis’ about self-ascription: in order to have the ability to self-ascribe psychological predicates to oneself, one must be able to ascribe psychological predicates to other subjects like oneself. Bermúdez discusses joint engagement as a key phenomenon that underwrites his abductive argument for the Symmetry Thesis. He argues that the ability to self-ascribe is “constituted” by the intersubjective relations that are realized in joint engagement. I will argue in §1 that although Bermúdez may be correct that these phenomena support the idea that pre-linguistic infants and non-linguistic animals possess primitive forms of self-consciousness, for conceptual reasons, his account of joint engagement cannot be used to argue for the Symmetry thesis. I will argue in §2 that while Bermúdez is correct that joint engagement is significant for the constitution of self-ascription, his description of that phenomenon is too robust, because it requires that the infant have a mental representation of the other as a psychological subject of perceptions. I argue that Bermúdez’s description requires an iteration of representations each of which requires a form of self-reference, which goes against Bermudez’s aim of avoiding the paradox of self-consciousness. In presenting his argument for the Symmetry thesis and his account of joint engagement, Bermúdez critiques P. F. Strawson’s argument for the Symmetry Thesis. In §3 of the paper, I turn to the positive project of presenting a constructive argument for the Symmetry thesis. In a variety of sources, P. F. Strawson and Gareth Evans present a transcendental argument for the Symmetry thesis. I suggest that an argument for the Symmetry thesis is available in Strawson’s notion of the primitiveness of the person. In §4, this leads to a corresponding account of joint engagement. Instead of the robust account of joint engagement presented by Bermúdez, I suggest that the infant perceives the mother’s acknowledgement of the infant without the capacity for self-reference that the Bermúdez’s iteration requires. I reconstruct an account of other-ascription in terms of what I call “person perception,” relying on a recent discussion of Strawson’s view by Axel Seemann (2008). On the Strawsonian account that I provide, an adult summons a child to recognize and acknowledge a form of life in which it participates as a person. In closing, I consider how my account of other-ascription differs from two classic accounts— the theory-theory and the simulation theory— and discuss how my account provides a genuine third alternative: the Persons theory. I would argue that the Persons theory offers a new approach to key issues in philosophy and psychology concerning self-consciousness and intersubjectivity.
|Keywords||self-consciousness intersubjectivity other minds|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
A. Goldman (2006/2008). Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Mindreading. Oxford University Press.
Gareth Evans (1982). Varieties of Reference. Oxford University Press.
David M. Rosenthal (2005). Consciousness and Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Axel Honneth (1996). The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. The MIT Press.
Shaun Gallagher (2001). The Practice of Mind: Theory, Simulation or Primary Interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (5-7):83-108.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
R. Peter Hobson (2005). What Puts the Jointness Into Joint Attention? In Naomi Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds. Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford University Press 185.
Brian J. Garrett (2003). Bermudez on Self-Consciousness. Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):96-101.
Jose Luis Bermudez (2000). The Cognitive Neuroscience of Primitive Self-Consciousness. Psycoloquy 11 (35).
Axel Seemann (2009). Joint Agency: Intersubjectivity, Sense of Control, and the Feeling of Trust. Inquiry 52 (5):500-515.
Tomis Kapitan (1999). The Ubiquity of Self-Awareness. Grazer Philosophische Studien 57:17-43.
Axel Seemann (2010). The Other Person in Joint Attention: A Relational Approach. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (5-6):161-182.
D. L. C. Maclachlan (1993). Strawson and the Argument for Other Minds. Journal of Philosophical Research 18:149-157.
Stephen Andrew Butterfill (2012). Joint Action and Development. Philosophical Quarterly 61 (246):23-47.
Anne Newstead (2004). Self-Conscious Self-Reference: An Approach Based on Agent's Knowledge (DPhil Manuscript). Dissertation, Oxford University
Stephan Torre (2010). Tense, Timely Action and Self-Ascription. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):112-132.
Joel Smith (2003). Self-Consciousness and Embodied Experience. Dissertation, UCL
Cody S. Gilmore (2003). The Introspectibility Thesis. Psyche 9 (5).
Axel Seemann (2008). Person Perception. Philosophical Explorations 11 (3):245 – 262.
Jane Heal (2005). Joint Attention and Understanding the Mind. In N. Elian, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Johannes Roessler (eds.), Oxford University PressJoint Attention: Communication and Other Minds. Oxford University Press 34--44.
Alan Thomas (2003). An Adverbial Theory of Consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2 (3):161-85.
Added to index2010-10-29
Total downloads35 ( #93,308 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #289,836 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?