David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
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). 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.
Shaun Gallagher (2001). The Practice of Mind: Theory, Simulation or Primary Interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (5-7):83-108.
Axel Honneth (1996). The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. The MIT Press.
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 downloads40 ( #106,386 of 1,911,732 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #254,551 of 1,911,732 )
How can I increase my downloads?