Shoegenstein on Self-Ascription, Immunity to Error and I-as-Subject

Contemporary accounts of the self-ascription of experiences are wedded to two basic dogmas. The first is that self-ascription is immune to error through misidentification relative to the first person (IEM). The second dogma is that there is distinction between awareness of oneself qua subject and awareness of oneself qua object (the SCS/SCO distinction). In this paper, I urge that these dogmas are groundless. First, I illustrate that claims about immunity to error through misidentification are usually based upon claims about awareness of oneself qua subject. Self-ascriptions are IEM, because self-ascriptions involve awareness of oneself qua subject. Following Sydney Shoemaker, philosophers appeal to Wittgenstein’s discussion of the I-as-subject to bolster this claim. I argue that this interpretation of Wittgenstein is actually a crossbreed of the views of Shoemaker and Wittgenstein, which I will call ‘Shoegenstein.’ I argue that Shoegenstein is not Wittgenstein. Apart from these historical considerations, I argue that if IEM is based on the SCS/SCO distinction, and there is no non-circular account of that distinction, then IEM is not based on anything. I suggest that we should understand self-consciousness as awareness of a subject as an object, which would mean that SCS and SCO are not exclusive. One consequence of disposing of these two dogmas is to allow for a positive naturalistic account of self-ascription. Another consequence is to present an approach to self-ascription that stresses the lived position of the subject, which I urge is friendly to Wittgenstein’s later account of the subject of self-ascription.
Keywords Self-Consciousness  Self-Ascription  Immunity to Error through Misidentification  I-as-subject  Wittgenstein
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