Traditionally, what we are conscious of in self-consciousness is something non-corporeal. But anti-Cartesian philosophers argue that the self is as much corporeal as it is mental. Because we have the sense of proprioception, a kind of body awareness, we are immediately aware of ourselves as bodies in physical space. In this debate the case histories of patients who have lost their sense of proprioception are clearly relevant. These patients do retain an awareness of themselves as corporeal beings, although they (...) hardly feel their bodies (they have normal sensation in the head, but from the neck downwards only sensations of pain and temperature, and of fatigue and deep touch). They can initiate movements, and with the help of visual feedback learn to control them. It is shown that the traditional view of the self as immaterial is not supported by these cases. But the argument against this view has to be amended. It relies too much on bodily sensations, and misses the importance of active self-movement. (shrink)
The author claims that concept possession is not only necessary but also sufficient for self-consciousness, where self-consciousness is understood as the awareness of oneself as a self. Further, he links concept possession to intelligent behavior. His ultimate aim is to provide a framework for the study of self-consciousness in infants and non-human animals. I argue that the claim that all concepts are necessarily related to the self-concept remains unconvincing and suggest that what might be at issue here (...) are not so much conceptual but rather metacognitive abilities. (shrink)
Self-consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to functionalism. Either the standard functional definitions of mental relations wrongly require the contents of self-consciousness to be propositions involving.
In recent philosophy of mind, it is often assumed that consciousness and self-consciousness are two separate phenomena. In this paper, I argue that this is not quite right. The argument proceeds in two phases. First, I draw a distinction between (i) being self-conscious of a thought that p and (ii) self-consciously thinking that p. I call the former transitive self-consciousness and the latter intransitive self-consciousness. I then argue that consciousness does depend on intransitive self-consciousness, and that (...) the common reasons for denying the dependence of consciousness upon self-consciousness apply only to transitive self-consciousness. (shrink)
In attempts to come to grips with Kant’s thought, the influence of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is often neglected. In this paper, I consider three topics in Kant’s philosophy of mind, broadly construed, where Wolff’s influence is particularly visible: consciousness, self-consciousness, and psychology. I argue that we can better understand Kant’s particular arguments and positions within this context, but also gain a more accurate sense of which aspects of Kant’s accounts derive from the antecedent traditions and which (...) constitute genuine philosophical innovations. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the areas where neuroscientific and philosophical issues intersect in the study of self-consciousness. Taking as point of departure a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) that appears to block philosophical elucidation of self-consciousness, the paper illustrates how the highly conceptual forms of self-consciousness emerge from a rich foundation of nonconceptual forms of self-awareness. Attention is paid in particular to the primitive forms of nonconceptual self-consciousness manifested in visual perception, somatic proprioception, spatial (...) reasoning and interpersonal psychological interactions. The study of these primitive forms of self-consciousness is an interdisciplinary enterprise and the paper considers a range of points of contact where philosophical work can illuminate work in the cognitive sciences, and vice versa. (shrink)
With all the attention given to the study of consciousness recently, the topic of self-consciousness has been relatively neglected. “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-conscious that has seemed such a scientific mystery,” a prominent philosopher comments.1 Phenomenal consciousness concerns the aspect of a state that feels a certain way: roses smell like this; garlic tastes like that; middle C sounds like this, and so on. Although phenomenal consciousness is surely a fruitful area of scientific investigation, I hope (...) to demonstrate here that investigation of selfconsciousness offers its own rewards, ontologically speaking. (shrink)
The word ?consciousness? is notoriously ambiguous. This is mainly because it is not a term of art, but a mundane word we all use quite frequently, for different purposes and in different everyday contexts. In this paper, I discuss consciousness in one specific sense of the word. To avoid the ambiguities, I introduce a term of art ? intransitive self-consciousness ? and suggest that this form of self-consciousness is an essential component of the folk notion of consciousness. I (...) then argue for a specific account of consciousness as intransitive self-consciousness. According to this account, a mental state is conscious (i.e., intransitively self-conscious) iff it represents its own occurrence. The argument is a ?modernizing? modification of an older argument due to Aristotle and Brentano. (shrink)
The preceding article by Marc Bekoff reveals much about our current understanding of animal self-consciousness and its implications. It also reveals how much more there is to be said and considered. This response briefly examines animal self-consciousness from scientific, moral, and theological perspectives. As Bekoff emphasizes, self-consciousness is not one thing but many. Consequently, our moral relationship to animals is not simply one based on a graded hierarchy of abilities. Furthermore, the complexity of animal self-awareness can serve (...) as stimulus for thinking about issues of theodicy and soteriology in a broader sense. (shrink)
Ontological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties canbe defined wholly in terms of the general pattern of interaction ofontologically prior realizations. Ideological (or nonreductive)functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can only bedefined nonreductively, in terms of the general pattern of theirinteraction with one another. My Self-consciousness Argumentestablishes: (1) ontological functionalism is mistaken because itsproposed definitions wrongly admit realizations (vs. mentalproperties) into the contents of self-consciousness; (2)ideological (nonreductive) functionalism is the only viable alternativefor functionalists. Michael Tooley's critique (...) misses the target:he offers no criticism of (1) – except for an incidental, andincorrect, attack on certain self-intimation principles – and,since he himself proposes a certain form of nonreductive definition, hetacitly accepts (2). Finally, as with all other nonreductivedefinitions, Tooley's proposal can be shown to undermine functionalism'sultimate goal: its celebrated materialist solution to theMind-Body Problem. The explanation of these points will require adiscussion of: Frege-Russell disagreements regarding intensionalcontexts; the relationship between self-consciousness and thetraditional doctrine of acquaintance; the role of self-intimationprinciples in functionalist psychology; and the Kripke-Lewiscontroversy over the nature of theoretical terms. (shrink)
Self-consciousness can be defined as the ability to think 'I'-thoughts. Recently, it has been suggested that self-consciousness in this sense can (and should) be accounted for in terms of nonconceptual forms of self-representation. Here, I will argue that while theories of nonconceptual self-consciousness do provide us with important insights regarding the essential genetic and epistemic features of self-conscious thought, they can only deliver part of the full story that is required to understand the phenomenon of self-consciousness. (...) I will provide two arguments to this effect, drawing on insights from the philosophy of language and on structural differences between conceptual and nonconceptual forms of representation. Both arguments rest on the intuition that while self-consciousness requires explicit self-representation, nonconceptual content can at best provide implicit self-related information. I will conclude that in order to explain the emergence of self-conscious thought out of more basic forms of representations one has to explain the transition between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to show that consciousness entails self-consciousness by focusing on the relationship between consciousness and memory. More specifically, I addreess the following questions: (1) does consciousness require episodic memory?; and (2) does episodic memory require self-consciousness? With the aid of some Kantian considerations and recent empirical data, it is argued that consciousness does require episodic memory. This is done after defining episodic memory and distinguishing it from other types of memory. An affirmative answer (...) to (2) is also warranted especially in the light of the issues raised in answering (1). I claim that 'consciousness entails self-consciousness' is thereby shown via the route through episodic memory, i.e. via affirmative answers to (1) and (2). My aim is to revive this Kantian thesis and to bring together current psychological research on amnesia with traditional philosophical perspectives on consciousness and memory. (shrink)
What is this thing we each call “I” and consider the eye of consciousness, that which beholds objects in the world and objects in our minds? This inner perceiver seems to be the same I who calls forth memories or images at will, the I who feels and determines whether to act on those feelings or suppress them, as well as the I who worries and makes plans and attempts to avoid those worries and act on those plans. Am I (...) the subject, thus the source, of my awareness, just as you are the subject and source of your awareness? If this is the case, it is likely impossible to be conscious without the self (yours or mine), the eye of consciousness, and it must certainly not be desirable, for such a consciousness would have no focal point, no self-that-is-conscious to guide it, so it would be cast adrift on a wide and wild sea like a boat that has broken from its anchor. Without self-enclosure, “We shall go mad no doubt and die that way,” as Robert Graves (1927/1966) expressed it in "The Cool Web". (shrink)
I argue that José Luis Bermúdez has not shown that there is a paradox in our concept of self-consciousness. The deflationary theory is not a plausible theory of self-consciousness, so its paradoxicality is irrelevant. A more plausible theory, 'the simple theory', is not paradoxical. However, I do think there is a puzzle about the connection between self-consciousness and 'I'-thoughts.
Our Own Minds presents an account of the nature and development of self-consciousness. Bogdan describes the mind of the infant as outward looking, turning in on itself only at a relatively late stage of development. This it does as a response to the increasingly sophisticated sociocultural pressures it faces throughout infancy and early childhood. The book is difficult to follow (about which, more later) but the main line of argument is this: to begin with, infants are attuned to their (...) physical and sociocultural environment, employing an early form of intuitive psychology, a practical capacity to interact with conspecifics, referred to by Bogdan as 'naïve psychology' (129). However, infants are faced with a series of sociocultural tasks (109-12), the implementation of which requires them to develop various executive capacities (105-9) which 'install' a form of self-consciousness, dubbed by Bogdan 'extrovert self-consciousness' (99-100). The increasingly demanding nature of these sociocultural tasks has the consequence that, around the age of 4, intuitive psychology undergoes a shift, becoming 'commonsense psychology' (129-30). This enables children to represent others' propositional attitudes and to think 'offline' (129-30). These new abilities and associated executive capacities, in their turn, 'install' a new form of self-consciousness, 'introvert self-consciousness' (159). Whilst the child's intuitive psychology and self-consciousness continue to develop until adolescence (33), this is where the book's central argument ends. (shrink)
This article defends two theses: that a mental state is conscious if and only if it has phenomenal character, i.e., if and only if there is something it is like for the subject to be in that state, and that all state consciousness involves self-consciousness, in the sense that a mental state is conscious if and only if its possessor is, in some suitable way, conscious of being in it. Though neither of these theses is novel, there is a (...) dearth of direct arguments for them in the scholarly literature and the relationship between them has so far gone underrecognized. This article attempts to remedy this lack, advancing the claim that if all conscious states have phenomenal character, then all state consciousness involves self-consciousness. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation and argues that the latter is required for self-consciousness. It is further argued that self-consciousness requires an awareness of other minds and that this awareness develops over the course of an increasingly complex perspectival differentiation, during which information about self and other that is implicit in early forms of social interaction becomes redescribed into an explicit format.
I offer a philosophically well-motivated solution to a problem that George Bealer has identified, which he claims is fatal to functionalism. The problem is that there seems to be no way to generate a satisfactory Ramsey sentence of a psychological theory in which mental-state predicates occur within the scopes of mental-state predicates. My central claim is that the functional roles in terms of which a creature capable of self-consciousness identifies her own mental states must be roles that items could (...) play within creatures whose psychology is less complex than hers. (Bealer’s reply to this paper appears in the same issue of Mind & Language.). (shrink)
Chimpanzee behaviour with mirrors makes it plausible that they can recognise themselves as themselves in mirrors, and so have a 'self-concept'. I defend this claim, and argue that roughly similar behaviour in pigeons, as reported, does not in fact make it equally plausible that they also have this mental capacity. But for all that it is genuine, chimpanzee self-consciousness may differ significantly from ours. I describe one possibility I believe consistent with the data, even if not very plausible: that (...) the chimpanzee is aware of itself only as a material being, and not as a subject of any psychological states. As I try to make clear, this possibility exists even if the chimpanzee has psychological states, and is aware of some of them. (shrink)
Recent work in moral theory has seen the refinement of theories of moral standing, which increasingly recognize a position of intermediate standing between fully self-conscious entities and those which are merely conscious. Among the most sophisticated concepts now used to denote such intermediate standing is that of primitive self-consciousness, which has been used to more precisely elucidate the moral standing of human newborns. New research into the structure of the avian brain offers a revised view of the cognitive abilities (...) of birds. When this research is approached with a species-specific focus, it appears likely that one familiar species, the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), also exhibits primitive self-consciousness. Given the likelihood that they are primitively self-consciousness, chickens warrant a degree of moral standing that falls short of that enjoyed by persons, but which exceeds the minimal standing of merely conscious entities. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The theory of recognition arises within Hegel's confrontation with epistemological skepticism and aims at responding to the questions raised by modern skepticism concerning the accessibility of the external world, of other minds, and of one's own mind. This is possible to the extent that the theory of recognition is the guiding thread of a critique of the modern foundational theory of knowledge and, at the same time, the point of departure for an alternative approach. In this article I will dwell (...) on six stages of the evolution of Hegel's thought prior to the Phenomenology (1797-1806),stages shed great light on the direction taken by his argumentative strategy. Synthetically, the stages are as follows: 1. Hegel naturalizes the epistemological questions; 2. to do so he critiques foundationalism qua theory of empirical knowledge; 3. and qua theory of epistemic justification; 4. the critique of foundationalism is linked to a critique of the corresponding representationalistic theory of perception; 5. this, in turn, is linked to a critique of the monological theories of self-consciousness and to the development of a model of the rise of self-conscious knowing; 6. finally, Hegel synthesizes these epistemological views in a theory of knowledge qua recognition and in a metaphilosophical theory of philosophical rationality qua self-recognition: knowledge without foundation is thus the condition of possibility of philosophy’s self-justification. (shrink)
On the surface the concept of self-consciousness would seem to be understandable as consciousness of oneself. It is commonplace to resist this temptation by arguing that the self cannot properly be construed as the object of this form of consciousness. It is the subject. However, in this paper I show that any effort to see the self as the subject of consciousness converts it, willy nilly, into an object.Self-consciousness is not to be understood by determining the logically appropriate (...) role of the self in a univocal kind of consciousness. It differs from ‘ordinary’ consciousness because of the need for it to be unmediated and direct. If, on the one had, one is conscious of something, it is possible for that awareness to be indirect and mediated. On the other hand, if one is self-conscious it is necessary for that awareness to be direct. (shrink)
The Early Modern Subject explores the understanding of self-consciousness and personal identity--two fundamental features of human subjectivity--as it developed in early modern philosophy. Udo Thiel presents a critical evaluation of these features as they were conceived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He explains the arguments of thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, and Hume, as well as their early critics, followers, and other philosophical contemporaries, and situates them within their historical contexts. Interest in the issues of (...) class='Hi'>self-consciousness and personal identity is in many ways characteristic and even central to early modern thought, but Thiel argues here that this is an interest that continues to this day, in a form still strongly influenced by the conceptual frameworks of early modern thought. In this book he attempts to broaden the scope of the treatment of these issues considerably, covering more than a hundred years of philosophical debate in France, Britain, and Germany while remaining attentive to the details of the arguments under scrutiny and discussing alternative interpretations in many cases. (shrink)
Mental health, in one awake, guarantees that person knowledge of the central phenomenon-contents of his own mind, under an adequate classificatory heading. This is the primary thesis of the paper. That knowledge is not itself a phenomenon-content, and usually is achieved in no way. Rather, it stems from the natural accessibility of mental phenomenon-contents to wakeful consciousness. More precisely, when mental normality obtains, such knowledge necessarily obtains in wakeful consciousness. This thesis conjoins a version of Cartesianism with the concepts of (...) mental health and human nature. Demonstration of the thesis requires that we show that a particular human mental potential fails fully to be realized when such self-awareness is impaired. That potential is for consciousness of the world (w-Cs), wakefulness. W-Cs divides into consciousness of the outer world (ow-Cs), and consciousness of the inner world (iw-Cs), and we need to demonstrate an essential dependence of ow-Cs upon iw-Cs. Now w-Cs is the adoption of the correct occurrent epistemological posture to the world, and this involves free rational determination of occurrent cognitive attitudes via the internal systematized knowledge of the world, which requires adequate awareness of mental phenomenon-contents. Therefore ow-Cs needs iw-Cs. This is displayed in mental structural accounts of hypnotic, drunken, and psychotic disturbances of consciousness. (For we endorse a structural account of mental health.) We show how failures of self-consciousness entail disturbed modes of determination of cognitive attitudes by the knowledge-system, which is loss of contact with the personal yet true internal representation of the world, which is loss of contact with reality, which is a disturbance both of w-Cs and of consciousness itself. (shrink)
This book is a philosophical examination of the main stages in our journey from hominid to human. It deals with the nature and origin of language, the self, self-consciousness, and the religious ideal of a return to Eden. It approaches these topics through a philosophical anthropology derived from the later writings of Wittgenstein. The result is an account of our place in nature consistent with both a hard-headed empiricism and a this-worldy but religiously significant mysticism.
In recent years, philosophers have shown a rapidly increasing interest in the problem of consciousness and it is arguably the central issue in current interdisciplinary discussions about the mind. Any convincing theory of consciousness has to account for the perplexing aspects of human self-consciousness. This paper deals with Ibn Sina’s view on the human self-consciousness with special reference to his well-known “Flying Man” thought experiment. In a brief comparative discussion, we will consider some of the parallels between Ibn (...) Sina’s account of “consciousness of consciousness” and the contemporary “higher-order” theories of consciousness. An important point of divergence between Ibn Sina’s line of argument and Descartes’ method over the problem of self-consciousness will be examined, as well. Further, Thomas Nagel’s famous view on the subjective character of conscious experience will be mentioned and compared with the implications of Ibn Sina’s dictum that “our self-consciousness is identical to our existence”. (shrink)
In Kant and the Demands of Self-Consciousness, Pierre Keller examines Kant's theory of self-consciousness and argues that it succeeds in explaining how both subjective and objective experience are possible. Previous interpretations of Kant's theory have held that he treats all self-consciousness as knowledge of objective states of affairs, and also that self-consciousness can be interpreted as knowledge of personal identity. By developing this striking new interpretation Keller is able to argue that transcendental self-consciousness underwrites a (...) general theory of objectivity and subjectivity at the same time. (shrink)
In the beginning: introduction -- This I believe: preview -- This they believe: other views -- Where it begins: anatomy and environment -- Where it began: evolution -- What is it?: consciousness -- There was the word: self-consciousness and language -- See here: attention -- Perhaps to dream: sleep -- x=2y: representation -- The dance of life: movement -- They all fall down: dissolution of function -- Been there, done that: experience -- Which have eyes and see not: stimulus (...) hierarchy -- Buy one, get one free: volition -- Play it again: speculative reprise -- In the end: conclusion. (shrink)
The default mode network (DMN) has been consistently activated across a wide variety of self-related tasks, leading to a proposal of the DMN’s role in self-related processing. Indeed, there is limited fMRI evidence that the functional connectivity within the DMN may underlie a phenomenon referred to as self-awareness. At the same time, none of the known studies have explicitly investigated neuronal functional interactions among brain areas that comprise the DMN as a function of self-consciousness loss. To fill this gap, (...) EEG operational synchrony analysis was performed in patients with severe brain injuries in vegetative and minimally conscious states to study the strength of DMN operational synchrony as a function of self-consciousness expression. We demonstrated that the strength of DMN EEG operational synchrony was smallest or even absent in patients in vegetative state, intermediate in patients in minimally conscious state and highest in healthy fully self-conscious subjects. At the same time the process of decoupling of operations performed by neuronal assemblies that comprise the DMN was highest in patients in vegetative state, intermediate in patients in minimally conscious state and minimal in healthy fully self-conscious subjects. The DMN’s frontal EEG operational module had the strongest decrease in operational synchrony strength as a function of selfconsciousness loss, when compared with the DMN’s posterior modules. Based on these results it is suggested that the strength of DMN functional connectivity could mediate the strength of self-consciousness expression. The observed alterations similarly occurred across EEG alpha, beta1 and beta2 frequency oscillations. Presented results suggest that the EEG operational synchrony within DMN may provide an objective and accurate measure for the assessment of signs of self-(un)consciousness in these challenging patient populations. This method therefore, may complement the current diagnostic procedures for patients with severe brain injuries and, hence, the planning of a rational rehabilitation intervention. (shrink)
The authors in this collection pursue a number of questions concerning self-consciousness, self and consciousness. Although the essays range rather broadly, there is a good deal of unity. In her introduction Liu organises the chapters under three headings: the Humean denial of self-awareness, the issue of self-knowledge, and the nature of persons or selves. This is helpful although it is worth bearing in mind that some chapters fall under more than one heading (for example, Shoemaker) and some don't fall (...) neatly under any (for example, O'Brien). (shrink)
Consciousness has a number of puzzling features. One such feature is its unity: the experiences and other conscious states that one has at a particular time seem to occur together in a certain way. I am currently enjoying visual experiences of my computer screen, auditory experiences of bird-song, olfactory experiences of coffee, and tactile experiences of feeling the ground beneath my feet. Conjoined with these perceptual experiences are proprioceptive experiences, experiences of agency, affective and emotional experiences, and conscious thoughts of (...) various kinds. These experiences are unified in a variety of ways, but the kind of unity that I’m interested in here concerns their phenomenal character. Take just two of these experiences: the sound of bird-song and the smell of coffee. There is something it is like to have the auditory experience, there is something it is like to have the olfactory experience, and there is something it is like to have both the auditory and olfactory experiences together. These two experiences occur as parts or components or aspects of a larger, more complex experience. And what holds of these two experiences seems to hold – at least in normal contexts – of all of one’s simultaneous experiences: they seem to be subsumed by a single, maximal experience.2 We could think of this maximal experience as an experiential perspective on the world. What it is like to be me right now is (or involves) an extremely complex conscious state that subsumes the various simpler experiences that I outlined above (seeing my computer screen, hearing bird-song, smelling coffee, and so on). I will follow recent literature in using the term “co-consciousness” for the relation that a set of conscious states bear to each other when they have a complex phenomenology (Bayne and Chalmers 2003; Dainton 2000; Hurley 1998; Lockwood 1989). (shrink)
It is accepted that first-person thoughts are immune to error through misidentification. I argue that there is also immunity to error through misascription, failure to recognise which has resulted in mistaken claims that first-person thoughts involving the self-ascription of bodily states are, at best, circumstantially immune to error through misidentification relative to.
Commentary on: Olaf Blanke, Thomas Metzinger, Full-body illusions and minimal phenomenal selfhood, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 7-13, ISSN 1364-6613, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.10.003.
'I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.' These famous words of David Hume, on his inability to perceive the self, set the stage for JeeLoo Liu and John Perry's collection of essays on self-awareness and self-knowledge. This volume connects recent scientific studies on consciousness with the traditional issues about the self explored by Descartes, Locke and Hume. Experts in the field offer contrasting perspectives on matters such as (...) the relation between consciousness and self-awareness, the notion of personhood and the epistemic access to one's own thoughts, desires or attitudes. The volume will be of interest to philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and others working on the central topics of consciousness and the self. (shrink)
This paper offers an overview of consciousness and personal identity in eighteenth-century philosophy. Locke introduces the concept of persons as subjects of consciousness who also simultaneously recognize themselves as such subjects. Hume, however, argues that minds are nothing but bundles of perceptions, lacking intrinsic unity at a time or across time. Yet Hume thinks our emotional responses to one another mean that persons in everyday life are defined by their virtues, vices, bodily qualities, property, riches, and the like. Rousseau also (...) takes persons to be fundamentally determined by our socially-mediated emotional responses to one another, though unlike Hume or Locke, he has little interest in placing this account of persons alongside a larger discussion of the human mind and its operations. Developing this idea further, Kant argues that our moral commitments require that we must take ourselves to be free. The fundamental equality that Rousseau sought in the political order is, for Kant, a requirement that reason puts on all of us. (shrink)
In the article, I propose that the body phantom is a phenomenal and functional model of one’s own body. This model has two aspects. On the one hand, it functions as a tacit sensory representation of the body that is at the same time related to the motor aspects of body functioning. On the other hand, it also has a phenomenal aspect as it constitutes the content of conscious bodily experience. This sort of tacit, functional and sensory model is related (...) to the spatial parameters of the physical body. In the article, I postulate that this functional model or map is of crucial importance to the felt ownership parameters of the body (de Vignemont 2007), which are themselves considered as constituting the phenomenal aspect of the aforementioned model. (shrink)
The first book synthesizing the many different topics that surround the issue of personal identity, this text makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
Quite a few recent models are rapidly introducing new concepts describing diﬀerent levels of consciousness. This situation is getting confusing because some theorists formulate their models without making reference to existing views, redundantly adding complexity to an already diﬃcult problem. In this paper, I present and compare nine neurocognitive models to highlight points of convergence and divergence. Two aspects of consciousness seem especially important: perception of self in time and complexity of self-representations. To this I add frequency of self-focus, amount (...) of self-related information, and accuracy of self-knowledge. Overall, I conclude that many novel concepts (e.g., reﬂective, primary, core, extended, recursive, and minimal consciousness) are useful in helping us distinguish between delicate variations in consciousness and in clarifying theoretical issues that have been intensely debated in the scientiﬁc literature—e.g., consciousness in relation to mirror self-recognition and language. Ó 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
There is quite a bit of disagreement in cognitive science regarding the role that consciousness and control play in explanations of how people do what they do. The purpose of the present paper is to do the following: (1) examine the theoretical choice points that have lead theorists to conflicting positions, (2) examine the philosophical and empirical problems different theories encounter as they address the issue of conscious agency, and (3) provide an integrative framework (Wild Systems Theory) that addresses these (...) problems and potentially naturalizes conscious agency. It does so by grounding conscious and control in the notion of self-sustaining energy-transformation systems (i.e., living systems), versus computational or self- organizing systems, as is the case in information processing theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Given its assertion that content (and consciousness) emerges in self-sustaining systems, Wild Systems Theory may also provide a sound theoretical basis for a science of consciousness in general. (shrink)
Elizabeth Anscombe and Anthony Kenny disagree on whether or not it is possible to doubt the existence of one’s own body. Anscombe believes that such doubt makes sense while Kenny argues that it could make sense only if one supposed that he had become a bodyless Cartesian ego. To resolve the issue I explore the knowledge one acquires of himself, and thus the manner in which such knowledge might be weakened into doubt. Siding with Anscombe, I argue that under the (...) conditions of sensory deprivation some very basic questions asked of oneself such as, “Which body?” cannot be answered. Without such answers, one can be uncertain about his own body. Such uncertainty, however, is to be explained by the autonomy of the relevant ‘J-thoughts’ and not because one had become a Cartesian ego. (shrink)
If one looks at the current discussion of self-awareness there seems to be a general agreement that whatever valuable philosophical contributions Husserl might have made, his account of self-awareness is not among them. This prevalent appraisal is often based on the claim that Husserl was too occupied with the problem of intentionality to ever really pay attention to the issue of self-awareness. Due to his interest in intentionality Husserl took object-consciousness as the paradigm of every kind of awareness and therefore (...) settled with a model of self-awareness based upon the subject-object dichotomy, with its entailed difference between the intending and the intended. As a consequence, Husserl never discovered the existence of pre-reflective self- awareness, but remained stuck in the traditional, but highly problematic reflection model of self-awareness. (shrink)
With his notion of absolute consciousness, Sartre tries to rethink the relation between consciousness and the self. What is the origin of subjectivity in relation to a consciousness that is characterized as impersonal and as a radical lucidity? In this article, I attempt to question that origin and the nature as such of the subject in its relation to a consciousness that in its essence is not yet subjective. On the contrary, it is characterized by a selfpresence that is so (...) radical that it threatens every form of self-knowledge. (shrink)
The so-called unity of consciousness consists in the compelling sense we have that all our conscious mental states belong to a single conscious subject. Elsewhere I have argued that a mental state's being conscious is a matter of our being conscious of that state by having a higher-order thought (HOT) about it. Contrary to what is sometimes argued, this HOT model affords a natural explanation of our sense that our conscious states all belong to a single conscious subject. HOTs often (...) group states together, so that each HOT is about a cluster of target states; single HOTs represent qualitative states as spatially unified and intentional states as unified inferentially. More important, each HOT makes one conscious of oneself in a seemingly immediate way, encouraging a sense of unity across HOTs. And the same considerations that make us assume that our first-person thoughts all refer to the same self apply also to HOTs; becoming conscious of our HOTs in introspection thus leads to a sense that our conscious states are unified in a single self. I argue that neither essential-indexical reference to oneself nor the alleged immunity to error through misidentification conflicts with this account. I close by discussing the apparent connection of unity with free agency. (shrink)
According to Uriah Kriegel’s self-representational theory of consciousness, mental state M is conscious just in case it is a complex with suitably integrated proper parts, M1 and M2, such that M1 is a higher-order representation of lower-order representation M2. Kriegel claims that M thereby “indirectly” represents itself, and he attempts to motivate this claim by appealing to what he regards as intuitive cases of indirect perceptual and pictorial representation. For example, Kriegel claims that it’s natural to say that in directly (...) perceiving the front surface of an apple one thereby perceives the apple itself. Cases such as this are supposed to provide intuitive support for the principle that if X represents Y, and Y is highly integrated into complex object Z, then X indirectly represents Z. In this paper I provide counterexamples to Kriegel’s principle of indirect representation, before going on to argue that we can explain what is going on in those cases in which the subject seems to represent a complex whole by representing one its parts without positing indirect representations anyway. I then argue that my alternative approach is superior to Kriegel’s in a number of ways, thereby rendering his theory of consciousness implausible. (shrink)
At the phenomenal level, consciousness arises in a consistently coherent fashion as a singular, unified field of recursive self-awareness (subjectivity) with explicitly orientational characteristics—that of a subject located both spatially and temporally in an egocentrically-extended domain. Understanding these twin elements of consciousness begins with the recognition that ultimately (and most primitively), cognitive systems serve the biological self-regulatory regime in which they subsist. The psychological structures supporting self-located subjectivity involve an evolutionary elaboration of the two basic elements necessary for extending self-regulation (...) into behavioral interaction with the environment: an orientative reference frame which consistently structures ongoing interaction in terms of controllable spatiotemporal parameters, and processing architecture that relates behavior to homeostatic needs via feedback. Over time, constant evolutionary pressures for energy efficiency have encouraged the emergence of anticipative feedforward processing mechanisms, and the elaboration, at the apex of the sensorimotor processing hierarchy, of self-activating, highly attenuated recursively-feedforward circuitry processing the basic orientational schema independent of external action output. As the primary reference frame of active waking cognition, this recursive self-locational schema processing generates a zone of subjective self-awareness in terms of which it feels like something to be oneself here and now. This is consciousness-as-subjectivity. (shrink)
When a mental state is conscious â in the sense that there is something it is like for the subject to have it â it instantiates a certain property F in virtue of which it is a conscious state. It is customary to suppose that F is the property of having sensory quality. The paper argues that this supposition is false. The first part of the paper discusses reasons for thinking that unconscious mental states can have a sensory quality, for (...) example in cases of absent-minded perception. If unconscious mental states can have a sensory quality, then sensory quality is an insufficient condition for consciousness. The second part of the paper argues that there are even better reasons to think that sensory quality is an unnecessary condition for consciousness. The idea is that mental states can be conscious even when they lack sensory quality, for example, in the case of certain conscious propositional attitudes. In the third part of the paper, an alternative to the rejected supposition, drawn from the phenomenological tradition, is offered: that consciousness is a matter of implicit self-awareness, rather than of sensory quality. According to this alternative, a mental state is conscious when, and only when, it involves implicit self-awareness. (shrink)
The Identity Thesis, proposed by Reid for the case of sensations, and extended by Brentano to conscious states generally, says that a state is conscious iff it is identical with introspective knowledge of its own instantiation. The Thesis offers simple explanations of a number of puzzling features of introspective self-knowledge, and unites the problems of introspection, consciousness and knowledge in the single problem of the metaphysical nature of conscious states. It does nothing to solve the latter problem, but it does (...) entail that a functionalist account of consciousness is incomplete without an exact functionalist definition of knowledge itself. (shrink)