The immuneself is our reified way to describe the processes through which the immune system maintains the differentiated identity of the organism and itself. This is an interpretative process, and to study it in a scientifically constructive way we should merge a long hermeneutical tradition asking questions about the nature of interpretation, together with modern understanding of the immune system, emerging sensing technologies and advanced computational tools for analyzing the sensors' data.
The idea that the immune system distinguishes between self and non-self was one of the central assumptions of immunology in the second half of 20th century. This idea influenced experimental design and data interpretation. However, in the face of new evidence there is a need for a new conceptual framework in immunology.
Author comments on the changes in the philosophy of immunology that have occurred since the publication of his book The ImmuneSelf: Theory or Metaphor?, as well as on the dangers, misunderstandings and expectations in this area. Finally, he presents his account of moral agency in the context of his own works discussing this question.
It has long been taken for granted that the immune system’s capacity to protect an individual from infection and disease depends on the power of the system to distinguish between self and nonself. However, accumulating data have undermined this fundamental concept. Evidence against the self/nonself discrimination model left researchers in need of a new overarching framework able to capture the immune system’s reactivity. Here, I highlight that along with the self/nonself model, another powerful representation of (...) the immune system’s reactivity has been developed in the twentieth century immunology. According to this alternative view, the immune system is not a killer of nonself strangers but a peace-maker helping to establish harmony with the environment. The balance view of the system has never become part of the dominant paradigm. However, it is gaining more and more currency as new research develops. Advances in mucosal immunology confirm that instead of distinguishing between self and foreign the immune system reacts to microbial, chemical and self-induced alterations to produce responses that counterbalance effects of these changes. (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.
Friedrich Nietzsche''s will to power, and the philosophical ediface built on this foundation, is formulated on a biologicism that is indebted to a particular post-Darwinian vision of the organism. Of the various models that attempt to formulate a comprehensive organismal biology, Nietzsche unknowingly grasped that of Elie Metchnikoff, who authored the theoretical foundation of modern immunology. Metchnikoff regarded the organism as a disharmonious entity, in constant inner strife between competing cellular activities. Immune functions were responsible for mediating harmonization, which (...) however remains an elusive ideal. This view of the organism posited an ever-changing, self-defining entity striving for self-actualization while in ceaseless inner struggle as well as in competition with the environment. The theory is no less than an epistemological response of how to establish the subject-object relation in a construct where the subject''s boundaries are dialectical and evolving. The similarity of the philosophical positions of Nietzsche and Metchnikoff regarding the Self offers rich resonance in current attempts to formulate a biomedical language appropriate to address the issues raised by these problems. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
: Despite the development of a vast body of literature pertaining to feminism and science, examples of how feminist philosophies might be applied to scientific theories and practice have been limited. Moreover, most scientists remain unfamiliar with how feminism pertains to their work. Using the example of the immune system, this paper applies three feminist epistemologies--feminist empiricism, feminist standpoint theory, and feminist postmodernism--to assess competing claims of immune function within a feminist context.
The reductivist view of war holds that the moral rules of killing in war can be reduced to the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. Noam Zohar objects to reductivism on the grounds that the account of individual self-defence that best supports the rules of war will inadvertently sanction terrorist killings of non-combatants. I argue that even an extended account of self-defence—that is, an account that permits killing at least some innocent people to save one's own life—can (...) support a prohibition on terrorism, provided that it distinguishes between direct and indirect threats. What such an account cannot support is the blanket immunity of non-combatants to defensive killing. If a non-combatant is morally responsible for indirectly threatening in an unjust war, she can be liable to defensive killing. However, this gives us reason to revise our account of permissible killing in war, rather than to reject the reductivist account. (shrink)
In The Blue Book, Wittgenstein defined a category of uses of “I” which he termed “I”-as-subject, contrasting them with “I”-as-object uses. The hallmark of this category is immunity to error through misidentification (IEM). This article extends Wittgenstein’s characterisation to the case of memory-judgments, discusses the significance of IEM for self-consciousness—developing the idea that having a first-person thought involves thinking about oneself in a distinctive way in which one cannot think of anyone or anything else—and refutes a common objection to (...) the claim that memory-judgments exhibit IEM. (shrink)
Biological self reference idioms in brain-centered or nervous-system-centered self determination of the consious Self reveal an interesting contrast with biological self-determination by immunological self/non-self discrimination. This contrast is both biological and epistemological. In contrast to the consciousness conscious of itself, the immunological self-determination imposes a protective mechanism against self-recognition (Coutinho et al. 1984), which adds to a largely unconscious achievement of the biological Self (Popper 1977; Medawar 1959). The latter viewpoint is (...) in contrast with the immunological Self-determination as an essentially cognitive process as expressed in the analysis of Tauber (1994). Comparison of the immune system in vertebrates and invertebrates, according to new biological insights, has contributed to a better understanding of the relative role of innate (or inherited) immunity versus immunity acquired during each individual life. Also in this respect, immunological self-achievement shows both a striking analogy and a fundamental discrepancy with the activity of the nervous system. The analysis of immunological Self/non-self discrimination versus brain-centered self-determination adds to the understanding of the function paradigm in biological self-reference idioms, especially when regarding the importance of the connectivity notion in both systems. Adopting functional explanatory schemes for understanding immunological self-non-self discrimination, as well as for the understanding of functional mapping of the brain at (conscious) activity (Friston et al. 1993; Frith et al. 1995), forwards the notion of effective/functional connectivity. Network connectivity not only is a primary question in solving the dimensionality question for immunological ‘idiotypic networks’ (Jerne 1974a, b; 1984), it may also have an important value in describing phase transitions in the development of both immune and nervous systems. (shrink)
Abstract: What grounds the experience of our body as our own? Can we rationally doubt that this is our own body when we feel sensations in it? This article shows how recent empirical evidence can shed light on issues on the body and the self, such as the grounds of the sense of body ownership and the immunity to error through misidentification of bodily self-ascriptions. In particular, it discusses how bodily illusions (e.g., the Rubber Hand Illusion), bodily disruptions (...) (e.g., somatoparaphrenia), and the multimodal nature of bodily self-knowledge challenge a classic view of ownership and immunity that puts bodily sensations at its core. (shrink)
Dorit Bar-On develops and defends a novel view of avowals and self-knowledge. Drawing on resources from the philosophy of language, the theory of action, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind, she offers original and systematic answers to many long-standing questions concerning our ability to know our own minds. We are all very good at telling what states of mind we are in at a given moment. When it comes to our own present states of mind, what we say goes; (...) an avowal such as "I'm feeling so anxious" or "I'm thinking about my next trip to Paris," it is typically supposed, tells it like it is. But why is that? Why should what I say about my present mental states carry so much more weight than what others say about them? Why should avowals be more immune to criticism and correction than other claims we make? And if avowals are not based on any evidence or observation, how could they possibly express our knowledge of our own present mental states? Bar-On proposes a Neo-Expressivist view according to which an avowal is an act through which a person directly expresses, rather than merely reports, the very mental condition that the avowal ascribes. She argues that this expressivist idea, coupled with an adequate characterization of expression and a proper separation of the semantics of avowals from their pragmatics and epistemology, explains the special status we assign to avowals. As against many expressivists and their critics, she maintains that such an expressivist explanation is consistent with a non-deflationary view of self-knowledge and a robust realism about mental states. The view that emerges preserves many insights of the most prominent contributors to the subject, while offering a new perspective on our special relationship to our own minds. (shrink)
This paper offers an epistemological discussion of self-validating belief systems and the recurrence of ?epistemic defense mechanisms? and ?immunizing strategies? across widely different domains of knowledge. We challenge the idea that typical ?weird? belief systems are inherently fragile, and we argue that, instead, they exhibit a surprising degree of resilience in the face of adverse evidence and criticism. Borrowing from the psychological research on belief perseverance, rationalization and motivated reasoning, we argue that the human mind is particularly susceptible to (...) belief systems that are structurally self-validating. On this cognitive-psychological basis, we construct an epidemiology of beliefs, arguing that the apparent convenience of escape clauses and other defensive ?tactics? used by believers may well derive not from conscious deliberation on their part, but from more subtle mechanisms of cultural selection. (shrink)
The self/non-self model, first proposed by F.M. Burnet, has dominated immunology for 60 years now. According to this model, any foreign element will trigger an immune reaction in an organism, whereas endogenous elements will not, in normal circumstances, induce an immune reaction. In this paper we show that the self/non-self model is no longer an appropriate explanation of experimental data in immunology, and that this inadequacy may be rooted in an excessively strong metaphysical conception (...) of biological identity. We suggest that another hypothesis, one based on the notion of continuity, gives a better account of immune phenomena. Finally, we underscore the mapping between this metaphysical deflation from self to continuity in immunology and the philosophical debate between substantialism and empiricism about identity. (shrink)
Helen Frowe has recently offered what she calls a “practical” account of self-defense. Her account is supposed to be practical by being subjectivist about permissibility and objectivist about liability. I shall argue here that Frowe first makes up a problem that does not exist and then fails to solve it. To wit, her claim that objectivist accounts of permissibility cannot be action-guiding is wrong; and her own account of permissibility actually retains an objectivist (in the relevant sense) element. In (...) addition, her attempt to restrict subjectivism primarily to “urgent” situations like self-defense contradicts her own point of departure and is either incoherent or futile. Finally, the only actual whole-heartedly objectivist account she criticizes is an easy target; while those objectivist accounts one finds in certain Western European jurisdictions are immune to her criticisms. Those accounts are also clearly superior to hers in terms of action-guidingness. (shrink)
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Australian microbiologist F. Macfarlane Burnet sought a biologically plausible explanation of antibody production. In this essay, we seek to recover the conceptual pathways that Burnet followed in his immunological theorizing. In so doing, we emphasize the influence of speculations on individuality, especially those of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead; the impact of cybernetics and information theory; and the contributions of clinical research into autoimmune disease that took place in Melbourne. We point to the influence of (...) local experimental and intellectual currents on Burnet’s work. Accordingly, this essay describes an arc distinct from most other tracings of Burnet’s conceptual development, which focus on his early bacteriophage research, his fascination with the work of Julian Huxley and other biologists in the 1920s, and his interest in North Atlantic experimental investigations in the life sciences. No doubt these too were potent influences, but they seem insufficient to explain, for example, Burnet’s sudden enthusiasm in the 1940s for immunological definitions of self and not-self. We want to demonstrate here how Burnet’s deep involvement in philosophical biology – along with attention to local clinical research – provided him with additional theoretic tools and conceptual equipment, with which to explain immune function. (shrink)
In chapter 7 of The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans claimed to have an argument that would present "an antidote" to the Cartesian conception of the self as a purely mental entity. On the basis of considerations drawn from philosophy of language and thought, Evans claimed to be able to show that bodily awareness is a form of self-awareness. The apparent basis for this claim is the datum that sometimes judgements about one’s position based on body sense are (...)immune to errors of misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun 'I'. However, Evans’s argument suffers from a crucial ambiguity. 'I' sometimes refers to the subject's mind, sometimes to the person, and sometimes to the subject's body. Once disambiguated, it turns out that Evans’s argument either begs the question against the Cartesian or fails to be plausible at all. Nonetheless, the argument is important for drawing our attention to the idea that bodily modes of awareness should be taken seriously as possible forms of self-awareness. (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)
According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self- representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self- representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self- representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most promising self-representational (...) approach to the explanatory gap (§2). That approach is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine, which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4). (shrink)
In his recent book ‘Kant and the Mind’ Andrew Brook makes a distinction between two types of selfawareness. The first type, which he calls empirical self-awareness, is an awareness of particular psychological states such as perceptions, memories, desires, bodily sensations etc. One attains this type of self-awareness simply by having particular experiences and being aware of them. To be in possession of empirical self-awareness is, in short, simply to be conscious of one’s occurrent experience. The second type (...) of self-awareness he calls apperceptive self-awareness. This type of self-awareness entails an awareness of oneself as the subject of experience. For this type of self-awareness to obtain, it would not be enough merely to be conscious of, say, an occurrent perception of a chair, one would also have to be aware that it was oneself who was perceiving the chair. And as Brook adds, when I am self-aware in this way, I am not only aware of being the subject of a single experience, but also aware of myself as the common subject of other psychological states (Brook, 1994: 55-57). I find Brook’s distinction illuminating, but it raises a question which I would like to pursue in this paper. When we speak of self-awareness, do we then necessarily also speak of a self, is there so to speak always a self involved in self-awareness, or is it rather the case, as Brook’s notion of empirical selfawareness might suggest, that there are types of self-awareness which are ‘selfless’, or to use two other related terms ‘subjectless’ or ‘non-egological’? Is self-awareness always to be understood as an awareness of a self, or can it be understood simply as the awareness which a specific experience has of itself? Ultimately, I believe an answer to these questions are important, both when it comes to an understanding of what exactly self-awareness amounts to, and also when it comes to a proper understanding of what a self is.. (shrink)
In The Varieties of Reference (1982), Gareth Evans claims that considerations having to do with certain basic ways we have of gaining knowledge of our own physical states and properties provide "the most powerful antidote to a Cartesian conception of the self" (220). In this chapter, I start with a discussion and evaluation of Evans' own argument, which is, I think, in the end unconvincing. Then I raise the possibility of a more direct application of similar considerations in defence (...) of common sense anti-Cartesianism. Progress in this direction depends upon a far more psychologically informed understanding of normal and abnormal bodily awareness than is generally found in philosophical discussions of these issues. In the context of my attempt at some such understanding, I go on to assess the potential of this more direct line of argument. (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)
This paper suggests that certain traditional ways of analysing the self start off in situations that are abstract or detached from normal experience, and that the conclusions reached in such approaches are, as a result, inexact or mistaken. The paper raises the question of whether there are more contextualized forms of self- consciousness than those usually appealed to in philosophical or psychological analyses, and whether they can be the basis for a more adequate theoretical approach to the (...) class='Hi'>self. First, we develop a distinction between abstract and contextualized actions and intentions by drawing on evidence from studies of rehabilitation after brain damage, and we introduce the notion of intentional attitude. Second, we discuss several interesting conclusions drawn from theoretically and experimentally abstract approaches. These conclusions raise some important issues about both the nature of the self and reflexive consciousness. At the same time they indicate the serious limita- tions concerning what we can claim about self and self-consciousness within such abstract frameworks. Such limitations motivate the question of whether it is possible to capture a sense of self that is more embedded in contextualized actions. Specifically, our concern is to focus on first-person approaches. We identify two forms of self-consciousness, eco- logical self-awareness and embedded reflection, that (1) function within the kinds of contextualized activity we have indicated, and (2) can be the basis for a theoretical account of the self. Both forms of self-consciousness are closely tied to action and promise to provide a less abstract basis for developing a theoretical approach to the self. (shrink)
emantic pathologies of self-reference include the Liar (‘this sentence is false’), the Truth-Teller (‘this sentence is true’) and the Open Pair (‘the neighbouring sentence is false’ ‘the neighbouring sentence is false’). Although they seem like perfectly meaningful declarative sentences, truth value assignment to their uses seems either inconsistent (the Liar) or arbitrary (the Truth-Teller and the Open-Pair). These pathologies thus call for a resolution. I propose such a resolution in terms of relative-truth: the truth value of a pathological sentence (...) use varies with the context of its assessment. It always has a determinate truth value, but this truth value is relative to the context of its assessment. I start by considering a fairly esoteric pathology: the Truth-Teller, that is, sentences which assert nothing but their own truth. I make the case that truth value of a given truth-teller use must in general depend on the context of its assessment, and that one can indeed change its truth value at will. I then show how the notion of assessment-sensitive truth can help us provide solutions to other semantic paradoxes such as the Liar and the Open Pair and that those solutions are immune to revenge problems. I conclude by situating my proposal among the main approaches to the semantic paradoxes, and by drawing a very broad moral about pathological self-reference and intentionality. (shrink)
As adults we have little difficulty thinking of ourselves as mental beings extended in time. Even though our conscious thoughts and experiences are constantly changing, we think of ourselves as the same self throughout these variations in mental content. Indeed, it is so natural for adults to think this way that it was not until the 18th century—at least in Western thought—that the issue of how we come to acquire such a concept of an identical but constantly changing (...) class='Hi'>self was first recognized as a problem that required an explanation. Philosophical discussion of this issue was initiated when John Locke (1694/1975) proposed a notion of personal identity and selfhood based on consciousness: For since consciousness always accompanies thinking, and ‘tis that, that makes every one to be, what he calls self; and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of a rational Being: And as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought, so far reaches the Identity of that Person; it is the same self now it was then; and ‘tis by the same self with this present one that now reflects on it, that that Action was done. (p. 335) According to this view, we are the same self insofar as we can consciously accept as our own not only those mental and physical acts that we perform now but also those acts done in the past, that we can.. (shrink)
In this dissertation, I reconcile our knowledge of our own minds with philosophical naturalism. Philosophers traditionally hold that our knowledge of our own minds is especially direct and authoritative in comparison with other domains of knowledge. I introduce the subject in the first chapter. In the second and third chapters, I address the idea that we know our own minds directly. If self-knowledge is direct, it must not be grounded on anything more epistemically basic. This creates a puzzle for (...) all epistemologists. For the naturalist, the puzzle is especially tricky. To say that self-knowledge has no epistemic ground threatens the naturalist's ability to understand it as psychologically real. I argue that the idea that self-knowledge is direct is not well motivated and that models of direct self-knowledge have fundamental problems. In the fourth and fifth chapters, I examine first-person authority. I distinguish between epistemic authority, or being in a better position than others to know, and non-epistemic authority, or being immune to challenge according to some conventional norm. I argue that we have only limited epistemic authority over our own minds. I then consider whether there may be an interesting non-epistemic authority attached to the first-person perspective. This would locate first-person authority in connection with our responsibility for our own minds. I argue that this sort of authority may exist, but is unlikely to threaten naturalism without further anti-naturalist commitments in the philosophy of mind. In the final two chapters, I explore the possibility that the underlying disagreements between naturalists and anti-naturalists are about the nature of belief. I consider what failures of self-knowledge might demonstrate about the nature of belief. I show how, with the proper understanding of belief, a theory of self-knowledge can assuage some of these worries. Having adopted a conception of belief that makes sense for philosophy and empirical psychology, I outline a positive theory of self-knowledge and suggest directions for future research. (shrink)
Sub-Thesis 1: We should be contingent reliabilists to avoid the threat of an unacceptably strong content skeptical thesis posed by content externalism and the possibility of twin thoughts. The predominant strategy for resisting this threat has been to rely on the claim that introspective self-attributions are immune to brute error; but this claim is problematic from a naturalistic standpoint.
The language of self and nonself has had a prominent place inimmunology. This paper examines Frank Macfarlane Burnet's introductionof the language of selfhood into the science. The distinction betweenself and nonself was an integral part of Burnet's biological outlook– of his interest in the living organism in its totality, itsactivities, and interactions. We show the empirical and conceptualwork of the language of selfhood in the science. The relation betweenself and nonself tied into Burnet's ecological vision of host-parasiteinteraction. The idiom (...) of selfhood also enabled Burnet to organizeand unify a diversity of immune phenomena. Rather than approach thelanguage of self and nonself as a bluntly imposed metaphor, we focuson its endogenous origins and immanent uses in immunology. (shrink)
In biology, the ‘ecological orientation' rests on a commitment to examining systems, and the conceptual challenge of defining that system now employs techniques and concepts adapted from diverse disciplines (i.e., systems philosophy, cybernetics, information theory, computer science) that are applied to biological simulations and model building. Immunology has joined these efforts, and the question posed here is whether the discipline will remain committed to its theoretical concerns framed by the notions of protecting an insular self, an entity demarcated from (...) its environment, or will shift its focus of interest to a wider context. An ecological perspective emphasizes the interchange between the organism and its environment, the processing of information, and the regulation arising from responses to this larger context. Moving from the first attempts at modeling the immune system as a closed network, immunologists have joined the general interest in systems analysis, and that move might portend a significant shift to an open, more holistic consideration of immune regulation. *Received December 2006; revised August 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
An argument is epistemically self-defeating when either the truth of an argument’s conclusion or belief in an argument’s conclusion defeats one’s justification to believe at least one of that argument’s premises. Some extant defenses of the evidentiary value of intuition have invoked considerations of epistemic self-defeat in their defense. I argue that there is one kind of argument against intuition, an unreliability argument, which, even if epistemically self-defeating, can still imply that we are not justified in thinking (...) intuition has evidentiary value. (shrink)
The problem of personal identity is often said to be one of accounting for what it is that gives persons their identity over time. However, once the problem has been construed in these terms, it is plain that too much has already been assumed. For what has been assumed is just that persons do have an identity. A new interpretation of Hume's no-self theory is put forward by arguing for an eliminative rather than a reductive view of personal identity, (...) and by approaching the problem in terms of phenomenology, Buddhist psychology, and the idea of a constructed self-image. (shrink)
Self-knowledge is based on several different forms of information, so distinct that each one essentially establishes a different 'self. The ecological self is the self as directly perceived with respect to the immediate physical environment; the interpersonal self, also directly perceived, is established by species-specific signals of emotional rapport and communication; the extended self is based on memory and anticipation; the private self appears when we discover that our conscious experiences are exclusively our (...) own; the conceptual self or 'self-concept' draws its meaning from a network of socially-based assumptions and theories about human nature in general and ourselves in particular. Although these selves are rarely experienced as distinct (because they are held together by specific forms of stimulus information), they differ in their developmental histories, in the accuracy with which we can know them, in the pathologies to which they are subject, and generally in what they contribute to human experience. (shrink)
I argue here that self-deception is not conducive to happiness. There is a long train of thought in social psychology that seems to say that it is, but proper understanding of the data does not yield this conclusion. Illusion must be distinguished from mere imagining. Self-deception must be distinguished from self-inflation bias and from self-fulfilling belief. Once these distinctions are in place, the case for self-deception falls apart. Furthermore, by yielding false beliefs, self-deception undermines (...) desire satisfaction. Finally, I argue for the positive view that *honest imagining* can yield the psychological benefits that others have claimed for self-deception. (shrink)
Living in a culture of violence against women leads women to employ any number of avoidance and defensive strategies on a daily basis. Such strategies may be self protective but do little to counter women’s fear of violence. A pervasive fear of violence comes with a cost to integrity not addressed in moral philosophy. Restricting choice and action to avoid possibility of harm compromises the ability to stand for one’s commitments before others. If Calhoun is right that integrity is (...) a matter of standing for one’s commitments then fear for safety undermines integrity. This paper extends Calhoun’s view through arguing that integrity further requires resiliency to protect one’s commitments. My account shows that self-defense training is a key source of this resiliency because it cultivates self-confidence. The practical point is that self-defense training directly counters fear and other passive responses to violence that undermine integrity. The theoretical significance is that violence against women is a social condition threatening integrity. Hence, integrity requires self-protection for more socially minded reasons than moral theorists have previously recognized. (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)
In this entry, I seek to show the interdependence of questions about self-deception in philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. I taxonomize solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception, present possible psychological mechanisms behind it, and highlight how different approaches to the philosophy of mind and psychology will affect how we answer important ethical questions. Is self-deception conducive to happiness? How does self-deception affect responsibility? Is there something intrinsically wrong with self-deception? The entry, on the one (...) hand, is a tour of the literature; on the other, it is a case for more work that crosses traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries. (shrink)
According to the Self-Location Thesis, one's own location can be among the things that visual experience represents, even when one's body is entirely out of view. By contrast, the Minimal View denies this, and says that visual experience represents things only as "to the right", etc., and never as "to the right of me". But the Minimal View is phenomenologically inadequate: it cannot explain the difference between a visual experience of self-motion and one of an oppositely moving world. (...) To show this, I argue (i) that these experiences are different in an important respect, (ii) that this difference is genuinely experiential, (iii) that it is visual, (iv) that it is not purely phenomenal, and (v) that it cannot be identified with anything other than the apparent motion of the self. So the Self-Location Thesis is upheld: reports of one’s own motion can correspond to aspects of visual experiences every bit as basic to their contents as the apparent motion or rest of the things one has in view. (shrink)
Liberals and libertarians have long debated the morality of redistributive labor taxation: liberals believe it is perfectly compatible with individual liberty; libertarians believe it is tantamount to slavery. I argue that this debate can be usefully reconstituted as one over the components of self-ownership, with liberals arguing for a narrow definition of the concept and libertarians arguing for a broad one. By using the language of ownership, I pinpoint the source of disagreement between them and assess the relative strength (...) of their arguments. I also show that their respective definitions of self-ownership are deeply problematic, though for strikingly different reasons. (shrink)
Although philosophical approaches to the self are diverse, several of them are relevant to cognitive science. First, the notion of a 'minimal self', a self devoid of temporal extension, is clarified by distinguishing between a sense of agency and a sense of ownership for action. To the extent that these senses are subject to failure in pathologies like schizophrenia, a neuropsychological model of schizophrenia may help to clarify the nature of the minimal self and its neurological (...) underpinnings. Second, there is good evidence to suggest that although certain aspects of the minimal self are primitive and embodied, other aspects may be accessed only in reflective consciousness. Employing a modified concept of the minimal self, it may be possible to construct a robotic form of non-conscious self-reference that depends on an interaction between the robotic body and its environment. In contrast to the minimal self, the narrative self involves continuity over time and is directly relevant to discussions of memory and personal identity. There is growing consensus among philosophers and cognitive scientists about the importance of narrative and its relation to episodic memory and left-hemisphere functions. There are, however, at least two different views of how the narrative self is structured. On one model it is nothing more than an abstract point. On a more extended view, proposed here, the self is a rich amalgam of narratives that allows for the equivocations, contradictions, and self-deceptions of personal life. Even in this case, however, neurocognitive models contribute to our understanding of how narrative identity is structured. (shrink)