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Summary

Self-consciousness is consciousness of oneself as oneself. This is usually thought to distinguish self-consciousness from an awareness of what just happens to be oneself. In the latter, but not the former, case, one can fail to recognise that the object of one's awareness is oneself. We think of individual creatures as self-conscious, but we also think of particular psychological states as being instances of self-consciousness. Such states are often considered to possess certain special features that mark them out from non-self-conscious states. For example, it is plausible to suppose that self-consciousness is manifest in thoughts and other states that have first-person contents – thoughts of the form ‘I am F’ – and such thoughts are immune to certain sorts of error. For example, many claim that self-conscious thoughts have guaranteed reference, they cannot fail to refer. Others claim that, for a certain range of self-conscious thoughts, one cannot know somebody to be F and mistakenly think that it is oneself.

Much of the literature on self-consciousness focuses on how to articulate and account for such special features of first-person thought. A central question is whether self-consciousness is reducible. Further questions include: whether consciousness entails self-consciousness; whether self-consciousness involves an awareness of the self as an object; whether there can be non-conceptual or pre-reflective self-conscious states; whether the existence of self-consciousness poses a serious challenge to certain accounts of the nature of mind.

Key works The historical philosopher with the greatest influence on contemporary debates concerning self-consciousness is Kant, especially the First Critique. Ameriks 1982 and Keller 1999 are historically oriented accounts of Kant’s views in this area; Brook 2001 relates Kant’s views to more recent work.  The semantic peculiarities of first-person contents entered into the contemporary debate through the work of Kaplan 1989, Perry 1979, Castañeda 1966 and Lewis 1979, a central theme of which is the irreducibility of first-person thought. An earlier source is Wittgenstein 1958 who was influential on both Anscombe 1975, who defends the surprising view that “I” is not a referring term and Evans 1982, Ch.7, who offers a functionalist account of self-consciousness.  Shoemaker 1986 defends the claim, associated with Hume, Kant and Sartre, that self-consciousness does not involve an awareness of the self as an object. This claim had previously been rejected by Chisholm 1976 Ch.1.  Sartre 1957 defends the view that consciousness entails a pre-reflective form of self-consciousness. A similar view has recently been defended by Kriegel 2009. Bermudez 1998 articulates and defends the claim that some non-conceptual states are instances of self-consciousness.  Significant recent discussions of self-consciousness from the perspective of the cognitive sciences include Damasio 1999 and Metzinger 2003.
Introductions Cassam 1994 contains a number of classic papers and a useful introduction. Bermudez 2007 and Kriegel 2007 are also helpful introductions to some of the central issues.
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  1. Individual Interests.Andrzej Elzanowski - 1998 - In Marc Bekoff & Carron A. Meaney (eds.), Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Greenwood Press. pp. 311--313.
    Having positive experience is, by defintion, in the interest of every subject. Whether being alive per se, in addition to having positive experiences, is in a subject's interest depends of her/his cognitive development. Only a reflectively self-conscious subject can take and thus have an interest in one's own individual existence and may not want to die regardless of the expected experience. Since most non-human subjects (except for a few mammalian and avian species) are not aware of their subjective existence they (...)
Immunity to Error through Misidentification
  1. Varieties of Priveleged Access.William P. Alston - 1971 - American Philosophical Quarterly 8 (July):223-41.
    This paper distinguishes and interrelates a number of respects in which persons have been thought to be in a specially favorable epistemic position vis-A-Vis their own mental states. The most important distinction is a six-Fold one between infallibility, Omniscience, Indubitability, Incorrigibility, Truth-Sufficiency, And self-Warrant. Each of these varieties can then be sub-Divided as the kind of modality, If any, Involved. It is also argued that discussions of self-Knowledge have been hampered by a failure to recognize these distinctions.
  2. Consciousness, Self-Consciousness, and Sensory Deprivation.Edward T. Bartlett - 1987 - Philosophy Research Archives 13:489-497.
    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 (...)
  3. Irrtum durch Fehlidentifikation.Wolfgang Barz - 2009 - Conceptus: Zeitschrift Fur Philosophie 93 (93):7-15.
  4. ‘I’-Thoughts and Explanation: Reply to Garrett.JosÉ Luis BermÚdez - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):432-436.
    Brian Garrett has criticized my diagnosis of the paradox of self-consciousness. In reply, I focus on the classification of 'I'-thoughts, and show how the notion of immunity to error through misidentification can be used to characterize 'I'-thoughts, even though an important class of 'I'-thoughts are not themselves immune to error through misidentification. 'I'-thoughts which are susceptible to error through misidentification are dependent upon those which are not. The dependence here has to do with how a thinker understands what would defeat (...)
  5. Immunity to Error Through Misidentification and Past-Tense Memory Judgements.J. L. Bermudez - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):211-220.
    Autobiographical memories typically give rise either to memory reports (“I remember going swimming”) or to first person past-tense judgements (“I went swimming”). This article focuses on first person past-tense judgements that are (epistemically) based on autobiographical memories. Some of these judgements have the IEM property of being immune to error through misidentification. This article offers an account of when and why first person past-tense judgements have the IEM property.
  6. Memory Judgments and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Jose Luis Bermudez - 2012 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 84 (1):123-142.
    First person judgments that are immune to error through misidentifi cation (IEM) are fundamental to self-conscious thought. The IEM status of many such judgments can be understood in terms of the possession conditions of the concepts they involve. However, this approach cannot be extended to first person judgments based on autobiographical memory. Th e paper develops an account of why such judgments have the IEM property and how thinkers are able to exploit this fact in inference.
  7. 'I'-Thoughts and Explanation: Reply to Garrett.José Luis Bermúdez - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):432–436.
    Brian Garrett has criticized my diagnosis of the paradox of self-consciousness. In reply, I focus on the classification of 'I'-thoughts, and show how the notion of immunity to error through misidentification can be used to characterize 'I'-thoughts, even though an important class of 'I'-thoughts (those whose expression involves what Wittgenstein called the use of 'I' as object) are not themselves immune to error through misidentification. 'I'-thoughts which are susceptible to error through misidentification are dependent upon those which are not. The (...)
  8. The Elusiveness Thesis, Immunity to Error Through Misidentification, and Privileged Access.Jose Luis Bermudez - 2003 - In Brie Gertler (ed.), Privileged Access: Philosophical Accounts of Self-Knowledge. Ashgate.
  9. Does Consciousness Entail Subjectivity? The Puzzle of Thought Insertion.Alexandre Billon - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (2):291 - 314.
    (2013). Does consciousness entail subjectivity? The puzzle of thought insertion. Philosophical Psychology: Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 291-314. doi: 10.1080/09515089.2011.625117.
  10. Gottfried Vosgerau, Mental Representation and Self‐Consciousness. From Basic Self‐Representation to Self‐Related Cognition, Paderborn: Mentis, 2009, 179 Pp., € 24.00, ISBN: 3897856271. [REVIEW]Cordula Brand - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (2):248-252.
  11. Self-Identification and Self-Reference.Ingar Brinck - 1998 - Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6.
    [1] To know who one is, and also know whether one's experiences really belong to oneself, do not normally present any problem. It nevertheless happens that people do not recognise themselves as they walk by a mirror or do not understand that they fit some particular description. But there are situations in which it really seems impossible to be wrong about oneself. Of that, Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote: " It is possible that, say in an accident, I should feel pain (...)
  12. The Indexical 'I' the First Person in Thought and Language.Ingar Brinck - 1997 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    The subjct of this book is the first person in thought and language. The main question is what we mean when we say 'I'. Related to it are questions about what kinds of self-consciousness and self-knowledge are needed in order for us to have the capacity to talk about ourselves. The emphasis is on theories of meaning and reference for 'I', but a fair amount of space is devoted to 'I'-thoughts and the role of the concept of the self in (...)
  13. Memory, Quasi-Memory, and Pseudo-Quasi-Memory.Christopher Buford - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):465 – 478.
    Bishop Butler objected to Locke's theory of personal identity on the grounds that memory presupposes personal identity. Most of those sympathetic with Locke's account have accepted Butler's criticism, and have sought to devise a theory of personal identity in the spirit of Locke's that avoids Butler's circularity objection. John McDowell has argued that even the more recent accounts of personal identity are vulnerable to the kind of objection Butler raised against Locke's own account. I criticize McDowell's stance, drawing on a (...)
  14. Perception, Nonconceptual Content, and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Arnon Cahen & Kristina Musholt - forthcoming - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-21.
    The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we clarify the notion of immunity to error through misidentification with respect to the first-person pronoun. In particular, we set out to dispel the view that for a judgment to be IEM it must contain a token of a certain class of predicates. Rather, the importance of the IEM status of certain judgments is that it teaches us about privileged ways of coming to know about ourselves. We then turn to examine how (...)
  15. Immunity to Error Through Misidentification and the Meaning of a Referring Term.J. Campbell - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 26 (1/2):89-104.
  16. Schizophrenia, the Space of Reasons and Thinking as a Motor Process.J. Campbell - 1999 - The Monist 82 (4):609-625.
  17. Immunity to Error Through Misidentification, 'de Se', and Pragmatics.Alessandro Capone - 2013 - In Perspectives on pragmatis and philosophy. pp. 413-437..
  18. The Nature of Representation and the Experience of Oneself: A Critical Notice on Gottfried Vosgerau's Mental Representation and Self-Consciousness.Glenn Carruthers - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (3):411 - 425.
  19. Dilemma della prima persona e fenomenologia dell’azione: quanto è minimale l’autocoscienza?Mariaflavia Cascelli - 2016 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 7 (1):61-74.
    Riassunto : Negli ultimi anni sempre maggiore attenzione viene data alla possibilità che una forma minima, pre-riflessiva di auto-coscienza preceda l’auto-coscienza introspettiva. Diversi sono stati i tentativi fatti per sostenere che questa forma “sottile” di auto-coscienza sia un prerequisito necessario della coscienza. Dopo una breve considerazione dei problemi semantici ed epistemologici relativi all’uso del pronome di prima persona, questo articolo si concentrerà sulla letteratura che analizza le eccezioni al principio di immunità dall’errore per misidentificazione dalla prospettiva della fenomenologia dell’agentività. Il (...)
  20. The Phenomeno-Logic of the I: Essays on Self-Consciousness.H. N. Castaneda, J. G. Hart & T. Kapitan (eds.) - 1999 - Indiana University Press.
    This unique volume will appeal to those interested in the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence as well as students of Castaneda and Latin American philosophy.
  21. Self-Consciousness, Demonstrative Reference, and the Self-Ascription View of Believing.Hector-Neri Castaneda - 1987 - Philosophical Perspectives 1:405-454.
  22. 'He': A Study in the Logic of Self-Consciousness.Hector-Neri Castañeda - 1966 - Ratio 8 (December):130-157.
  23. Can “I” Prevent You From Entering My Mind?Marc Champagne - 2013 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):145-162.
    Shaun Gallagher has actively looked into the possibility that psychopathologies involving “thought insertion” might supply a counterexample to the Cartesian principle according to which one can always recognize one’s own thoughts as one’s own. Animated by a general distrust of a priori demonstrations, Gallagher is convinced that pitting clinical cases against philosophical arguments is a worthwhile endeavor. There is no doubt that, if true, a falsification of the immunity to error through misidentification would entail drastic revisions in how we conceive (...)
  24. Bodily Awareness and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Cheryl K. Chen - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):21-38.
    Abstract: Some first person statements, such as ‘I am in pain’, are thought to be immune to error through misidentification (IEM): I cannot be wrong that I am in pain because—while I know that someone is in pain—I have mistaken that person for myself. While IEM is typically associated with the self-ascription of psychological properties, some philosophers attempt to draw anti-Cartesian conclusions from the claim that certain physical self-ascriptions are also IEM. In this paper, I will examine whether some physical (...)
  25. Self-Consciousness and the Double Immunity.Christofidou Andrea - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (4):539-569.
    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 ‘I’ and, at worst, subject to error. Central to my thesis is that, first, ‘I’ is immune to error through misidentification absolutely, and that if there is any problem (...)
  26. Self-Consciousness and the Double Immunity.Andrea Christofidou - 2000 - Philosophy 75 (294):539-570.
    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.
  27. On the Immunity Principle: A View From a Robot.Jonathan Cole & Oliver Sacks - 2000 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4 (5):167.
    Preprint of Cole, Sacks, and Waterman. 2000. "On the immunity principle: A view from a robot." Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (5): 167, a response to Shaun Gallagher, S. 2000. "Philosophical conceptions of the self: implications for cognitive science," Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (1):14-21. Also see Shaun Gallagher, Reply to Cole, Sacks, and Waterman Trends in Cognitive Science 4, No. 5 (2000): 167-68.
  28. Stopping Points: ‘I’, Immunity and the Real Guarantee.Annalisa Coliva - 2017 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (3):233-252.
    The aim of the paper is to bring out exactly what makes first-personal contents special, by showing that they perform a distinctive cognitive function. Namely, they are stopping points of inquiry. First, I articulate this idea and then I use it to clear the ground from a troublesome conflation. That is, the conflation of this particular function all first-person thoughts have with the property of immunity to error through misidentification, which only some I-thoughts enjoy. Afterward, I show the implications of (...)
  29. Error Through Misidentification: Some Varieties.Annalisa Coliva - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (8):407-425.
  30. Error Through Misidentification.Annalisa Coliva - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (8):403-425.
  31. Thought Insertion and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Annalisa Coliva - 2002 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 9 (1):27-34.
    John Campbell (1999) has recently maintained that the phenomenon of thought insertion as it is manifested in schizophrenic patients should be described as a case in which the subject is introspectively aware of a certain thought and yet she is wrong in identifying whose thought it is. Hence, according to Campbell, the phenomenon of thought insertion might be taken as a counterexample to the view that introspection-based mental selfascriptions are logically immune to error through misidentification (IEM, hereafter). Thus, if Campbell (...)
  32. Facets of Self-Consciousness - Special Issue of Grazer Philosophische Studien (84).Katja Crone, Kristina Musholt & Anna Strasser (eds.) - 2012 - Rodopi.
  33. A Self for the Body.Frédérique de Vignemont - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (3):230-247.
    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), (...)
  34. Bodily Immunity to Error.Frédérique De Vignemont - unknown
    Are bodily self-ascriptions immune to error through misidentification? According to the Inside mode view, one cannot be mistaken about whose body part it is when experiencing them from the inside. Here I shall consider two possible objections to bodily immunity. On the one hand, I shall briefly envisage two cases of misidentification: somatoparaphrenia and the Rubber Hand illusion. I shall show that none of them challenges the immunity principle. On the other hand, I shall highlight a more serious issue for (...)
  35. Memory and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Jordi Fernández - 2014 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (3):373-390.
    The aim of this paper is to defend the view that judgments based on episodic memory are immune to error through misidentification. I will put forward a proposal about the contents of episodic memories according to which a memory represents a perception of a past event. I will also offer a proposal about the contents of perceptual experiences according to which a perceptual experience represents some relations that its subject bears to events in the external world. The combination of the (...)
  36. Self-Consciousness and the Double Immunity.Andrea Christo Fidou - 2000 - Philosophy 75:539.
    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 ‘I’ and, at worst, subject to error. Central to my thesis is that, first, ‘I’ is immune to error through misidentification absolutely, and that if there is any problem (...)
  37. Two Takes on the De Se.Marina Folescu & James Higginbotham - 2012 - In Simon Prosser & Francois Recanati (eds.), Immunity to Error Through Misidentification: New Essays. Cambridge University Press.
    In this article we consider, relying in part upon comparative semantic evidence from English and Romanian, two contrasting dimensions of the sense in which our thoughts, including the contents of imagination and memory, and extending to objects of fear, enjoyment, and other emotions directed toward worldly happenings, may be distinctively first-personal, or "de se," to use the terminology introduced in Lewis (1979), and exhibit the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification (hereafter: IEM) in the sense of Shoemaker (1968) and (...)
  38. The Structure of I-Thoughts. Kant and Wittgenstein on the Genesis of Cartesian Self.Luca Forgione - forthcoming - Paradigmi. Rivista di Critica Filosofica.
    Perry and Recanati describe I-thoughts or de se thoughts as thoughts about oneself ‘as oneself’. The analysis of the structure of the I-thoughts is intertwined with several epistemic and metaphysical questions. The aim of this paper is to highlight that the absence of an identification component does not imply that the I doesn’t perform a referential function, nor that it necessarily involves a specific metaphysical thesis on the nature of the self-conscious subject. Particularly, as far as the genesis of the (...)
  39. Self-Consciousness and Indexicality. The Ubiquity of the Self.Luca Forgione - 2012 - Paradigmi. Rivista di Critica Filosofica 2.
    Henrich (1966) has contributed to the revival of philosophical debates on subjectivity and its irreducibility, starting from Fichte’s notion of "insight", and focusing his attention on the reflective model of self-consciousness. Subsequent studies have followed the same line from different perspectives, emphasizing the basic role of pre-reflective self-consciousness as the condition of possibility of conscious experience. The so-called ubiquity thesis has been developed through analysis of indexical thinking.
  40. Immunity to Error Through Misidentification: New Essays.Simon Prosser Francois Recanati (ed.) - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
  41. Mental Familiarity and Epistemic Self-Ascription.M. Frank - 1995 - Common Knowledge 4:30--50.
  42. Seeing Without an I: Another Look at Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Shaun Gallagher - 2015 - In Annalisa Coliva, Volker Munz & Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (eds.), Mind, Language and Action: Proceedings of the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium. De Gruyter. pp. 549-568.
  43. First-Person Perspective and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Shaun Gallagher - 2012 - In Miguens & Preyer (eds.), Consciousness and Subjectivity. Ontos Verlag. pp. 47--245.
  44. Self-Reference and Schizophrenia: A Cognitive Model of Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Shaun Gallagher - 2000 - In Dan Zahavi (ed.), Exploring the Self: Philosophical and Psychopathological Perspectives on Self-Experience. John Benjamins. pp. 203--239.
  45. De Se Thoughts and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Manuel García-Carpintero - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    I discuss an aspect of the relation between accounts of de se thought and the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification. I will argue that a deflationary account of the latter—the Simple Account, due to Evans —will not do; a more robust one based on an account of de se thoughts is required. I will then sketch such an alternative account, based on a more general view on singular thoughts, and show how it can deal with the problems I (...)
  46. Self-Conception: Sosa on De Se Thought.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2013 - In John Turri (ed.), Virtuous Thoughts: The Philosophy of Ernest Sosa. Springer. pp. 73--99.
    Castañeda, Perry and Lewis argued in the 1960’s and 1970’s that thoughts about oneself “as oneself” – de se thoughts – require special treatment, and advanced different accounts. In this paper I discuss Ernest Sosa’s approach to these matters. I first present his approach to singular or de re thought in general in the first section. In the second, I introduce the data that need to be explained, Perry’s and Lewis’s proposals, and Sosa’s own account, in relation to Perry’s, Lewis’s, (...)
  47. The Self File and Immunity to Error Through Misidentification.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2013 - Disputatio 36:191-206.
    Recanati’s (2007, 2009) argues for a Lewisian subjectless view of the content of “implicit” de se thought, on the basis that we can thus better explain the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentification. The paper argues that this is not the case, and suggests that such a view is in tension with Recanati’s mental files approach to de re thought in general and the SELF concept in particular.
  48. Bermudez on Self-Consciousness.Brian J. Garrett - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):96-101.
    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.
  49. Disturbed Consciousness: New Essays on Psychopathology and Theories of Consciousness.Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.) - 2015 - MIT Press.
    In Disturbed Consciousness, philosophers and other scholars examine various psychopathologies in light of specific philosophical theories of consciousness. The contributing authors—some of them discussing or defending their own theoretical work—consider not only how a theory of consciousness can account for a specific psychopathological condition but also how the characteristics of a psychopathology might challenge such a theory. Thus one essay defends the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness against the charge that it cannot account for somatoparaphrenia (a delusion in which (...)
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