About this topic
Summary According to Self-representational Theories of Consciousness, conscious mental states are conscious in virtue of representing themselves. This is taken by defenders to be an account of consciousness superior to that offered by other representational approaches, such as (first-order) representationalism and higher-order theories. According to representationalism, conscious states are conscious in virtue of representing the environment, whereas according to higher-order theories, they are conscious in virtue of being represented by numerically distinct higher-order states. Debates surrounding the self-representational theory concern mostly (i) what it means for a mental state to represent itself, and whether all conscious states in fact do; (ii) how self-representational theories fare in comparison to representational and higher-order theories; (iii) whether self-representational theories can help bridge the explanatory gap.
Key works A prominent early theory of consciousness in a self-representational vein is in Brentano 1874, though it has been argued that the theory goes back to Aristotle (see Caston 2002). In modern philosophy of mind, self-representation is prominently used as a central part of the account of consciousness first in Smith 1986. More recently, the theory has enjoyed something of a revival - see Kriegel & Williford 2006 and Kriegel 2009 for book-length treatments. Prominent critiques of the view include Levine 2006, Weisberg 2008, and Gennaro 2008.
Introductions For an early self-representational approach to consciousness, see Smith 1986. For the basic attraction of self-representational theories, see the introduction to Kriegel & Williford 2006. For discussion of some of the options for self-representational theories, see Kriegel 2005 and Kriegel 2006.
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  1. Las Meninas and the Search for Self-Representation.Uziel Awret - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (9):7-34.
    The article will attempt to show that Velasquez's Las Meninas can be viewed as an allegorical enactment of some of the current debates and controversies in the philosophy of cognition and self-representation. I will focus on two very different philosophical trajectories, to which the allegory of the painting can be linked. The first, analytic, trajectory relates Las Meninas to the notion of representation and self-representation in the work of philosophers David Rosenthal, Robert Van Gulick, Uriah Kriegel and Bruce Mangan, and (...)
  2. Diversité du représentationnalisme de la conscience.Paul Bernier - 2014 - Philosophiques 41 (1):37-56.
    Paul Bernier | : Cet article discute de diverses versions du représentationnalisme de la conscience. L’objectif principal est de défendre une interprétation de la théorie auto-représentationnelle de la conscience (TARC) selon laquelle le contenu d’un état mental conscient serait une proposition de re qui est constituée, en partie, par l’état mental conscient lui-même. Je souligne d’abord certains problèmes importants auxquels est confrontée une des théories de la conscience les plus influentes, soit la théorie représentationnelle de la conscience (TRC) et soutiens (...)
  3. Jaspers' Dilemma: The Psychopathological Challenge to Subjectivity Theories of Consciousness.Alexandre Billon & Uriah Kriegel - 2015 - In R. Gennaro (ed.), Disturbed Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 29-54.
    According to what we will call subjectivity theories of consciousness, there is a constitutive connection between phenomenal consciousness and subjectivity: there is something it is like for a subject to have mental state M only if M is characterized by a certain mine-ness or for-me-ness. Such theories appear to face certain psychopathological counterexamples: patients appear to report conscious experiences that lack this subjective element. A subsidiary goal of this chapter is to articulate with greater precision both subjectivity theories and the (...)
  4. Response to Rosenthal and Weisberg.N. Block - 2011 - Analysis 71 (3):443-448.
  5. Ist das Erleben Teil des Erlebten?Andrea Borsato - 2009 - Phänomenologische Forschungen (2009):37-59.
    If the inner consciousness of a mental state is a part of the mental state itself, then one is forced to admit an 'inner consciousness of the inner consciousness'. This counterintuitive consequence can however be avoided, if we conceive of the inner consciousness of the mental state as a 'mode of giveness' of the state itself. This paper discusses Brentano's theory of inner consciousness from the point of view of Husserl's philosophy.
  6. Descriptive Psychology.Franz Brentano - 1982/1995 - Routledge.
    Franz Brentano (1838-1917) is a key figure in the development of Twentieth Century thought. It was his work that set Husserl on to the road of phenomenology and intentionality, that inspired Meinong's theory of the object which influenced Bertrand Russell, and the entire Polish school of philosophy. ^Descriptive Psychology presents a series of lectures given by Brentano in 1887; they were the culmination of his work, and the clearest statement of his mature thought. It was this later period which proved (...)
  7. Deskriptive Psychologie.Franz Brentano - 1982 - Meiner.
    Den Plan, seine Untersuchungen zur Deskriptiven Psychologie in einem umfassenden Werk zur Darstellung zu bringen, hat Brentano nicht verwirklicht. Neben kleineren Schriften zu diesem Gedankenkreis sind aber die Kollegmanuskripte der 1887 bis 1891 unter wechselnden Titeln gehaltenen Wiener Vorlesungen zur Deskriptiven Psychologie erhalten.
  8. Psychologie du point de vue empirique.Franz Brentano - 1944 - Montaigne.
    Dans son ouvrage de 1874, repris et complété en 1911, puis augmenté à nouveau par une série d’appendices tardifs, dans l’édition procurée par Oscar Kraus, en 1924, Brentano n’est pas seulement celui qui ouvre le dossier très complet des questions psychologiques débattues dans l’après-Kant et jusqu’à la fin du XIXe siècle, dans l’espace intellectuel germanique, mais aussi et principalement anglophone; pas seulement celui qui, à la faveur de la redéfinition, à la fois très ancienne et novatrice, des phénomènes psychiques, caractérisés (...)
  9. Psychology From an Empirical Standpoint.Franz Brentano - 1874 - Routledge.
  10. Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte.Franz Brentano - 1874 - Duncker Und Humblot.
    Im Zentrum der 1874 erschienenen bewußtseinspsychologischen Abhandlungen Brentanos steht die Beschreibung und Analyse des Psychischen. Damit bahnte sich jene Abwendung von der sensualistischen Tradition der philosophischen Bewußtseinslehre an, die in der Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls vollendet wurde.
  11. Are Conscious States Conscious in Virtue of Representing Themselves?Berit Brogaard - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):467-474.
    Are conscious states conscious in virtue of representing themselves? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9762-x Authors Berit Brogaard, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 599 Lucas Hall, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121-4400, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
  12. Are Conscious States Conscious in Virtue of Representing Themselves? On Uriah Kriegel's "Subjective Consciousness: A Self-Representational Theory". [REVIEW]Berit Brogaard - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):467-474.
  13. Kant: A Unified Representational Base for All Consciousness.Andrew Brook - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 89-109.
  14. A Unified Theory of Consciousness.Andrew Brook & Paul Raymont - forthcoming - MIT Press.
  15. Olivi on Consciousness and Self-Knowledge: The Phenomenology, Metaphysics, and Epistemology of Mind's Reflexivity.Susan Brower-Toland - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 1.
    The theory of mind that medieval philosophers inherit from Augustine is predicated on the thesis that the human mind is essentially self-reflexive. This paper examines Peter John Olivi's (1248-1298) distinctive development of this traditional Augustinian thesis. The aim of the paper is three-fold. The first is to establish that Olivi's theory of reflexive awareness amounts to a theory of phenomenal consciousness. The second is to show that, despite appearances, Olivi rejects a higher-order analysis of consciousness in favor of a same-order (...)
  16. The Myth of Phenomenological Overflow.Richard Brown - 2012 - Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):599-604.
    In this paper I examine the dispute between Hakwan Lau, Ned Block, and David Rosenthal over the extent to which empirical results can help us decide between first-order and higher-order theories of consciousness. What emerges from this is an overall argument to the best explanation against the first-order view of consciousness and the dispelling of the mythological notion of phenomenological overflow that comes with it.
  17. An Argument Against Causal Theories of Mental Content.Todd Buras - 2009 - American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):117-129.
    Some mental states are about themselves. Nothing is a cause of itself. So some mental states are not about their causes; they are about things distinct from their causes. If this argument is sound, it spells trouble for causal theories of mental content—the precise sort of trouble depending on the precise sort of causal theory. This paper shows that the argument is sound (§§1-3), and then spells out the trouble (§4).
  18. Consciousness: Essays From a Higher-Order Perspective.Peter Carruthers - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Peter Carruthers's essays on consciousness and related issues have had a substantial impact on the field, and many of his best are now collected here in revised form. The first half of the volume is devoted to developing, elaborating, and defending against competitors one particular sort of reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness, which Carruthers now refers to as 'dual-content theory'. Phenomenal consciousness - the feel of experience - is supposed to constitute the 'hard problem' for a scientific world view, and (...)
  19. Phenomenal Consciousness: A Naturalistic Theory.Peter Carruthers - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
    How can phenomenal consciousness exist as an integral part of a physical universe? How can the technicolour phenomenology of our inner lives be created out of the complex neural activities of our brains? Many have despaired of finding answers to these questions; and many have claimed that human consciousness is inherently mysterious. Peter Carruthers argues, on the contrary, that the subjective feel of our experience is fully explicable in naturalistic terms. Drawing on a variety of interdisciplinary resources, he develops and (...)
  20. Comment on Amie Thomasson's "Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge".Victor Caston - 2006 - Psyche 12 (2).
  21. More on Aristotle on Consciousness: Reply to Sisko.Victor Caston - 2004 - Mind 113 (451):523-533.
  22. Aristotle on Consciousness.Victor Caston - 2002 - Mind 111 (444):751-815.
    Aristotle's discussion of perceiving that we perceive has points of contact with two contemporary debates about consciousness: the first over whether consciousness is an intrinsic feature of mental states or a higher-order thought or perception; the second concerning the qualitative nature of experience. In both cases, Aristotle's views cut down the middle of an apparent dichotomy, in a way that does justice to each set of intuitions, while avoiding their attendant difficulties. With regard to the first issue?the primary focus of (...)
  23. Inner Awareness is Essential to Consciousness: A Buddhist-Abhidharma Perspective.Monima Chadha - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (1):83-101.
    This paper defends the realist representationalist version of the Buddhist-Abhidharma account of consciousness. The account explains the intentionality and the phenomenality of conscious experiences by appealing to the doctrine of self-awareness. Concerns raised by Buddhist Mādhyamika philosophers about the compatibility of reflexive awareness and externality of the objects of perception are addressed. Similarly, the Hindu critiques on the incoherence of the Buddhist doctrine of reflexive awareness with the doctrines of no-self and momentariness are also answered.
  24. Quotational Higher-Order Thought Theory.Sam Coleman - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2705-2733.
    Due to their reliance on constitutive higher-order representing to generate the qualities of which the subject is consciously aware, I argue that the major existing higher-order representational theories of consciousness insulate us from our first-order sensory states. In fact on these views we are never properly conscious of our sensory states at all. In their place I offer a new higher-order theory of consciousness, with a view to making us suitably intimate with our sensory states in experience. This theory relies (...)
  25. Varieties of Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness: Foreground and Background Bodily Feelings in Emotion Experience.Giovanna Colombetti - 2011 - Inquiry 54 (3):293 - 313.
    How do we feel our body in emotion experience? In this paper I initially distinguish between foreground and background bodily feelings, and characterize them in some detail. Then I compare this distinction with the one between reflective and pre-reflective bodily self-awareness one finds in some recent philosophical phenomenological works, and conclude that both foreground and background bodily feelings can be understood as pre-reflective modes of bodily self-awareness that nevertheless differ in degree of self-presentation or self-intimation. Finally, I use the distinction (...)
  26. Locke on Consciousness.Angela Coventry & Uriah Kriegel - 2008 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 25 (3):221-242.
    Locke’s theory of consciousness is often appropriated as a forerunner of present-day Higher-Order Perception (HOP) theories, but not much is said about it beyond that. We offer an interpretation of Locke’s account of consciousness that portrays it as crucially different from current-day HOP theory, both in detail and in spirit. In this paper, it is argued that there are good historical and philosophical reasons to attribute to Locke the view not that conscious states are accompanied by higher-order perceptions, but rather (...)
  27. The Case of Awareness.John J. Drummond - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press.
  28. Consciousness and Self-Reference.Arthur E. Falk - 1995 - Erkenntnis 43 (2):151-80.
    Reflection on the self's way of being "in" consciousness yields two arguments for a theory of self-reference not based in any way all all on self-cognition. First, I show that one theory of self-reference predicts an experience of the self because the theory inadequately analyzes the semantical facts about indexicality. I construct a dilemma for this cognitivism, which it cannot get out of, for it requires even solitary self-reference to be based on some original self-knowledge, which is not available. I (...)
  29. The Mineness of Experience.Wolfgang Fasching - 2009 - Continental Philosophy Review 42 (2):131-148.
    In this paper I discuss the nature of the “I” (or “self”) and whether it is presupposed by the very existence of conscious experiences (as that which “has” them) or whether it is, instead, in some way constituted by them. I argue for the former view and try to show that the very nature of experience implies a non-constituted synchronic and diachronic transcendence of the experiencing “I” with regard to its experiences, an “I” which defies any objective characterization. Finally I (...)
  30. Uriah Kriegel and Kenneth Williford (Eds), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. [REVIEW]Jason Ford - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (2):283-287.
  31. Consciousness, Self, and Attention.Jason Ford & David Woodruff Smith - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 353-377.
  32. Leibniz and Brentano on Apperception.Guillaume Frechette - 2011 - In H. Breger, J. Herbst & S. Erdner (eds.), Natur und Subjekt.
  33. Exemplarization: A Solution to the Problem of Consciousness?Martina Fürst - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 161 (1):141-151.
    In recent publications, Keith Lehrer developed the intriguing idea of a special mental process– exemplarization – and applied it in a sophisticated manner to different phenomena such as intentionality, representation of the self, the knowledge of ineffable content (of art works) and the problem of (phenomenal) consciousness. In this paper I am primarily concerned with the latter issue. The target of this paper is to analyze whether exemplarization, besides explaining epistemic phenomena such as immediate and ineffable knowledge of experiences, can (...)
  34. Self-Intimation, Memory and Personal Identity.Jonardon Ganeri - 1999 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 27 (5):469-483.
  35. The Conventional Status of Reflexive Awareness: What's at Stake in a Tibetan Debate?Jay L. Garfield - 2006 - Philosophy East and West 56 (2):201-228.
    ‘Ju Mipham Rinpoche, (1846-1912) an important figure in the _Ris med_, or non- sectarian movement influential in Tibet in the late 19<sup>th</sup> and early 20<sup>th</sup> Centuries, was an unusual scholar in that he was a prominent _Nying ma_ scholar and _rDzog_ _chen_ practitioner with a solid dGe lugs education. He took dGe lugs scholars like Tsong khapa and his followers seriously, appreciated their arguments and positions, but also sometimes took issue with them directly. In his commentary to Candrak¥rti’s _Madhyamakåvatåra, _Mi (...)
  36. The 'Of' of Intentionality and the 'Of' of Acquaintance.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2015 - In S. Miguens, G. Preyer & C. Morando (eds.), Pre-Reflective Consciousness: Sartre and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind. Routledge. pp. 317-341.
    I first provide some background on Sartre’s theory of consciousness and prereflective self-awareness, especially with respect to how it might be favorably compared to my own version of HOT theory. I then critically examine a few initial attempts to understand the ‘acquaintance’ relation and to link it with Sartre’s notion of prereflective self-awareness. I then briefly address a related problem often raised against HOT theory, namely, the problem of misrepresentation. I also critique several further attempts to explain the acquaintance relation (...)
  37. Representationalism, Peripheral Awareness, and the Transparency of Experience.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 139 (1):39-56.
    It is often said that some kind of peripheral (or inattentional) conscious awareness accompanies our focal (attentional) consciousness. I agree that this is often the case, but clarity is needed on several fronts. In this paper, I lay out four distinct theses on peripheral awareness and show that three of them are true. However, I then argue that a fourth thesis, commonly associated with the so-called "self-representational approach to consciousness," is false. The claim here is that we have outer focal (...)
  38. Between Pure Self-Referentialism and the HOT Theory of Consciousness.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Consciousness and Self-Reference. MIT Press.
  39. A Puzzle About Mental Self-Representation and Causation.Mikkel Gerken - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (6):890-906.
    The paper articulates a puzzle that consists in the prima facie incompatibility between three widely accepted theses. The first thesis is, roughly, that there are intrinsically selfrepresentational thoughts. The second thesis is, roughly, that there is a particular causal constraint on mental representation. The third thesis is, roughly, that nothing causes itself. In this paper, the theses are articulated in a less rough manner with the occurrence of the puzzle as a result. Finally, a number of solution strategies are considered, (...)
  40. Is There a Simple Argument for Higher-Order Representation Theories of Awareness Consciousness?Mikkel Gerken - 2008 - Erkenntnis 69 (2):243-259.
    William Lycan has articulated “a simple argument” for higher-order representation (HOR) theories of a variety of consciousness sometimes labeled ‘awareness consciousness’ (Lycan, Analysis 61.1, January 3–4, 2001). The purpose of this article is to critically assess the influential argument-strategy of the simple argument. I argue that, as stated, the simple argument fails since it is invalid. Moreover, I argue that an obvious “quick fix” would beg the question against competing same-order representation (SOR) theories of awareness consciousness. I then provide a (...)
  41. Conscious States as Objects of Awareness: On Uriah Kriegel, Subjective Consciousness: A Self-Representational Theory. [REVIEW]Brie Gertler - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):447-455.
    Conscious states as objects of awareness: on Uriah Kriegel, Subjective consciousness: a self - representational theory Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9763-9 Authors Brie Gertler, Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
  42. Fact-Introspection, Thing-Introspection, and Inner Awareness.Anna Giustina & Uriah Kriegel - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (1):143-164.
    Phenomenal beliefs are beliefs about the phenomenal properties of one's concurrent conscious states. It is an article of common sense that such beliefs tend to be justified. Philosophers have been less convinced. It is sometimes claimed that phenomenal beliefs are not on the whole justified, on the grounds that they are typically based on introspection and introspection is often unreliable. Here we argue that such reasoning must guard against a potential conflation between two distinct introspective phenomena, which we call fact-introspection (...)
  43. Los Enfoques Autorrepresentacionales de la Conciencia , Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness, Cambridge, Estados Unidos, MIT Press, VI, 561 P.).Israel Grande-garcía - 2007 - Signos Filosóficos 9:223-230.
  44. Reseña de "Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness" de Uriah Kriegel y Kenneth Williford (Eds.).Israel Grande-garcía - 2007 - Signos Filosóficos 9 (18):223-230.
  45. Self-Presentation and the Psychological.Rudolf Haller - 1984 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 22:5-11.
    The Brentano-Meinong concept of self-presentation is discussed and defined. A property P is said to be self-presenting, i f and only if, P is necessarily such that, for every x, i f x has P and considers the question whether he has P, then it is evident to x that he has P. A definition of the purely psychological is propojsed. Then the following material epistemic principle is discussed and defended: A property P is self-presenting to a person x, i (...)
  46. Self-Reflexive Thoughts.Gilbert Harman - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):334-345.
    Alice has insomnia. She has trouble falling asleep and part of the problem is that she worries about it and realizes that her worrying about it tends to keep from falling asleep. It occurs to her that thinking that she will not be able to fall asleep may be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps she even has a thought that might be expressed like this: I am not going to fall asleep because of my having this very thought. This (...)
  47. The Self-Presenting.Herbert Heidelberger - 1979 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 7:59-76.
    I discuss, in the first part, Chisholm's definition of the self-presenting. I argue that the psychological pre-conditions that Chisholm imposes on his epistemic notions cause difficulties for the definition and suggest that there may be a further difficulty when one considers the definition in the light of what Chisholm says about the KK principle. I try, in the second part, to elucidate the relation that a person has to propositions that are self-presenting to him, and I consider Chisholm's views on (...)
  48. Harman on Self Referential Thoughts.Christopher S. Hill - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):346-357.
    I will be concerned in these pages with the views that Gilbert Harman puts forward in his immensely stimulating paper Self-Reflexive Thoughts.<sup>1</sup> Harman maintains that self referential thoughts are possible, and also that they are useful. I applaud both of these claims. An example of a self referential thought is the thought that every thought, including this present one, has a logical structure. I feel sure that this thought exists, for I have entertained it on a number of occasions. Moreover, (...)
  49. Perceptual Consciousness: How It Opens Directly Onto the World, Preferring the World to Itself.Christopher S. Hill - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 249--272.
  50. What is It Like to Be a Strange Loop?Douglas R. Hofstadter - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press.
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