Research in Phenomenology 52 (1):84-119 (2022)

Lilian Alweiss
Trinity College, Dublin
This paper takes Zahavi’s view to task that every conscious experience involves a “minimal sense of self.” Zahavi bases his claim on the observation that experience, even on the pre-reflective level, is not only about the object, but also has a distinctive qualitative aspect which is indicative of the fact that it is for me. It has the quality of what he calls “for-meness” or “mineness.” Against this I argue that there are not two phenomena but only one. On the pre-reflective level, experience is transparent. Conscious experience may well be reflexive but this does not imply that I additionally have a sense of what it is like for me to have that experience. I do not just happen to disagree with Zahavi’s account of pre-reflective experience but, more importantly, I am concerned that he imposes it onto his interpretation of Edmund Husserl. Zahavi claims that when Husserl argues that consciousness is necessarily a form of self-consciousness, he must be committed to the view that we necessarily have a sense of ownership. However, Husserl only claims that I am self-conscious but not that I am a self that owns its consciousness. Zahavi thus misses the novelty of Husserl’s position, namely that I do not need to have a sense of abiding ownership, to have experience.
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DOI 10.1163/15691640-12341490
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