What is it like to think about oneself? De Se thought and phenomenal intentionality

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (5):919-932 (2019)
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Abstract

The topic of the paper is at the intersection of recent debates on de se thought and phenomenal intentionality. An interesting problem for phenomenal intentionality is the question of how to account for the intentional properties of de se thought-contents---i.e., thoughts about oneself as oneself. Here, I aim to describe and consider the significance of a phenomenological perspective on self-consciousness in its application to de se thought. I argue that having de se thoughts can be explained in terms of the ways that subjects consciously attend to themselves in experiences of thinking. Therefore, a strong form of first-person persectivalness, in which the subject is capable of self-directed control of the focus of conscious attention, is required for de se thought. But no constraints on the semantic content of such thoughts are required. The outcome of the question therefore bears importantly on both on the problem of self-reflexive self-reference and the wider problem of self-consciousness. My model suggests phenomenologically-derived conceptual constraints for the extension of minimal, background forms of self-awareness to robust, cognitive forms of self-awareness that have been of interest in recent empirical studies on self-consciousness. The framework therefore provides a way of operationalizing the concept of self-reflexive consciousness by deploying widely deployed notions from the empirical literature such as attention and minimal phenomenal selfhood, enabling a framework for empirically falsifiable hypotheses about the neural mechanisms underlying the structure of self-consciousness. What Is it Like to Think about Oneself? De Se Thought and Phenomenal Intentionality.

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Kyle Banick
California State University, Long Beach

Citations of this work

Thoughts on the Scientific Study of Phenomenal Consciousness.Stan Klein - 2021 - Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 8 (74-80).

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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Reference and Consciousness.John Campbell - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Self-awareness and alterity: a phenomenological investigation.Dan Zahavi - 1999 - Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press.

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