Sascha Benjamin Fink
Otto von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg
How to model non-egoic experiences – mental events with phenomenal aspects that lack a felt self – has become an interesting research question. The main source of evidence for the existence of such non-egoic experiences are self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences. In these, a person says about herself that she underwent an episode where she was conscious but lacked a feeling of self. Some interpret these as accurate reports, but this is questionable. Thomas Metzinger, Rocco Gennaro, and Charles Foster have hinted at the self-defeating nature of such statements if we take them to be genuine reports: Apparently, the reporter explicitly denies her existence during the selfless experience, but implicitly affirms her existence as a witness to that selfless experience in order to give a first-person report about it. So the content of such a report conflicts with the pragmatics of reporting. If all self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences are self-defeating in this way, then they cannot count as evidence for the existence of non-egoic experiences. Here, I map out why such strong conclusions do not directly follow: What look like self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences may occur for a number of reasons. Only some explanations for such utterances rely on a change in consciousness. Of those that do rely on a change in consciousness, only one is incoherent. But its alternatives do not lead to contradictions. I argue that the most likely change in phenomenality that leads to self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences is not one where a felt self disappears, but where it expands.
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DOI 10.33735/phimisci.2020.i.40
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References found in this work BETA

The Self and its brain.K. Popper & J. Eccles - 1986 - Revista de filosofía (Chile) 27:167-171.
Toward a Neurobiological Theory of Consciousness.Francis Crick & Christof Koch - 1990 - Seminars in the Neurosciences 2:263-275.

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Citations of this work BETA

Minimal Phenomenal Experience.Thomas Metzinger - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (I):1-44.
Cotard Syndrome, Self-Awareness, and I-Concepts.Rocco Joseph Gennaro - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (1):1-20.

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