Oxford University Press (2023)
Recent debates on phenomenal consciousness have shown renewed interest for the idea that experience generally includes an experience of the self – a self-experience – whatever else it may present the self with. When a subject has an ordinary experience (as of a bouncing red ball, for example), the thought goes, she is not just phenomenally aware of the world as being presented in a certain way (a bouncy, reddish, roundish way in this case); she is also phenomenally aware of the fact that it is presented to her. This supposed phenomenal dimension has been variously called “mineness”, “for-me-ness”, “pre-reflective self-awareness” and “subjective character”, among others.
This view, associated with historical figures such as William James, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, is attracting a new surge of attention at the crossroads of phenomenology, analytic philosophy of mind and the philosophy of cognitive science, but also intense controversy.
This book explores some of the questions running through the ongoing debate on the putative subjective dimension of experience: Does it exist?, the existence question; What is it?, the essence question; What is it for?, the function question; and What else does it explain?, the explanation question.
The volume also surveys various domains of human experience, both normal and pathological, where a “sense of self” might be at play, including agency, bodily awareness, introspection, memory, emotions and values, and offers insights into the possible relations between the notions of subjective awareness involved.
The first part of the book is devoted to more sceptical or deflationary views about self-experience, and the second, to more robust ones.