The concept possession hypothesis of self-consciousness

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):713-720 (2012)

Stephane Joseph Savanah
Macquarie University
This paper presents the hypothesis that concept possession is sufficient and necessary for self-consciousness. If this is true it provides a yardstick for gauging the validity of different research paradigms in which claims for self-consciousness in animals or human infants are made: a convincing demonstration of concept possession in a research subject, such as a display of inferential reasoning, may be taken as conclusive evidence of self-consciousness. Intuitively, there appears to be a correlation between intelligence in animals and the existence of self-consciousness. I present three discussions to support the hypothesis: an analogy between perception and conception, where both are self-specifying; an argument that any web of concepts will always include the self-concept; and a fresh interpretation of Bermũdez showing how his theory of non-conceptual content provides strong support for the concept possession hypothesis
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2011.02.019
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 48,902
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness.David J. Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
Consciousness and Self-Consciousness.Uriah Kriegel - 2004 - The Monist 87 (2):182-205.
Chimpanzees: Self-Recognition.G. G. Gallup - 1970 - Science 167:86-87.
Self-Identification.Gareth Evans - 1994 - In Quassim Cassam (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
Sellars, Concepts, and Conceptual Change.Harold I. Brown - 1986 - Synthese 68 (August):275-307.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Mirror Self-Recognition and Symbol-Mindedness.Stephane Savanah - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):657-673.
Can Rats Reason?Savanah Stephane - 2015 - Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 2 (4):404-429.
Mirror Self‐Recognition and Self‐Identification.Alexandria Boyle - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):284-303.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Puzzle About Concept Possession.Mark Siebel - 2005 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 68 (1):1-22.
Concept Possession.George Bealer - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:331-338.
Two Unities of Consciousness.Elizabeth Schechter - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):197-218.
Bealer and the Autonomy of Philosophy.Alexander Sarch - 2010 - Synthese 172 (3):451 - 474.
Know-How and Concept Possession.Bengson John & Moffett Marc - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):31 - 57.
How to Use a Concept You Reject.Mark McCullagh - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):293-319.
Possession of Concepts.John Campbell - 1984 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 85:149-170.
Consciousness and Agency: Explaining What and Explaining Who.Richard A. Carlson - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):148-149.


Added to PP index

Total views
16 ( #575,545 of 2,309,723 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #521,891 of 2,309,723 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature