On Self-Awareness and the Self

In Graham Priest & Damon Young (eds.), Philosophy and Martial Arts. London: Routledge. pp. 127-138 (2014)
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Abstract

Some philosophers of mind, cognitive scientists, phenomenologists as well as Buddhist philosophers have claimed that an awareness of an object is not just an experience of that object but also involves self-awareness. It is sometimes argued that being aware of an object without being aware of oneself is pathological. As anyone who has been involved in martial arts, as well as any sports requiring quick responses such as cricket and tennis, can testify, however, awareness of the self at the time of acting becomes problematic: you would not be able to respond to the slight movement of your opponent if you were aware of yourself responding to it. This suggests that it must be possible for us to be aware without being aware of ourselves. The aim of this paper is to clarify the notion of self-awareness and its relation to the self by investigating the phenomenology of the martial artist who is ‘in the act’. I shall argue that we can make sense of self-awareness without invoking awareness of oneself.

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Koji Tanaka
Australian National University

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