Self-consciousness can be defined as the ability to think 'I'-thoughts. Recently, it has been suggested that self-consciousness in this sense can (and should) be accounted for in terms of nonconceptual forms of self-representation. Here, I will argue that while theories of nonconceptual self-consciousness do provide us with important insights regarding the essential genetic and epistemic features of self-conscious thought, they can only deliver part of the full story that is required to understand (...) the phenomenon of self-consciousness. I will provide two arguments to this effect, drawing on insights from the philosophy of language and on structural differences between conceptual and nonconceptual forms of representation. Both arguments rest on the intuition that while self-consciousness requires explicit self-representation, nonconceptual content can at best provide implicit self-related information. I will conclude that in order to explain the emergence of self-conscious thought out of more basic forms of representations one has to explain the transition between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation. (shrink)
It is argued that although George Bealer's influential ‘Self-Consciousness argument’ refutes standard versions of reductive functionalism (RF), it fails to generalize in the way Bealer supposes. To wit, he presupposes that any version of RF must take the content of ‘pain’ to be the property of being in pain (and so on), which is expressly rejected in independently motivated versions of conceptual role semantics (CRS). Accordingly, there are independently motivated versions of RF, incorporating CRS, which avoid Bealer's main (...) type of refutation. I focus particularly on one such theory, which takes concepts to be event types that are individuated by their psychological roles, which has the resources of responding to each of the more specific worries Bealer expresses. (shrink)
Self-consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to functionalism. Either the standard functional definitions of mental relations wrongly require the contents of self-consciousness to be propositions involving “realizations” rather than mental properties and relations themselves. Or else these definitions are circular. The only way to save functional definitions is to expunge the standard functionalist requirement that mental properties be second-order and to accept that they are first-order. But even the resulting “ideological” functionalism, which aims only at conceptual clarification, (...) fails unless it incorporates the thesis that the mental properties are fully “natural” universals. Accordingly, mental properties are sui generis: first-order, nonphysical, natural universals. (shrink)
-/- Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a (...) class='Hi'>self-conscious subject is aware of themselves as themselves; it is manifest to them that they themselves are the object of awareness. Self-consciousness is a form of consciousness that is paradigmatically expressed in English by the words “I”, “me”, and “my”, terms that each of us uses to refer to ourselves as such. -/- A central topic throughout the history of philosophy—and increasingly so since the seventeenth century—the phenomena surrounding self-consciousness prompt a variety of fundamental philosophical and scientific questions, including its relation to consciousness; its semantic and epistemic features; its realisation in both conceptual and non-conceptual representation; and its connection to our conception of an objective world populated with others like ourselves. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation and argues that the latter is required for self-consciousness. It is further argued that self-consciousness requires an awareness of other minds and that this awareness develops over the course of an increasingly complex perspectival differentiation, during which information about self and other that is implicit in early forms of social interaction becomes redescribed into an explicit format.
Chimpanzee behaviour with mirrors makes it plausible that they can recognise themselves as themselves in mirrors, and so have a 'self-concept'. I defend this claim, and argue that roughly similar behaviour in pigeons, as reported, does not in fact make it equally plausible that they also have this mental capacity. But for all that it is genuine, chimpanzee self-consciousness may differ significantly from ours. I describe one possibility I believe consistent with the data, even if not very (...) plausible: that the chimpanzee is aware of itself only as a material being, and not as a subject of any psychological states. As I try to make clear, this possibility exists even if the chimpanzee has psychological states, and is aware of some of them. (shrink)
Review of Philosophy and Psychology has lately published a number of papers that in various ways take issue with and criticize my work on the link between consciousness, self-consciousness and selfhood. In the following contribution, I reply directly to this new set of objections and argue that while some of them highlight ambiguities in my work that ought to be clarified, others can only be characterized as misreadings.
Many spiritual traditions employ certain mental techniques (meditation) which consist in inhibiting mental activity whilst nonetheless remaining fully conscious, which is supposed to lead to a realisation of one’s own true nature prior to habitual self-substantialisation. In this paper I propose that this practice can be understood as a special means of becoming aware of consciousness itself as such. To explain this claim I conduct some phenomenologically oriented considerations about the nature of consciousness qua presence and the (...) problem of self-presence of this presence. (shrink)
The word ?consciousness? is notoriously ambiguous. This is mainly because it is not a term of art, but a mundane word we all use quite frequently, for different purposes and in different everyday contexts. In this paper, I discuss consciousness in one specific sense of the word. To avoid the ambiguities, I introduce a term of art ? intransitive self-consciousness ? and suggest that this form of self-consciousness is an essential component of the folk (...) notion of consciousness. I then argue for a specific account of consciousness as intransitive self-consciousness. According to this account, a mental state is conscious iff it represents its own occurrence. The argument is a ?modernizing? modification of an older argument due to Aristotle and Brentano. (shrink)
What does the fact that we feel shame tell us about the nature of self? Does shame testify to the presence of a self-concept, a self-ideal, and a capacity for critical self-assessment, or does it rather, as some have suggested, point to the fact that the self is in part socially constructed? Should shame primarily be classified as a self-conscious emotion, is it rather a distinct social emotion, or might this forced alternative be misguided? (...) In the chapter, I contrast certain prevalent cognitivist accounts of shame with different proposals that can be found in the phenomenological tradition and ultimately argue that prototypical forms of shame provide vivid examples of other-mediated forms of self-experience. (shrink)
The Early Modern Subject explores the understanding of self-consciousness and personal identity--two fundamental features of human subjectivity--as it developed in early modern philosophy. Udo Thiel presents a critical evaluation of these features as they were conceived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He explains the arguments of thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, and Hume, as well as their early critics, followers, and other philosophical contemporaries, and situates them within their historical contexts. Interest in the issues of (...)self-consciousness and personal identity is in many ways characteristic and even central to early modern thought, but Thiel argues here that this is an interest that continues to this day, in a form still strongly influenced by the conceptual frameworks of early modern thought. In this book he attempts to broaden the scope of the treatment of these issues considerably, covering more than a hundred years of philosophical debate in France, Britain, and Germany while remaining attentive to the details of the arguments under scrutiny and discussing alternative interpretations in many cases. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker, developing an idea of Wittgenstein’s, argues that we are immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun. Although we might be liable to error when “I” (or its cognates) is used as an object, we are immune to error when “I” is used as a subject (as when one says, “I have a toothache”). Shoemaker claims that the relationship between “I” as-subject and the mental states of which it is introspectively aware is tautological: when, say, we (...) judge that “I feel pain,” we are tautologically aware that feels pain is instantiated and that it is instantiated in oneself. Moreover, he contends that this relationship holds not just for bodily sensations, but also for the sense of agency and for visual perception. But we deny that this relationship is tautological; instead, we treat Shoemaker’s principle (IEM) as a hypothesis. We then proceed to show that certain pathological states and experimentally-induced illusions can be adduced to show that IEM describes not a necessary relationship but a contingent relationship, one that sometimes fails to obtain. That we are not immune to error in the way Shoemaker describes has grave consequences for many aspects of his ideas concerning the first-person perspective. In the course of arguing that these empirical phenomena count against IEM, we also show that not only can the content of conscious experience be misrepresented, so too can the subject: that is, not only can the what of conscious experience be misrepresented, so too can the who. (shrink)
Consciousness has a number of puzzling features. One such feature is its unity: the experiences and other conscious states that one has at a particular time seem to occur together in a certain way. I am currently enjoying visual experiences of my computer screen, auditory experiences of bird-song, olfactory experiences of coffee, and tactile experiences of feeling the ground beneath my feet. Conjoined with these perceptual experiences are proprioceptive experiences, experiences of agency, affective and emotional experiences, and conscious thoughts (...) of various kinds. These experiences are unified in a variety of ways, but the kind of unity that I’m interested in here concerns their phenomenal character. Take just two of these experiences: the sound of bird-song and the smell of coffee. There is something it is like to have the auditory experience, there is something it is like to have the olfactory experience, and there is something it is like to have both the auditory and olfactory experiences together. These two experiences occur as parts or components or aspects of a larger, more complex experience. And what holds of these two experiences seems to hold – at least in normal contexts – of all of one’s simultaneous experiences: they seem to be subsumed by a single, maximal experience.2 We could think of this maximal experience as an experiential perspective on the world. What it is like to be me right now is (or involves) an extremely complex conscious state that subsumes the various simpler experiences that I outlined above (seeing my computer screen, hearing bird-song, smelling coffee, and so on). I will follow recent literature in using the term “co-consciousness” for the relation that a set of conscious states bear to each other when they have a complex phenomenology (Bayne and Chalmers 2003; Dainton 2000; Hurley 1998; Lockwood 1989). (shrink)
In recent years, the scientific study of meditation and psychedelic drugs has seen remarkable developments. The increased focus on meditation in cognitive neuroscience has led to a cross-cultural classification of standard meditation styles validated by functional and structural neuroanatomical data. Meanwhile, the renaissance of psychedelic research has shed light on the neurophysiology of altered states of consciousness induced by classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, whose effects are mainly mediated by agonism of serotonin receptors. Few attempts have been (...) made at bridging these two domains of inquiry, despite intriguing evidence of overlap between the phenomenology and neurophysiology of meditation practice and psychedelic states. In particular, many contemplative traditions explicitly aim at dissolving the sense of self by eliciting altered states of consciousness through meditation, while classical psychedelics are known to produce significant disruptions of self-consciousness, a phenomenon known as drug-induced ego dissolution. In this article, we discuss available evidence regarding convergences and differences between phenomenological and neurophysiological data on meditation practice and psychedelic drug-induced states, with a particular emphasis on alterations of self-experience. While both meditation and psychedelics may disrupt self-consciousness and underlying neural processes, we emphasize that neither meditation nor psychedelic states can be conceived as simple, uniform categories. Moreover, we suggest that there are important phenomenological differences even between conscious states described as experiences of self-loss. As a result, we propose that self-consciousness may be best construed as a multidimensional construct, and that “self-loss,” far from being an unequivocal phenomenon, can take several forms. Indeed, various aspects of self-consciousness, including narrative aspects linked to autobiographical memory, self-related thoughts and mental time travel, and embodied aspects rooted in multisensory processes, may be differently affected by psychedelics and meditation practices. Finally, we consider long-term outcomes of experiences of self-loss induced by meditation and psychedelics on individual traits and prosocial behavior. We call for caution regarding the problematic conflation of temporary states of self-loss with “selflessness” as a behavioral or social trait, although there is preliminary evidence that correlations between short-term experiences of self-loss and long-term trait alterations may exist. (shrink)
What are the roots of human normativity and when do children begin to behave according to standards and norms? Empirical observations demonstrate that we are born with built-in orientation toward what is predictable and of the same - henceforth what deviates from it -, what is the norm or the standard in the generic sense of the word. However, what develop in humans is self-consciousness, transforming norms from “should” to “ought” and making human normativity profoundly different from any (...) other forms expressed in infancy, other animals, or any smart machines. Self-consciousness is the ability to objectify oneself through the evaluative eyes of others. It sets us apart as a species and is at the roots of human normativity. A developmental blueprint capturing the progressive co-emergence of self-consciousness and normativity in the human child is proposed. (shrink)
Elizabeth Schechter explores the implications of the experience of people who have had the pathway between the two hemispheres of their brain severed, and argues that there are in fact two minds, subjects of experience, and intentional agents inside each split-brain human being: right and left. But each split-brain subject is still one of us.
The clinical and para-clinical examination of residual self-consciousness in non-communicative severely brain damaged patients remains exceptionally challenging. Passive presentation of the patient’s own name and own face are known to be effective attention-grabbing stimuli when clinically assessing consciousness at the patient’s bedside. Event-related potential and functional neuroimaging studies using such self-referential stimuli are currently being used to disentangle the cognitive hierarchy of self-processing. We here review neuropsychological, neuropathological, electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies using the own name (...) and own face paradigm obtained in conscious waking, sleep, pharmacological coma, pathological coma and related disorders of consciousness. Based on these results we discuss what we currently do and do not know about the functional significance of the neural network involved in “automatic” and “conscious” self-referential processing. (shrink)
Empirical approaches on topics such as consciousness, self-awareness, or introspective perspective, need a conceptual framework so that the emerging, still unconnected findings can be integrated and put into perspective. We introduce a model of self-consciousness derived from phenomenology, philosophy, the cognitive, and neurosciences. We will then give an overview of research data on one particular aspect of our model, self-agency, trying to link findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Finally, we will expand on pathological aspects (...) of self-agency, and in particular on psychosis in schizophrenia. We show, that a deficient self-monitoring system underlies, in part, hallucinations and formal thought (language) disorder in schizophrenia. We argue, that self-consciousness is a valid construct and can be studied with the instruments of cognitive and neuroscience. (shrink)
If one were to write a book titled TheVarieties of Self-Consciousness, one would start off with some distinctions. It will help to locate my topic in relation to those distinctions.The first distinction concerns that kind of self-consciousness which involves only the minimal ability on the part of a subject to self-represent, to be in mental states with first person content, be it conceptual or nonconceptual. This minimal ability involves very little as compared with the more (...) sophisticated states of which humans are capable. First person content can be present in the perceptual states of a creature capable of representing only some of its physical states and its relations to the physical environment, and not capable of representing anything beyond that. So the first distinction is between this minimal case, and richer varieties of self-consciousness. Some writers use ‘self-conscious’ to apply to a subject who is in any mental state involving first person content, and so they would appl. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the areas where neuroscientific and philosophical issues intersect in the study of self-consciousness. Taking as point of departure a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) that appears to block philosophical elucidation of self-consciousness, the paper illustrates how the highly conceptual forms of self-consciousness emerge from a rich foundation of nonconceptual forms of self-awareness. Attention is paid in particular to the primitive forms of nonconceptual self-consciousness manifested (...) in visual perception, somatic proprioception, spatial reasoning and interpersonal psychological interactions. The study of these primitive forms of self-consciousness is an interdisciplinary enterprise and the paper considers a range of points of contact where philosophical work can illuminate work in the cognitive sciences, and vice versa. (shrink)
What José Luis Bermúdez calls the paradox of self-consciousness is essentially the conflict between two claims: (1) The capacity to use first-personal referential devices like “I” must be explained in terms of the capacity to think first-person thoughts. (2) The only way to explain the capacity for having a certain kind of thought is by explaining the capacity for the canonical linguistic expression of thoughts of that kind. (Bermúdez calls this the “Thought-Language Principle”.) The conflict between (1) and (...) (2) is obvious enough. However, if a paradox is an unacceptable conclusion drawn from apparently valid reasoning from apparently true premises, then Bermúdez’s conflict is no paradox. It is rather a conflict between the view that thought must be explained in terms of language, and the view that first person linguistic reference must be explained in terms of first-person thought. Neither view is immediately obvious, and nor is it obvious that the arguments for either are equally compelling. What we have here is a difference of philosophical opinion, not a paradox. (shrink)
Recent discussions of emotions in Buddhism suggest that one of the canonical self-conscious emotions, shame, is an emotion to be endorsed and indeed cultivated. The canonical texts in the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, endorse hiri as one of the wholesome factors “always found in all good minds” and as one of “the guardians of the world”. Shame is widely taken to be a self-conscious emotion, and so if hiri counts as shame, this seems to be in tension with the (...) central Buddhist claim that we should rid ourselves of the idea that there is a self. Buddhist moral education seems to promote an emotion that fundamentally presupposes something that Buddhist metaphysics fundamentally rejects: a self. This puzzle provides the motivation for our paper, and we will argue for a new understanding of hiri that also has implications for how we should think about one important “self-conscious” moral emotion, guilt. This puzzle about the Buddhist tradition also raises a basic philosophical question: What kinds of moral emotions are theoretically consistent with the denial of a self? We argue that anticipatory guilt might be such an emotion, and that it provides a plausible interpretation of hiri in key Buddhist texts. (shrink)
Does all conscious experience essentially involve self-consciousness? In his Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person, Dan Zahavi answers “yes”. I criticize three core arguments offered in support of this answer—a well-known regress argument, what I call the “interview argument,” and a phenomenological argument. Drawing on Sartre, I introduce a phenomenological contrast between plain experience and self-conscious experience. The contrast challenges the thesis that conscious experience entails self-consciousness.
In recent philosophy of mind, it is often assumed that consciousness and self-consciousness are two separate phenomena. In this paper, I argue that this is not quite right. The argument proceeds in two phases. First, I draw a distinction between (i) being self-conscious of a thought that p and (ii) self-consciously thinking that p. I call the former transitive self-consciousness and the latter intransitive self-consciousness. I then argue that consciousness does (...) depend on intransitive self-consciousness, and that the common reasons for denying the dependence of consciousness upon self-consciousness apply only to transitive self-consciousness. (shrink)
Traditionally, what we are conscious of in self-consciousness is something non-corporeal. But anti-Cartesian philosophers argue that the self is as much corporeal as it is mental. Because we have the sense of proprioception, a kind of body awareness, we are immediately aware of ourselves as bodies in physical space. In this debate the case histories of patients who have lost their sense of proprioception are clearly relevant. These patients do retain an awareness of themselves as corporeal beings, (...) although they hardly feel their bodies. They can initiate movements, and with the help of visual feedback learn to control them. It is shown that the traditional view of the self as immaterial is not supported by these cases. But the argument against this view has to be amended. It relies too much on bodily sensations, and misses the importance of active self-movement. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant, such that the fact that an entity is self-conscious generates strong moral reasons against harming or killing that entity. This claim is apparently very intuitive, but I argue it is false. I consider two ways to defend this claim: one indirect, the other direct. The best-known arguments relevant to self-consciousness's significance take the indirect route. I examine them and argue that in various (...) ways they depend on unwarranted assumptions about self-consciousness's functional significance, and once these assumptions are undermined, motivation for these arguments dissipates. I then consider the direct route to self-consciousness's significance, which depends on claims that self-consciousness has intrinsic value or final value. I argue what intrinsic or final value self-consciousness possesses is not enough to generate strong moral reasons against harming or killing. (shrink)
Ontological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can be defined wholly in terms of the general pattern of interaction of ontologically prior realizations. Ideological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can only be defined nonreductively, in terms of the general pattern of their interaction with one another. My Self-consciousness Argument establishes: ontological functionalism is mistaken because its proposed definitions wrongly admit realizations into the contents of self-consciousness; ideological functionalism is the only viable alternative for (...) functionalists. Michael Tooley's critique misses the target: he offers no criticism of - except for an incidental, and incorrect, attack on certain self-intimation principles - and, since he himself proposes a certain form of nonreductive definition, he tacitly accepts. Finally, as with all other nonreductive definitions, Tooley's proposal can be shown to undermine functionalism's ultimate goal: its celebrated materialist solution to the Mind-Body Problem. The explanation of these points will require a discussion of: Frege-Russell disagreements regarding intensional contexts; the relationship between self-consciousness and the traditional doctrine of acquaintance; the role of self-intimation principles in functionalist psychology; and the Kripke-Lewis controversy over the nature of theoretical terms. (shrink)
Gil R, Arroyo-Anllo EM, Ingrand P, Gil M, Neau JP, Ornon C, Bonnaud V. Self-consciousness and Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neurol Scand 2001: 104: 296–300. # Munksgaard 2001. Objectives – To propose a neuropsychological study of the various aspects of self-consciousness (SC) in Alzheimer’s disease. Methods – Forty-five patients with probable mild or moderate AD were included in the study. Severity of their dementia was assessed by the Mini Mental State (MMS). Fourteen questions were prepared to evaluate (...) SC. Results – No significant correlations were found between SC score and educational level, age, and duration of disease. A significant correlation was found between SC score and the severity of dementia, whereas frontal disturbances were just short of the significance threshold. The various aspects of SC were not impaired to the same degree. The most disturbed ones were awareness of cognitive deficiencies, moral judgements and prospective memory. The least disturbed aspects were awareness of identity and of mental representation of the body. Items relating to anosognosia and moral judgements were significantly correlated with the MMS score, whereas affective state, body representation disorders, prospective memory, and capacities for introspection were not related to the severity of the dementia. Consciousness of identity was sound, regardless of MMS score. Conclusions – AD clearly induces an heterogeneous impairment of SC. SC requires a convergence of many neural networks. In AD, neuronal alterations involve many cortical areas and information sent to the associative frontal cortex from memory, language and visuospatial areas is lacking or disturbed. Thus, the sequential order of successive stimuli cannot be maintained by the heteromodal associative cortex (dorsal convexity of the prefrontal cortex), and the supramodal associative cortex (located rostrally in the frontal lobes) is unable to provide reliable monitoring and assessment of simultaneous neural cognitive networks carrying insufficient and inadequate input. The core deficiency in AD patients might be impaired SC equated with the disability to maintain sequential and simultaneous ‘‘attention to life’’. The Self-Consciousness Questionnaire, a clinical scale providing multidimensional measurement, indicates that different aspects of consciousness are not correlated with overall cognitive deficiency as determined by the MMSE. (shrink)
The concept of the self is embedded in a web of relationships of other concepts and phenomena such as consciousness, self-consciousness, personal identity and the mind–body problem. The article follows the ontological and epistemological roles of the concept of selfconsciousness and the structural co-implication of consciousness and self-consciousness from Descartes and Locke to Kant and Sartre while delineating its subject matter from related inquiries into the relationship between the mind and the body, personal (...) identity, and the question whether consciousness is an irreducible reality sui generis or essentially a neurobiological entity. Over the course of its history, the modern self turns out to become an ever more elusive phenomenon, while its roles as a bearer of individual responsibility and as a subject of reflective endorsement of the truth become ever more pronounced. (shrink)
From my Consciousness in Action, ch. 2; see Consciousness in Action for bibligraphy. This chapter revises material from "Kant on Spontaneity and the Myth of the Giving", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1993-94, pp. 137-164, and "Myth Upon Myth", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1996, vol. 96, pp. 253-260.
It is often claimed that a minimal form of self-awareness is constitutive of our conscious experience. Some have considered that such a claim is plausible for our ordinary experiences but false when considered unrestrictedly on the basis of the empirical evidence from altered states. In this paper I want to reject such a reasoning. This requires, first, a proper understanding of a minimal form of self-awareness – one that makes it plausible that minimal self-awareness is part of (...) our ordinary experiences. I will argue that it should be understood as Perspectival First-Person Awareness : a non-conceptual identification-free self-attribution that defines the first-person perspective for our conscious experience. I will offer a detailed characterization of PFP-Awareness in semantic and epistemological terms. With this tool in hand, I will review the empirical literature on altered states. I will focus on psychedelics, meditation and dreams, as they have been claimed to present the clearest cases in favor of a radical disruption of self-awareness. I will show that the rejection of the idea that minimal self-awareness is constitutive of our experience on the basis of this evidence is unfounded, for two main reasons. First, although there are good grounds to think that some forms of self-awareness that typically accompany our ordinary experiences are compromised, they do not support the claim that PFP-Awareness is absent. Secondly, the reports that could make us think of a radical disruption of self-awareness are most probably due to a confirmation bias – and hence we should mistrust them – derived from the expectations and metaphysical views of their subjects. (shrink)
A reciprocity framework is presented as an analysis of morality, and to explain and justify the attribution of moral rights and duties. To say an entity has rights makes sense only if that entity can fulfill reciprocal duties, i.e., can act as a moral agent. To be a moral agent an entity must be self-conscious, understand general principles, have free will, understand the given principles, be physicallycapable of acting, and intend to act according to or against the given principles. (...) This framework is foundational both to empirical and supernatural positions which distinguish a human milieu, which is moral, from a nonhuman milieu, which is not. It also provides a basis for evaluating four standard arguments for the rights ofnonhuman animals and nature-the ecological, the prudential, the sentimental, and the contractual. If reciprocity is taken as being central to the general concepts of rights and duties, then few animals, and no natural objects or natural systems, have rights and duties in an intrinsic or primary sense, although they may be assigned them in an extrinsic or secondary sense as a convenience in connection with human interests. Nevertheless, there are some animals besides humans - e.g., especially chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, and dogs - which, in accordance with good behavioral evidence, are moral entities, and sometimes moral agents. On the grounds of reciprocity, they merit, at aminimum, intrinsic or primary rights to life and to relief from unnecessary suffering. (shrink)
Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism suggests that the sense of normative terms like “ought” and “good” as they appear in ethical discourse is to be elucidated in terms of the relation in which a living individual stands to the life-form or “species” of which it is an exemplar—in our case: the human life-form. A theory of this form has to provide a story about questions such as: What enables us to distinguish the different kinds of life within the theory? What makes them, (...) despite those differences, all sorts of natural goodness? And where, in relation to those continuities and discontinuities, is the account of practical reason to be situated? In this paper, I investigate how a developed ethical naturalism has to conceive of the relation between the genus concept life and the concept of the specific kind of life characteristic of us: rational or practically self-conscious life. I argue that there is a deep ambiguity with respect to this question in the account Philippa Foot presents in Natural Goodness. An ambiguity that covers a dilemma. A properly developed ethical naturalism would have to develop the concept of reason out of the reflection on life. (shrink)
This paper uses certain of Michel Foucault's ideas concerning modern consciousness (from The Order of Things) to illuminate a central paradox of the schizophrenic condition: a strange oscillation, or even coexistence, between two opposite experiences of the self: between the loss or fragmentation of self and its apotheosis in moments of solipsistic grandeur. Many schizophrenic patients lose their sense of integrated and active intentionality; even their most intimate thoughts and inclinations may be experienced as emanating from, or (...) under the control of, some external being or mysterious foreign soul (‘I feel it is not me who is thinking’; ‘I have been programmed’). Yet the same patients may also experience the self as preeminent, all-powerful or all-knowing (‘My thoughts can influence things’; ‘This event happens because I think it'). Here one may feel confronted with the very paradigm of irrationality: profound contradictions suggesting regression to primitive ‘primary-process’ thinking or utter collapse of the higher faculties of mind. I argue, however, that these dualities so basic to schizophrenia can best be understood very differently: as consequences of a kind of alienation and hyper-self-consciousness (‘hyper- reflexivity') that is closely analogous to what occurs in the post-Kantian era of Western intellectual history. The parallel dualities of modern thought have been most extensively discussed by Foucault, who describes paradoxes, tensions and other dilemmas central to what he calls the modern ‘episteme'; these result from what Foucault sees as the modern human being's introverted and ultimately self-deceiving preoccupation with, and overvaluing of, the phenomenon of his own consciousness. Parallels between these contradictions and those characteristic of several withdrawn schizophrenic individuals are described and analysed. The paper concludes with an Afterword in which some possible neurobiological underpinnings of these schizophrenic experiences are discussed. (shrink)
This article defends two theses: that a mental state is conscious if and only if it has phenomenal character, i.e., if and only if there is something it is like for the subject to be in that state, and that all state consciousness involves self-consciousness, in the sense that a mental state is conscious if and only if its possessor is, in some suitable way, conscious of being in it. Though neither of these theses is novel, there (...) is a dearth of direct arguments for them in the scholarly literature and the relationship between them has so far gone underrecognized. This article attempts to remedy this lack, advancing the claim that if all conscious states have phenomenal character, then all state consciousness involves self-consciousness. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to show that consciousness entails self-consciousness by focusing on the relationship between consciousness and memory. More specifically, I addreess the following questions: (1) does consciousness require episodic memory?; and (2) does episodic memory require self-consciousness? With the aid of some Kantian considerations and recent empirical data, it is argued that consciousness does require episodic memory. This is done after defining episodic memory and distinguishing it from other (...) types of memory. An affirmative answer to (2) is also warranted especially in the light of the issues raised in answering (1). I claim that 'consciousness entails self-consciousness' is thereby shown via the route through episodic memory, i.e. via affirmative answers to (1) and (2). My aim is to revive this Kantian thesis and to bring together current psychological research on amnesia with traditional philosophical perspectives on consciousness and memory. (shrink)
This article argues that bodily awareness is a basic form of self-consciousness through which perceiving agents are directly conscious of the bodily self. It clarifies the nature of bodily awareness, categorises the different types of body-relative information, and rejects the claim that we can have a sense of ownership of our own bodies. It explores how bodily awareness functions as a form of self-consciousness and highlights the importance of certain forms of bodily awareness that share (...) an important epistemological property with canonical forms of self-consciousness such as introspection. (shrink)