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)
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 (...) class='Hi'>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)
It is generally agreed that consciousness is a somewhat slippery term. However, more narrowly defined as 'phenomenal consciousness' it captures at least three essential features or aspects: subjective experience (the notion that what we are primarily conscious of are experiences), subjective knowledge (that feature of our awareness that gives consciousness its distinctive reflexive character), and phenomenal contrast (the phenomenality of awareness, absence of which makes consciousness intractable) (cf. Siewert 1998). If Buddhist accounts of consciousness are built, as it is claimed, (...) on phenomenological (thus descriptive) rather than metaphysical grounds, the obvious question arises: is there such a place or locus for conscious experience? And if there is, does it have the sort of character that is amenable to phenomenological analysis? A positive answer would suggest that conscious experience is such that at a minimum, the 'sense of self' must be an ineliminable structural feature of cognitive awareness. This paper pursues the question of precisely what conception of self-consciousness can be supported on experiential grounds given the Buddhist no-self view, and whether such conception is sufficient to account for the ineliminable features of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
Should people include beef in their diet? This chapter argues that the answer is “no” by reviewing what is known and not known about the presence in cattle of three psychological traits: pain, desire, and self-consciousness. On the basis of behavioral and neuroanatomical evidence, the chapter argues that cattle are sentient beings who have things they want to do in the proximal future, but they are not self-conscious. The piece rebuts three important objections: that cattle have injury information but (...) not pain; that cattle have goal-directed behavior but not desire; and that the absence of evidence for bovine self-consciousness should not be taken as evidence that cattle lack self-consciousness. In sum, what is known about cattle cognition shifts the moral burden of proof on to the beef eaters. (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 present one possible way of arguing for the theory of minimal self-consciousness, namely, by an argument by elimination. Central to the argument are the following two claims: a) If a theory of consciousness cannot explain first-person self-reference, then the theory is false, and b) An anonymity theory cannot explain first-person self-reference. Consequently, the anonymity theory is false.
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)
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)
In this short piece I defend my position on self-consciousness against the objections raised by Dow and Musholt to a paper in the same issue. These are that (1) Bermudez’s (1998) The Paradox of Self-Consciousness broadly supports the CP Hypothesis; (2) the self-concept requires no further complexity than knowledge of one’s own existence and capacity to take deliberate action; (3) understanding the idea of a perceiver requires understanding the concept of an agent that performs the action of perception; (...) (4) Dow dismisses the possibility of scrub jay self-consciousness too readil. (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.
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)
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)
This paper is a novel attempt at reconstructing Kant’s account of self-consciousness in the first Critique by making evident its gradual expository progression, and at identifying the epistemic status of the two modes of self-consciousness: pure and empirical. I trace the gradual exposition of theoretical self-consciousness across three crucial parts of the book: the Transcendental Deduction, the Refutation of Idealism, and the Paralogisms of Pure Reason. In doing so, I show that the account of theoretical self-consciousness (...) is not presented to us all at once, but is progressively expanded and filled in. I also emphasize the importance of the distinction between the subject’s awareness of its existence, “Dasein”, and of its existence, “Existenz”. I conclude by discussing Kant’s preliminary remarks about practical self-consciousness in the Paralogisms, which bear an important relation to theoretical self-consciousness. (shrink)
In Kant and the Demands of Self-Consciousness, Pierre Keller examines Kant's theory of self-consciousness and argues that it succeeds in explaining how both subjective and objective experience are possible. Previous interpretations of Kant's theory have held that he treats all self-consciousness as knowledge of objective states of affairs, and also that self-consciousness can be interpreted as knowledge of personal identity. By developing this striking new interpretation Keller is able to argue that transcendental self-consciousness underwrites a (...) general theory of objectivity and subjectivity at the same time. (shrink)
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)
As perceivers we are able to keep track of the ways in which our perceptual experience depends on what we do. This capacity, which Hurley calls perspectival self- consciousness, is a special instance of our more general ability as perceivers to keep track of how things are. I argue that one upshot of this is that perspectival self- consciousness, like the ability to perceive more generally, relies on our possession of conceptual skills.
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)
In attempts to come to grips with Kant’s thought, the influence of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is often neglected. In this paper, I consider three topics in Kant’s philosophy of mind, broadly construed, where Wolff’s influence is particularly visible: consciousness, self-consciousness, and psychology. I argue that we can better understand Kant’s particular arguments and positions within this context, but also gain a more accurate sense of which aspects of Kant’s accounts derive from the antecedent traditions and which (...) constitute genuine philosophical innovations. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of self-consciousness typically begin by dividing experiences of the self into types, each requiring separate explanation. The stereotypical case of an out of body experience may be seen to suggest a distinction between the sense of oneself as an experiencing subject, a mental entity, and a sense of oneself as an embodied person, a bodily entity. Point of view, in the sense of the place from which the subject seems to experience the world, in this case is (...) tied to the sense of oneself as a mental entity and seems to be the ‘real’ self. Closer reading of reports, however, suggests a substantially more complicated picture. For example, the ‘real’ self that is experienced as separate from the body in an OBE is not necessarily experienced as disembodied. Subjects may experience themselves as having two bodies. In cases classed as heautoscopy there is considerable confusion regarding the apparent location of the experiencing subject; is it the ‘real mind’ in the body I seem to be looking out from, or is it in the body that I see? This suggests that visual point of view can dissociate from the experience of one’s own “real mind” or experience of self-identification. I provide a tripartite distinction between the sense of ownership, the sense of embodiment and the sense of subjectivity to better describe these experiences. The phenomenology of OBEs suggests that there are three distinct forms of self-consciousness which need to be explained. (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 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)
_Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness_ is about persons and personal identity. What are we? And why does personal identity matter? Brian Garrett, using jargon-free language, addresses questions in the metaphysics of personal identity, questions in value theory, and discusses questions about the first person singular. Brian Garrett makes an important contribution to the philosophy of personal identity and mind, and to epistemology.
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)
This paper explores the relation between two ways of thinking about the sources of self-consciousness. We can think about the sources of self-consciousness either in genetic terms (as the origins or precursors of self-conscious thoughts) or in epistemic terms (as the grounds of self-conscious judgements). Using Christopher Peacocke's account of self-conscious judgements in Being Known as a foil, this paper brings out some important ways in which we need to draw upon the sources of self-consciousness in the (...) genetic sense for a proper understanding of the sources of self-consciousness in the epistemic sense. (shrink)
A core thesis of Kitcher's is that thinking about objects requires awareness of necessary connections between one's object-directed representations ‘as such’ and that this is what Kant means by the transcendental unity of apperception. I argue that Kant's main point is the spontaneity or ‘self-made-ness’ of combination rather than the requirement of reflexive awareness of combination, that Kitcher provides no plausible account of how recognition of representations ‘as such’ should be constituted and that in fact Kant himself appears to lack (...) the theoretical resources to clearly distinguish between consciousness and self-consciousness or apperception properly so-called. (shrink)
What is this thing we each call “I” and consider the eye of consciousness, that which beholds objects in the world and objects in our minds? This inner perceiver seems to be the same I who calls forth memories or images at will, the I who feels and determines whether to act on those feelings or suppress them, as well as the I who worries and makes plans and attempts to avoid those worries and act on those plans. Am I (...) the subject, thus the source, of my awareness, just as you are the subject and source of your awareness? If this is the case, it is likely impossible to be conscious without the self (yours or mine), the eye of consciousness, and it must certainly not be desirable, for such a consciousness would have no focal point, no self-that-is-conscious to guide it, so it would be cast adrift on a wide and wild sea like a boat that has broken from its anchor. Without self-enclosure, “We shall go mad no doubt and die that way,” as Robert Graves (1927/1966) expressed it in "The Cool Web". (shrink)
This book is a philosophical examination of the main stages in our journey from hominid to human. It deals with the nature and origin of language, the self, self-consciousness, and the religious ideal of a return to Eden. It approaches these topics through a philosophical anthropology derived from the later writings of Wittgenstein. The result is an account of our place in nature consistent with both a hard-headed empiricism and a this-worldy but religiously significant mysticism.
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)
With all the attention given to the study of consciousness recently, the topic of self-consciousness has been relatively neglected. “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-conscious that has seemed such a scientific mystery,” a prominent philosopher comments.1 Phenomenal consciousness concerns the aspect of a state that feels a certain way: roses smell like this; garlic tastes like that; middle C sounds like this, and so on. Although phenomenal consciousness is surely a fruitful area of scientific investigation, I hope (...) to demonstrate here that investigation of selfconsciousness offers its own rewards, ontologically speaking. (shrink)
This paper investigates the philosophy of the eighteenth-century German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), situating his views in the context of early-modern views of the self, and providing an interpretation and assessment of his remarks on self-consciousness and personal identity in his Waste Books. In these remarks, which include his famous observation that we are warranted only in saying “it thinks” rather than “I think,” Lichtenberg criticizes the rationalist metaphysics of the soul for confusing conceivability with cognizability and argues (...) that we cannot know ourselves to be a persisting substantial self on the basis of the observations of inner sense. We are justified only in claiming that the self is a series of interrelated conscious representations and sensations. Lichtenberg’s rejection of the substantial self in favor of this view of the self also leads him to conclude in other remarks that personal identity consists in the continuity of consciousness produced by memory regardless of the material basis upon which consciousness supervenes. (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)
In this article, I delineate seven aspects of the process of self-consciousness in order to demonstrate that when any of the aspects is compromised, self-consciousness goes away while consciousness persists. I then suggest that the psychological phenomenon of flow is characterized by a loss of self-consciousness. The seven aspects are: 1) implicit awareness that the person and the self are identical; 2) awareness of an event or circumstance in the world internal or external to the person; 3) (...) awareness that this event or circumstance is not isolated, that something will result from it; 4) inference that a result of the circumstance or event may have an impact on one's person; 5) inference that the impact on one's person may have a normative valence with respect to one's person; 6) inference that the normative valence with respect one's person may be significant to one's person; 7) implicit awareness that any event eventuating in a normative valence that is significant with respect to one's person will also be significant to one's self. (shrink)
I offer a philosophically well-motivated solution to a problem that George Bealer has identified, which he claims is fatal to functionalism. The problem is that there seems to be no way to generate a satisfactory Ramsey sentence of a psychological theory in which mental-state predicates occur within the scopes of mental-state predicates. My central claim is that the functional roles in terms of which a creature capable of self-consciousness identifies her own mental states must be roles that items could (...) play within creatures whose psychology is less complex than hers. (Bealer’s reply to this paper appears in the same issue of Mind & Language.). (shrink)
Recent work in moral theory has seen the refinement of theories of moral standing, which increasingly recognize a position of intermediate standing between fully self-conscious entities and those which are merely conscious. Among the most sophisticated concepts now used to denote such intermediate standing is that of primitive self-consciousness, which has been used to more precisely elucidate the moral standing of human newborns. New research into the structure of the avian brain offers a revised view of the cognitive abilities (...) of birds. When this research is approached with a species-specific focus, it appears likely that one familiar species, the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), also exhibits primitive self-consciousness. Given the likelihood that they are primitively self-consciousness, chickens warrant a degree of moral standing that falls short of that enjoyed by persons, but which exceeds the minimal standing of merely conscious entities. (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)
The preceding article by Marc Bekoff reveals much about our current understanding of animal self-consciousness and its implications. It also reveals how much more there is to be said and considered. This response briefly examines animal self-consciousness from scientific, moral, and theological perspectives. As Bekoff emphasizes, self-consciousness is not one thing but many. Consequently, our moral relationship to animals is not simply one based on a graded hierarchy of abilities. Furthermore, the complexity of animal self-awareness can serve (...) as stimulus for thinking about issues of theodicy and soteriology in a broader sense. (shrink)
I argue that José Luis Bermúdez has not shown that there is a paradox in our concept of self-consciousness. The deflationary theory is not a plausible theory of self-consciousness, so its paradoxicality is irrelevant. A more plausible theory, 'the simple theory', is not paradoxical. However, I do think there is a puzzle about the connection between self-consciousness and 'I'-thoughts.
This paper has two aims. First, it aims to provide an adverbial account of the idea of an intransitive self-consciousness and, second, it aims to argue in favor of this account. These aims both require a new framework that emerges from a critical review of Perry’s famous notion of the “unarticulated constituents” of propositional content. First, I aim to show that the idea of an intransitive self-consciousness can be phenomenologically described in an analogy with the adverbial theory of (...) perception. In an adverbial theory of perception, we do not see a blue sense-data, but we see something blue-ly, whereas in intransitive self-consciousness we are not conscious of ourselves when we undergo a conscious experience—instead, we experience something self-consciously. But what does this mean precisely? First, I take transitive self-consciousness to be the first-person operator that prefixes the content of any experience that the subject undergoes, regardless of whether or not the subject is self-referred. Further, I argue that this first-person adverbial way of entertaining a content of any experience in Perry’s revised framework fixes the subject as part of the circumstance of the evaluation of the content of her own experience. We can only evaluate whether the content is veridical of falsidical relative to the subject undergoing the experience. This is referred to here as “self-concernment without self-reference.” When I am absorbed reading a book, I do not self-represent my own experience of reading a book, let alone see myself as a constituent of the content of this experience. Even so, I experience that reading self-consciously in the precise sense that I do belong the circumstance of the evaluation of the selfless content of my experience of reading the book. The content of the experience of reading a book is simply a propositional function, true or false of myself. (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 special issue of Grazer Philosophische Studien brings together a number of carefully selected and timely articles that explore the discussion of different facets of self-consciousness from multiple perspectives. The selected articles mainly focus on three topics of the current debate: the relationship between conceptual and nonconceptual ways of self-representation; the role of intersubjectivity for the development of self-consciousness; the temporal structure of self-consciousness. A number of previously underexposed, yet important connections between different approaches are explored. The (...) articles not only represent the state of the art in their respective areas of research and make new insights available, but also provide an overview of different methodologies: ranging from philosophy of language and mind to phenomenology and cognitive science. The volume is of interest for philosophers, cognitive scientists and researchers in related disciplines who are concerned with investigating the nature and origin of self-consciousness. (shrink)
The crucial problem of self-consciousness is how to account for knowing self-reference without launching into a regress or without presupposing self-consciousness rather than accounting for it. In the literature we find two bottom-up proposals for solving the traditional problem: the postulation of nonconceptual forms of self-consciousness and the postulation of a pre-reflexive form of self-consciousness. However, none of them seems satisfactory for several reasons. In contrast, I believe that the only way of solving this traditional puzzle (...) is to assume another bottom-up approach, namely the one that accepts Baker’s challenge to naturalism and provides a naturalist framework for self-consciousness; in Baker’s terms, to account for self-consciousness in non-intentional, non-semantic, and non-mental terms. That is the aim of this paper. My thesis rests on two claims. The first is the metaphysical claim that every creature enjoys a fundamental relation to itself, namely identity. The second is Dretske’s epistemological claim that representations do not require a Self, traditionally understood as the principle that spontaneously organizes mental activity and lies behind all intentional acts. Briefly, I argue for a naturalization of self-consciousness that postulates non-linguistic, naturalized, and selfless form of representation of the cognitive system based on the metaphysical, fundamental relation everyone has to himself, namely identity. Self-consciousness emerges when brain states are selflessly recruited through learning to represent the cognitive system itself as a subject. (shrink)
In The Paradox of Self-Consciousness, Jose Luis Bermúdez presents an abductive argument for what he calls ‘the Symmetry Thesis’ about self-ascription: in order to have the ability to self-ascribe psychological predicates to oneself, one must be able to ascribe psychological predicates to other subjects like oneself. Bermúdez discusses joint engagement as a key phenomenon that underwrites his abductive argument for the Symmetry Thesis. He argues that the ability to self-ascribe is “constituted” by the intersubjective relations that are realized in (...) joint engagement. I will argue in §1 that although Bermúdez may be correct that these phenomena support the idea that pre-linguistic infants and non-linguistic animals possess primitive forms of self-consciousness, for conceptual reasons, his account of joint engagement cannot be used to argue for the Symmetry thesis. I will argue in §2 that while Bermúdez is correct that joint engagement is significant for the constitution of self-ascription, his description of that phenomenon is too robust, because it requires that the infant have a mental representation of the other as a psychological subject of perceptions. I argue that Bermúdez’s description requires an iteration of representations each of which requires a form of self-reference, which goes against Bermudez’s aim of avoiding the paradox of self-consciousness. In presenting his argument for the Symmetry thesis and his account of joint engagement, Bermúdez critiques P. F. Strawson’s argument for the Symmetry Thesis. In §3 of the paper, I turn to the positive project of presenting a constructive argument for the Symmetry thesis. In a variety of sources, P. F. Strawson and Gareth Evans present a transcendental argument for the Symmetry thesis. I suggest that an argument for the Symmetry thesis is available in Strawson’s notion of the primitiveness of the person. In §4, this leads to a corresponding account of joint engagement. Instead of the robust account of joint engagement presented by Bermúdez, I suggest that the infant perceives the mother’s acknowledgement of the infant without the capacity for self-reference that the Bermúdez’s iteration requires. I reconstruct an account of other-ascription in terms of what I call “person perception,” relying on a recent discussion of Strawson’s view by Axel Seemann (2008). On the Strawsonian account that I provide, an adult summons a child to recognize and acknowledge a form of life in which it participates as a person. In closing, I consider how my account of other-ascription differs from two classic accounts— the theory-theory and the simulation theory— and discuss how my account provides a genuine third alternative: the Persons theory. I would argue that the Persons theory offers a new approach to key issues in philosophy and psychology concerning self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. (shrink)
Mental health, in one awake, guarantees that person knowledge of the central phenomenon-contents of his own mind, under an adequate classificatory heading. This is the primary thesis of the paper. That knowledge is not itself a phenomenon-content, and usually is achieved in no way. Rather, it stems from the natural accessibility of mental phenomenon-contents to wakeful consciousness. More precisely, when mental normality obtains, such knowledge necessarily obtains in wakeful consciousness. This thesis conjoins a version of Cartesianism with the concepts of (...) mental health and human nature. Demonstration of the thesis requires that we show that a particular human mental potential fails fully to be realized when such self-awareness is impaired. That potential is for consciousness of the world (w-Cs), wakefulness. W-Cs divides into consciousness of the outer world (ow-Cs), and consciousness of the inner world (iw-Cs), and we need to demonstrate an essential dependence of ow-Cs upon iw-Cs. Now w-Cs is the adoption of the correct occurrent epistemological posture to the world, and this involves free rational determination of occurrent cognitive attitudes via the internal systematized knowledge of the world, which requires adequate awareness of mental phenomenon-contents. Therefore ow-Cs needs iw-Cs. This is displayed in mental structural accounts of hypnotic, drunken, and psychotic disturbances of consciousness. (For we endorse a structural account of mental health.) We show how failures of self-consciousness entail disturbed modes of determination of cognitive attitudes by the knowledge-system, which is loss of contact with the personal yet true internal representation of the world, which is loss of contact with reality, which is a disturbance both of w-Cs and of consciousness itself. (shrink)
The theory of recognition arises within Hegel's confrontation with epistemological skepticism and aims at responding to the questions raised by modern skepticism concerning the accessibility of the external world, of other minds, and of one's own mind. This is possible to the extent that the theory of recognition is the guiding thread of a critique of the modern foundational theory of knowledge and, at the same time, the point of departure for an alternative approach. In this article I will dwell (...) on six stages of the evolution of Hegel's thought prior to the Phenomenology (1797-1806),stages shed great light on the direction taken by his argumentative strategy. Synthetically, the stages are as follows: 1. Hegel naturalizes the epistemological questions; 2. to do so he critiques foundationalism qua theory of empirical knowledge; 3. and qua theory of epistemic justification; 4. the critique of foundationalism is linked to a critique of the corresponding representationalistic theory of perception; 5. this, in turn, is linked to a critique of the monological theories of self-consciousness and to the development of a model of the rise of self-conscious knowing; 6. finally, Hegel synthesizes these epistemological views in a theory of knowledge qua recognition and in a metaphilosophical theory of philosophical rationality qua self-recognition: knowledge without foundation is thus the condition of possibility of philosophy’s self-justification. (shrink)
NOTHING APPEARS LESS PROBLEMATIC than self-consciousness. Without it, no inquiry seems possible, for how can one seek knowledge unless one is aware of undertaking that quest? Moreover, consciousness of anything other than the self is always plagued with knowing something whose existence cannot lie in the consciousness of it. As Descartes observed, whenever one represents an object different from one’s consciousness, it is always doubtful whether that object exists or corresponds with its representation. By contrast, insofar as consciousness of (...) one’s self-consciousness is the very being of self-consciousness, the gap between object and representation here seems uniquely absent. Not only is my representation of myself as self-conscious constitutive of my being self-conscious, but nothing prevents that representation from corresponding to what it is about. (shrink)