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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
The author claims that concept possession is not only necessary but also sufficient for self-consciousness, where self-consciousness is understood as the awareness of oneself as a self. Further, he links concept possession to intelligent behavior. His ultimate aim is to provide a framework for the study of self-consciousness in infants and non-human animals. I argue that the claim that all concepts are necessarily related to the self-concept remains unconvincing and suggest that what might be at issue here (...) are not so much conceptual but rather metacognitive abilities. (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 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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
-/- 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)
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)
A core thesis of Kitcher's is that thinking about objects requires awareness of necessary connections between one's object-directed representations and that this is what Kant means by the transcendental unity of apperception. I argue that Kant's main point is the spontaneity or of combination rather than the requirement of reflexive awareness of combination, that Kitcher provides no plausible account of how recognition of representations should be constituted and that in fact Kant himself appears to lack the theoretical resources to clearly (...) distinguish between (first-level) consciousness and self-consciousness or apperception properly so-called. (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)
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)
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.
_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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
In recent years, philosophers have shown a rapidly increasing interest in the problem of consciousness and it is arguably the central issue in current interdisciplinary discussions about the mind. Any convincing theory of consciousness has to account for the perplexing aspects of human self-consciousness. This paper deals with Ibn Sina’s view on the human self-consciousness with special reference to his well-known “Flying Man” thought experiment. In a brief comparative discussion, we will consider some of the parallels between Ibn (...) Sina’s account of “consciousness of consciousness” and the contemporary “higher-order” theories of consciousness. An important point of divergence between Ibn Sina’s line of argument and Descartes’ method over the problem of self-consciousness will be examined, as well. Further, Thomas Nagel’s famous view on the subjective character of conscious experience will be mentioned and compared with the implications of Ibn Sina’s dictum that “our self-consciousness is identical to our existence”. (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)
On the surface the concept of self-consciousness would seem to be understandable as consciousness of oneself. It is commonplace to resist this temptation by arguing that the self cannot properly be construed as the object of this form of consciousness. It is the subject. However, in this paper I show that any effort to see the self as the subject of consciousness converts it, willy nilly, into an object.Self-consciousness is not to be understood by determining the logically appropriate (...) role of the self in a univocal kind of consciousness. It differs from ‘ordinary’ consciousness because of the need for it to be unmediated and direct. If, on the one had, one is conscious of something, it is possible for that awareness to be indirect and mediated. On the other hand, if one is self-conscious it is necessary for that awareness to be direct. (shrink)
Consciousness – Bewußtsein – was one of the key concepts of Husserl’s phenomenology. In contrast to this, Heidegger – regarded as Husserl’s most outstanding pupil – placed Dasein at the center of his own phenomenology. This change in key concepts may be seen as an upheaval in the phenomenology that purports to study the “things themselves”: as a shift of focus from the activity of a Bewußtsein that constitutes the Being of objects, to the passivity of a Dasein that receives (...) the donation of Being. But there is another aspect of Dasein that lies in the concept of “Da” (disclosedness), and it implies another possibility for the development of phenomenology that Heidegger did not fully develop. Kitaro Nishida, the Japanese philosopher who introduced phenomenology to Japan during the first half of the 20th century, developed this concept in his own way by analyzing the structure of disclosedness in terms of self-consciousness. (shrink)
Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right develops an intersubjective view of individual self-consciousness. The central concept of this view is his notion of the summons, which he characterizes as upbringing. I argue that Fichte has a developmental view of self-consciousness in which a subject is brought up, through relations of recognition, to be first an individual human being that is capable of responding to reasons and second a political individual that respects other political individuals’ rights. My argument shows that (...) Fichte has two conceptions of recognition, elementary recognition and political recognition, as well as two conceptions of the individual, the individual human being and the political individual. I examine Fichte’s conception of Erziehung, or upbringing, and particularly, Fichte’s remarks about child rearing in order to disambiguate the two types of recognition and individuality. (shrink)
Our Own Minds presents an account of the nature and development of self-consciousness. Bogdan describes the mind of the infant as outward looking, turning in on itself only at a relatively late stage of development. This it does as a response to the increasingly sophisticated sociocultural pressures it faces throughout infancy and early childhood. The book is difficult to follow (about which, more later) but the main line of argument is this: to begin with, infants are attuned to their (...) physical and sociocultural environment, employing an early form of intuitive psychology, a practical capacity to interact with conspecifics, referred to by Bogdan as 'naïve psychology' (129). However, infants are faced with a series of sociocultural tasks (109-12), the implementation of which requires them to develop various executive capacities (105-9) which 'install' a form of self-consciousness, dubbed by Bogdan 'extrovert self-consciousness' (99-100). The increasingly demanding nature of these sociocultural tasks has the consequence that, around the age of 4, intuitive psychology undergoes a shift, becoming 'commonsense psychology' (129-30). This enables children to represent others' propositional attitudes and to think 'offline' (129-30). These new abilities and associated executive capacities, in their turn, 'install' a new form of self-consciousness, 'introvert self-consciousness' (159). Whilst the child's intuitive psychology and self-consciousness continue to develop until adolescence (33), this is where the book's central argument ends. (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)
Philosophers and psychologists have traditionally understood folk psychology to emerge in one of two ways: either first through the origin of the function of self-consciousness or first through the origin of the function of mindreading. The aim of this paper is to provide reasons to doubt that those options exhaust the possibilities. In particular, I will argue that in the discussion about whether self-consciousness or mindreading evolved first, we have lost sight of a viable third option. I will (...) urge that mindsharing—the kind of intersubjectivity involved in joint engagement—may have been an important precursor to the ascription of mentalstates to selves and others. I analyze arguments for the view that mindreading evolved prior to self-consciousness, which I call “the mindreading priority account.” I acknowledge that proponents of the mindreading priority account are correct to stress the importance of our social natures in the emergence of self-consciousness. However, such accounts have focused too narrowly on mindreading as the biological function that is the basis of the development of self-consciousness. I argue that there are methodological reasons to doubt that mindreading is prior to self-consciousness, because awareness of oneself and awareness of others is symmetrical. I argue that there are empirical reasons to doubt that there is evidence for an adaptation explanation for mindreading. I provide a skeptical argument against the mindreading priority account by critiquingtwo central assumptions of that account, namely that mindreading is an adaptation and self-consciousness is a byproduct of mindreading. I consider an alternative view of mindsharing as the function of folk psychology and suggest that the mindsharing account may be on better grounds than the mindreading account in terms of providing an explanation of the origins of self-consciousness. In addition, I will outline an account of the development of self-consciousness and mindreading that emerges from mindsharing. In the conclusion, I will consider two objections to my account and reply to both objections. (shrink)