To a first approximation, self-representationalism is the view that a mental state M is phenomenally conscious just in case M represents itself in the appropriate way. Proponents of self-representationalism seem to think that the phenomenology of ordinary conscious experience is on their side, but opponents seem to think the opposite. In this paper, I consider the phenomenological merits and demerits of self-representationalism. I argue that there is phenomenological evidence in favor of self-representationalism, and rather more confidently, (...) that there is no phenomenological evidence against self-representationalism. (shrink)
According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self- representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self- representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self- representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most promising self-representational approach to the explanatory gap (...) (§2). That approach is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine, which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4). (shrink)
Kriegel’s self-representationalist theory of phenomenal consciousness pursues two projects. The first is to offer a positive account of how conscious experience arises from physical brain processes. The second is to explain why consciousness misleadingly appears to be irreducible to the physical i.e. to ‘demystify’ consciousness. This paper seeks to determine whether SR succeeds on the second project. Kriegel trades on a distinction between the subjective character and qualitative character of conscious states. Subjective character is the property of being a conscious (...) state at all, while qualitative character determines what it is like to be in that state. Kriegel claims that SR explains why subjective character misleadingly appears irreducible, thereby neutralising the apparent irreducibility of consciousness. I argue that although SR credibly demystifies subjective character, it cannot explain why qualitative character also appears irreducible. I conclude that we should pursue the possibility of a hybrid position that combines SR with an account that does explain the apparent irreducibility of qualitative character. (shrink)
In defense of self-representationalism: reply to critics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9764-8 Authors Uriah Kriegel, Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
This thesis introduces the Problem of Consciousness as an antinomy between Physicalism and Primitivism about the phenomenal. I argue that Primitivism is implausible, but is supported by two conceptual gaps. The ‘–tivity gap’ holds that physical states are objective and phenomenal states are subjective, and that there is no entailment from the objective to the subjective. The ‘–trinsicality gap’ holds that physical properties are extrinsic and phenomenal qualities are intrinsic, and that there is no entailment from the extrinsic to the (...) intrinsic. Stoljar’s Epistemic View (EV) suggests that we have a limited conception of the physical world, and that the apparent inexplicability of consciousness is merely a symptom of our ignorance. I argue that EV must satisfy two conditions which require it to specify the content of our ignorance. EV’s best hope is a Russellian appeal to our ignorance of intrinsic physical properties. After arguing in favour of this ignorance claim, I show how it undermines the –trinsicality gap. However, I suggest that the –tivity gap cannot be dealt with by the Russellian ignorance hypothesis, nor by any other version of EV. However, I then argue that the Russellian ignorance hypothesis can still be deployed as half of a hybrid account of the phenomenal. Representationalist theories of consciousness have difficulty with the –trinsicality gap, but show promise with the –tivity gap. Specifically, Kriegel’s Self-Representationalism indicates that there can indeed be an entailment from objective physical states to subjective phenomenal states. This paves the way for my hybrid account of consciousness: the subjectivity of a phenomenal state is the product of its self-representational structure, and the qualitative character of a phenomenal state is the product of the epistemically inaccessible intrinsic physical properties involved in its implementation. (shrink)
Thomas Metzinger’s self-model theory offers a frame¬work for naturalizing subjective experiences, e.g. first-person perspective. These phenomena are explained by referring to representational contents which are said to be interrelated at diverse levels of consciousness and correlated with brain activities. The paper begins with a consideration on naturalism and anti-naturalism in order to roughly sketch the background of Metzinger’s claim that his theory renders philosophical speculations on the mind unnecessary . In particular, Husserl’s phenomenological conception of consciousness is refuted as uncritical (...) and inadequate. It will be demonstrated that this critique is misguided. . The main deficiencies of Metzinger’s theory will be elucidated by referring to the conception of phenomenal transparency which will be compared to a phenomenological idea of transparency . Then we shall enlarge our critical horizon by focusing on some implications of representationalism, including reification of consciousness, brain-Cartesianism, and exclusion of the social dimension . Finally, we shall take up our meta-theoretical reflections on the naturalism debate. (shrink)
Thomas Metzinger's self-model theory offers a framework for naturalizing subjective experiences, e.g. first-person perspective. These phenomena are explained by referring to representational contents which are said to be interrelated at diverse levels of consciousness and correlated with brain activities. The paper begins with a consideration on naturalism and anti-naturalism in order to roughly sketch the background of Metzinger's claim that his theory renders philosophical speculations on the mind unnecessary. In particular, Husserl's phenomenological conception of consciousness is refuted as uncritical and (...) inadequate. It is demonstrated that this critique is misguided. The main deficiencies of Metzinger's theory are elucidated by referring to the conception of phenomenal transparency which is compared to a phenomenological idea of transparency. The critical horizon is then enlarged by focusing on some implications of representationalism, including reification of consciousness, brain-Cartesianism and exclusion of the social dimension. Finally meta-theoretical reflections on the naturalism debate are taken up. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against the claim recently defended by Josh Weisberg that a certain version of the self-representational approach to phenomenal consciousness cannot avoid a set of problems that have plagued higher-order approaches. These problems arise specifically for theories that allow for higher-order misrepresentation or—in the domain of self-representational theories—self-misrepresentation. In response to Weisberg, I articulate a self-representational theory of phenomenal consciousness according to which it is contingently impossible for self-representations tokened in the context of a conscious mental (...) state to misrepresent their objects. This contingent infallibility allows the theory to both acknowledge the (logical) possibility of self-misrepresentation and avoid the problems of self-misrepresentation. Expanding further on Weisberg’s work, I consider and reveal the shortcomings of three other self-representational models—put forward by Kreigel, Van Gulick, and Gennaro—in order to show that each indicates the need for this sort of infallibility. I then argue that contingent infallibility is in principle acceptable on naturalistic grounds only if we attribute (1) a neo-Fregean kind of directly referring, indexical content to self-representational mental states and (2) a certain ontological structure to the complex conscious mental states of which these indexical self-representations are a part. In these sections I draw on ideas from the work of Perry and Kaplan to articulate the context-dependent semantic structure of inner-representational states. (shrink)
It is often said that some kind of peripheral (or inattentional) conscious awareness accompanies our focal (attentional) consciousness. I agree that this is often the case, but clarity is needed on several fronts. In this paper, I lay out four distinct theses on peripheral awareness and show that three of them are true. However, I then argue that a fourth thesis, commonly associated with the so-called "self-representational approach to consciousness," is false. The claim here is that we have outer focal (...) consciousness accompanied often (or even always) by inner peripheral (self-)awareness. My criticisms stem from both methodological and phenomenological considerations. In doing so, I offer a diagnosis as to why the fourth thesis has seemed true to so many and also show how the so-called "transparency of experience," frequently invoked by representationalists, is importantly relevant to my diagnosis. Finally, I respond to several objections and to further attempts to show that thesis four is true. What emerges is that if one wishes to hold that some form of self-awareness accompanies all outer-directed conscious states, one is better off holding that such self-awareness is itself unconscious, as is held for example by standard higher-order theories of consciousness. (shrink)
We have reason to believe that phenomenal properties are nothing over and above certain physical properties. However, doubt is cast on this by the apparent epistemic gap that arises for attempts to account for phenomenal properties in physical terms. I argue that the epistemic gap should be divided into two more fundamental conceptual gaps. The first of these pertains to the distinctive subjectivity of phenomenal states, and the second pertains to the intrinsicality of phenomenal qualities. Stoljars ignorance hypothesis (IH) attempts (...) to undermine the epistemic gap by arguing that the apparent inexplicability of the phenomenal is merely a symptom of our limited conception of the non-experiential world. I establish some obstacles to IH, and argue that the correct analysis of the epistemic gap means these obstacles can only partially be overcome. I propose, nonetheless, that IH can still be put to good use as half of a hybrid account of phenomenal consciousness. The proposal combines a self-representationalist account of the subjectivity of phenomenal states with a Russellian version of IH that accommodates the qualitative character of those states. This neo-Russellian ignorance hypothesis (NRIH) credibly undermines the appearance of an epistemic gap between the physical and the phenomenal. (shrink)
In his 2009 article “Self-Representationalism and Phenomenology,” Uriah Kriegel argues for self-representationalism about phenomenal consciousness primarily on phenomenological grounds. Kriegel’s argument can naturally be cast more broadly as an argument for higher-order representationalism. I examine this broadened version of Kriegel’s argument in detail and show that it is unsuccessful for two reasons. First, Kriegel’s argument (in its strongest form) relies on an inference to the best explanation from the claim that all experiences of normal adult human beings are (...) accompanied by peripheral awareness of those very experiences to the claim that all experiences are accompanied by peripheral awareness of those very experiences. This inference is inadequately defended, for the explanandum may also be given a straightforward evolutionary explanation. Second, contra Kriegel, I argue that phenomenological investigation does not support the thesis that we are always peripherally aware of our experiences. Instead, it delivers no verdict on this thesis. Kriegel’s phenomenological mistake may be explained via a highly diluted version of the famous transparency thesis about experience. (shrink)
This paper ties in with my longstanding project of using representationalism to dispel Cartesian superstitions about the scope of first-person authority. While my earlier work dealt with privileged self-knowledge of one’s belief states, this paper is concerned with privileged self-knowledge of one’s knowledge states. Is it a priori knowable, from a first-person perspective, that one knows that p? I argue that one cannot know a priori that one knows that p as opposed to being incapable of having any knowledge states; (...) but one can know a priori that one knows that p as opposed to some other proposition q. (shrink)
A representationalist analysis of strong first-person phenomena is developed (Baker 1998), and it is argued that conscious, cognitive self-reference can be naturalized under this representationalist analysis. According to this view, the phenomenal first-person perspective is a condition of possibility for the emergence of a cognitive first-person perspective. Cognitive self-reference always is reference to the phenomenal content of a transparent self-model. The concepts of phenomenal transparency and introspection are clarified. More generally, I suggest that the concepts of phenomenal opacity and phenomenal (...) transparency are interesting instruments for analyzing conscious, self-representational content, and that their relevance in understanding reflexive, i.e., cognitive subjectivity may have been overlooked in the past. (shrink)
According to what we will call subjectivity theories of consciousness, there is a constitutive connection between phenomenal consciousness and subjectivity: there is something it is like for a subject to have mental state M only if M is characterized by a certain mine-ness or for-me-ness. Such theories appear to face certain psychopathological counterexamples: patients appear to report conscious experiences that lack this subjective element. A subsidiary goal of this chapter is to articulate with greater precision both subjectivity theories and the (...) psychopathological challenge they face. The chapter’s central goal is to present two new approaches to defending subjectivity theories in the face of this challenge. What distinguishes these two approaches is that they go to great lengths to interpret patients’ reports at face value – greater length, at any rate, than more widespread approaches in the extant literature. (shrink)
Are conscious states conscious in virtue of representing themselves? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9762-x Authors Berit Brogaard, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 599 Lucas Hall, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121-4400, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In having an experience one is aware of having it. Having an experience requires some form of access to one's own state, which distinguishes phenomenally conscious mental states from other kinds of mental states. Until very recently, Higher-Order theories were the only game in town aiming at offering a full-fledged account of this form of awareness within the analytical tradition. Independently of any objections that HO theories face, First/Same-Order theorists need to offer an account of such access to become a (...) plausible alternative. My aim in this paper is twofold. In the first place, I wish to widen the logical space of the discussion among theories of consciousness by offering a distinction, orthogonal to that between F/SO and HO theories, between what I will call 'Self-Involving' and 'Mental-State-Involving' theories and argue in favor of the former one. In the second place, I will present the basics of a characterization of such a Self-Involving theory in Same-Order terms. (shrink)
The paper attempts to give an account of the introspective self-knowledge of our own experiences which is in line with representationalism about phenomenal consciousness and the transparency of experience. A two-step model is presented. First, a demonstrative thought of the form ‚I am experiencing this’ is formed which refers to what one experiences, by means of attention. Plausibly, this thought is knowledge, since safe. Second, a non-demonstrative thought of the form ‚I am experiencing a pain’ occurs. This second self-ascription is (...) justified inferentially, on the basis of the first, demonstrative thought. Thus, an account of introspective experiential self-knowledge can be developed which is richer and more adequate to the phenomena than pure reliabilism and Dretske’s displaced perception model. There is really such a thing as introspection, but no inner sense. (shrink)
In having an experience one is aware of having it. Having an experience requires some form of access to one's own state, which distinguishes phenomenally conscious mental states from other kinds of mental states. Until very recently, Higher-Order (HO) theories were the only game in town aiming at offering a full-fledged account of this form of awareness within the analytical tradition. Independently of any objections that HO theories face, First/Same-Order (F/SO) theorists need to offer an account of such access to (...) become a plausible alternative. My aim in this paper is twofold. In the first place, I wish to widen the logical space of the discussion among theories of consciousness by offering a distinction, orthogonal to that between F/SO and HO theories, between what I will call 'Self-Involving' (SI) and 'Mental-State-Involving' (MSI) theories and argue in favor of the former one. In the second place, I will present the basics of a characterization of such a Self-Involving theory in Same-Order terms. (shrink)
Quantum Mechanics has imposed strain on traditional (dualist and representationalist) epistemological conceptions. An alternative was offered by Bohr and Heisenberg, according to whom natural science does not describe nature, but rather the interplay between nature and ourselves. But this was only a suggestion. In this paper, a systematic development of the Bohr-Heisenberg conception is outlined, by way of a comparison with the modern self-organizational theories of cognition. It is shown that a perfectly consistent non-representationalist (and/or relational) reading of quantum mechanics (...) can be reached thus. (shrink)
It is widely believed that neural elements interact by communicating messages. Neurons, or groups of neurons, are supposed to send packages of data with informational content to other neurons or to the body. Thus, behavior is traditionally taken to consist in the execution of commands or instructions sent by the nervous system. As a consequence, neural elements and their organization are conceived as literally embodying and transmitting representations that other elements must in some way read and conform to. In opposition (...) to this conception, growing approaches such as enactivism and ecological psychology hold that neurons are not in the business of representing. However, by insisting that neural causation is not of a representational kind, these anti-representationalist approaches seem to be left with only one rather implausible alternative, viz. that behavior is the result of nothing but basic physical causation such as push-pull forces. In this paper it is argued that a third form of causation—termed “modulation”—exists and is at work in the coordination of animal behavior. Modulation is the quasi-direct guidance of dynamical systems through specific yet emerging trajectories. By setting the constraints that coordinate the free interaction of multi-element systems, modulation influences without forcing nor representing goal states. The basic properties of modulatory causation are analyzed and shown to be present in some fundamental aspects of neural and bodily interaction. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Olivi’s theory of representation and aims at showing that his theory does not endorse epistemological representationalism . Moreover, there is no representation without self-representation for Olivi. Therefore, his account of self-representation or inner experience resembles modern higher-order theories of consciousness. But unlike most modern authors, Olivi seems to combine a higher-order thought theory with a higher-order perception one.
Recently, some philosophers have claimed that consciousness has an important epistemological role to play in the introspective self-ascription of one’s own mental states. This is the thesis of the epistemological role of consciousness for introspective self-knowledge. I will criticize BonJour’s account of the role of consciousness for introspection. He does not provide any reason for believing that conscious states are epistemically better off than non-conscious states. Then I will sketch a representationalist account of how the thesis could be true. Conscious (...) states are available to the subject in a very special way in which non-conscious states are not available. This is the first part of the explanation. The crucial further element in the representationalist account is what I would like to call the ‘introspective mode of mind’. A mind can operate in certain ways or modes – modes of mind. Introspection normally takes place in the introspective mode of mind, judgments about one’s environment in the mode of ‘taking one’s appearances at face value’. And there probably are other modes of mind. The introspective mode of mind is characterized by the special way or framework in which cognitive capacities are employed. (shrink)
I defend the “settist” view that set theory can be done consistently without any form of distinction between sets and “classes” , if we think clearly about belief and the expression of belief—and this, furthermore, entirely within classical logic. Standard arguments against settism in classical logic are seen to fail because they assume, falsely, that expressing commitment to a set theory is something that must be done in a meaningful language, the semantics of which requires, on pain of Russellian paradox, (...) a more powerful set theory. I explore the consequences of this response to the standard argument against “classical logic settism” for our notion of belief, and argue that what is revealed is that representationalist theories of belief cannot be right as long as it is possible to believe that every set is self-identical. (shrink)
Many philosophers have held that perceptual experience is fundamentally a matter of perceivers being in particular representational states. Such states are said to have representational content, i.e. accuracy or veridicality conditions, capturing the way that things, according to that experience, appear to be. In this thesis I argue that the case against representationalism — the view that perceptual experience is fundamentally and irreducibly representational — that is set out in Charles Travis’s ‘The Silence of the Senses’ (2004) constitutes a powerful, (...) but much misunderstood and neglected argument against this prevailing philosophical orthodoxy. -/- In chapter 2, I present an interpretation of Travis’s arguments that poses a dilemma for the representationalist concerning the indeterminacy and availability of perceptual content. Chapters 3 and 4 evaluate a variety of arguments in favour of such content based upon the nature of appearances, or ‘looks’, including those by Byrne (2009), Siegel (2010) and Schellenberg (2011b), each of which I find to be problematic. Finally, chapters 5 and 6 examine the relationship between representational content and phenomenal character, i.e. what perceptual experience is subjectively like, outlining some potential responses to Travis’s anti-representationalism. These include the external individuation of content and self-knowledge, and the operation of perceptual discriminatory capacities (the latter of which does not necessarily favour a representationalist account of experience). -/- I conclude that Travis’s arguments establish substantive constraints upon the nature and role of perceptual content. Moreover, I argue that the debate centres less upon the existence of such content than its explanatory role, particularly in relation to phenomenal character and the contents of other mental states: belief, intention, thought, knowledge, and so on. This in turn highlights the need for representationalists to better clarify the role of the contents their theories posit, and why such theories constitute a better explanation of the relevant phenomena than the corresponding non-representational view.. (shrink)
The paper presents and discusses the “which-is-which content of handedness,” the meaning of left as left and right as right, as a possible candidate for the idea of a genuine embodied cognitive content. After showing that the Ozma barrier, the non-transferability of the meaning of left and right, provides a kind of proof of the non-descriptive, indexical nature of the which-is-which content of handedness, arguments are presented which suggest that the classical representationalist account of cognition faces a perplexing problem of (...) underdetermination of reference of left and right in the which-is-which sense. By way of contrast, no such problems occur in a framework were embodied contents are not mediated by some extra body model which carries the representational power, but are instead directly represented. (shrink)
In this book, Kristina Musholt offers a novel theory of self-consciousness, understood as the ability to think about oneself. Traditionally, self-consciousness has been central to many philosophical theories. More recently, it has become the focus of empirical investigation in psychology and neuroscience. Musholt draws both on philosophical considerations and on insights from the empirical sciences to offer a new account of self-consciousness—the ability to think about ourselves that is at the core of what makes us human. -/- Examining theories of (...) nonconceptual content developed in recent work in the philosophy of cognition, Musholt proposes a model for the gradual transition from self-related information implicit in the nonconceptual content of perception and other forms of experience to the explicit representation of the self in conceptual thought. A crucial part of this model is an analysis of the relationship between self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Self-consciousness and awareness of others, Musholt argues, are two sides of the same coin. -/- After surveying the philosophical problem of self-consciousness, the notion of nonconceptual content, and various proposals for the existence of nonconceptual self-consciousness, Musholt argues for a non-self-representationalist theory, according to which the self is not part of the representational content of perception and bodily awareness but part of the mode of presentation. She distinguishes between implicitly self-related information and explicit self-representation, and describes the transitions from the former to the latter as arising from a complex process of self–other differentiation. By this account, both self-consciousness and intersubjectivity develop in parallel. (shrink)
The measurement of pain depends upon subjective reports, but we know very little about how research subjects or pain patients produce self-reported judgments. Representationalist assumptions dominate the field of pain research and lead to the critical conjecture that the person in pain examines the contents of consciousness before making a report about the sensory or affective magnitude of pain experience as well as about its nature. Most studies to date have investigated what Fechner termed “outer psychophysics”: the relationship between characteristics (...) of an external stimulus and the magnitude and nature of pain experience. In contrast, Fechner originally envisioned that “inner psychophysics” should investigate the relationship between physiological states and subjective experience. Despite the lack of established research tradition, inner psychophysics has a potential utility in elucidating underlying mechanisms for the production of phenomenal self-report. We illustrate this, using causal modeling analyses of the accuracy of self-reported pain ratings from our laboratory. We submit that the results are inconsistent with representationalist assumptions. Converging trends from several domains of consciousness studies seem to suggest that we need to abandon the unquestioned doctrine of representationalism and search for a more viable framework for understanding the generation of subjective self-report. (shrink)
This paper explores the educational significance of the critique of representationalism. As it includes the notion of non-representational knowledge, Rudolf Steiner’s epistemology is introduced and further linked to elements in Bergson and Deleuze. Humboldt’s idea of Menschenbildung as the central function of knowledge is brought in, since both Humboldt and Steiner emphasise knowledge as mediating the interplay between self and world, producing a deeper sense of reality. Such an education must respect the living nature of genuine concepts as well as (...) the aesthetic aspects of learning. After a note on the educational abuse of language in discursive closures, some traits of Steiner’s practical pedagogy are presented as possible practical implications. (shrink)
While Descartes's status as a "representationalist" is often a subject of vehement debate, what exactly he means by "representation" is not. I look to Descartes's early work to show that he first conceives of representation through signification, in which the sign and the signified are isomorphic; on this view, relations of representation can be arbitrary and are to be distinguished from relations of resemblance. I then examine images to show the possibility of an image constructing a relation to its viewer, (...) or "subject-position," in which that subject-position fails to display the attributes of extended things. Such a construction might be applied to the "I" of the Meditations--distinct from all extended substances, it nonetheless has direct access to them through its non-objectified sense-ideas. On this basis, I propose a "model" of representation for ideas: an idea represents its object O to a subject-position S through a vehicle of representation X under some relation R. I argue that this model can explain the uses Descartes makes of "represent," particularly for ideas. But it must be understood properly: Descartes comes to conceive of the vehicle of representation simply as the form taken by the direct interaction of the mind and the things objectively present to it--but a form that can take on a life of its own, giving rise to the possibilities of clarity and distinctness or of confusion in ideas. But what is truly novel about Descartes's conception is the mind's ability to form higher-order representations that represent the conditions of representation itself, thereby achieving certainty for some mental representations without starting from any incorrigible, immediate perceptions. This possibility is realized most clearly in the understanding of my nature as a thinking and representing being, where I can represent myself as the subject-position distinct from all extended things, but also can represent myself as joyfully and representatively united with a body all my own. (shrink)
Do we have introspective access to our own thoughts? Peter Carruthers challenges the consensus that we do: he argues that access to our own thoughts is always interpretive, grounded in perceptual awareness and sensory imagery. He proposes a bold new theory of self-knowledge, with radical implications for understanding of consciousness and agency.
Since Socrates, and through Descartes to the present day, the problems of self-knowledge have been central to philosophy's understanding of itself. Today the idea of ''first-person authority''--the claim of a distinctive relation each person has toward his or her own mental life--has been challenged from a number of directions, to the point where many doubt the person bears any distinctive relation to his or her own mental life, let alone a privileged one. In Authority and Estrangement, Richard Moran argues for (...) a reconception of the first-person and its claims. Indeed, he writes, a more thorough repudiation of the idea of privileged inner observation leads to a deeper appreciation of the systematic differences between self-knowledge and the knowledge of others, differences that are both irreducible and constitutive of the very concept and life of the person.Masterfully blending philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Moran develops a view of self-knowledge that concentrates on the self as agent rather than spectator. He argues that while each person does speak for his own thought and feeling with a distinctive authority, that very authority is tied just as much to the disprivileging of the first-person, to its specific possibilities of alienation. Drawing on certain themes from Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others, the book explores the extent to which what we say about ourselves is a matter of discovery or of creation, the difficulties and limitations in being ''objective'' toward ourselves, and the conflicting demands of realism about oneself and responsibility for oneself. What emerges is a strikingly original and psychologically nuanced exploration of the contrasting ideals of relations to oneself and relations to others. (shrink)
Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance. In The Consciousness Paradox, Rocco Gennaro aims to solve an underlying paradox, namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views, including higher-order thought (HOT) theory, conceptualism, infant and animal (...) consciousness, concept acquisition, and what he calls the HOT-brain thesis. He defends and further develops a metapsychological reductive representational theory of consciousness and applies it to several importantly related problems. Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT theory of consciousness that he calls the "wide intrinsicality view" and shows why it is superior to various alternatives, such as self-representationalism and first-order representationalism. HOT theory says that what makes a mental state conscious is that a suitable higher-order thought is directed at that mental state. -/- Thus Gennaro argues for an overall philosophical theory of consciousness while applying it to other significant issues not usually addressed in the philosophical literature on consciousness. Most cognitive science and empirical works on such topics as concepts and animal consciousness do not address central philosophical theories of consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers. (shrink)
Dan Zahavi has argued persuasively that some versions of self- representationalism are implausible on phenomenological and dialectical grounds: they fail to make sense of primitive self-knowledge and lead to an infinite regress. Zahavi proposes an alternative view of ubiquitous prereflective self-consciousness.
I defend a Husserlian account of self-consciousness against representationalist accounts: higher-order representationalism and self-representationalism. Of these, self-representationalism is the harder to refute since, unlike higher-order representationalism, it does not incur a regress of self-conscious acts. However, it incurs a regress of intentional contents. I consider, and reject, five strategies for avoiding this regress of contents. I conclude that the regress is inherent to self-representationalism. I close by showing how this incoherence obtrudes in what must be the self-representationalist’s (...) account of the phenomenology of experience. (shrink)
This chapter surveys current approaches to consciousness in Anglo-American analytic philosophy. It focuses on five approaches, to which I will refer as mysterianism, dualism, representationalism, higher-order monitoring theory, and self-representationalism. With each approach, I will present in order the leading account of consciousness along its line, the case for the approach, and the case against the approach. I will not issue a final verdict on any approach, though by the end of the chapter it should be evident where my (...) own sympathies lie. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the method of transparency --determining whether I believe that p by considering whether p -- does not explain our privileged access to our own beliefs. Looking outward to determine whether one believes that p leads to the formation of a judgment about whether p, which one can then self-attribute. But use of this process does not constitute genuine privileged access to whether one judges that p. And looking outward will not provide for access to (...) dispositional beliefs, which are arguably more central examples of belief than occurrent judgments. First, one’s dispositional beliefs as to whether p may diverge from the occurrent judgments generated by the method of transparency. Second, even in cases where these are reliably linked — e.g., in which one’s judgment that p derives from one’s dispositional belief that p — using the judgment to self-attribute the dispositional belief requires an ‘inward’ gaze. (shrink)
Although philosophical approaches to the self are diverse, several of them are relevant to cognitive science. First, the notion of a 'minimal self', a self devoid of temporal extension, is clarified by distinguishing between a sense of agency and a sense of ownership for action. To the extent that these senses are subject to failure in pathologies like schizophrenia, a neuropsychological model of schizophrenia may help to clarify the nature of the minimal self and its neurological underpinnings. Second, there is (...) good evidence to suggest that although certain aspects of the minimal self are primitive and embodied, other aspects may be accessed only in reflective consciousness. Employing a modified concept of the minimal self, it may be possible to construct a robotic form of non-conscious self-reference that depends on an interaction between the robotic body and its environment. In contrast to the minimal self, the narrative self involves continuity over time and is directly relevant to discussions of memory and personal identity. There is growing consensus among philosophers and cognitive scientists about the importance of narrative and its relation to episodic memory and left-hemisphere functions. There are, however, at least two different views of how the narrative self is structured. On one model it is nothing more than an abstract point. On a more extended view, proposed here, the self is a rich amalgam of narratives that allows for the equivocations, contradictions, and self-deceptions of personal life. Even in this case, however, neurocognitive models contribute to our understanding of how narrative identity is structured. (shrink)
This collection of original essays explores the social and relational dimensions of individual autonomy. Rejecting the feminist charge that autonomy is inherently masculinist, the contributors draw on feminist critiques of autonomy to challenge and enrich contemporary philosophical debates about agency, identity, and moral responsibility. The essays analyze the complex ways in which oppression can impair an agent's capacity for autonomy, and investigate connections, neglected by standard accounts, between autonomy and other aspects of the agent, including self-conception, self-worth, memory, and the (...) imagination. (shrink)
Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...) one's beliefs and patterns of reasoning. In rough outline, the argument is as follows: Consider a thinker who deduces a conclusion from a justified initial premise via an incredibly long sequence of small competent deductions. Surely, such a thinker should suspect that he has made a mistake somewhere. And surely, given this, he should not believe the conclusion of the deduction even though he has a justified belief in the initial premise. (shrink)
This paper overviews the current status of debates on tracking representationalism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking features of one's environment in a certain way. We overview the main arguments for the view and the main objections and challenges it faces. We close with a discussion of alternative versions of representationalism that might overcome the shortcomings of tracking representationalism.
The problem of self-knowledge is one of the most fascinating in all of philosophy and has crucial significance for the philosophy of mind and epistemology. Gertler assesses the leading theoretical approaches to self-knowledge, explaining the work of many of the key figures in the field: from Descartes and Kant, through to Bertrand Russell and Gareth Evans, as well as recent work by Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, William Lycan and Sydney Shoemaker. -/- Beginning with an outline of the distinction between self-knowledge (...) and self-awareness and providing essential historical background to the problem, Gertler addresses specific theories of self-knowledge such as the acquaintance theory, the inner sense theory, and the rationalist theory, as well as leading accounts of self-awareness. The book concludes with a critical explication of the dispute between empiricist and rationalist approaches. (shrink)
An exciting theory in neuroscience is that the brain is an organ for prediction error minimization (PEM). This theory is rapidly gaining influence and is set to dominate the science of mind and brain in the years to come. PEM has extreme explanatory ambition, and profound philosophical implications. Here, I assume the theory, briefly explain it, and then I argue that PEM implies that the brain is essentially self-evidencing. This means it is imperative to identify an evidentiary boundary between the (...) brain and its environment. This boundary defines the mind-world relation, opens the door to skepticism, and makes the mind transpire as more inferentially secluded and neurocentrically skull-bound than many would nowadays think. Therefore, PEM somewhat deflates contemporary hypotheses that cognition is extended, embodied and enactive; however, it can nevertheless accommodate the kinds of cases that fuel these hypotheses. (shrink)
In The Varieties of Reference (1982), Gareth Evans claims that considerations having to do with certain basic ways we have of gaining knowledge of our own physical states and properties provide "the most powerful antidote to a Cartesian conception of the self" (220). In this chapter, I start with a discussion and evaluation of Evans' own argument, which is, I think, in the end unconvincing. Then I raise the possibility of a more direct application of similar considerations in defence of (...) common sense anti-Cartesianism. Progress in this direction depends upon a far more psychologically informed understanding of normal and abnormal bodily awareness than is generally found in philosophical discussions of these issues. In the context of my attempt at some such understanding, I go on to assess the potential of this more direct line of argument. (shrink)
This article asks whether states have a right to close their borders because of their right to self-determination, as proposed recently by Christopher Wellman, Michael Walzer, and others. It asks the fundamental question whether self-determination can, in even its most unrestricted form, support the exclusion of immigrants. I argue that the answer is no. To show this, I construct three different ways in which one might use the idea of self-determination to justify immigration restrictions and show that each of these (...) arguments fails. My conclusion is that the nature and value of self-determination have to do with the conditions of genuine self-government, not membership of political society. Consequently, the demand for open borders is fully consistent with respect to self-determination. (shrink)
In his recent book ‘Kant and the Mind’ Andrew Brook makes a distinction between two types of selfawareness. The first type, which he calls empirical self-awareness, is an awareness of particular psychological states such as perceptions, memories, desires, bodily sensations etc. One attains this type of self-awareness simply by having particular experiences and being aware of them. To be in possession of empirical self-awareness is, in short, simply to be conscious of one’s occurrent experience. The second type of self-awareness he (...) calls apperceptive self-awareness. This type of self-awareness entails an awareness of oneself as the subject of experience. For this type of self-awareness to obtain, it would not be enough merely to be conscious of, say, an occurrent perception of a chair, one would also have to be aware that it was oneself who was perceiving the chair. And as Brook adds, when I am self-aware in this way, I am not only aware of being the subject of a single experience, but also aware of myself as the common subject of other psychological states (Brook, 1994: 55-57). I find Brook’s distinction illuminating, but it raises a question which I would like to pursue in this paper. When we speak of self-awareness, do we then necessarily also speak of a self, is there so to speak always a self involved in self-awareness, or is it rather the case, as Brook’s notion of empirical selfawareness might suggest, that there are types of self-awareness which are ‘selfless’, or to use two other related terms ‘subjectless’ or ‘non-egological’? Is self-awareness always to be understood as an awareness of a self, or can it be understood simply as the awareness which a specific experience has of itself? Ultimately, I believe an answer to these questions are important, both when it comes to an understanding of what exactly self-awareness amounts to, and also when it comes to a proper understanding of what a self is.. (shrink)
"Self-knowledge" is commonly used in philosophy to refer to knowledge of one's particular mental states, including one's beliefs, desires, and sensations. It is also sometimes used to refer to knowledge about a persisting self -- its ontological nature, identity conditions, or character traits. At least since Descartes, most philosophers have believed that self-knowledge is importantly different from knowledge of the world external to oneself, including others' thoughts. But there is little agreement about what precisely distinguishes self-knowledge from knowledge in other (...) realms. Partially because of this disagreement, philosophers have endorsed competing accounts of how we acquire self-knowledge. These accounts have important consequences for the scope of mental content, for mental ontology, and for personal identity. (shrink)