Chapter

Whose Consciousness? The Illusory Self

Jesse J. Prinz

in The Conscious Brain

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195314595
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979059 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314595.003.0007

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Whose Consciousness? The Illusory Self

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Many authors, including Descartes and Kant, have assumed that the self is somehow presented to us in experience. Those who believe in a phenomenal self sometimes try to reduce it to something else, such as an experience of the body, while others think it is irreducible. Following Hume, this chapter argues against both options, claiming that there is no phenomenal self—or more accurately, the self cannot be experience as a subject, but only as an object, such as a body. Philosophical arguments and neuroscientific evidence for a phenomenal self is critically reviewed. Phenomena considered include: feelings of ownership and authorship, the feeling of losing oneself, the experience of one’s body as a self, and the alleged role of the self in conscious unity. None of these phenomena establish a phenomenal self. The chapter ends by suggesting that the self may nevertheless be implicit, rather than explicit, in experience.

Keywords: the self; the subject; bodily experience; Cartesian ego; ownership and authorship experiences; Hume

Chapter.  14402 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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