Self-Knowledge and the Sense of “I”

José Luis Bermúdez

in Self-Knowledge

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590728
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725456 | DOI:
Self-Knowledge and the Sense of “I”

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This chapter explores philosophical accounts of the sense of the first-person pronoun ‘I’ in the light of what is termed the symmetry constraint upon the sense of ‘I’. The symmetry constraint requires that we preserve the possible token-equivalence of ‘I’ and other personal pronouns with respect to same-saying and relative to a particular context so that it must be possible, in suitable contexts, for you to say using ‘you’ what I would say using ‘I’. The symmetry constraint turns out to be incompatible, for example, with Gareth Evans's proposal to elucidate the sense of ‘I’ in terms of the speaker's sensitivity to forms of self-specifying information that have the property of being immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun. The chapter proposes an alternative way of doing justice to the insight that the sense of ‘I’ reflects a distinctive way of being presented to oneself. On this proposal, the distinctive way in which I am presented to myself can be systematically related to the distinctive way in which I am presented to you. What matters is not that I am in receipt of distinctive types of information about myself, but rather that I have a distinctive ability to locate myself in objective space.

Keywords: first person; immunity to error through misidentification; indexicals; introspection; proprioception; reference; self-consciousness; self-knowledge; sense

Chapter.  10890 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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