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1. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Marc Borner, Manfred Frank, Kenneth Williford Introduction: Pre-Reflective Self-Consciousness and the De Se Constraint: The Legacy of the Heidelberg School
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part i: fichte’s original insight
2. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Manfred Frank From “Fichte’s Original Insight” to a Moderate Defence of Self-Representationalism
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Fifty years ago, Dieter Henrich wrote an influential little text on ‘Fichte’s Origi­nal Insight’. Seldom so much food for thought has been put in a nutshell. The essay, bearing such an unremarkable title, delivers a diagnosis of why two hundred years of penetrating thought about the internal structure of subjectivity have ended up so fruitless. Henrich’s point was: Self-consciousness cannot be explained as the result of a higher-order act, bending back upon a first-order one, given that “what reflection finds, must already have been there before” (Novalis). Whereas Henrich’s discovery had some influence in German speaking countries (and was dubbed the ‘Heidelberg School’), it remained nearly unnoticed in the anglophone (and now dominant) philosophical world. This is starting to change, now that a recent view on (self-) consciousness, called ‘self-representationalism’, is beginning to develop and to discover its Heidelbergian roots.
3. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
James G. Hart From Metafact to Metaphysics in “the Heidelberg School”
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The works of Dieter Henrich and Manfred Frank argue that consciousness is fundamentally a self-awareness antecedent to reflection. This essay picks up the suggestion that consciousness itself is a field or medium of manifestation. As such it is a “metafact,” the anonymity of which transcendental philosophy seeks to overcome. This is required because the “facts” of the light of the mind and the intelligibility of what the mind discloses elude philosophical investigation as long as the anonymity reigns. Clarifying self-consciousness illuminates what essentially must elude normal categorial and predicative investigation which presuppose the light of the mind and intelligibility. The seemingly esoteric issue of the discovery of the primacy of the pre- or non-reflective self-presence at the foundation of first-person reference may be said to found metaphysics in so far as this requires evidence for the inseparability of being from manifestation.
4. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Gerhard Seel The ‘I think’. What it is all about: Self-knowing, Self-thinking, Self-consciousness
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Kant distinguishes two kinds of knowledge of one-self: empirical self-knowledge due to inner sense and a priori self-knowledge achieved by transcendental apperception. This conception encounters a host of problems. I try to solve these problems from the perspective of today’s phenomenology and analytical philosophy. I first introduce a new conception of inner sense and time-consciousness and argue that empirical self-knowledge must be based on the category of person, a category Kant did not list in his table of categories. I explain how the schematism of this category works. Then I introduce the a priori notion of the subject which corresponds to Kant’s ‘I think’. However, unlike Kant I hold that the notion of the subject is the notion of a being which has certain a priori capacities. Kant did not see that the term ‘I’ must be conceived of as an indexical. I argue that this indexical refers to both, the subject who does the thinking and the person who is thought. On this basis I give an answer to the question how genuine de-se knowledge is possible. I further defend—against Wittgenstein and others—the use of a private thought language. Finally, I show that what I have developed is—notwithstanding the refutation of important elements of Kant’s theory—still essentially a Kantian approach.
part ii: pre-reflective self-consciousness and the transparency of consciousness
5. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Dan Zahavi Reflexivity, Transparency, and Illusionism: Engaging Garfield
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The notion of pre-reflective self-awareness is much more accepted today than 20 years ago and has become part of the standard repertoire in philosophy of mind. The notion’s increasing popularity has not surprisingly also led to an increasing amount of criticism. My focus in the present contribution will be on a particular radical objection that can be found in Jay Garfield’s book Engaging Buddhism. It seeks to undercut the appeal to pre-reflective self-awareness by arguing that there ultimately is no such thing as phenomenal consciousness.
6. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Robert J. Howell Reflecting on Pre-Reflective Self-Consciousness
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Most philosophers in the phenomenological tradition hold that in addition to the explicit self-consciousness we might get in reflection, there is also a pre-reflective self-consciousness. Despite its popularity, it can be a little difficult to get a grasp on this notion. It can seem impossibly thin—such that it really amounts to little more than a restatement of the notion of consciousness—or problematically robust—such that it seems to conflict with the apparent transparency of consciousness. This paper argues for a notion of pre-reflective self consciousness that avoids these extremes. It is argued that though pre-reflective self-consciousness exists and is an important part of conscious ex­perience, it is not an intrinsic feature of first-order consciousness. Instead, it is constituted by an agent’s background awareness of her ability to reflect and thereby self-ascribe her experiences.
7. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Anna Giustina Varieties of Self-Apprehension
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The Brentanian idea that every state of consciousness involves a consciousness or awareness of itself (Brentano 1874), which has been a central tenet of the phenomenological school, is a current topic in contemporary philosophical debates about consciousness and subjectivity, both in the continental and the analytic tradition. Typically, the self-awareness that accompanies every state of consciousness is char­acterized as pre-reflective. Most theorists of pre-reflective self-awareness seem to converge on a negative characterization: pre-reflective self-awareness is not a kind of reflective awareness. Whereas reflective self-awareness is attentive and descriptive, pre-reflective self-awareness is non-attentive and non-descriptive.This paper aims to show that the reflective/pre-reflective dichotomy overlooks a finer-grained distinction. The first part is devoted to arguing that the typical use of the adjective ‘pre-reflective’ conflates two properties (non-attentiveness and non-descriptiveness), which are in fact separable. Accordingly, not only can there be non-descriptive and non-attentive self-consciousness (i.e. pre-reflective self-awareness), but also non-descriptive but attentive self-consciousness. I call the latter primitive introspection. The second part of the paper is devoted to arguing that, whereas both pre-reflective self-awareness and primitive introspection enable the subject to apprehend the phenomenology of their experience, the kind of apprehension each allows for is different. By analyzing the notion of apprehension in terms of information acquisition and personal-level availability of information, it is proposed that, although both pre-reflective self-awareness and primitive introspection allow for acquisition of the maximal amount of information about the experience, only primitive introspection makes all such information personal-level available.
8. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Chad Kidd What has Transparency to do with Husserlian Phenomenology?
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This paper critically evaluates Amie Thomasson’s (2003; 2005; 2006) view of the conscious mind and the interpretation of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction that it adopts. In Thomasson’s view, the phenomenological method is not an introspectionist method, but rather a “transparent” or “extrospectionist” method for acquiring epistemically privileged self-knowledge. I argue that Thomasson’s reading of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction is correct. But the view of consciousness that she pairs with it—a view of consciousness as “transparent” in the sense that first-order, world-oriented experience is in no way given to itself—is not compatible with it. Rather, Thomasson’s view is, from a Husserlian vantage point, self-undermining in the same way that any genuinely skeptical view is self-undermining: it undermines the conditions of its own possibility. This is one of the motives Husserl has for developing a same-order view of self-consciousness as the complement to his transparent method for self-knowledge acquisition.
9. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Kristina Musholt From Non-Self-Representationalism to the Social Structure of Pre-Reflective Self-Consciousness
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Why should we think that there is such a thing as pre-reflective self-awareness? And how is this kind of self-awareness to be characterized? This paper traces a theoretical and a phenomenological line of argument in favor of the notion of pre-reflective self-consciousness and explores how this notion can be further illuminated by appealing to recent work in the analytical philosophy of language and mind. In particular, it argues that the self is not represented in the (nonconceptual) content of experience, but is rather implicit in the mode. Further, it argues that pre-reflective self-consciousness is best understood as a form of knowledge-how. Finally, it will be argued that our sense of self is thoroughly social, even at the basic, pre-reflective level.
10. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Matthew C. Eshleman Liminal Manifestation and the Elusive Nature of Consciousness
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This programmatic essay sketches a few reasons for the elusive nature of conscious experience. It proposes that while neither introspection nor phenomenologically refined reflection delivers direct ‘observational’ access to intrinsic features of conscious experience, intrinsic features of consciousness, nonetheless, manifest themselves in our experience in a liminal way. Overall it proceeds in two movements. Negatively, it argues that implicit self-awareness renders any notion of reflective access methodologically superfluous but existentially irresistible. Positively, it argues that ‘reflective’ access to the liminal dimensions of conscious experience should be construed in purely semantic terms, tied to indirect experiential acquaintance. It concludes by suggesting that what goes by the name mental transparency, even its strong versions, does not rule out liminal manifestation: mental transparency is not mental invisibility.
part iii: self-awareness, higher-order thoughts, and self-acquaintance
11. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Terry Horgan Pre-Reflective vs. Reflexive Self-Awareness
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In this paper I propose an account pre-reflective self-awareness, both vis-à-vis onself and vis-à-vis one’s own phenomenally conscious mental states and processes. I argue that pre-reflective self-awareness is a form of acquaintance with oneself and with one’s phenomenal states that is distinctively direct in this sense: it is not mediated by mental representations of those states or of oneself. I also argue that there is an important kind of reflective self-awareness that is reflexive, in this sense: it involves mental representations of one’s phenomenally conscious states, and of oneself, in which pre-reflective self-awareness plays a distinctive contributory role—a role I call ‘direct self-presentation’.
12. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Miguel Ángel Sebastián Subjective Character, the Ego and De Se Representation: Phenomenological, Metaphysical and Representational Considerations on Pre-reflective Self-awareness
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There is a substantive disagreement with regard to the characterization of pre-reflective self-awareness despite the key role that is supposed to play for the distinction between conscious and unconscious states. One of the most prominent ones—between egological and non-egological views—is about the role that the subject of experience plays.I show that this disagreement falls short to capture the details of the debate, as it does not distinguish phenomenological and metaphysical disputes. Regarding the former, the contenders disagree on whether pre-reflective self-awareness concerns the subject of experience or the experience itself. I first argue that such an awareness has to be indexical—de se or de mentis respectively—, and then show that de se awareness can straightforwardly address classical objec­tions against egological views, whereas de mentis awareness fails to support epistemological arguments in favor of non-egological ones. The metaphysical commitments of a phenomenologically egological view depend on what the corresponding de se awareness demands from reality. I consider two alternatives, the structural and the representational approach and offer some consid­erations in favor of the later and its prima facie neutrality with regard to the metaphysical dispute.
13. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Josh Weisberg Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness and the Heidelberg Problem
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It is widely held that consciousness is partially constituted by a “pre-reflective” self-consciousness. Further, it’s argued that the presence of pre-reflective self-consciousness poses a problem for “higher-order” theories of consciousness. Higher-order theories invoke reflective representation and so do not appear to have the resources to explain pre-reflective self-consciousness. This criticism is rooted in the Heidelberg School’s deep reflection on the nature of self-consciousness, and accordingly, I will label this challenge the “Heidelberg problem.” In this chapter, I will offer a higher-order answer to the Heidelberg problem. Instead of attacking the problem head-on, I’ll argue that the view can explain why there appears to be a Heidelberg problem, even if consciousness is ultimately realized by higher-order representation. But I’ll also argue that the theory has indexical resources to more directly counter the Heidelberg problem. Either way, I hope to show that the higher-order theory survives its trip to Heidelberg.
14. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Gerhard Preyer Some Comments on Josh Weisberg’s ‘Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness and the Heidelberg Problem’
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Josh Weisberg discusses what he calls the “Heidelberg Problem” (named after Dieter Henrich’s Heidelberg School). However, he mischaracterizes this problem and believes he is able so resolve the problem, as mischaracterized, as well as meet the de se constraint, in the theoretical frame of reference of the Higher-Order Thought Monitoring theory of consciousness. This commentary highlights the fundamental flaw in his approach, while encouraging further philosophical exchange with our American philosophical colleagues about the “Heidelberg Problem”.
15. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Kenneth Williford Self-Acquaintance and Three Regress Arguments
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The three classic regress problems (the Extensive Regress of states, the Intensive Regress of contents, and the Fichte-Henrich-Shoemaker Regress of de se beliefs) related to the Self-Awareness Thesis (that one’s conscious states are the ones that one is aware of being in) can all be elegantly resolved by a self-acquaintance postulate. This resolution, however, entails that consciousness has an irreducibly circular structure and that self-acquaintance should not be conceived of in terms of an independent entity bearing an external or mediated relation to itself but rather in terms of a realized relation-instance relating to itself as well as to something other than itself. Consciousness, on this account, has a categorially curious status. It is like a relation-particular hybrid. This can be formalized in terms of the theory of hypersets, which in turn can be used to elucidate the problem of individuality, one source of the conceptual difficulty with adequately characterizing de se content.
part iv: bodily self, neuroscience, and psychiatric approaches
16. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Shaun Gallagher The Senses of a Bodily Self
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I focus on the sense of ownership and ask whether this experience is some­thing over and above one’s bodily experiences, or something intrinsic to them. I consider liberal, deflationary, and phenomenological accounts of the sense of ownership, and I offer an enactive or action-oriented account that takes the sense of ownership to be intrinsic to the phenomenal background and our various bodily senses, including the sense of agency.
17. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Andreas Heinz Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness in Psychotic Disorders
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Disorders of the self figure prominently in psychotic experiences. Subjects de­scribe that “alien” thoughts are inserted in their mind by foreign powers, can sometimes hear their thoughts aloud or describe complex voices interacting with each other. Such experiences can be conceptualized in the framework of a Philosophical Anthropology, which suggests that human experience is characterized by centric and excentric positionality: subjects experience their environment centered around their enlived body and at the same time can reflect upon their place in a shared lifeworld from an excentric point of view. Pre-reflective self awareness has been suggested to ensure that subjects can identify their own thoughts or actions as belonging to themselves, even when they reflect upon them from an excentric point of view. This pre-reflective self awareness appears to be impaired during psychotic experiences, when subjects no longer identify thoughts in their own stream of consciousness as belonging to themselves and instead attribute them to an outside agent. Among several potential causes, it is suggested that such impairments can be due to discrimi­natory or traumatic experiences, which affect the enlived (centric) position of a person and make her feel encircled and deeply threatened by aversive powers. As a consequence, the afflicted individual may fundamentally distance herself from her current centric position in a hostile environment, at the price of experiencing her own thoughts or actions as alien. Philosophical Anthropology may thus help to explain how social exclusion, discrimination and traumatization can promote psychotic experiences and why social support is of primary importance for any treatment of psychosis.
18. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Marc Borner Pre-Reflectivite Self-Consciousness as a Bodily Trait
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A theory of pre-reflective self-consciousness (TOPS) can be made fruitful if pre-reflectivity is understood as a bodily trait. This approach helps to overcome certain blurry definitions of pre-reflective self-consciousness (PrSCs) from the past, and can aid to a philosophical explanation of self-consciousness, which also goes in line with many psychological and cognitive neuro-scientific find­ings. Especially it can help to understand certain pathologies like neurodegenerative, affective or psychotic disorders from a different angle and thus might help to bring new insights into these fields.
part v: debate: first-person and non-conceptual consciousness
19. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Editorial: First Person and Non-Conceptual Consciousness
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20. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Tomis Kapitan The Ubiquity of Self-Awareness
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