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part ii: pre-reflective self-consciousness and the transparency of consciousness

61. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Kristina Musholt

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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.
62. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Matthew C. Eshleman

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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

63. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Terry Horgan

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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’.
64. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Miguel Ángel Sebastián

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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.
65. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Josh Weisberg

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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.
66. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Gerhard Preyer

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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”.
67. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Kenneth Williford

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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

68. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Shaun Gallagher

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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.
69. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Andreas Heinz Orcid-ID

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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.
70. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Marc Borner

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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

71. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36

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72. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Tomis Kapitan

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73. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Stefan Lang

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This essay argues that persons not only have nonconceptual bodily self-awareness and nonconceptual mental anonymous self-awareness but also, at least if they produce the expression ‘I’, nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness. It contains information of ‘I’ being produced by oneself. It is argued that this can be seen if we examine the constitution of referential self-consciousness, i.e. the consciousness of being the referent of ‘I’ oneself. The main argument is: A. It is not possible to explain the constitution of referential self-consciousness if it is not assumed that persons have nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness. B. It is possible to explain the constitution of referential self-consciousness if it is assumed that persons have nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness. C. Thus it is reasonable to assume that persons have nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness. The justification of the thesis that persons have nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness is presented while discussing Tomis Kapitan’s analysis of conceptual egological self-consciousness. Conceptual egological self-consciousness contains infor­mation of being a subject oneself. It is argued that it is not possible to explain the constitution of referential self-consciousness with the help of Kapitan’s interpretation of conceptual self-consciousness. However, it is possible to ex­plain the constitution of referential self-consciousness within the framework of Kapitan’s account if it is assumed that persons have nonconceptual mental egological self-awareness.
74. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Tomis Kapitan

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on contemporary philosophy and sociology

75. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Dieter Henrich

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76. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36
Luis Roniger, Orcid-ID Leonardo Senkman Orcid-ID

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This article analyzes the logic of conspiracy theories, stressing that it would be erroneous to assume that such theories about collusions and intrigues are irrational in nature. On the contrary, they operate on a logic that is no less coherent than scientific discourse, although it differs from the latter in its verification and discard methodology as well as in its mobilizing role. Being part of a larger research that explains the recurrent spread of conspiracy narratives in one region of the world, elucidating their historical and contemporary conditions of crystallization, the article claims that such research agenda has universal appeal, particularly in an era of institutional distrust and changes in the structure of information diffusion.

77. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36

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78. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36

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79. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36

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80. ProtoSociology: Volume > 36

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