Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 373-396

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Reconstructing the minimal self, or how to make sense of agency and ownership

  • Sanneke de HaanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg Email author 
  • , Leon de BruinAffiliated withInstitute for Philosophy, University of Leiden


We challenge Gallagher’s distinction between the sense of ownership (SO) and the sense of agency (SA) as two separable modalities of experience of the minimal self and argue that a careful investigation of the examples provided to promote this distinction in fact reveals that SO and SA are intimately related and modulate each other. We propose a way to differentiate between the various notions of SO and SA that are currently used interchangeably in the debate, and suggest a more gradual reading of the two that allows for various blends of SO and SA. Such an approach not only provides us with a richer phenomenology but also with a more parsimonious view of the minimal self.


Agency Ownership Minimal self Thought insertion