Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 3, pp 761–780 | Cite as

Agentive awareness is not sensory awareness

  • Myrto I. MylopoulosEmail author


In this paper, I argue that the conscious awareness one has of oneself as acting, i.e., agentive awareness, is not a type of sensory awareness. After providing some set up in Sect. 1, I move on in Sect. 2 to sketch a profile of sensory agentive experiences (SAEs) as representational states with sensory qualities by which we come to be aware of ourselves as performing actions. In Sect. 3, I critique two leading arguments in favor of positing such sensory experiences: the argument from pathology and the argument from cognitive impenetrability. Since neither of these arguments succeeds, the case for positing SAEs is dealt a significant blow. I proceed in Sect. 4 to advance my positive argument against SAEs. The argument runs as follows: If SAEs exist, then they must exist in some sensory modality or set of sensory modalities. Either the relevant sensory modalities are ones that we already recognize, or they are novel sensory modalities. I will argue that neither of these options is workable, and so we have nowhere to locate SAEs. Agentive awareness is not sensory awareness.


Sense of agency Agentive awareness Phenomenology Consciousness Comparator model Action theory 



I’m very grateful to Jacob Berger, Grace Helton, David Rosenthal, Frédérique de Vignemont, and audiences at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and NYU for helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA

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