Experiencing organisms: from mineness to subject of experience

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Abstract

Many philosophers hold that phenomenally conscious experiences involve a sense of mineness, since experiences like pain or hunger are immediately presented as mine. What can be said about this mineness, and does acceptance of this feature commit us to the existence of a subject or self? If yes, how should we characterize this subject? This paper considers the possibility that, (1) to the extent that we accept this feature, it provides us with a minimal notion of a subject of experience, and that (2) the phenomenological subject of experience, as it is represented in conscious experience, is the organism. While many philosophers agree that the metaphysical subject of experience is the animal, this claim is much less widespread, maybe even counterintuitive. The argument for this claim alludes to the structure of phenomenal consciousness and to recent work in cognitive science concerning the embodied character of consciousness and cognition. To illustrate the problems of current controversies, not only several recent rejections of a subject of experience are critically discussed, but also Hume’s famous rejection of a subject is criticized making use of epistemological aspects from Kant’s philosophy of mind. The final section situates the present discussion in the context of recently popular predictive coding accounts of perception and perceptual experience.

Keywords

Consciousness Subjective character Self Embodied cognitive science Kant Hume Predictive coding 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Philosophie IIRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany

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