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A Brief Overview of Philosophy of Self-Consciousness

  • Gerhard Kreuch
Chapter
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 107)

Abstract

The main goal of the first part of this book is to present some important challenges in contemporary philosophy of self-consciousness. These challenges will motivate a deeper look into philosophy of human affectivity in Part II and a proposal for a solution in Part III. This chapter introduces the debate over self-consciousness and proposes an attempt to categorize four different types of theories. First, a distinction can be made between egological and non-egological theories of self-consciousness. Classical egological approaches understand self-consciousness as consciousness of a distinct entity that is the underlying subject of mental states, a core “ego”. In contrast, non-egological approaches understand self-consciousness as a property of mental states. A second important distinction deals with the question of how self-consciousness is actually established. Higher-order (or reflective) models see self-consciousness as reflective process where a higher instance makes a lower instance self-conscious. Alternatively, there are same-order (or pre-reflective) models of self-consciousness. They argue that the bearer of self-consciousness is itself self-conscious, without the need for an additional level. Given these distinctions, we may distinguish four types of theories of self-consciousness, each facing significant challenges: Reflective egological, reflective non-egological, pre-reflective egological, and pre-reflective non-egological.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Kreuch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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