These essays explore how the rich and sophisticated forms of self-consciousness with which we are most familiar—as philosophers, psychologists, and as ordinary, reflective individuals—depend on a complex underpinning that has been largely invisible to students of the self and self-consciousness. José Luis Bermúdez, extending the insights of his groundbreaking 1998 book, The Paradox of Self-Consciousness, argues that full-fledged, linguistic self-consciousness is built on a rich foundation of primitive, nonconceptual self-consciousness, and that these more primitive forms of self-consciousness persist in ways that frame self-conscious thought. They extend throughout the animal kingdom, and some are present in newborn human infants.
Bermúdez makes the case that these primitive forms of self-awareness can indeed be described as forms of self-consciousness, arguing that they share certain structural and epistemological features with full-fledged, linguistic self-consciousness. He offers accounts of certain important classes of states of nonconceptual content, including the self-specifying dimension of visual perception and the content of bodily awareness, considering how they represent the self. And he explores the general role of nonconceptual self-consciousness in our cognitive and affective lives, examining in several essays the relation between nonconceptual awareness of our bodies and what has been called our “sense of ownership” for our own bodies.
In this book, Kristina Musholt offers a novel theory of self-consciousness, understood as the ability to think about oneself. Traditionally, self-consciousness has been central to many philosophical theories. More recently, it has become the focus of empirical investigation in psychology and neuroscience. Musholt draws both on philosophical considerations and on insights from the empirical sciences to offer a new account of self-consciousness—the ability to think about ourselves that is at the core of what makes us human.
Examining theories of nonconceptual content developed in recent work in the philosophy of cognition, Musholt proposes a model for the gradual transition from self-related information implicit in the nonconceptual content of perception and other forms of experience to the explicit representation of the self in conceptual thought. A crucial part of this model is an analysis of the relationship between self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Self-consciousness and awareness of others, Musholt argues, are two sides of the same coin.
After surveying the philosophical problem of self-consciousness, the notion of nonconceptual content, and various proposals for the existence of nonconceptual self-consciousness, Musholt argues for a non-self-representationalist theory, according to which the self is not part of the representational content of perception and bodily awareness but part of the mode of presentation. She distinguishes between implicitly self-related information and explicit self-representation, and describes the transitions from the former to the latter as arising from a complex process of self–other differentiation. By this account, both self-consciousness and intersubjectivity develop in parallel.
The body may be the object we know the best. It is the only object from which we constantly receive a flow of information through sight and touch; and it is the only object we can experience from the inside, through our proprioceptive, vestibular, and visceral senses. Yet there have been very few books that have attempted to consolidate our understanding of the body as it figures in our experience and self-awareness. This volume offers an interdisciplinary and comprehensive treatment of bodily self-awareness, the first book to do so since the landmark 1995 collection The Body and the Self, edited by José Bermúdez, Naomi Eilan, and Anthony Marcel (MIT Press). Since 1995, the study of the body in such psychological disciplines as cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, psychiatry, and neuropsychology has advanced dramatically, accompanied by a resurgence of philosophical interest in the significance of the body in our mental life. The sixteen specially commissioned essays in this book reflect the advances in these fields. The book is divided into three parts, each part covering a topic central to an explanation of bodily self-awareness: representation of the body; the sense of bodily ownership; and representation of the self.
Adrian Alsmith, Brianna Beck, José Luis Bermúdez, Anna Berti, Alexandre Billon, Andrew J. Bremner, Lucilla Cardinali, Tony Cheng, Frédérique de Vignemont, Francesca Fardo, Alessandro Farnè, Carlotta Fossataro, Shaun Gallagher, Francesca Garbarini, Patrick Haggard, Jakob Hohwy, Matthew R. Longo, Tamar Makin, Marie Martel, Melvin Mezue, John Michael, Christopher Peacocke, Lorenzo Pia, Louise Richardson, Alice C. Roy, Manos Tsakiris, Hong Yu Wong