Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Subjectivity, Self, and Self-Consciousness

 22 febbraio 2018

Subjectivity, Self, and Self-Consciousness

A workshop and a series of talks organised by the Research Unit for Philosophical Psychology, Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica di Milano


10.30 am: D. Zahavi, University of Copenhagen

The Minimal Self Revisited

In my talk, I will first briefly outline the main ideas and motivations behind the introduction of a minimalist notion of self. I will then consider a number of challenges and criticisms that this notion has recently been subjected to. These criticisms all engage in various ways with what might be called the universality question. If it is the case that our experiences are accompanied by a minimal sense of self such that one might talk of the existence of an experiential self, is it then something that holds with necessity, such that it characterizes all experiences however minimal or disordered they might be? Is it something that only holds for normal, adult, experiences? Or might it be something that only holds under rather special circumstances, say, when we reflectively scrutinize and appropriate our experiences?

Suggested readings:

Zahavi, D. (2014) Self and Other: Exploring Subjectivity, Empathy, and Shame (pp. 3-92).

Zahavi, D., Kriegel, U. (2016): "For-Me-Ness: What It Is and What It Is Not." In D.O. Dahlstrom, A. Elpidorou & W. Hopp (eds.) Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology: Conceptual and Empirical Approaches. London: Routledge, 36-53.

14.30 pm: D. Wehinger, University of Innsbruck

Self-Consciousness is the Hard Problem

In contemporary philosophy of mind, phenomenal consciousness is usually taken to be the hard problem of consciousness, while self-consciousness is seen as a comparably easy problem to solve. In my talk I question these claims. Following Zahavi and others, I argue that phenomenal consciousness entails a minimal form of self-consciousness, and that this minimal form of self-consciousness poses a serious challenge for reductionism. In particular, I focus on attempts to reduce self-consciousness to self-representation, and show that they fail. As a result, I argue, self-consciousness turns out to be the hard problem.

Suggested readings:

Wehinger, D. (2016) Das Präreflexive Selbst. Subjektivität als minimales Selbstbewusstsein, mentis Münste