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Abstract: I am John's brain. In the flesh, I am just a rather undistinguished looking grey/white mass of cells. My surface is heavily convoluted and I am possessed of a fairly differentiated internal structure. John and I are on rather close and intimate terms; indeed, sometimes it is hard to tell us apart. But at times, John takes this intimacy a little too far. When that happens, he gets very confused about my role and functioning. He imagines that I organize and process information in ways which echo his own perspective on the world. In short, he thinks that his thoughts are, in a rather direct sense, my thoughts. There is some truth to this of course. But things are really rather more complicated than John suspects, as I shall try to show
Abstract: He was not just my teacher and my friend. He was my hero, a man who was quietly but passionately committed to truth, to clarity, to understanding everything under the sun–and to making himself understood. More than anybody else he has made me proud to be a philosopher, so I would like to dedicate my Presidential Address to his memory
Abstract: The evaluations involved in shame are, intuitively at least, of many different sorts. One feels ashamed when seen by others doing something one would prefer doing alone (social shame). One is ashamed because of one’s ugly nose (shame about permanent traits). One feels ashamed of one’s dishonest behavior (moral shame), etc. The variety of evaluations in shame is striking; and it is even more so if one takes a cross-cultural perspective on this emotion. So the difficulty – the “unity problem” of shame- turns out to be the following: is there a common trait shared by all shame evaluations that will allow us to differentiate these evaluations from those that feature in other negative self-reflexive emotions like anger at oneself or self disappointment? Some progress is perhaps accomplished if we say that, in shame, a given trait or behavior is evaluated as degrading or as revealing one’s lack of worth. Still, even if we agree with this last claim, truth is that these answers are less illuminating than we might wish. A theory of shame should surely further elucidate the aspect of one’s identity relevant for shame, namely, the self of shame. In this connexion, philosophers have referred to “self-esteem,” “self-respect” or the “social self,” significantly disagreeing thus on which aspect of one’s identity is at stake in shame. After critically discussing the different solutions to the problem, we offer our own. Shame, we claim, consists in an awareness of a distinctive inability to discharge a commitment that goes with holding self-relevant values. This conception solves the unity problem while illuminating other aspects of this emotion.
Abstract: Although philosophical approaches to the self are diverse, several of them are relevant to cognitive science. First, the notion of a 'minimal self', a self devoid of temporal extension, is clarified by distinguishing between a sense of agency and a sense of ownership for action. To the extent that these senses are subject to failure in pathologies like schizophrenia, a neuropsychological model of schizophrenia may help to clarify the nature of the minimal self and its neurological underpinnings. Second, there is good evidence to suggest that although certain aspects of the minimal self are primitive and embodied, other aspects may be accessed only in reflective consciousness. Employing a modified concept of the minimal self, it may be possible to construct a robotic form of non-conscious self-reference that depends on an interaction between the robotic body and its environment. In contrast to the minimal self, the narrative self involves continuity over time and is directly relevant to discussions of memory and personal identity. There is growing consensus among philosophers and cognitive scientists about the importance of narrative and its relation to episodic memory and left-hemisphere functions. There are, however, at least two different views of how the narrative self is structured. On one model it is nothing more than an abstract point. On a more extended view, proposed here, the self is a rich amalgam of narratives that allows for the equivocations, contradictions, and self-deceptions of personal life. Even in this case, however, neurocognitive models contribute to our understanding of how narrative identity is structured
Abstract: Metzinger’s claim that there are no such things as selves has given rise to a lot of discussions. By examining the notion of self used by Metzinger, I want to clarify what he means when saying that nobody ever was or had a self. Furthermore, I want to examine if there could be a notion of ‘self’ which is compatible with the Self- Model Theory of Subjectivity (SMT). I will argue that there is a notion of self which is not only compatible with the SMT, but that the SMT also provides the theoretical framework for developing such a notion
Abstract: One of the most certain truths in the world is Descartes' "I think, therefore I am". Descartes was so certain of the existence of some kind of essential _self_ that others have coined the term "Cartesian theater" to describe the sense that we all have of being the audience enjoying the rich play of our experiences. We tend to believe in an enduring self, independent of our individual percepts. Sometimes this virtual "self" in our mind, sitting in the audience of the Cartesian theater who watches our thoughts is referred to as a homunculus. This is not necessarily to imply that most of us believe that the self or homunculus is an identifiable region of the brain like the pineal gland, just that at some level of organization, we assume that there is a self that is separate from the stuff that self experiences, remembers, thinks about, etc
Abstract: Human beings are not only the most sociable animals on Earth, but also the only animals that have to ponder the separateness that comes with having a conscious self. The philosophical problem of ‘other minds’ nags away at people’s sense of who—and why—they are. But the privacy of consciousness has an evolutionary history—and maybe even an evolutionary function. While recognizing the importance to humans of mind-reading and psychic transparency, we should consider the consequences and possible beneﬁts of being—ultimately—psychically opaque
Abstract: Abstract: Thought experiments about the self seem to lead to deeply conflicting intuitions about the self. Cases imagined from the 3rd person perspective seem to provoke different responses than cases imagined from the 1st person perspective. This paper argues that recent cognitive theories of the imagination, coupled with standard views about indexical concepts, help explain our reactions in the 1st person cases. The explanation helps identify intuitions that should not be trusted as a guide to the metaphysics of the self
Abstract: Introspection plays a crucial role in Modern philosophy in two different ways. From the beginnings of Modern philosophy, introspection has been used a tool for philosophical exploration in a variety of thought experiments. But Modern philosophers (e.g., Locke and Hume) also tried to characterize the nature of introspection as a psychological phenomenon. In contemporary philosophy, introspection is still frequently used in thought experiments. And in the analytic tradition, philosophers have tried to characterize conceptually necessary features of introspection.2 But over the last several decades, philosophers have devoted relatively little attention to the cognitive characteristics of introspection. This has begun to change, impelled largely by a fascinating body of work on how children and autistic individuals understand the mind.3 In a pair of recent papers, Stephen Stich and I have drawn on this empirical work to develop an account of introspection or self-awareness.4 In this paper, I will elaborate and defend this cognitive theory of introspection further and argue that if the account is right, it may have important ramifications for psychological and philosophical debates over the self
Abstract: Because there is no agreed use of the term 'self', or characteristic features or even paradigm cases of selves, there is no idea of "the self" to figure in philosophical problems. The term leads to troubles otherwise avoidable; and because legitimate discussions under the heading of 'self' are really about other things, it is gratuitous. I propose that we stop speaking of selves
Abstract: The English expression “self” is a modest one; in its normal use, it is not even quite a word, but something that makes an ordinary object pronoun into a reﬂexive one: “her” into “herself,” “him” into “himself” and “it” into “itself”. The reﬂexive pronoun is used when the object of an action or attitude is the same as the subject of that action or attitude. If I say Mark Twain shot _himself _in the foot, I describe Mark Twain not only as the shooter but as the person shot; if I say Mark Twain admired _himself, _I describe him not only as the admirer but as the admired. In this sense, “the self” is just the person doing the action or holding the attitude that is somehow in question. “Self” is also used as a preﬁx for names of activities and attitudes, identifying the special case where the object is the same as the agent: self-love, self-hatred, self-abuse, self-promotion, self-knowledge
Abstract: Human beings think of themselves in terms of a privileged non-descriptive designator — a mental “I”. Such thoughts are called “_de se_” thoughts. The mind/body problem is the problem of deciding what kind of thing I am, and it can be regarded as arising from the fact that we think of ourselves non-descriptively. Why do we think of ourselves in this way? We investigate the functional role of “I” (and also “here” and “now”) in cognition, arguing that the use of such non-descriptive “reflexive” designators is essential for making sophisticated cognition work in a general-purpose cognitive agent. If we were to build a robot capable of similar cognitive tasks as humans, it would have to be equipped with such designators
Abstract: offers each of these as a possible moral unit at various points.1 It is the aim of this paper, however, to suggest that, if Parﬁt’s two key arguments about the indeterminacy of identity and what matters in our identity are correct, we should take selves to be the signiﬁcant moral units in any metaphysically-grounded ethical theory. Furthermore, because Parﬁt’s own explanation of what the concept of the self involves is problematic in important respects, I hope to point out a few ways in which this concept might be made clearer and more coherent. Finally, I will defend this intermediate view from objections stemming from each of the other two alternatives. I begin with a brief exposition of the Parﬁtian model