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Beyond EvolutionHuman Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation$
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Anthony O'Hear

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250045.001.0001

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Self‐Conscious Belief

Self‐Conscious Belief

Chapter:
(p.31) 3 Self‐Conscious Belief
Source:
Beyond Evolution
Author(s):

Anthony O'Hear (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198250045.003.0003

What does it mean to be self‐conscious? Mere consciousness involves no conception of the self. Self‐consciousness requires a conceptual scheme or symbolic system and this in itself—drawing on Wittgensteinian points about the essentially public and social nature of language—presupposes that, contrary to sceptical doubts, we are already part of a language using community. Pierce made the point that self‐consciousness only arises if one sees oneself as a fallible member of a community of speakers—that self‐consciousness requires the possibility of error. While this role for fallibility in the arising of self‐consciousness carries with it some sceptical risks, it casts doubt on any extreme form of scepticism.

Keywords:   conceptual scheme, fallibility, public nature of language, C.S. Pierce, self‐consciousness, L. Wittgenstein

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