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Phenomenal Intentionality$
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Uriah Kriegel

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199764297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199764297.001.0001

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Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness

Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness

(p.235) 12 Phenomenality and Self-Consciousness
Phenomenal Intentionality

Charles Siewert

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the “Conscious Of” (CO) Principle—that conscious states are states we are conscious of—and its role in theorizing about the relation between phenomenal consciousness and self-consciousness. This intuitive principle is sometimes offered in support of the idea that necessarily, phenomenally conscious states are represented in the minds to which they belong—which in turn has been used to support higher-order (including self-representationalist) theories of consciousness (HORTs). It is argued here that the CO Principle, when combined with an at least equally intuitive “Is Conscious” (IC) Principle (viz., that being conscious of something is a conscious state) leads to an intolerable regress of self-representation, unless we either adopt a self-representationalist account, or endorse only such interpretations of CO that render it useless to HORTs (of which several are suggested). The latter option is preferable as both more parsimonious and less mysterious. Finally, attention is given to construals of CO that take all consciousness to essentially include self-consciousness in some other (“reflexive” but non-representational or non-objectual) sense. In support of this, it has been said that consciousness is “self-presenting” or “first-personally given,” or that it contains “for-me-ness” or “mineness” in its very character. But those claims admit of reasonable interpretations that offer no aid to the notion that a (perhaps nonobjectually) reflexive self-consciousness is essential to phenomenality. Nonetheless, there is reason to think a kind of self-consciousness is inherently part of experience (at least in the visual case), insofar as there being someone to whom things look somehow—an active situated perceiver (a “look-er”)—is implicit in its phenomenal character. But it would be misleading to take this to speak in favor of the view that conscious states self-reflexively, non-objectually “point at” themselves (or at “a self”). Taken altogether the findings here lend support the perspective that phenomenality is not to be explained as a type of self-directed intentionality or representation, but rather: varieties of self-consciousness are to be understood as forms of phenomenality.

Keywords:   phenomenality, self-consciousness, higher-order theories of consciousness, “conscious of” principle, “is conscious” principle, regress of self-consciousness, nonobjectual consciousness, reflexivity, presence, self-givenness, for-me-ness

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