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Zahavi: Subjectivity and Selfhood

Experiential Core Self – A minimal self model

Tram Ho Dac

on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of Zahavi: Subjectivity and Selfhood

Is there a Self?
Notions of Self
Narrative Self Concept
Mineness and Selfhood
Clinical and Neural
Experiences present us with Objects
two opposing conceptions of self/non-self
Classical View
sensory, emotional and intentional states do have a specific phenomenality;
i.e. "what it is like" to be in a mental state
self(-affection), or subjectivity is:
Dan Zahavi:
Subjectivity and Selfhood

Zahavi, D. (2005). Subjectivity and Selfhood. MIT Press.
the self is given, conceptually or experientially
every experience has a central unifying subject
non-egological: experiences are acquaintances that C has with itself
self is a formal and abstract identity principle
self as a
self as an
self as social and narrative
self is constructed through narration and interpretation during life-time
self is the first-personal giveness of experience
necessity to be part of a linguistic social community
subject gives coherence+unity to the ever-changing flow of experiences
subject has specific access to the stream of consciousness
identity as sameness
personality traits permanent over time
identity as selfhood
linked to interpretation and self-understanding
unchangeable substrate allows reidentification
continuous self-inter-pretation+construction
"[...] the narrative identity can include changes and mutations within the cohesion of a lifetime" (p.108)
"I attain insight into who I am by situating my character traits, the values I endorse, the goals I pursue within a life story that traces their origin and development; the self is the product of a narratively structured life" (p.107)
faithfulness of self
idem: identity as the same
ipseity: identity as the self
it is the subjective phenomenal quality of mental states that makes them a conscious experience (p.119)
the intentional quality of experiences themselves differ from the intentional matter of experience
Experiences are intentional,
Intentional states are experiential
intentional quality/act
intentional matter/object
subjectivity = exclusive first-personal givenness
objectivity = intersubjective accessibility
experiential dimension
worldly dimension
both poles of experience involve a first-person perspective
worldly properties
experiential properties
modes of givenness to the subject; e.g. in perception, dream...
appearance to the subject; e.g. hard, bitter, warm, red...
"Lived pre- reflective consciousness has no egological structure. As long as we are absorbed in the experience, living it through, no ego appears. It is only when we adopt a distancing and objectifying attitude toward the experience in question, that is, when we reflect upon it, that an ego appears.
"All that has been explained previously by reference to a phenomenological notion of “self” can consequently be better explained with the notion of a phenomenally transparent self-model whose representational, or more important, misrepresentational (hallucinatory) nature cannot be recognized by the system using it" (p.111)
Even then, however, we are dealing not with an I-consciousness, since the reflecting pole remains non-egological, but merely with a consciousness of an ego. The ego is not the subject, but the object of consciousness. It is not something that exists in or behind consciousness, but in front of it." (p.101)
the self is a product of reflection or of a complex brain state
Rather than choosing between these two narrow alternatives:
Are there other theories of self?

Aim: provide a new egological account based on an examination of the structure of experience
"To be conscious of oneself, consequently, is not to capture a pure self that exists in separation from the stream of consciousness, but rather entails just being conscious of an experience in its first-personal mode of givenness; it is a question of having first-personal access to one’s own experiential life." (p.115)
How can narrative and experiential self concepts be integrated?
"Who we are depends on the stories told about us, both by ourselves and by others. Our narrative self is multiple-authored and under constant revision. The story of any individual life is not only interwoven with the stories of others (parents, siblings, friends, etc.), it is also embedded in a larger historical and communal meaning-giving structure" (p.118)
"[W]e should not confuse the reflective, narrative grasp of a life with an account of the pre-reflective experience that makes up that life prior to that experience being organized into a narrative."
definitive + informative answers from a 3rd ps perspective are possible
"Who am I?" needs an answer from a 1st ps perspective
Problems of Narrative Identity
the self is not theoretical fiction, but grounded in experience and giving organisation, structure, and meaning to our life
life story can be (internally or externally) incoherent
the self is wholly constituted by our descriptions; it is nothing but a linguistic and social invention
the narration cannot capture all aspects of our selfhood and might even impose an order that is not given in life
Problems of Narrative Identity
Aim: ground the narrative self concept in a more fundamental notion of ipseity (selfhood): an experiential core self
"Although no ego exists on the pre-reflective level, consciousness remains personal because [it] is, at bottom, characterized by a fundamental self-givenness or self-referentiality that Sartre called ipseity."
different qualities or matters change the phenomenality
Intentionalistic Interpretation
of Phenomenal Qualities
the feature common to all intentional qualities of experience is their mineness, their first-personal mode of givenness
no explicit I-consciousness that I am the subject of the experience, but a subtle background of mineness
this pre-reflective sense of mineness constitutes the minimal/core sense of self
it is its first-personal givenness that reveals the mineness or ipseity of experience
the self is not the independent spectator of experiences, but an integral part to the conscious engagement with the world
Core Sense of Self
= sense of mineness constituted by the pre-reflective first-personal mode of givenness, that distinguish my from other's experiences
no separate identity-pole that transcends the stream of experiences (Kant)
nor "non-existent" as constructed or a mere self-awareness of experiences
The self is not an object, but the subject(ivity) of experience, or its basic ipseity
"Self-awareness is there not only when I realize that
am perceiving a candle, but whenever I am acquainted with an experience in its
first-personal mode
of givenness, that is, whenever there is something it is like for me to have the experience." (p.146)
the self is a specific mode of how experiences can be given, namely first-personal givenness
the pre-reflective knowledge of mineness grounds any reflective construction of a narrative (autobiographic) self/person
"narrative personhood presupposes experiential selfhood (but not vice versa)" (p.129)
"[...] it is necessary to distinguish the self from any single experience, as the self can preserve its identity whereas experiences arise and perish in the stream of consciousness, replacing one other in a permanent flux [...] although the ego must be distinguished from the experiences in which it lives and functions, it cannot exist in any way independently of them. It is a transcendence, but in Husserl’s now famous phrase, it is a transcendence in the immanence."(p.140)
Transcendence and Immanence
Selfhood and Personhood
disrupted in:
the grounds for a meaningful world
coupled to perception (significance~attention)
and action (affordances)
schizophrenic personality disorder
note of caution: necessity for refined phenomenological descriptions
hyperreflexivity: compulsive self-monitoring
double dissociation between core/extended (autobiographical) consciousness (~ self)
Ngan-Tram Ho Dac
Universität Osnabrück
25. Mai 2013
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