Phenomenological Approaches to Self-Consciousness
Gallagher (Shaun) & Zahavi (Dan)
Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2005-10
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

On the phenomenological view, a minimal form of self-consciousness1 is a constant structural feature of conscious experience. Experience happens for the experiencing subject in an immediate way and as part of this immediacy, it is implicitly marked as my experience. For the phenomenologists, this immediate and first-personal givenness of experiential phenomena must be accounted for in terms of a pre-reflective self-consciousness2. In the most basic sense of the term, self-consciousness3 is not something that comes about the moment one attentively inspects or reflectively introspects one's experiences, or in the instant of self-recognition of one's image in the mirror, or in the proper use of the first-person pronoun, or in the construction of a self-narrative. Rather, these different kinds of self-consciousness4 are to be distinguished from the pre-reflective self-consciousness5 which is present whenever I am living through or undergoing an experience, i.e., whenever I am consciously perceiving the world, whenever I am thinking an occurrent thought, whenever I am feeling sad or happy, thirsty or in pain, and so forth.

  1. Pre-reflective self-consciousness6
  2. One-level accounts of self-consciousness7
  3. Temporality and the limits of reflective self-consciousness8
  4. Bodily self-awareness
  5. Social forms of self-consciousness9
  6. Conclusion
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First published Sat Feb 19, 2005; substantive revision Tue Oct 5, 2010; see Link (Defunct).

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