Non-objectal Subjectivity
Frank (Manfred)
Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 14, Issue 05-06 (2007), pp. 152-173 (22)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    The immediate successors of Kant in classical German philosophy considered a subjectivity irreducible to objecthood as the core of personhood. The thesis of an irreducible subjectivity has, after the German idealists, been advocated by the phenomenological movement, as well as by analytical philosophers of self-consciousness1 such as Hector-Neri Castañeda and Sydney Shoemaker. Their arguments together show that self-consciousness2 cannot be reduced to a relation whereby a subject grasps itself as an object, but that there must be a core of subjectivity always already familiar with itself before reflection. A number of contemporary accounts of self-consciousness3 are unaware of these old and new arguments, and flawed in that they do not account for the core ‘non-objectal subjectivity’ necessary for self-consciousness4 and personhood.
Introduction in "Ikaheimo (Heikki) & Laitinen (Arto) - Dimensions of Personhood"
    Manfred Frank concludes the second part by arguing that it is necessary to presuppose, ‘behind’ the reflective self-relations constitutive of personhood, a non-reflective or non-relational core of personhood without which no genuinely self-reflective relations would be possible, and without which also the normative or moral status of persons would lack a fundamentum in re. Frank discusses a number of contemporary approaches to self-consciousness5, and shows how each of them fails as a comprehensive account in that they either presuppose or leave unaccounted for this non-relational core that all genuinely first-personal consciousness or knowledge of oneself presupposes. Frank shows that Fichte, an immediate successor of Kant, was already well aware of the problems involved in the attempts to account for the core in terms of a subject-object-relation, and points out that a contemporary of Fichte, Novalis, suggested an alternative approach to the foundation of the first-person phenomena — one which conceives it in terms of the concept of feeling.

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