- The notion that we are subjects of experience is an appealing one, or so many have found. But precisely how should these "subjects" be construed?
- In responding to the Cartesian view that a subject is essentially conscious Locke responded by claiming that is not "any more necessary for the soul always to think than for the body always to move". He went on to suggest that from the fact that we sometimes think, we should conclude "that there is something in us that has the power to think".
- Construing subjects (or selves) as things that have the potential to be conscious is itself an attractive option, or so I have argued previously. Here I respond to some recent objections to construing selves in this way. I will be focusing principally on the allegation (levelled by Tim Bayne and Mark Johnston) that identifying subjects with the things which have the capacity for consciousness faces a fatal problem: what if these things have the ability to produce several streams of consciousness at a time, rather than just not one? Aren't subjects beings who enjoy a unified consciousness at any given time?
- I will be arguing that this problem is not fatal. What it reveals is that the relationship between subjects, the unity of consciousness2 and time is more complex than has often been assumed. There is, it turns out, more than one way for a subject to be conscious.
For a YouTube podcast – Royal Institute of Philosophy, 31/01/2014 – see YouTube: Dainton - From Phenomenal Selves to Hyper-Selves.
Footnote 1: This is the YouTube abstract - there's another in the book.
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