Mag. Dr. Daniel WEHINGER

Research fellow in the project Agency and (quantum) physics

Department of Christian Philosophy
Karl-Rahner-Platz 1
A-6020 Innsbruck

Tel.: +43 512 507-8534
Fax: +43 512 507-2736


Wehinger. Das Präreflexive SelbstNew Book: Das präreflexive Selbst. Subjektivität als minimales Selbstbewusstsein. [The Pre-Reflective Self. Subjectivity as Minimal Self-Consciousness] (mentis / Amazon)

Can there be experience without self-consciousness? – In analytic philosophy of mind, this question is usually affirmed. It is argued that experience is the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness, the problem that deserves the most attention, while self-consciousness is thought to be a comparably easy problem to solve. In my recent book “Das präreflexive Selbst. Subjektivität als minimales Selbstbewusstsein” [“The Pre-Reflective Self. Subjectivity as Minimal Self-Consciousness”] I question this claim and the separation of mind that it brings with it. Following Zahavi, Kriegel and others, I argue that every phenomenally conscious state involves a minimal consciousness of myself, since every phenomenally conscious state is such that there is something it is like for me to have it. Thus, experience and self-consciousness cannot be separated. They go hand in hand.

I then go on to show that self-consciousness poses a fundamental obstacle for reductive accounts of the mind. It is not an easy problem. Neither the classic higher-order theories put forward by Armstrong and Rosenthal nor the more recent same-order accounts developed by Kriegel and others can explain self-consciousness. In particular, self-consciousness cannot be reduced to the relation of self-representation, since I can represent myself without being aware that it is me I am representing. Thus, self-representation is insufficient for self-consciousness.

This critique is identical in structure to the critique of the so-called reflection model of self-consciousness in the phenomenological tradition. In my book, I point out that this critique, as well as the idea of a pre-reflective self-consciousness, with which it is connected, is highly relevant for contemporary analytic philosophy of mind.