SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Hard Problem of Self-Consciousness
(Philosophy of Mind, English)

A major component of "the hard problem of consciousness" is addressing an important epistemic or explanatory gap: can we make sense of consciousness in the same way that we make sense of the physical world?

Much debate in response to this question concerns (i) whether conscious experience has intrinsic features and (ii) whether these features are epistemically reducible to the physical. Traditionally, the focus of pro- and anti-reductionists alike has been on the nature of phenomenal qualia ("the feel of pain", "the sheer redness of red"). Yet others have suggested that in addition to these kinds of "qualitative character", consciousness also possess "subjective character": the way in which experiences are always for subjects of experience, such that subjects have a special form of awareness of their experiences (e.g. Kriegel 2004, 2012; Levine 2001, 2015; Strawson 2010; Zahavi & Kriegel 2015). On this view, recognising the "for-me-ness" of experience is essential to articulating the first-person perspective we have in experience and must be accounted for by any position on the epistemic reducibility (or otherwise) of consciousness.

Drawing on the work of Dan Zahavi and the phenomenological tradition, I suggest that the subjective character of experience can be explicated as a form of pre-reflective self-awareness. I further argue that this form of self-awareness is not epistemically reducible to the physical. I conclude by drawing out the implications of this position for our self-conception as subjects of experience with the capacity for agency in a physical world.

Chair: Alexander Gebharter
Time: 11:20-11:50, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Artem Bourov 
(University of Melbourne, Australia)

I'm a Masters student in philosophy of mind at The University of Melbourne, where I also completed my B. Arts (Hons) / B. Science. My current research project brings together Analytic and Continental perspectives on the nature of consciousness, selfhood and embodiment. I also coordinate a university volunteering program that inspires students from disadvantaged high schools to pursue studies in science and mathematics.

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