the sense of self
Different conceptions of the nature of subjects of experience have very different implications for the sort of relationship which exists between subjects and their experiences. On my preferred view, since subjects consist of nothing but capacities for experience, the ‘having’ of an experience amounts to a subject’s producing it. This relationship may look to be problematic, but I argue that here at least appearances are deceptive. I then move on to consider some of the ways in which experiences can seem to have subjects or owners, and argue that those who take a ‘sense of self’ to be an essential feature of all forms of consciousness may well be mistaken.
Barry Dainton is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. He works in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, and is influenced by current and predicted developments in science and technology. He is the author of four books: The Phenomenal Self, Stream of Consciousness, Time and Space, and most recently Self.
dainton on subjects of experience
The paper discusses some of the themes in Professor Dainton's article 'The Sense of Self'. In the first part it is proposed that some of the arguments in favour of his theory that Dainton proposes are questionable, and that in its more extreme version there are features which look doubtful. A simpler account of subjects is then proposed. In the second part some aspects of Dainton's discussion of the sense of self are analysed. it is argued that although Dainton's own account of our sense of self is not obviously correct, the views he is opposed to are not well supported, nor is the debate very clear.
Paul Snowdon was a Fellow of Exeter College Oxford between 1971 and 2001. After that, until 2014, he was Grote Professor of Mind and Logic at UCL. He published Persons, Animals, Ourselves with OUP in 2014. He has written about the philosophy of mind, personal identity, and the history of philosophy.
8 - 10 July 2016
School of English, Communication and Philosophy
John Percival Building
Cardiff CF10 3EU
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