chapter  18
17 Pages

Basic forms of pre-reflective self-consciousness: a developmental perspective ANNA CIAUNICA

The notion of pre-reflective self-consciousness is usually characterized both in terms of (i) subjective “feel,” i.e., the idea that experiences have a certain phenomenological quality or “what it is like for the subject” to have them; and (ii) “mineness” or “for-me-ness” (Zahavi 2005; Kriegel 2009), i.e., the idea that all the experiences are implicitly given as my experiences. According to a longstanding phenomenological tradition (Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Henry) our experiences are not given to us neutrally, in the sense that they can be anyone’s experiences. Whenever we consciously perceive something or feel an emotion, these perceptions and feelings are somehow given to us as our own. This immediate and first-personal givenness of experiential phenomena is accounted for in terms of a pre-reflective self-consciousness. In what follows, I am mainly concerned with the notion of “mineness” or “for-me-ness” that characterizes pre-reflective awareness, namely the idea that it is I who is having these experiences. Most accounts describe “for-me-ness” in terms of first-person givenness of experience that is subsumed under the notion of “minimal self-consciousness” or “minimal self.” Recently, a growing number of authors (Gallagher 2000; Sass and Parnas 2003; Metzinger 2004; Zahavi 2005; Cermolacce et al. 2007; Hohwy 2007; Mishara 2007; Blanke and Metzinger 2009) defended several versions of the “for-me-ness” thesis, i.e., the idea that our everyday phenomenology is characterized by a pre-reflective sense of self, referred to as the “minimal” or the “core” self.1 Despite significant disagreements, these authors share the important assumption that pre-reflective self-consciousness is an on-going and more primitive self-consciousness. Yet, it is not clear whether this “on-going” dynamic aspect refers exclusively to a self-centered continuity or encompasses self-other relatedness as well. Here I defend the idea that, at the most primitive level, pre-reflective self-awareness might be experienced as other-relatedness rather than self-centered or first-personal “for-me-ness.”