Subjectivity as Self-Acquaintance

Journal of Consciousness Studies 25 (3-4):88-111 (2018)
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Abstract

Subjectivity is that feature of consciousness whereby there is something it is like for a subject to undergo an experience. One persistent challenge in the study of consciousness is to explain how subjectivity relates to, or arises from, purely physical brain processes. But, in order to address this challenge, it seems we must have a clear explanation of what subjectivity is in the first place. This has proven challenging in its own right. For the nature of subjectivity itself seems to resist straightforward characterization. In this paper, I won't address how subjectivity relates to the physical. Instead, I'll address subjectivity itself. I'll do this by introducing and defending a model of subjectivity based on self-acquaintance. My model does not purport to reduce, eliminate, or naturalize subjectivity, but it does make subjectivity more tractable, less paradoxical, and perhaps less dubious to those averse to obscurity.

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Matt Duncan
Rhode Island College

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