Jean-Paul Sartre and the HOT Theory of Consciousness

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):293-330 (2002)
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In Section I, I explain some key Sartrean terminology and in Section II, I introduce the HOT theory. Section III is where I argue for the close connection between Sartre’s theory and a somewhat modified version of the HOT theory. That section of the paper is divided into four subsections in which I also address the relevance of Sartre’s rejection of the Freudian unconscious and the threat of an infinite regress in his theory of consciousness. In Section IV, I critically examine what I call ‘the unity problem,’ which has mainly been raised by Kathleen Wider against Sartre. In light of Section III, I attempt to relieve some of Sartre’s difficulties. In Section V, I critically examine a passage from Being and Nothingness containing one of Sartre’s main arguments for his belief that consciousness entails self-consciousness. In Section VI, I show how Sartre and the HOT theory can accommodate so-called ‘I-thoughts’ into the structure of conscious mental states with the help of Wider’s view. Finally, in Section VII, I offer some concluding remarks.
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