Protosociology – Essays on Philosophy (2021)
This paper presents a new cognitivist account for the old puzzle of self-consciousness or knowing self-reference. Knowing self-reference does not rely on reflection on some putative pre-existent pre-reflexive self-consciousness, nor is it the result of a process of identification of oneself as the employer of the relevant token of “I” according to the token-reflexive rule of the first-person pronoun. Rather, it relies on the architecture of the cognitive system. By exploiting the acquaintance relation that every brain has to one’s own body, a “mental file” is opened in a subliminal way to house information about oneself gained through the appropriate proprioceptors. Knowing self-reference based on self-files dispenses with self-identification because the opening of the file in the same brain/body is not a deed of the cognitive system but rather something that takes place sub-personally.