Self‐awareness and self‐understanding

European Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):162-186 (2019)
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Abstract
In this paper, I argue that self-awareness is intertwined with one's awareness of possibilities for action. I show this by critically examining Dan Zahavi's multidimensional account of the self. I argue that the distinction Zahavi makes among 'pre-reflective minimal', 'interpersonal', and 'normative' dimensions of selfhood needs to be refined in order to accommodate what I call 'pre-reflective self-understanding'. The latter is a normative dimension of selfhood manifest not in reflection and deliberation, but in the habits and style of a person’s pre-reflective absorption in the world. After reviewing Zahavi's multidimensional account and revealing this gap in his explanatory taxonomy, I draw upon Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Frankfurt in order to sketch an account of pre-reflective self-understanding. I end by raising an objection to Zahavi’s claim for the primitive and foundational status of pre-reflective self-awareness. To carve off self-awareness from the self’s practical immersion in a situation where things and possibilities already matter and draw one to act is to distort the phenomena. A more careful phenomenology of pre-reflective action shows that pre-reflective self-awareness and pre-reflective self-understanding are co-constitutive, both mutually for each other and jointly for everyday experience.
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2019
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Archival date: 2018-07-27
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2018-07-26

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