The Self in the Age of Cognitive Science: Decoupling the Self from the Personal Level

Philosophic Exchange 2018 (2018)
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Abstract
Philosophers of mind commonly draw a distinction between the personal level – the distinctive realm of conscious experience and reasoned deliberation – and the subpersonal level, the domain of mindless mechanism and brute cause and effect. Moreover, they tend to view cognitive science through the lens of this distinction. Facts about the personal level are given a priori, by introspection, or by common sense; the job of cognitive science is merely to investigate the mechanistic basis of these facts. I argue that this view misrepresents the structure of cognitive-scientific enquiry. Taken at face value, cognitive science makes no commitment to the existence of a distinctive level at which persons or selves appear. Thus, in the age of cognitive science, we should not expect to find the self in an ontologically distinct realm. Instead, we should expect to locate it in cognitive-scientific models themselves. In closing, I indicate likely results of this approach.
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Archival date: 2018-07-18
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