The Limited Significance of Self-Consciousness

Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 68 (4):435-454 (2010)

Abstract

The aim of the paper is to present an attempt to reconcile the results of some of the main positions with respect to the I or self-consciousness put forward so far in the modern history of Western philosophy. They range from the conviction that self-consciousness is a systematically elusive phenomenon to the claim that the I is of supreme reality. Though these assertions seem to contradict each other in various ways, I hope to show that nevertheless one can learn from these accounts quite a lot about the nature and the function of self- consciousness or the I which might help to determine its status and its significance within the wider framework of human attitudes and accomplishments. In particular, I want to point out that elusiveness and supreme reality of the I or self-consciousness are not that much opposed as one might believe at first, as can be learned especially well from Kant and some of his German idealistic followers and their insistence on propositional contexts as a necessary condition for a self-conscious I

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Rolf-Peter Horstmann
Humboldt-University, Berlin

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