From Phenomenal Selves to Hyperselves

Dainton, Barry ORCID: 0000-0002-6705-2070
(2015) From Phenomenal Selves to Hyperselves. In: Mind, Self and Person. Royal Institution of Philosophy Supplements, 76 . Cambridge University Press (CUP), pp. 161-197.

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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The claim that we are <jats:italic>subjects of experience</jats:italic>, i.e. beings whose nature is intimately bound up with consciousness, is in many ways a plausible one. There is, however, more than one way of developing a metaphysical account of the nature of subjects. The view that subjects are essentially conscious has the unfortunate consequence that subjects cannot survive periods of unconsciousness. A more appealing alternative is to hold that subjects are beings with the <jats:italic>capacity</jats:italic> to be conscious, a capacity which need not always be exercised. But this view can itself be developed in more than one way. The option I defend here is that subjects are nothing more than capacities for consciousness, a view I call the ‘C-theory’. Although the C-theory supplies us with a potentially appealing account of the nature of subjects (and hence ourselves), there are challenges to be overcome. Olson has argued that identifying ourselves with what are, in effect, <jats:italic>parts</jats:italic> of human organisms leads to a variety of intolerable problems. I suggest that these problems are by no means insuperable. Bayne and Johnston have argued that identifying subjects with experience-producing systems is confronted with a different difficulty. What if these systems can produce multiple streams of consciousness at once. Whatever else they may be, aren't subjects the kind of thing that can have <jats:italic>just one</jats:italic> stream of consciousness at a time? In response I argue that this is true in one sense, but not in another. Once this is appreciated, the notion that a subject could have several streams of consciousness at once no longer seems absurd, or impossible.</jats:p>

Item Type: Book Section
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Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2015 09:23
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 00:47
DOI: 10.1017/s1358246115000065
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