Journal of Consciousness Studies
Contents and Selected Abstracts

Volume 6, Issue 4
April 1999

Models of the Self, Part 4

Edited by Shaun Gallagher and Jonathan Shear

This is a regular issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies
The four parts of this special issue are also available as a hard-case book ($38.95/£24.95)


The Self in Contextualized Action
Shaun Gallagher and Anthony J. Marcel  abstract
The Self Is a Semiotic Process
John Pickering  abstract
Phenomenology and Agency: Methodological and Theoretical Issues in Strawson’s ‘The Self’
Maxine Sheets-Johnstone  abstract
Time and the Sublime Self
Matthew Emory Pacholec  abstract
Being Scientific About Our Selves
Mary Midgley  abstract
The Self and the SESMET
Galen Strawson  abstract


  • Paul and Patricia Churchland, On the Contrary: Critical Essays, 1987–97, reviewed by Brian Jonathan Garrett
  • Stephen Crain & Rosalind Thornton, Investigations in Universal Grammar, reviewed by Tuomo Jämsä
  • Christine Hardy, Networks of Meaning: A Bridge between Mind and Matter, reviewed by Emilios Bouratinos
  • Ernest Hartmann, Dreams and Nightmares, reviewed by Brigitte Holzinger
  • Jonathan Lear, Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul, reviewed by Jonathan Reams
  • Emmanuel Levinas, Discovering Existence with Husserl, reviewed by Robyn Horner
  • John Pickering (ed.), The Authority of Experience: Essays on Buddhism and Psychology, reviewed by Guy Claxton
  • Jeffrey Prager, Presenting the Past: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Misremembering, reviewed by Chris Nunn
  • Michael D. Rugg (ed.), Cognitive Neuroscience, reviewed by Maxim I. Stamenov
  • Alan D. Schrift (ed.), The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity, reviewed by Robyn Horner
  • Charles P. Siewert, The Significance of Consciousness, reviewed by A.J. Rudd
  • Larry R. Squire & Stephen M. Kosslyn (ed.), Findings and Current Opinion in Cognitive Neuroscience, reviewed by Dennis Lomas
  • Maxim I. Stamenov (ed.), Language Structure, Discourse and the Access to Consciousness, reviewed by David W. Salt
  • Leopold Stubenberg, Consciousness and Qualia, reviewed by Josh Weisberg
  • Helmut Wautischer (ed.), Tribal Epistemologies: Essays in the Philosophy of Anthropology, reviewed by Bruno Deschenes
  • Ken Wilber, The Eye of the Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, reviewed by Mark Seelig

  • Selected Abstracts

    The Self in Contextualized Action

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 4-30

    Gallagher S. Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Canisius College, Buffalo NY 14208, USA
    Marcel A.J.

    This paper suggests that certain traditional ways of analysing the self start off in situations that are abstract or detached from normal experience, and that the conclusions reached in such approaches are, as a result, inexact or mistaken. The paper raises the question of whether there are more contextualized forms of self-consciousness than those usually appealed to in philosophical or psychological analyses, and whether they can be the basis for a more adequate theoretical approach to the self. First, we develop a distinction between abstract and contextualized actions and intentions by drawing on evidence from studies of rehabilitation after brain damage, and we introduce the notion of intentional attitude. Second, we discuss several interesting conclusions drawn from theoretically and experimentally abstract approaches. These conclusions raise some important issues about both the nature of the self and reflexive consciousness. At the same time they indicate the serious limitations concerning what we can claim about self and self-consciousness within such abstract frameworks. Such limitations motivate the question of whether it is possible to capture a sense of self that is more embedded in contextualized actions. Specifically, our concern is to focus on first-person approaches. We identify two forms of self-consciousness, ecological self-awareness and embedded reflection, that (1) function within the kinds of contextualized activity we have indicated, and (2) can be the basis for a theoretical account of the self. Both forms of self-consciousness are closely tied to action and promise to provide a less abstract basis for developing a theoretical approach to the self.

    Being Scientific About Our Selves

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 85-98

    Midgley M. 1a Collingwood Terrace, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE2 2JP, UK

    We cannot really understand other people unless we make some serious effort to understand ourselves as well. This is well known in ordinary life, but it sets a problem for any psychology which aims to be 'scientific' by the narrow standards which define that term today. Those standards have sharply narrowed the notion of 'science' to exclude reference to anything subjective. By contrast, the older, wider concept of it simply required disciplined, methodical thought, which could of course be shown in many kinds of enquiry (for instance history and language). The current narrowing is perfectly acceptable in the physical sciences but it cannot accommodate psychology. This has become clear from the dismal failure of behaviourism, which was carefully designed to implement it. It is that failure that has made room for the current upsurge of interest in consciousness. This upsurge gives us an enormous opportunity for better thinking. Yet we shall waste that opportunity if we remain so obsessed with a narrow notion of what constitutes 'science' that we merely go on devising thought-systems which look vaguely scientific (as behaviourism did) instead of ones that actually help us to understand human life. A striking example of such an etherial, quasi-scientific system may be seen in 'memetics'.

    Time and the Sublime Self

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 70-84

    Pacholec M.E. Dept. Of Philosophy, DePaul University, 1150 West Fullerton Av., Chicago, IL 60614-7265, USA

    To bring the significance of Lyotard's reading of Kant's sublime into full relief, I will begin by considering some of the philosophical developments of Descartes and Hume as they relate to issues of subjectivity and consciousness. The thought of these two modern writers informs the critical philosophy of Kant. I will then explain the aesthetics of Kant and show how with the sublime there is a unique kind of time distinct from the common time of cognition. This aesthetic time destabilizes what Kant had earlier described as the basis for the way that we think about the self. In light of this concept of aesthetic temporality, I will examine, in the conclusions of my essay, Galen Strawson's pearl theory of the self, and suggest a possible alternative view.

    The Self Is a Semiotic Process

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 31-47

    Pickering J. Psychology Department, Warwick University, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

    Galen Strawson (1997) accepts that the common experience of being a social self is of something that continues through time. However, he excludes this from what 'the self' means in a stricter ontological sense. Here I will argue that this experience of self as enduring can be taken to be ontologically real as well. I will suggest that selfhood arises from the assimilation of cultural signs by a semiotic process that is a fundamental aspect of nature. I will also consider how the phenomenological encounter with 'the self' is conditioned by prior beliefs and their ethical entailments.

    Phenomenology and Agency: Methodological and Theoretical Issues in Strawson's 'The Self'

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 48-69

    Sheets-Johnstone M. Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA

    In his intriguing but methodologically puzzling and theoretically problematic article 'The Self', Galen Strawson invites us to consider an innovative conception of the self, one that is compatible with -- indeed centrally anchored in -- 'the mental', but at the same time compatible with a thoroughgoing materialism. Summarily defined, his physicalist model of the self conjoins both mental (or experienced) and non-mental (or non-experienced) phenomena. In what follows, what is at issue is not his novel ' "mental-and-non-mental" materialism' (Strawson, 1997, p. 411), which conceivably might profitably serve to legitimize that pervasively used but conceptually nettlesome lexical band-aid 'embodiment' (in all its variations -- 'embodied', 'embodies', and so on), but his so-called 'phenomenological' approach to 'the problem of the self' (p. 406) on the one hand, and his troubling inattention to an item on his own list of fundamental ways in which the self may be experienced or conceived on the other. Rather than treating each of these issues in a concentrated critical assessment of Strawson's essay, we will examine each issue constructively. After describing how Strawson's methodology is puzzling, we will proceed to a delineation of a properly phenomenological methodology with respect to the self, contrasting such a methodology with Strawson's putative phenomenological one. Similarly, after describing what is problematic about Strawson's theoretical structuring of the self, we will proceed to a delineation of a properly historical and dynamic conception of self, contrasting such a self with Strawson's 'mental self'. In conclusion, we will point out related liabilities and implications of Strawson's cognitive phenomenology, showing: (1) how his attempt to separate out 'the conceptual structure of the sense of the self' from 'any emotional aspects that it may have' (p. 407) constitutes a methodological misstep that compromises his putative phenomenology of the self from the start; (2) how, his claim to a ' "mental and non-mental" materialism' notwithstanding, his conception of the self is wedded to a Cartesian dichotomization of mind and body; and (3) how his professed belief about 'the truth' of Buddhism with respect to the self (p. 424) is a belief at odds with the 'the mental thing' he specifies as the self.

    The Self and the SESMET

    JCS, 6 ( 4 ), 1999 ,pp. 99-135

    Strawson G. Jesus College, Oxford OX1 3DW, UK.

    Response to commentaries on keynote article (Volume4, No.5-6).