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The First-Person Point of View: Perspectival De Se Content and the (Meta) Problem of Consciousness

Miguel Angel Sebastian (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Spring of consciousness

Wednesday 24 February, 12 noon in Houston and Mexico City

Where: (Passcode: "Premise1")


The idea that self-awareness is essential for understanding the nature of consciousness has been discussed throughout the history of philosophy. However, in recent times greater emphasis has been placed on the qualities of experience as the source of the problem. This paper explores the limits of explaining the problem of consciousness (or at least our intuitions in this regard) in terms of self-awareness: the information that the experience provides is first-personal and cannot be reduced to objective information. Specifically, I argue that all conscious experiences provide information about the experiencing subject (phenomenal content is first-personal) by pumping the intuition that objective knowledge of any kind -- including knowledge of irreducible qualities -- is insufficient to characterize the knowledge one gains in having an experience. I then show that this requires a special kind of de se content that I call perspectival de se content, and how having such content is consistent with our inability to find the self in introspection -- as Hume famously noted. Finally, I discuss the role that perspectival de se content plays in explaining our intuitions with regard to the problem of consciousness, stressing how my approach differs from other attempts to link the problem of consciousness with indexicality.

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