The Death and Life of the Self

Post-Wittgensteinian Investigations

by Silvia Gáliková (Author)
©2016 Monographs 98 Pages
Series: Uni Slovakia, Volume 4


What is a self? What is the relation between phenomenal consciousness and the self? What are we talking about when we speak of conscious experience, the self, an inner mental world? In order to answer these questions the author reconsiders the «turn to the self» in contemporary philosophy of mind. The human self is considered as a natural phenomenon open to careful theoretical analysis, empirical and experimental research. The loss of everyday intuitions on the nature of self plays a significantly liberating role in self-understanding and explaining man’s behaviour.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • I. Who am “I”?
  • II. The “I” of the beholder
  • III. The Phenomenological self
  • IV. The Self in experimental settings
  • V. The Embodied mind and self
  • VI. The Complex metaphor of subject-self
  • VII. The Illusory nature of inner experience
  • VIII. Life of the “I”
  • References


In everyday experience and language, feelings, thoughts and sorrows are experienced as “something” that we own or may partially lose. Language about “inner life” is largely metaphorical: “love is a journey”, “their marriage became a nightmare”, “he is out of his mind”, “I see what you’re saying”, and so on. The status of the “I” in this kind of discourse does not seem very problematic. In theory, the situation is much more dramatic and confusing. Within the long and rich history of philosophical thinking, philosophers have been tempted to turn thoughts, feelings or desires into mental entities, processes and events. Ludwig Wittengstein (1953) repeatedly pointed out a number of confusions resulting from this ambition. Philosophers’ “bewitchment by language”, as he claimed, resulted in the imposing of ontological commitments on everyday language. The status and func ← 7 | 8 → tion of principles and generalisations that underlie our everyday explanations of behaviour have become a deep theoretical problem known as the problem of the nature of folk psychology.

In the philosophy of the mind and cognitive science, the problem of folk psychology has been formulated in such questions as, for example: Is folk psychology – a commonsense framework we use for understanding other people – a theory? If, yes, is it a plausible theory in explaining human behaviour? If not, what credence does it have in our everyday experience? P. Churchland, for example, considered everyday language as a theory and a bad theory indeed. That is why he proposed to eliminate language altogether with the “entities” it was supposed to refer to. For D. Dennett (1996) folk psychology has a more pragmatic status than being a theory. He argues that based on taking an intentional stance towards others, folk psychology is a useful tool in explaining and predicting behaviour.

Arguing similiarly is K. Wilkes in her book, Real People (1988). The following text is concerned with the problem of the self and reflects ongoing discussion of the relation between the concept and the phenomenon of the self. It aims at unfolding misunderstandings due to the heterogeneous and ambivalent usage of “I” in contemporary philosophy of the mind, neuroscience and cognitive science. The author hereby claims that although the problem of the nature of the self is recently just one amidst ← 8 | 9 → other difficult theoretical and empirical problems, its status is pivotal.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
Conscious experience Naturalism Embodied mind Illusion
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 98 pp.

Biographical notes

Silvia Gáliková (Author)

Silvia Gáliková is a Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Trnava University. Her research interests include the philosophy of mind and the nature of consciousness.


Title: The Death and Life of the Self
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99 pages