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Title:Reflexive Awareness (Consciousness, Self-Consciousness, Self-Awareness)
Author(s):Harney, Denis Francis
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:In four chapters, I conduct a phenomenological and analytical inquiry into the nature of a special sort of reflexive awareness, an awareness of unprojected or unobjectified awareness. The clearest example of this is the awareness that is felt to be in the background of an experience of dissociatively watching oneself. I call this awareness, RA*. It is to be contrasted with two other sorts of reflexive awareness: (i) awareness of the fact that I am now aware (e.g., there is a visual object before me, therefore I must be seeing), (ii) awareness of past awareness, which in being outside present experience is no longer unprojected, but projected in relation to the second-order awareness. I contend that these latter two sorts of reflexive awareness presuppose the occurrence of RA*.
In Chapter 1, I construct and argue for a definition of RA*. Through a discussion of the case of pain, RA* is shown to be irreducibly and significantly private. But, a certain logical possibility counts against necessary privacy. Moore's characterization of (unprojected) awareness as diaphanous is explicated through a disclosure of two of its other subjective features: (i) centeredness vis-a-vis a field of projected objects and (ii) a global feeling or mood.
In Chapter 2, I define five common types of human awareness, each of which is shown to be a peripheral RA*. It is claimed that less common types can be assimilated to these prominent types or permutations of them. Hence, Sartre's barely argued for position is correct: All human awareness is RA*.
In Chapter 3, I develop a dilemma sponsored by Ryle, Sartre and C. O. Evans: Any attempt to attain a focal awareness of unprojected awareness (first fork) will generate an impossible infinite regress of awareness (second fork). Therefore, unprojected awareness can be focally experienced only upon retrospection. I reinforce the second fork by showing how an infinite regress of awareness is at least a phenomenological, and possibly a logical, impossibility.
Finally, in Chapter 4, I show through four phenomenological experiments how the experience judged by the first fork of the dilemma to be impossible is possible.
Issue Date:1984
Description:227 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8422074
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1984

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