Martine Nida-Rümelin

The Notion of a Conscious Subject and its Phenomenological Basis in Prereflexive Self-awareness

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According to the central thesis of this paper, the notion of a conscious subject and the notion used in first person thought (the co-called I-concept) are closely interconnected and they both have their origin in the phenomenology of experience. I try to describe their common phenomenological basis arguing that, in the case of mature human experience, any experience includes an awareness of its metaphysical subject-object structure (basic intentionality) and thereby comes with a prereflexive, non-conceptualized awareness of oneself as the subject in that metaphysical structure. I try to spell out why and how this approach is compatible with the following insight present in the work of many philosophers: the experiencing subject is not present 'as an object' in the experience itself. It is argued that the phenomenologically based notion of a conscious subject is deeply entrenched in our cognitive architecture and is required for any adequate formulation of a number of central scientific issues concerning the physical basis of consciousness.


  • I-concept
  • Conscious Subject
  • Basic Intentionality
  • Phenomenology
  • Prereflexive Self-awareness


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