The Phenomenal Self

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-05-25
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Barry Dainton presents a fascinating new account of the self, the key to which is experiential or phenomenal continuity. Provided our mental life continues we can easily imagine ourselves surviving the most dramatic physical alterations, or even moving from one body to another. It was this fact that led John Locke to conclude that a credible account of our persistence conditions - an account which reflects how we actually conceive of ourselves - should be framed in terms of mental rather than material continuity. But mental continuity comes in different forms. Most of Locke's contemporary followers agree that our continued existence is secured by psychological continuity, which they take to be made up of memories, beliefs, intentions, personality traits, and the like. Dainton argues that that a better and more believable account can be framed in terms of the sort of continuity we find in our streams of consciousness from moment to moment. Why? Simply because provided this continuity is not lost - provided our streams of consciousness flow on - we can easily imagine ourselves surviving the most dramatic psychological alterations. Phenomenal continuity seems to provide a more reliable guide to our persistence than any form of continuity. The Phenomenal Self is a full-scale defence and elaboration of this premise. The first task is arriving at an adequate understanding of phenomenal unity and continuity. This achieved, Dainton turns to the most pressing problem facing any experience-based approach: losses of consciousness. How can we survive them? He shows how the problem can be solved in a satisfactory manner by construing ourselves as systems of experiential capacities. He then moves on to explore a range of further issues. How simple can a self be? How are we related to our bodies? Is our persistence an all-or-nothing affair? Do our minds consist of parts which could enjoy an independent existence? Is it metaphysically intelligible to construe ourselves as systems of capacities? The book concludes with a novel treatment of fission and fusion.

Author Biography

Barry Dainton is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of Stream of Consciousness (Routledge 2000, 2nd edn. 2006) and Time and Space (Acumen 2001).

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. viii
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgementsp. xxvi
Mind and Selfp. 1
Can it be so easy?p. 1
Psychological continuityp. 6
First doubtsp. 11
Some varieties of virtual lifep. 14
Strands untangledp. 21
Phenomenal Unityp. 28
Experiencep. 28
Phenomenal spacep. 34
Self and awarenessp. 39
A superfluous selfp. 42
Simplicity and unityp. 46
Phenomenal Continuityp. 51
A constraintp. 51
Memoryp. 53
Chunks, apprehensions and representationsp. 56
Overlap and flowp. 63
Phenomenal cutsp. 68
The one experience viewp. 71
Streamal unityp. 73
Powers and Subjectsp. 75
Bridge buildingp. 75
Experience-machines and beyondp. 81
Power structuresp. 88
The C-theoryp. 111
Powers in generalp. 114
Projection and productionp. 131
Alternativesp. 135
The self in experiencep. 135
Bridges of resemblancep. 148
Fundamentalismp. 151
Foster's modal bridgep. 153
Unger's material bridgep. 161
Minds and Mental Integrationp. 170
From C-systems to mindsp. 170
Aspects of mindp. 171
Psycho-phenomenal integrationp. 175
C-relations and P-relationsp. 178
From a functional perspectivep. 181
Non-phenomenal selvesp. 188
What mattersp. 192
Embodimentp. 201
A blurringp. 201
Four grades of embodimentp. 203
Phenomenal embodimentp. 206
Effective embodimentp. 209
Boundary disputesp. 215
Monist alternativesp. 224
Minimalism and possessionp. 227
Simple Selvesp. 236
Simplicity and isolationp. 236
Isolation: strands of a defencep. 238
Reductio?p. 245
Minimal subjectsp. 249
A minimal modification, and a moralp. 251
Weak unityp. 254
Holismp. 264
Unity and interdependencep. 264
Interdependent potentialsp. 266
Phenomenal interdependencep. 272
Organization and interferencep. 273
C-holismp. 277
From C-holism to power holismp. 289
Power systematicityp. 300
Simplicityp. 307
Modes of Incapacitationp. 311
Absolutenessp. 311
Some varieties of incapacitationp. 313
Brainsp. 316
Cyclical subjectsp. 319
Congenial decompositionp. 321
Assessmentsp. 325
Deviancyp. 331
Teleportation revisitedp. 336
From Egos to C-systemsp. 338
Objections and Repliesp. 341
Ontological qualmsp. 341
Issues of substancep. 342
Unity and independencep. 344
Menacing circularitiesp. 348
Ownership, isolation and holismp. 354
Power worldsp. 359
The Topology of the Selfp. 364
Fissionp. 364
Fission as fatalp. 368
Can consciousness divide?p. 370
Overlap to the rescue?p. 373
Time travel and double existencep. 378
Personal and phenomenal timep. 381
Non-linearityp. 385
Time and timesp. 389
Issues and objectionsp. 393
Fusionp. 400
The many shapes of lifep. 406
Appendix: Reductionismp. 409
Bibliographyp. 418
Indexp. 427
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