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The Pre-reflective Situational Self

  • Robert W. ClowesEmail author
  • Klaus Gärtner


It is often held that to have a conscious experience presupposes having some form of implicit self-awareness. The most dominant phenomenological view usually claims that we essentially perceive experiences as our own. This is the so called “mineness” character, or dimension of experience. According to  this view, mineness is not only essential to conscious experience, it also grounds the idea that pre-reflective self-awareness constitutes a minimal self. In this paper, we show that there are reasons to doubt this constituting role of mineness. We argue that there are alternative possibilities and that the necessity for an adequate theory of the self within psychopathology gives us good reasons to believe that we need a thicker notion of the pre-reflective self. To this end, we develop such a notion: the Pre-Reflective Situational Self. To do so, we will first show how alternative conceptions of pre-reflective self-awareness point to philosophical problems with the standard phenomenological view. We claim that this is mainly due to fact that within the phenomenological account the mineness aspect is implicitly playing several roles. Consequently, we argue that a thin interpretation of pre-reflective self-awareness—based on a thin notion of mineness—cannot do its needed job within, at least within psychopathology. This leads us to believe that a thicker conception of pre-reflective self is needed. We, therefore, develop the notion of the pre-reflective situational self by analyzing the dynamical nature of the relation between self-awareness and the world, specifically through our interactive inhabitation of the social world.


Minimal self Pre-reflective self awareness Situatedness Ipseity Schizophrenia Virtual self Predictive processing 



Robert W. Clowes’s work is funded by the FCT postdoctoral research fellowship (SFRH/BPD/70440/2010) and the IFILNOVA research fellowship (FCSH/NOVA UID/FIL/00183/2013). Klaus Gärtner’s work is funded by the CFCUL postdoctoral research fellowship (UID/FIL/00678/2013). We would like to thank Anna Ciaunica for her helpful feedback. Also, we would like to thank Steven Gouveia for the possibility to present some of the material at the Third International Conference on Philosophy of Mind “Minds, Brains and Consciousness” at the University of Minho, Braga and the audience for their feedback. Finally, we would also like to thank the Lisbon Mind and Reasoning Group for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Robert W. Clowes and Klaus Gärtner declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants and animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nova Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA)/Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCSH)LisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Center for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL)Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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