Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 319–335 | Cite as

Me and I Are Not Friends, Just Aquaintances: on Thought Insertion and Self-Awareness

  • Pablo López-SilvaEmail author


A group of philosophers suggests that a sense of mineness intrinsically contained in the phenomenal structure of all conscious experiences is a necessary condition for a subject to become aware of himself as the subject of his experiences i.e. self-awareness. On this view, consciousness necessarily entails phenomenal self-awareness. This paper argues that cases of delusions of thought insertion undermine this claim and that such a phenomenal feature plays little role in accounting for the most minimal type of self-awareness entailed by phenomenal consciousness. First, I clarify the main view endorsing this claim i.e. the Self-Presentational View of Consciousness and formulate the challenge from thought insertion. After, I offer a systematic evaluation of all the strategies used by the advocates of this view to deal with this challenge. Finally, I conclude that most of these strategies are unsatisfactory for they rest in unwarranted premises, imprecisions about the agentive nature of cognitive experiences, and especially, lack of distinction between the different ways in which subjects can become aware of their own thoughts.



For helpful discussions, I’m very grateful to Rob Knowles, Leo Tarasov, Thomas Fuchs, Elisabeth Pacherie, Thomas Uebel, and Mauricio Otaíza. For all the time dedicated to improve my ideas, I especially thank to Joel Smith, Tim Bayne, and Tom McClelland. Preliminary versions of this paper were presented at the Universidad de Chile, University of Manchester, University of Salzburg, VU University of Amsterdam, and the New University of Lisbon. The title of this paper is inspired by the lyrics of the song Alone/With You by Daughter.


The final writing of this work was funded by the Project FONDECYT N° 11,160,544 ‘The Agentive Architecture of Human Thought’ granted by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) of the Government of Chile.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, Faculty of MedicineUniversidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile

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