Self-Awareness and Affection

  • Dan Zahavi
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 148)


Manfred Frank has in recent publications criticized a number of prevailing views concerning the nature of self-awareness,1 and it is the so-called reflection theory of self-awareness which has been particularly under fire. That is, the theory which claims that self-awareness only comes about when consciousness directs its ‘gaze’ at itself, thereby taking itself as its own object. But in his elaboration of a position originally developed by Dieter Henrich (and, to a lesser extent, by Cramer and Pothast) Frank has also more generally criticized every attempt to conceive original self-awareness as a relation, be it a relation between two acts or a relation between the act and itself.2 Every relation entails a distinction between two (or more) relata and, according to Frank, it would be impossible to account for the immediacy and infallibility of self-awareness (particularly its so-called immunity to the error of misidentification), if it were in any way a mediated process. Thus, self-awareness cannot come about as the result of a self-identification, a reflection, an inner vision or introspection, nor should it be conceived as a type of intentionality or as a conceptually mediated propositional attitude, all of which entails the distinction between two or more relata. The pre-reflective self-awareness of an experience is not mediated by foreign elements such as concepts and classificatory criteria, nor by any internal difference or distance. It is an immediate and direct self-acquaintance which is characterized by being completely and absolutely irrelational (and consequently best described as a purely immanent self-presence).3


Spatial Object Perceptual Object Primal Impression Reflection Theory Hyletic Data 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Dan Zahavi

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