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Self-Doubt: Why We are not Identical to Things of Any Kind

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There are two fundamental aspects of the notion of a self: (i) it is the owner of one’s experiences, that to which one’s experiences are properly attributed, and (ii) it perceives itself. (ii) is a condition on the self’s being capable of attributing experiences to itself or being introspectively aware of its experiences, which constitutes a third, higher-order aspect of the self. I claim that it is a common sense assumption, enshrined in the use of ‘I’, that one’s body satisfies the first two aspects. I then argue that these two aspects are not really satisfied by one’s body, which is essentially a human organism. Nor are they satisfied by anything of any other kind. So we are not identical to things of any kind, since one can be identical only to that which is one’s self or is the referent of one’s uses of ‘I’.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Lund University, Kungshuset, Sweden

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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