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Representationalism and Beyond A Phenomenological Critique of Thomas Metzinger's Self-Model Theory

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Thomas Metzinger's self-model theory offers a framework for naturalizing subjective experiences, e.g. first-person perspective. These phenomena are explained by referring to representational contents which are said to be interrelated at diverse levels of consciousness and correlated with brain activities. The paper begins with a consideration on naturalism and anti-naturalism in order to roughly sketch the background of Metzinger's claim that his theory renders philosophical speculations on the mind unnecessary. In particular, Husserl's phenomenological conception of consciousness is refuted as uncritical and inadequate. It is demonstrated that this critique is misguided. The main deficiencies of Metzinger's theory are elucidated by referring to the conception of phenomenal transparency which is compared to a phenomenological idea of transparency. The critical horizon is then enlarged by focusing on some implications of representationalism, including reification of consciousness, brain-Cartesianism and exclusion of the social dimension. Finally meta-theoretical reflections on the naturalism debate are taken up.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004


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