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Constituting the Mind: Kant, Davidson and the Unity of Consciousness

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Both Kant and Davidson view the existence of mental states, and so the possibility of mental content, as dependent on the obtaining of a certain unity among such states. And the unity at issue seems also to be tied, in the case of both thinkers, to a form of self-reflexivity. No appeal to self-reflexivity, however, can be adequate to explain the unity of consciousness that is necessary for the possibility of content- it merely shifts the focus of the question from the unity of consciousness in general to the unity of self-reflexivity in particular. Through a comparison of the views of Kant and Davidson on these matters, the nature of the unity of consciousness is explored, in relation to both the idea of the unity of the self and the unity that would seem to be required for the possibility of content. These forms of unity are seen to be indeed connected, and to be grounded, in Davidson and perhaps also in Kant, in organized, oriented, embodied activity .
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Keywords: CONSCIOUSNESS; CONTENT; DAVIDSON; HOLISM; SPATIALITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-03-01

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