Uniting the perspectival subject

two approaches

Patrick Stokes

pp. 23-44

Visual forms of episodic memory and anticipatory imagination involve images that, by virtue of their perspectival organization, imply a "notional subject" of experience. But they contain no inbuilt reference to the "actual subject," the person actually doing the remembering or imagining. This poses the problem of what (if anything) connects these two perspectival subjects and what differentiates cases of genuine memory and anticipation from mere "imagined seeing." I consider two approaches to this problem. The first, exemplified by Wollheim and Velleman, claims that genuinely reflexive memories and anticipations are phenomenally "unselfconscious," with the co-identity of the notional and actual subjects secured by a determinate causal history. The second approach posits some distinctive phenomenal property that attaches to genuinely reflexive memories and anticipations and serves to experientially conflate the notional and actual subject. I consider a version of the second approach, derived from Kierkegaard's discussions of phenomenal "contemporaneity," and argue that this approach can better account for the possibility of affective alienation from the selves we were and will be: the way in which our sense of self and awareness of our causal history can sometimes come apart.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-010-9151-5

Full citation:

Stokes, P. (2011). Uniting the perspectival subject: two approaches. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (1), pp. 23-44.

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