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Archive for the ‘Self-Awareness’ Category

How Self-Awareness Makes You a Better Manager | Harvard …

Posted: April 23, 2019 at 2:54 pm


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Becoming a truly effective manager requires a great deal of self-reflection, observation, and growth.

For most of us, its an ongoing process. Whether youre a seasoned manager or relatively new to the ranks, you may have learned the hard way that the skills that helped you move up the ladder arent necessarily the skills you need for successful leadership.

It's not unusual to see new managers stumble early on as they stretch beyond their previous roles. Perhaps stellar technical skills helped you get a promotion to team lead, but in a managerial role you'll be relying much more heavily on interpersonal communication skills.

Similarly, if you are too narrowly focused on results, you may lose sight of the fact that your ability to affect change is ultimately dependent on relationships and networks.

Lets look at the example of a rising star who is promoted by his bosss boss. Once in the new position, he disagrees with his supervisors sales projections and has to navigate a tricky set of interests and relationships.

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How Self-Awareness Makes You a Better Manager | Harvard ...

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April 23rd, 2019 at 2:54 pm

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Self | Britannica.com

Posted: March 27, 2019 at 8:42 pm


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Self, the I as experienced by an individual. In modern psychology the notion of the self has replaced earlier conceptions of the soul.

The concept of the self has been a central feature of many personality theories, including those of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Gordon W. Allport, Karen Horney, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, and Abraham H. Maslow.

According to Carl Jung the self is a totality consisting of conscious and unconscious contents that dwarfs the ego (q.v.) in scope and intensity. The maturation of the self is the individuation process, which is the goal of the healthy personality.

Rogers theorized that a persons self-concept determines his behaviour and his relation to the world, and that true therapeutic improvement occurs only when the individual changes his own self-concept. Mays approach was similarly existential; he conceived the self as a dynamic entity, alive with potentiality. Maslows theory of self-actualization was based on a hierarchy of needs and emphasized the highest capacities or gratifications of a person. See also humanistic psychology.

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Self | Britannica.com

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March 27th, 2019 at 8:42 pm

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Self Awareness Test – iNLP Center

Posted: March 23, 2019 at 7:45 am


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SelfAwareness Test submission count updated: 9/1/2018

Welcome! The iNLP Center self awareness test is on this page. Youll get your results once you hit the submit button. No email or obligation is required.

You can scroll down to the quiz right away, but we suggest reading the introductory sections first the instructions.

Approaching 10,000 submissions, this is our most popular online quiz because it reveals uncommon opportunities for personal growth. The self awareness test does not include interpersonal skills, which may be a future project.

Created by the iNLP Center. Private. Non-commercial. Confidential.

Do you have enough curiosity to take a penetrating self awareness test with a few twists? The quiz on this page will inspire you to think about areas of life you may have never considered. It could be challenging. Thats good!

Why?

Because enlightenment begins with self awareness. This quiz puts self awareness in a framework that creates insight. On a journey toward greater enlightenment, this could be a tool youve been missing. Most people report more than one aha-moment.

Sound good?

The iNLP Center uses the diagram above when teaching the NLP Meta Model, which is a set of questions that probe beneath the surface of vague communication. The Meta Model opens the door into a whole new world of self-discovery. Some of these discoveries are featured in our self awareness test.

The self you can be aware of is much more than the conscious mind. Neuro-Linguistic Programming suggests much of our thinking and communication lies outside conscious awareness (non-verbal communication, to give one simple example, goes largely unnoticed by most). Non-conscious thoughts and communication have a much greater impact than what we consciously notice. Heres a great post that cites research on this.

Likewise, your unconscious mind has a greater impact on your life than you can imagine. For example, 90% of decisions are made unconsciously, according to research. You only know what youve decided moments after the fact.

The more aware you are, the more choices you have!

NLP and life coaching students have an advantage over non-NLP-trained people. Theyve learned things that expand self awareness. Of course, you dont need to be enrolled in an NLP course to benefit from this test. Its for everyone.

The self awareness test should prove to be enlightening to anyone, even to those whove been working on themselves for years.

Each question on the self awareness test has five response options. Choose the option that best describes you. When you submit the self awareness test, youll be forwarded to your score and an interpretation.

FYI, this self awareness test is not a scientific or clinical assessment. Its based on 25 years experience as a counselor, NLP trainer and life coach. We have no control over the test conditions, so consider your results for entertainment purposes or education only.

The areas represented on the self awareness test represent the hot spots of self awareness that can save you from problems and pain or lead you straight into them.

A classic model of neuro-linguistic programming, the VAK model suggests we process information on the inside through seeing, hearing and feeling. Further, our processing is redundant. In other words, seeing an internal image will inspire feelings about the image and sounds either related to the image or our own inner commentary. Seeing, hearing and feeling all work together.

A personal paradigm is a worldview. It answers questions about how life exists and why were here. There is a God who created the universe. There is not a God. People are basically good and here to help each other. People are animals interested in survival. And so forth.

Personal beliefs are perspectives about what is true (for you). In the self-awareness test, well focus on your internal beliefs related to who you are and what youre capable of accomplishing in the world.

Life values are indications of whats important to you in life. You can trust that a value is important to you (or congruent) when it successfully guides your decisions. So, if health is important to you, then you will make healthy decisions. If success is important to you, then youll make decisions and spend your time in ways that lead to greater success.

Inner conflict is part of the human condition. It happens when your beliefs conflict with each other. For example, you may believe you are capable of succeeding in life. At the same time, you may harbor doubt about your abilities. This is a sign of inner conflict.

You may also have values that conflict. You may value security because it helps you feel safe. At the same time, you may love freedom. These two values may lead to conflicting desires and difficult decisions.

Triggers are those things in the outside world that automatically set you off into a negative state. A classic example is someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard (although chalkboards arent so common anymore:) This might make you cringe instantly.

When you find yourself in a negative state, there is always a trigger. Something that prompted your reaction. A particular tone of voice or seeing a specific object (dirty socks on the floor) might trigger you, for example.

The influence of parents or primary caregivers is pervasive. Nobody leaves childhood without taking their parents with them on the inside. Beliefs, values, behaviors and personal paradigms are all heavily influenced by parents during formative years. How are you carrying your parents?

We all have limitations. Some of these are self-imposed, usually due to limiting beliefs. Others are legitimate limitations to our intelligence and natural skills. For example, I know I do not have the intellectual capacity to formulate physics theories like Einstein. I know I cant beat Roger Federer in tennis. In this case, the word cant is not a negative term. Its simply the truth about the limits of my skills or natural gifts.

Your own worst enemy! Do you know why you sometimes sabotage your success? Do you know how or understand the intention behind self sabotage? This part of the quiz will highlight how you might get in your own way.

People are naturally goal-oriented. We move toward what we want. Consciously setting goals is one way to be intentional about the future. This section of the self awareness test will help you learn where you stand in this area.

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About Mike BundrantMike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, co-founded iNLP Center in 2011.

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Self Awareness Test - iNLP Center

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March 23rd, 2019 at 7:45 am

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33 Self-Awareness Activities for Adults and Students

Posted: March 21, 2019 at 10:41 am


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Having self-awareness means that you have a clear recognition of your overall personality.

This includes your strengths and weaknesses, thoughts and beliefs, emotions, and sources of motivation. Having self-awareness helps you understand other people and how they view you and your actions.

Many people assume that self-awareness comes easily and naturally, but this sense of heightened awareness can actually be hard to come by.

With practice, however, you can learn to increase your self-knowledge and find new ways to interpret your thoughts, actions, feelings, and conversations that you have with other people.

Achieving self-awareness gives you the opportunity to make positive changes in your behavior and increase your self-confidence.

Here are 33 self-awareness activities that can help increase self-awareness in adults and students.

What is Self-Awareness (and Five Ways to Increase It)

Not sure about how to be more self-aware? In this video, we define self-awareness and five proven strategies that can help you increase it. And for more actionable, habit-related videos, be sure to subscribe to our brand new YouTube Channel.

Self-Awareness Activities - Written Exercises

1. Write morning pages.

This exercise comes from Julia Camerons An Artists Way, which teaches readers techniques to gain self-confidence by harnessing their creative talents and skills.

For this exercise, compose three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing every morning as soon as you wake up. Not only does this help declutter your mind, but it also helps you recognize the things that are in the forefront of your brain that you may need to address that day.

Keeping a journal creates a permanent record of your thoughts, feelings, and the events in your life. This will allow you to look back on important life events and rediscover how you felt at the time. This can be a learning experience because, as you grow and live through new trials and tribulations, the way that you react to certain situations may change.

By reading about your past experiences, you can see how you have grown or matured, and put things into perspective. Its also nice to have a written record of your past.

3. Use feedback analysis.

When you are faced with an important decision, write down exactly how and why you came up with your decision. What factors motivated you, and what steps did you take to come to your conclusion?

After a set time (usually nine months), go back and reflect on your decision-making process. Assess the outcome of your choice in detail and analyze your ability at the time to make the best decision based on your self-awareness at the time.

4. Create a life vision-mission.

In an organization, mission and vision statements serve three important roles. They state the purpose of the organization, they inform people of strategy development, and they display measurable goals and objectives to gauge the success of the organization.

Creating a vision-mission statement for your life can define your clear direction and rank your priorities. It will help set measurable goals and provide a tactical way to measure success.

5. Write a personal manifesto.

A personal manifesto describes your core values and beliefs, the specific ideas and priorities that you stand for, and how you plan to live your life. This acts as both a statement of personal principles and a call to action.

A personal manifesto can help frame your life, point you in the right direction to help achieve your goals, and act as a tool to remind you of your primary concerns.

To get started, ask yourself questions such as: What things do you stand for? What are your strongest beliefs? How do you want to live your life? How do you want to define yourself? What words do you want to live by? A personal manifesto can be a powerful tool for bringing about your best life. Refer to your personal manifesto often.

6. Record your ABCs.

This is a good activity to do after you experience an adverse event. It is a helpful way to debrief yourself and get a chance to reflect and discover your beliefs after a big, negative incident occurs in your life.

Doing this can help you understand your response to stress. While many people can experience the same activating adverse event, their thought processes about it can have a great impact on their lives moving forward. Using the ABC model can help people recognize their automatic thoughts when they're upset or mad, and change those thoughts into positive things.

For example, imagine you are stuck in a long line, but you are in a rush. You may become very anxious at the thought of possibly being late to your next obligation, causing you to complain out loud to the people around you about how long the line is taking to move. Alternatively, you may decide to relax and put on your headphones to listen to some calming music while you wait. Either way, the "A" remains the same, but the "B" and "C" show how you respond to the stress.

This can help you look at things more positively and lead you to find alternatives to solving problems and staying calm.

7. Write a regret letter.

Write a letter to your younger self. This is a surprisingly cathartic exercise that is more than simply listing what you wish youd known. Tell your younger self about the regrets youve had in your life so far, and apologize for any mistakes that you may have made and opportunities that you let pass by.

Aside from gaining a feeling of empowerment from accepting your vulnerable younger self, your words can also help others who are in similar situations as you faced in the past. Your newfound wisdom can let readers know that they are not alone in their struggles, and provide them with advice on how to move forward.

8. Do the funeral test.

This exercise was made popular by Stephen Covey in his book,The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

To do this, write your own eulogy and answer questions such as:

Doing this will help you add more purpose to your everyday activities and how you live your life. It may also help you think twice before reacting to a situation harshly or making a decision before thinking about its possible outcomes first.

9. Record your personal narrative.

How would you tell the story of your life to yourself? What would your autobiography look like?

One essential component of our personalities are our life stories, so mapping out what yours is may help you make some positive changes for the future.

10. Write down your most important tasks regularly.

Your most important tasks (MITs) are the things that you need to accomplish each day to help you achieve your long-term goals. Every night, write a to-do list of your three priority tasks for the following day.

This will allow you to start your day with a purpose and keep you aware of where your focus should be. It will help set a precedent for the day if you are able to accomplish your main goals first and get them out of the way to make room for other items on your to-do list.

11. Create a bucket list.

Having a bucket list will help you identify your personal and professional goals. When the daily routines of your life begin to set in, you are likely to let the days pass by without thinking too much about your long-term goals and desires.

Use a bucket list to keep yourself focused, and make an effort every day to accomplish at least one small task that will lead you towards crossing things off of your bucket list.

Self-Awareness Tests You Can Take By Yourself

12. Know and understand your personality type.

Knowing your personality type will help you understand why you're different or similar to other people, help you manage your time and energy better, and help you recognize your emotions.

When you are armed with this information, you will be better equipped to view other people as being different rather than wrong. It will also help you understand what you need to be able to thrive, and allow you to structure your days accordingly.

There are many free psychometric tests you can take online, including:

13. Discover your Eulerian Destiny.

Filling out the Eulerian Destiny circles provokes critical thinking and self-reflection.

Doing this requires you to look at four areas of your life by answering the following questions:

Take a while to write these things down in four overlapping circles and see where they all meet. This may take time and serious thinking, but it can result in defining and refining your purpose in life. This will provide you with a framework to form your future and a basis of self awareness.

14. Utilize The Freedom Diagram.

The Freedom diagram is one of the fun self-swareness activities. It is a short and practical guide to help figure out where you should use your energy in life, you can use The Freedom Diagram.

The three components of The Freedom Diagram are talent, fun, and demand. Talent refers to what you just happen to be good at doing. The fun component is what you wish you could do all the time, even if you werent paid to do it. Demand is what people in the world actually need or want, and will pay for.

Creating this guide for you will help you decide what skill you should focus on building so you have a higher chance of success.

Self-Awareness Activities - Thought Process Exercises

15. Ask the "Three Whys."

Many self-awareness activities simply asking yourself difficult questions and trying to answer as honestly as possible. The "three whys" is the perfect example of that.

The "Three Whys" are exactly what they sound like. Before making a big decision, or if you are trying to get to the root of an issue, ask yourself "why?" three times. This will help to reveal deep and specific issues that you may not otherwise consider.

It's not coincidental that "why?" is a rather simple question. It is an important realization that you must go a few layers deeper before making any critical decision. Whether you are trying to create a new business, hire a new employee, add a new feature to an existing product, or buy something expensive, you always have to dig a bit deeper to reveal the truth behind your motives.

16. Put a name to your feelings and emotions.

Expanding your emotional vocabulary will allow you to articulate yourself better. Once you are able to specifically identify what you are feeling, it will allow you to release stress and resentment that may be building up inside of your mind.

Here is a list of feeling words that are better able to describe your emotions than simply "good" or "bad". Getting more specific to explain how you feel is a cathartic way to relieve stress and anxiety.

17. Pay attention to your self-talk.

Have you ever noticed how we are quick to praise other people in the same instances where we often criticize ourselves? When we fall just short of achieving a goal or we dont live up to some high expectation, we tend to judge ourselves and dismiss our efforts.

How you talk to yourself in response to your successes and failures affects how you view yourself, and how you think others view you as well. Rather than focusing on small things that you are not able to accomplish at a given moment, think about how far you have come, or your successes up to that point. Focus on the positive rather than the negative.

18. Question your assumptions.

Assumptions are a natural thing that people use to help make quick sense of the world. You probably expect people who are in a certain place to look and dress in a particular way. If your expectations do not meet reality, you make assumptions that can be absolutely wrong.

James Altucher suggests putting a question mark instead of a period after each of your opinions. This helps you create an argument with yourself on some of your beliefs and worldviews, which can prevent you from falling prey to irrational thoughts.

19. Ask questions about yourself.

The Proust Questionnaire is a self-exploration questionnaire that is designed to help you uncover your outlook on life and get clarity on how you think. This questionnaire is about one's personality, and will make you think about what you want out of life and the things that you appreciate the most.

20. Observe your stream of consciousness.

Your stream of consciousness is unpredictable, and not always influenced by the world around you. For example, you may be at work trying to focus on a project when all of a sudden you start thinking about a memory you made years ago on a family vacation.

Be an observer of your own thoughts and feelings, especially those that are negative. Let these thoughts simply pass you by as you move on.

21. Build the Pause-and-Plan Response habit.

We are all well aware of the fight-or-flight mode that we tend to find ourselves in during stressful situations. During these times, it is common to stop thinking rationally and just go with your initial urge. If you act in the moment, you likely will not make the best decision.

How can you overcome your natural fight-or-flight response and reactivate the rational thinking areas of your brain? The key is to engage the pause-and-plan response habit. Here, your brain is able to connect with your body to accomplish your goals and pause your impulses.

The pause-and-plan response is able to lead you in the opposite direction of where the fight-or-flight response takes you. Rather than speeding up, your pulse slows down and your muscles relax. This will help set you up to make positive choices.

Self-Awareness Activities - Physical Exercises

22. Be aware of your body language.

Sometimes self-awareness activities are not about what you do or say but how you go about doing it. Body language is an example of this.

Not only will your posture and gestures affect how you perceive yourself, they will also have a great impact on how others perceive you. Your body language will also set the tone for how others act around you.

For example, if people feel that your body language is showing that you are uncomfortable, they may try to look for the cause of your discomfort so they can remove it. Alternatively, if someone feels that you are relaxed, they are likely to be able to relax as well, and enjoy their interaction with you.

While few people have actually trained themselves to deliberately analyze people's body language, everyone still subconsciously reacts to it. For instance, if your body language demonstrates that you are bored or disinterested in what is going on around you, others will think twice before engaging in conversation with you.

Evaluate your own body language by studying a video of yourself so you can find ways to improve.

23. Practice grounding techniques.

Grounding techniques can be used to help keep you in the present. People who have anxiety about future events often forget to live in the moment and take things as they come. Practicing techniques to keep you grounded will help relieve anxiety and make future tasks seem easier to do.

24. Observe other people.

Just as we can use our bodies to communicate how we want other people to perceive us, we can also observe other people to try to figure them out. Observing other people can be a fun and potentially worthwhile hobby. If you stop to watch the behavior, postures, and mannerisms of the people around you, it can help you learn about how similar or different you are from them.

While you don't want to constantly compare yourself to others, it is something that you will naturally do when you are faced with other people in your environment.

Some traits that you are likely to notice are someone's appearance, their self-esteem, their emotional state, their warmth, and their extroversion. Knowing that other people are observing you as well will certainly help you be more self-aware.

25. Take a morning walk.

Taking a walk first thing in the morning can help you connect with your senses and examine your thoughts and feelings. Take this time to meditate about what is going on in your life, and your goals for the day. Sort through your feelings and make an action plan to be productive with your time.

Click the image to check out the...

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26. Practice Zhan Zhuang.

Zhan Zhuang is a simple yet effective tai chi standing practice that helps you gain mental clarity and energy. While practicing Zhan Zhuang, you keep your body still and mostly upright, and become aware of your body as it stabilizes itself. Doing this will help you gain control over your health, posture, and muscle stability. Heres how you can start practicing it.

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33 Self-Awareness Activities for Adults and Students

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March 21st, 2019 at 10:41 am

Posted in Self-Awareness

Developing Self-Awareness The 5 Stages of Awareness Mastery

Posted: August 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm


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Developing self awareness The 5 stages of awareness mastery

When I was young I remember listening to my elders promulgating that knowledge is power.

Learn, my child, they used to say, for knowledge makes you smart and smart people have a chance to thrive in this world we inhabit.

Their words sounded vague to my callow ears. What is the knowledge they are referring to? Knowledge of mathematics? Knowledge of physics? Knowledge of languages? Street knowledge? Knowledge of human relationships?

Unable to properly fathom their equivocal advice, I grew up to become a generalist. That is a person with a wide array of useful knowledge. Although I did complete my studies in Electrical Engineering and Business, I didnt choose to specialize in them. I preferred to use them as a stepping-stone to acquire more knowledge. Knowledge that could help me achieve generalist status.

I did that hoping that a generalist reality can grant me access to a huge network of information that will allow me to view reality from a holistic perspective. For I thought that this was the secret to decoding the hidden message of the knowledge is power adage. I thought that this was my only good chance of finally understanding.

I cant really say that I regret my decision. The generalist pathway urges you to delve into different topics and, eventually, try to develop an interdisciplinary approach when it comes to thinking. I started to think in systems and this mode of cognition led me to deeper states of consciousness that challenged the way I interpreted the world. I became more aware of my own existence, my own limitations, and my own potential.

And thats when it dawned on me.

The elders were right, but not right enough.

In their quest for knowledge, bewildered by its intimidating nature, they ignored the true essence of what knowledges purpose actually is.

Knowledge is indeed power. But the path from knowledge to power is not immediate. There is a succession of steps one needs to follow and it could be summarized in the following sequence:

Knowledge -> Awareness -> Control -> Power

Knowledge breeds awareness. That is the consumption of knowledge leads to a collection of wisdom nuggets that, when properly construed, can raise awareness. Awareness is the ability of the individual to make sense of oneself and, consequently, of the world around him. Once this process manifests itself, one is able to transition from a state of cluelessness and incompetence to a state of control and power. For power transpires when you focus on things you can control. And you can control only what you can understand what you are aware of.

So the imperative word here is not knowledge, but awareness.

Allowing oneself to embrace this word and immerse into the totality of its nucleus is akin to allowing oneself to become totally free. For awareness has always been the key to a life defined by clarity, intent, and cohesion.

Apropos, there is a path that one needs to follow in order to properly grasp what constitutes awareness and where its real potency lies. And this path I endeavor to lay out today.

In the following paragraphs, I will examine 5 stages one needs to cover in order to develop extreme self-awareness. For awareness does not develop overnight. It is a gradually evolving process that is predicated upon the willingness of the individual to battle through the obstacles encountered in every stage.

The major issue young people face and have always been facing is cluelessness and incompetence. Empirical investigation has led me to believe that the reason for that is twofold and has little to do with intelligence or experience.

The two major forces that enforce this circumstance are the education system and the development of our frontal cortex.

A brief history of how modern education came about (you can read the detailed summary here) reveals that from the 17th century onwards the purpose of school was to create better workers, not better humans. Employers in industry viewed school as a means to teach future employees the rules of punctuality, following directions, tolerance for long hours of tedious work, and a minimal ability to read and write. On top of that, as nations became more centralized, national leaders saw a great chance in schooling to lay the foundations for the facilitation of future patriots and soldiers.

In essence, the school was not a place where the child could enjoy a holistic education and develop a healthy personality. It was more like a prison where he or she would, eventually, lose his or her identity, become a virtual nonentity and blend into the uniformity of collectivism.

Prolific biologist Robert Sapolsky revealed in one of his lectures something groundbreaking: The frontal cortex is the last part of the brain to fully develop.

The red part is the prefrontal cortex Wikipedia

On average, the frontal cortex manages to completely mature at the age of 25. This astonishing finding postulates two things:

If we take into account these two factors and combine them with the proclivity of humans to, usually, choose the path of least resistance when it comes to action taking, we find ourselves in a very unfavorable situation. Developing self awareness under such circumstances becomes a far-fetched goal. We end up with a huge amount of the population feeling not only clueless about who they are but also lacking the necessary context that would empower them to discover their individual constitution.

Nonetheless, the first stage is possible to overcome, firstly if the individual understands his or her limitations and secondly by methodically accruing knowledge relevant to the alleviation of these limitations.

How to stop feeling clueless: Patience is key here and when coupled with an incessant tendency to question conventional wisdom, it can produce extremely interesting outcomes. My suggestion would be to delve into the fundamentals of personal growth and attempt to internalize them. Such fundamentals include: Meditation, working out, improving productivity, improving social skills, to name but a few. 30 Challenges 30 Days Zero Excuses is a great place to start.

The prominent maxim know thyself has been echoing through history since its first usage by Plato in his dialogues. There are at least six instances during which Plato employs the maxim, and in every one of them he does so in order to stress out the importance of self-discovery in the development of the individual.

Plato Wikipedia

Although the context in each instance is different, the rationale remains the same. A self-aware individual is a conscious individual. Individuals who cant partake in the process of self-exploration will systematically fall victim to their own lack of awareness and to the ramifications that such a state begets. Some of the ramifications include:

Essentially, a lack of self-awareness is the main source of dogmatism in society today. Sam Harris, during one of his podcasts, while examining why dogmatism can ruin a persons life, stated beautifully:

The state of being dogmatic is the state of believing in things strongly, despite an absence of evidence or even in the face of counter evidence. That is the state of having no error-correcting mechanisms in your worldview. Youre simply not available to reality and you will continually bump into hard objects wherever you go.

Sam Harris Wikipedia

Humans will always seek to belong and this lust for tribalism can often yield friction within society. Most people who cling to certain (usually extreme) ideologies do so because they havent sorted themselves out. The absence of a strong individual identity destabilizes the substrate of their being and they are constantly in the look for more stable worlds to grab onto. These stable worlds are often dogmatic worlds that reject certain aspects of reality in an attempt to deal successfully with its innately chaotic nature. Religions, political movements, cults, extremist groups, all fall in that category and are there to remind us what a lack of self-awareness can engender.

In a way, people who belong in these groups are manifestations of a persons inability to face the concept of the shadow as Carl Jung put it forth.

Carl Jung Wikipedia

The shadow is the unknown dark side of our personality. Dark because it is very obscure and also because we need to dig very deep within our psyche in order to discover it. It is a conglomeration of all our fears, desires and impulses like sexual lust, power strivings, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature it operates in a subconscious level. A person can never reach the state of self-actualization if they havent managed to face the shadow until they can understand it, deal with it, and eventually internalize it.

Plato also pointed out that understanding thyself, would also result to a greater understanding of the nature of a human being. Syllogistically, understanding oneself would enable a person to form an understanding of others as a result. Which is our next stage.

How to understand yourself: In order to understand yourself, first you need to understand your past and how your past affects your present and your future. The operative word here is past, but I use it to allude to both our past as individuals, but also to our past as species. From an individuals perspective, psychoanalysis is the most pertinent tool one can use to explore certain aspects of their personality. Major events in your past have played a critical role in shaping your persona. Going back to these events, facing them and creating associations with current ones can significantly raise self-understanding. From a species perspective, humans are a work of evolution in progress and our current state cant be fathomed if we dont examine closely the practices and habits of our ancestors and draw parallels to current behavioral patterns.

The complexity of our social fabric is an omnipresent conundrum across the span of our lives. We are egotistical creatures that perpetually try to balance individuality with togetherness. Usually, we fail dramatically in that attempt but it doesnt always need to be that way.

The way a person forms their understanding of social dynamics is fostered during childhood and depends largely on the way the upbringing functions. Within the household, a child can get a glimpse of how real society operates and adopt certain characteristics that will help him or her transition smoothly from the microcosm of his or her family to the wilderness of the real world.

Therein the child develops an intuitive ability to interact and cooperate with others. Hence most people make judgments about others based on intuition. Intuition is indeed a powerful skill but alone is not enough. It can offer a rough understanding of social patterns, but if you want to understand the mechanics deeply, you need to enhance your social repertoire with more skills.

In that respect, I am going to briefly touch upon three major areas one needs to be aware of:

Our perception is usually confined within the limits that our ego dictates. We are raised to think individually and not syllogistically. That process seriously hinders our capacity to understand and cooperate with fellow humans and our ability to form mutually beneficial connections suffers dramatically.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is the process that leads to a complete re-engineering of a persons worldview since it can offer them a completely new perspective on life.

Cultivating empathy is the first step into unweaving the mysterious entanglement that encompasses our social life.

Humans are evolved primates with an extremely sophisticated set of cognitive tools. The way, however, our social structures are formed rely more on power rather than sophistication. For years we have attempted to evolve our social edifice from a dominance hierarchy to a more egalitarian constitution. For years we have failed miserably to do so.

That reality is a result of an eclectic amalgamation of reasons such as cultural discrepancies, environmental influences, intelligence, tribalism, nepotism and a general lack of affinity towards forming collective views. It seems that, on average, our primitive mind tends to dominate our more rational one and the future doesnt look much promising in that respect.

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Developing Self-Awareness The 5 Stages of Awareness Mastery

Written by grays

August 2nd, 2018 at 11:47 pm

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Awareness: Anthony DeMello: 9780006275190: Amazon.com: Books

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Awareness: Anthony DeMello: 9780006275190: Amazon.com: Books

Written by simmons

July 16th, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

What Is Self-Awareness? (and 8 Ways to Become More Self Aware)

Posted: June 27, 2018 at 7:41 pm


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Having self-awareness means that you have a sharp realization of your personality, including your strengths and weaknesses, your thoughts and beliefs, your emotions, and your motivations.

If you are self-aware, it is easier for you to understand other people and detect how they perceive you in return.

Many people assume that they have a healthy sense of self-awareness, but it is best to look at a relative scale to see where you fall on it compared to others. Being aware creates an opportunity to make changes in one's behavior and beliefs.

While you develop self-awareness, your own personal thoughts and interpretations will begin to change. This change in mental state will also alter your emotions and increase your emotional intelligence, which is an important factor in achieving overall success.

Becoming self-aware is an early step in the creation of the life that you want. It helps you pinpoint what your passions and emotions are, and how your personality can help you in life.

You can recognize where your thoughts and emotions are leading you, and make any necessary changes. Once you are aware of your thoughts, words, emotions, and behavior, you will be able to make changes in the direction of your future.

Who originally came up with the idea of self-awareness?

Self-awareness was first theorized in 1972 by Duval and Wicklund in their book A Theory of Objective Self-Awareness. This book argues that if we focus our attention inwardly on ourselves, we tend to compare our behavior in the current moment to our general standards and values. This triggers a state of impartial self-awareness.

How does this concept/question relate to building positive habits?

Self-awareness is a vital first step in taking control of your life, creating what you want, and mastering your future. Where you choose to focus your energy, emotions, personality, and reactions determines where you will end up in life.

When you are self-aware, you can see where your thoughts and emotions are guiding you. It also allows you to take control of your actions so you can make the necessary changes to get the outcomes you desire.

This may include changes to your emotions, your behavior, or your personality. Until you achieve this, you will have a hard time making changes in the direction your life is taking you.

How can self-awareness be important in different fields?Leadership

You cant be an effective leader without being able to answer the "what is self-awareness?" question.

It provides the necessary base for having strong character, creating the ability to lead with purpose, trust, authenticity, and openness. Self-awareness explains our successes and our failures while giving us a clear understanding of who we are and what we need most from other people to have a successful team.

It also gives leaders the opportunity to identify any gaps that they might have in their management skills, and reveals the areas in which they are effective and where they might need additional work.

Knowing these things can help leaders make discerning decisions and increase their effectiveness in positively motivating their employees. Learning to be self-aware is not a simple process, but doing so can improve one's leadership skills and lead to a more supportive business culture.

Social Work

As a social worker, having self-awareness is an important part of preparing to encounter clients in their specific situations. Much of the process of becoming an effective social worker is made up of becoming self-aware. This can happen with encounters with professors, classmates, and clients that work to continuously challenge us to be aware of our feelings. While this is not an easy thing to do, it is a worthwhile achievement.

Social workers have to be aware of their own biases when they are dealing with clients so they can make sure they are treating every client equally.

Counseling

Self-awareness interplays with the therapeutic process of counseling. When one is able to gain a greater understanding of themselves through the input of a therapist, it leads to self-discovery.

Counseling is a journey of self-discovery, as one observes their own thought patterns and how they affect their mood and behavior. Observing ones own thoughts and feelings builds self-knowledge, and doing this with a counselor provides an objective opinion during the observation.

Education

Self-awareness plays a large role in education because it helps students become focused on what they need to learn. The ability of students to think about their thinking increases with age. When teachers work with students to teach them to reflect, monitor, and evaluate themselves, students are able to become more self-reliant, productive, and flexible.

Self-awareness plays a large role in education because it helps students become focused on what they need to learn.

Students improve their ability to weigh their choices and think about their options, especially when the correct answer is not obvious. When students have a hard time understanding a concept or idea, they use reflective strategies to acknowledge their difficulties and try to fix them. This also gives students tools to self-reflect and grow in their emotional and social lives.

Nursing

Self-awareness is used as a therapeutic tool for nurse-client relationships. A nurse who is self-aware can provide a therapeutic environment to care for their patient. Because of this, it is recommended that nursing schools should teach students about development and self-understanding.

It would also be beneficial for professional nurses to be able to get help and guidance to continue the growth process throughout their careers.

How to develop and increase self-awareness

1. Look at yourself objectively.

Trying to see yourself as you really are can be a very difficult process, but if you make the right efforts, getting to know your real self can be extremely rewarding. When you are able to see yourself objectively, you can learn how to accept yourself and find ways to improve yourself in the future.

So, what is an easy way to get started with this?

In the end, you will come out with a fresh new perspective on yourself and your life.

You can write about anything in your journal, even if it is not related to your goals. Recording your thoughts on paper helps to relieve your mind of those ideas, and clears it up to make space for new information and ideas.

Take some time each night to write in your journal about your thoughts and feelings, and your successes and failures for the day. This will help you grow and move forward in your achievements.

As you self-reflect, take some time to think about how you are a leader, and how people working under you likely view you. Think about what you do to help other people, and if you could possibly do more. What are your values, and what is most important to you right now?

Recording your thoughts on paper helps to relieve your mind and clears it up to make space for new information and ideas.

All of these self-reflection questions will help you get a better idea of who you are and what you want out of life right now.

Plan out your goals in a worksheet so they turn from ideas into a step-by-step process. Break down your larger goal into mini-goals so it seems less overwhelming, and tackle it head on.

4. Perform daily self-reflection.

In order to have self-awareness, you must do self-reflection. This requires setting aside some time, hopefully every day, to honestly look at yourself as a person and a leader. Committing to this practice can help you improve.

In our demanding business world, daily self-reflection is easier said than done. There is always pressure to do more with less, and an endless flow of information through our portable technology.

Because it takes time to self-reflect, start by setting aside just 15 minutes each day. Self-reflection is most effective when you use a journal and write down your thoughts. Its also best to find a quiet place to think.

Meditation is the practice of improving your mindful awareness. Most types of meditation focus on the breath, but not all meditation has to be formal. You can also find greater clarity from regular moments of reflection.

During your meditations, you may stop to think about some specific questions.

Practicing meditation and other mindfulness habits helps you find greater clarity and self-awareness.

One of the most frequent forms of meditation you may practice comes from carrying out everyday tasks that give you a sense of therapeutic serenity, such as washing dishes, going for a run, and going to church.

6. Take personality and psychometric tests.

Take these personality and psychometric tests to help understand what traits you have. Some popular tests that are aimed at increasing self-awareness include the Myers-Briggs test and the Predictive Index.

There are no right or wrong answers to these tests. Instead, they compel respondents to think about a set of traits or characteristics that closely describe them relative to other people.

7. Ask trusted friends to describe you.

How are we supposed to know what other people think of us? We have to listen to the feedback of our peers and mentors, and let them play the role of an honest mirror. Tell your friends when you are looking for open, honest, critical, and objective perspectives. Allow your friends to feel safe while they are giving you an informal yet honest view.

Make sure your friends know that they are doing this to help you, not to hurt you. Also, feel free to ask questions of your friends about topics they bring up if you feel like you need some more clarity to completely understand.

You can also ask friends to bring it to your attention when you are doing something that you know you want to change. For example, if you know you tend to "one-up" people when they are telling stories, have your friends discreetly let you know that is happening so you can learn to stop.

Ask trusted friends to describe you. Allow your friends to feel safe while they are giving you an informal yet honest view.

8. Ask for feedback at work.

In addition to consulting friends and family, use a more formal process at work to get some feedback. If your company does not provide a structured way to do this, try to implement one. Provided it is constructive and well done, having an option for formalized feedback allows us to self-reflect on our own strengths and weaknesses.

To have an effective formal feedback system at work, you need a proper process and an effective manager. Once the feedback process is finished, it is important to reflect on it by writing down your main takeaways. Write down any surprising strengths and weaknesses that you did not realize you had before.

It will take quite some time to increase your self-awareness and get to know yourself better. It can even take years and input from many people around you. Building the necessary habits to help you become more self-aware can positively impact other aspects of your life, especially your interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.

What is self-awareness?

Hopefully this post has given you an answer to your question, "What is self-awareness?" Please share your self-awareness questions and breakthroughs in the comments below.

Don't forget to share it on your favorite social media network!

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What Is Self-Awareness? (and 8 Ways to Become More Self Aware)

Written by grays

June 27th, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

The Personality Code: Travis Bradberry: 9780399154119 …

Posted: June 24, 2018 at 6:45 am


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Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning author of the #1 best selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart--a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies and is the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training.

His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

Dr. Bradberry is a world-renowned expert in emotional intelligence who speaks regularly in corporate and public settings. Example engagements include Intel, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Fortune Brands, Boston Scientific, the Fortune Growth Summit, The Conference Board: Learning from Legends, the American Society for Training and Development, the Society for Human Resource Management, and Excellence in Government.

Dr. Bradberry holds a Dual Ph.D. in Clinical and Industrial-Organizational psychology. He received his bachelor of science in Clinical Psychology from the University of California - San Diego.

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The Personality Code: Travis Bradberry: 9780399154119 ...

Written by grays

June 24th, 2018 at 6:45 am

Posted in Self-Awareness

The Emotionally Intelligent Investor: How self-awareness …

Posted: May 2, 2018 at 4:44 pm


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"Ravee Mehta's book is a true breath of fresh air. Through observation and experience, he deduced much of what brain science is teaching about decision making under uncertainty. In a world that still misunderstands human risk decision making, this is an incredible step in the right direction!" - Denise Shull, Author of Market Mind Games

"It is well written and it makes you think about using both emotional factors with qualitative factors. It will make a solid addition to your investment library." - Bud Labitan, Author of The Four Filters Invention of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

"It encouraged me to self-reflect more and use empathy, social awareness, technicals and intuition in a more systematic manner while investing." - Shiv Puri, Managing Director and Founder or First Voyager Advisors

"The Emotionally Intelligent Investor is well-written, enlightening, educational and will help any investor make better financial decisions for themselves and their clients. I highly recommend it." - Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D., Author of The Emotionally Intelligent Financial Advisor

"I devoured this book, scanning through all the best chapters. 90 minutes later I was done. It totally resonated with me. I thought, 'I should have written this book.' That means I loved the book." - Nick Nansen, Founder of Nansen Investments

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The Emotionally Intelligent Investor: How self-awareness ...

Written by simmons

May 2nd, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

Self-Consciousness | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Posted: April 29, 2018 at 5:40 pm


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Philosophical work on self-consciousness has mostly focused on the identification and articulation of specific epistemic and semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness, peculiarities which distinguish it from consciousness of things other than oneself. After drawing certain fundamental distinctions, and considering the conditions for the very possibility of self-consciousness, this article discusses the nature of those epistemic and semantic peculiarities.

The relevant epistemic peculiarities are mainly those associated with the alleged infallibility and self-intimation of self-consciousness. It has sometimes been thought that our consciousness of ourselves may be, under certain conditions, infallible, in the sense that it cannot go wrong: when we believe that some fact about us obtains, it does. It has also sometimes been thought that some forms of consciousness are self-intimating: if a certain fact about us obtains, we are necessarily going to be conscious that it does. These claims have come under heavy attack in more recent philosophical work, but it remains unclear whether some restricted forms of infallibility and self-intimation survive the attack.

The relevant semantic peculiarities have emerged in recent work in philosophy of language and mind. Two of them stand out: the so-called immunity to error through misidentification of our consciousness of ourselves and the special character of self-regarding (or de se) consciousness that cannot be assimilated to other kinds of consciousness. Some philosophers have argued that these are not genuine features of self-consciousness, while others have argued that, although genuine, they are not peculiar to self-consciousness. Other philosophers have defended the proposition that these features are genuine and peculiar to self-consciousness. We will consider the case for these claims in due course.

Throughout our waking life, we are conscious of a variety of things. We are often conscious of other people, of cars, trees, beetles, and other objects around us. We are conscious of their features: their colors, their shapes, and the sound they make. We are conscious of events involving them: car accidents, tree blooming, and so forth.

Sometimes we are also conscious of ourselves, our features, and the events that take place within us. Thus, we may become conscious, in a certain situation, of the fact that we are nervous or uncomfortable. We may become conscious of a rising anxiety, or of a sudden cheerfulness. Sometimes we are conscious of simpler things: that we are seeing red, or that we are thinking of tomorrows errands.

In addition, we sometimes have the sense that we are continuously conscious of ourselves going about our business in the world. Thus William James, who was very influential in the early days of experimental, systematic psychology (in addition to being the brother of novelist Henry James and a gifted writer himself), remarked once that whatever I may be thinking of, I am always at the same time more or less aware of myself, of my personal existence (James 1961: 42).

These forms of self-consciousnessconsciousness of ourselves and our personal existence, of our character traits and standing features, and of the thoughts that occur to us and the feelings that we experienceare philosophically fascinating, inasmuch as they are at once quite mysterious and closest to home. Our scientific theories of astrophysical objects that are incredibly distant from us in both space and time, or of the smallest particles that make up the sub-atomic layer of reality, are mature, sophisticated, and impressive. By contrast, we barely have anything worth the name scientific theory for self-consciousness and its various manifestations, in spite of self-consciousness being so much more familiar a phenomenonindeed the most familiar phenomenon of all.

Here, as elsewhere, the immaturity of our scientific understanding of self-consciousness invites philosophical reflection on the topic, and is anyway partly due precisely to deep philosophical puzzles about the nature of self-consciousness. Many philosophers have thought that self-consciousness exhibits certain peculiarities not to be found in consciousness of things other than ourselves, and indeed possibly not to be found anywhere else in nature.

Philosophical work on self-consciousness has thus mostly focused on the identification and articulation of these peculiarities. More specifically, it has sought some epistemic and semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness, that is, peculiarities as regards how we know, and more generally how we represent, ourselves and our internal lives. (In philosophical jargon, epistemology is the theory of knowledge and semantics ismore or lessthe theory of representation.) This entry will accordingly focus on these peculiarities. After drawing certain fundamental distinctions, and considering the conditions for the very possibility of self-consciousness, we will discuss first the nature of the relevant epistemic peculiarities and then (more extensively) the semantic ones.

Let us start by drawing some distinctions. (The distinctions I will draw are meant as conceptual distinctions. Whether they stand for real differences between the properties putatively picked out by the relevant concepts is a separate matter.) The first important distinction is between self-consciousness as a property of whole individuals and self-consciousness as a property of particular mental states. Thus, when we say My thought that p is self-conscious and I am self-conscious, the property we ascribe is in all likelihood different. My being self-conscious involves my being conscious of my self. But my thoughts being self-conscious does not involve my thoughts being conscious of its self, since (i) it does not have a self, and (ii) thoughts are not the kind of thing that can be conscious of anything. We may call the property that I have creature self-consciousness and the property that my thought has state self-consciousness.

Another distinction is between consciousness of oneself (ones self) and consciousness of a particular event or state that occurs within oneself. Compare I am self-conscious of myself thinking that p to I am self-conscious of my thought that p. The latter involves awareness of a particular thought of mine, but need not involve awareness of self or selfhood. It is a form of self-consciousness in the sense that it is directed inward, and takes as its object an internal state of mine. But it is not a form of self-consciousness in the stronger sense of involving consciousness of self. I will refer to the stronger variety as strong self-consciousness and the weaker as weak self-consciousness. State self-consciousness is consciousness of what happens within oneself, whereas creature self-consciousness is consciousness of oneself proper. (Note, however, that a mental state may be both creature- and state-self-conscious. Thus, if I am conscious of my thought that p as my thought, as a thought of mine, then I am conscious both of my thought and of myself.)

Another traditional distinction, which dates back to Kant, is between consciousness of oneself qua object and consciousness of oneself qua subject. Suppose I am conscious of Budapest (or of Budapest and its odors). I am the subject of the thought, its object is Budapest. But suppose now that I am conscious of myself (or of myself and my feelings). Now I am both the subject and the object of the thought. But although the subject and the object of the thought happen to be the same thing, there is still a conceptual distinction to be made between myself in my capacity as object of thought and myself in my capacity as subject of thought. That is to say, even though there is one entity here, there are two separate concepts for this entity, the self-as-subject concept and the self-as-object concept. To mark this difference, William James (1890) introduced a technical distinction between the I and the me. In its technical use, I (and its Mentalese correlate) refers to the self-as-subject, whereas me (and its Mentalese correlate) refers to the self-as-object. By Mentalese correlate, I mean the expression that would mean the same as I and me in something like the so-called language of thought (Fodor 1975) or Mentalese.)

Corresponding to these two concepts, or conceptions, of self, there would presumably be two distinct modes of presentation under which a person may be conscious of herself. She may be conscious of herself under the I description or under the me description. Thus, my state of self-consciousness may employ either the I mode of presentation or the me mode of presentation. (We could capture the difference, using James technical terminology, by distinguishing I am self-conscious that I think that p and I am self-conscious that methinks that p.) In the latter case, there is a sort of conceptual distance between the thing that does the thinking and the thing being thought about. Although I am thinking of myself, I am not thinking of myself as the thing that does the thinking. By contrast, in the former case, I am thinking of myself precisely as the thing that is therewith doing the thinking.

Through Kants influence on Husserl, philosophers in the phenomenological tradition have long held that something like consciousness of self-as-subject is a distinct, irreducible, and central aspect of our mental life. Philosophers in the analytic tradition have been more suspicious of it (for exceptions to this rule, see for instance Van Gulick 1988 and Strawson 1997). But the distinction between consciousness of self-as-subject and consciousness of self-as-object might be captured using analytic tools, through a distinction between transitive and intransitive self-consciousness (Kriegel 2003, 2004a). Compare I am self-conscious of thinking that p and I am self-consciously thinking that p. In the former, transitive form, self-consciousness is construed as a relation between me and my thinking. In the latter, intransitive form, it is construed as a modification of my thinking. That is, in the latter the self-consciousness term (if you will) does not denote a state of standing in a relation to my thought (or my thinking) that p. Rather, it designates the way I am having my thought (or doing my thinking). In transitive self-consciousness, the thought and the state of self-consciousness are treated as two numerically distinct mental states. By contrast, in intransitive self-consciousness, there is no numerical distinction between the thought and the state of self-consciousness: the thought is the state of self-consciousness. The adverb self-consciously denotes a way I am having my thought that p. No extra act of self-consciousness takes place after the thought that p occurs. Rather, self-consciously is how the thought that p occurs.

I have been speaking of the self-as-subject in terms of the thing that does the thinking, and correspondingly of consciousness of oneself as subject in terms of consciousness of oneself as the thing that does the thinking. But recent work in philosophical psychopathology counsels caution here. Schizophrenics suffering from thought insertion and alien voices delusions report that they are not in control of their thoughts. Indeed, they often envisage a particular individual who, they claim, is doing the thinking for them, or implants thoughts in their mind. Note that although they do not experience themselves as doing the thinking, they do experience the thinking as happening, in some sense, in them. To account for the experiential difference between doing the thinking and merely hosting the thinking, between authorship of ones thoughts and mere ownership of them (respectively), some philosophers have drawn a distinction between consciousness of oneself as agent and consciousness of oneself as subject (Campbell 1999, Graham and Stephens 2000). The distinction between self-as-agent and self-as-subject is orthogonal, however, to the distinction between self-as-object and self-as-subject. To avoid confusion, let us suggest a different terminology, that of self-as-author versus self-as-owner, and correspondingly, of consciousness of oneself as author of ones thoughts and consciousness of oneself as owner of ones thoughts. To be sure, in the normal go of things, ownership and authorship are inseparable. But the pathological cases show that there is daylight between the two notions.

Another important distinction is between propositional self-consciousness and non-propositional self-consciousness. There is no doubt that there is such a thing as propositional self-consciousness: consciousness that some self-related proposition obtains. Presumably, such self-consciousness has conceptual content. But a strong case can be made that there is a form of self-consciousness that is sub-propositional, as it were, and has non-conceptual content (Bermdez 1998). When a report of self-consciousness uses a that clause, as we just did, it necessarily denotes propositional self-consciousness. But when it does not, as is the case, for instance, with I am self-conscious of thinking that p, it is left open whether it is propositional or non-propositional self-consciousness that is denoted. That is, I am self-conscious of thinking that p is compatible with, but does not entail, I am self-conscious that I am thinking that p. In any case, the terminology leaves it open whether there is a non-propositional or non-conceptual form of self-consciousness.

Other distinctions can certainly be drawn. I have restricted myself to those that will play a role in the discussion to follow. They are five:

(a) State self-consciousness versus creature self-consciousness(b) Strong versus weak self-consciousness(c) Transitive versus intransitive self-consciousness(d) Consciousness of self-as-object versus consciousness of self-as-subject(e) Consciousness of self-as-author versus consciousness of self-as-owner

As I warned at the opening, these distinctions are meant as conceptual ones. This is doubly significant. First, the fact that there is a distinction between two concepts does not entail that there is a difference between the putative properties picked out by these concepts. Second, the existence of a concept does not entail the existence of the property putatively picked out by that concept. In fact, philosophers have questioned the very existence of self-consciousness.

Perhaps the best known philosophical threat to the very possibility of self-consciousness hails from Humes remarks in the Treatise of Human Nature (I, IV, vi): For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other I never can catch myself without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.

This passage makes two separate claims, of different degrees of skepticism. The modest claim is:

(MC) Upon turning into oneself, one cannot catch oneself without a particular mental state.

MC rules out the possibility of a mental state whose sole object is the self. But though it disallows catching oneself without a perception, it does not disallow catching oneself with a perception. Hume makes the latter, stronger, immodest claim next, however:

(IC) Upon turning into oneself, one cannot catch anything but particular mental states.

IC rules out the possibility of any consciousness of ones self. That is, it rules out the possibility of creature self-consciousness, allowing only for state self-consciousness.

In assessing Humes claims, particularly the immodest one, we must ask, first, what did Hume expect to catch? And second, what sort of catching did he have in mind?

One way to deny the possibility of consciousness of oneself is to reject the existence of a self of which one might be conscious. But the inexistence of a self is not a sufficient condition for the impossibility of self-consciousness: there could still be thoroughly and systematically illusory experience of selfhood that gives rise to a form of (illusory) self-consciousness. Nor is such rejection a necessary condition for the impossibility of self-consciousness. Hume himself not only countenanced the self, he offered a theory of it, namely, the bundle theory. What Hume rejected was the existence of a substantival self, a self that is more than just a stream of consciousness and a sum of experiences. What he rejected is the reifying conception of the self according to which the self is an object among others in the world, a substrate that supports the internal goings-on unfolding therein but is distinct from, and somehow stands above, these proceedings. This rejection is shared today by several philosophers (see, for example, Dennett 1991).

This suggests an answer to our first question, concerning what Hume had expected to catch upon turning into himself. What he expected to catch is a self-substance (if you please). It is unclear, however, why Hume thought that consciousness of oneself, even non-illusory consciousness of oneself, required the existence of a substantival self. Consider how self-consciousness might play out within the framework of Humes own bundle theory. Upon turning into herself, a person might become conscious of a particular mental state, say an inexplicable cheerfulness, but become conscious of it as belonging to a larger bundle of mental states, perhaps a bundle that has a certain internal cohesion to it at and across time. In that case, we would be well justified to conceive of this person as conscious of her self.

As for the second question, concerning what sort of catching Hume had in mind, it appears that Hume envisioned a quasi-perceptual form of catching. He expected self-consciousness to involve some sort of direct encounter with the self. There is no question that one can believe (or otherwise think purely intellectually) that one is inexplicably cheerful. One can surely entertain purely intellectually the proposition I am inexplicably cheerful. But Hume wanted more than that. He wanted to be confronted with his self, by turning inward his minds eye, as he would with a chair upon directing his outward gaze in the right direction.

In other words, Hume was working with an introspective model of self-consciousness, according to which self-consciousness involves the employment of an inner sense: an internal mechanism whose operation is analogous in essential respects to the operation of the external senses. This inner sense conception was clearly articulated in Locke: The other fountain [of] ideas, is the perception of the operations of our own minds within us And though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects; yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense (Essay Concerning Human Understanding II, i, 4).

The plausibility of the introspective model is very much in contention. Thus, Rosenthal (1986) claims that for self-consciousness to be genuinely analogous with perceptual consciousness, the former would have to exhibit the sort of qualitative character the latter does; but since it does not, it is essentially non-perceptual. On this basis, Rosenthal (2004) proceeds to develop an account of self-consciousness in terms of purely intellectual thoughts about oneself (more specifically, thoughts that are entertained in the presence of their object or referent).

On the other hand, self-consciousness can sometimes have a quality of immediacy about it (and its way of putting us in contact with its objects) that seems to parallel perceptual consciousness. At the same time, philosophers have sometimes charged that self-consciousness is in fact too immediate, indeed unmediated, to be thought of as quasi-perceptual. Thus, Shoemaker (1996) argues that the quasi-perceptual model falters in construing self-consciousness along the lines of the act-object analysis that befits perceptual consciousness. When one is perceptually conscious of a butterflys meandering, a distinction is always called for between the act of perceptual consciousness and the meandering butterfly it takes as an object. But when one is conscious of ones cheerfulness, a parallel distinction between the act of self-consciousness and ones cheerfulness, supposedly thereby taken as object, is misleading, according to Shoemaker.

One way to interpret Shoemakers claim here is that while Humes argument may be effective against transitive self-consciousness, it is not against intransitive self-consciousness. Recall that transitive self-consciousness requires a duality of mental states, the state of self-consciousness and the state of (for example) cheerfulness. But in intransitive self-consciousness there is no such duality: there is not a distinction between an act of self-consciousness and a separate object taken by it. On this interpretation, Shoemakers claim is that being self-conscious of being cheerful may well be impossible, but it is nonetheless possible to be self-consciously cheerful. We might combine Rosenthals and Shoemakers perspectives and suggest the view that self-consciousness can come in two varieties: intellectual transitive self-consciousness and intransitive self-consciousness. Both varieties escape the clutches of Humes threat: one can catch oneself (with a particular mental state) if the catching is intellectual rather than quasi-perceptual, or if the catching is somehow fused into the particular mental state thereby caught. What Hume showed is that quasi-perceptual transitive self-consciousness is impossible; but this leaves untouched the possibility of intellectual transitive self-consciousness and of intransitive self-consciousness.

In summary, it is quite likely that self-consciousness is indeed possible. But reflecting on the conditions of its possibility puts non-trivial constraints on our conception of self-consciousness. In this respect, contending with Humes challenge still proves immensely fruitful. If anything, it wakes us from our dogmatic slumber about self-consciousness and brings up the question of the nature of self-consciousness.

One question regarding the nature of self-consciousness that arises immediately is what is to count as having self-consciousness. Many contemporary cognitive scientists have operationalized the notion of self-consciousness in terms of experiments on mirror self-recognition and the so-called mark test. In these experiments, a creatures forehead is marked with a visible stain. When placed in front of a mirror, some creatures try to wipe off the stain, which suggests that they recognize themselves in the mirror, while others do not (see mainly Gallup 1970, 1977). Successes with the mark test are few and far between. Among primates, it is passed with any consistency only by humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans, but not by gorillas or gibbons (Suarez and Gallup 1981); and even humans do not typically pass it before the age of a year and a half (Amsterdam 1972) and chimpanzees not before three years of age nor after sixteen years of age (Povinelli et al. 1993). Outside the group of primates, it is passed only by bottlenose dolphins (Reiss and Marino 2001) and Asian elephants (Plotnik et al. 2006). However, this operational treatment of self-consciousness is problematic at a number of levels. Most importantly, it is not entirely clear what the true relationship between mirror self-recognition and self-consciousness is. One would need a principled account of the latter in order to clarify that matter. Mirror self-recognition experiments thus cannot take precedence over the search for an independent understanding of self-consciousness.

To that end, let us consider the ways in which self-consciousness has been claimed to be different, special, and sometimes privileged, relative to consciousness of things other than oneself. Early modern philosophers, from Descartes on, have often claimed certain epistemic privileges on behalf of self-consciousness. More recently, twentieth century analytic philosophers have attempted to identify certain semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness. We take those up in turns.

In what follows, we will consider, somewhat hastily, about a dozen epistemic peculiarities sometimes attributed to self-consciousness. Traditionally, the most discussed special feature claimed on behalf of self-consciousness is infallibility. According to the doctrine of infallibility, ones consciousness of oneself is always veridical and accurate. We may say that whenever I am self-conscious of thinking that p, I am indeed thinking that p. It is important to note, however, that to the extent that self-conscious of is a success verb, this claim would be trivially true, whereas the point of the doctrine under consideration is that it is true even if self-conscious of is not a success verb (or also for any non-success uses of the verb). To bypass this technicality, let us insert parenthetically the qualifier seemingly into our formulation of the claim. We may formulate the doctrine of infallibility as follows:

(DIF) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am thinking that p.

Thus, whenever I believe something about myself and my mental life, the belief is true: things are in fact the way I believe them to be.

The doctrine of infallibility ensures that my beliefs about my mental life are true. A parallel doctrine ensures that such beliefs are (epistemically) justified. We may, without too much injustice to traditional terminology, call this the doctrine of incorrigibility. The traditional notion of incorrigibility is the notion that the subject cannot possibly be corrected by anyone else, which suggests that the subject is in possession of (and makes correct use of) all the relevant evidence. We may thus formulate the doctrine of incorrigibility as follows:

(DIC) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am justifiably (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p.

Whereas according to DIF, whenever I believe something about my mental life, my belief is true, according to DIC, whenever I believe something about my mental life, my belief is justified.

Against the background of the tripartite analysis of knowledge, the conjunction of DIC and DIF would entail a doctrine about self-knowledge in general, namely:

(DIK) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious that I am thinking that p, then I know that I am thinking that p.

That is, if I am in a state of self-consciousness whose content is I am thinking that p, then my state of self-consciousness will necessarily qualify as knowledge. Note, however, that the thesis is entailed by DIF and DIC only against the background of the tripartite analysisthough it may be independently true. (If the tripartite analysis is incorrect, as it probably is, then the thesis does not follow from the conjunction of DIC and DIF. But it can still be formulated.)

The three doctrines we have considered claim strong privileges on behalf of self-consciousness. But there are stronger ones. Consider the converse of the doctrine of infallibility. DIF ensures that when I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am in fact thinking that p. Its converse is a stronger thesis: whenever I think that p, I am self-conscious of doing so. That is, nothing can pass through the mind without the mind taking notice of it. Having a thought entails being self-conscious of having it. Thoughts are, in this sense, self-intimating. We may formulate the doctrine of self-intimation as follows:

(DSI) If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking that p.

Thus, whenever I think something, I inevitably come to believe (or be aware) that I am. Note that DSI entails DIF, because if I am indeed thinking that p, then my self-consciousness of thinking that p must be true or veridical.

A distinction is sometimes made between weak self-intimation and strong self-intimation (Shoemaker 1996). What we have just considered is the weak variety. The strong variety ensures not only that when I think something, I am aware that I think it, but also that when I do not think something, I am aware that I do not think it. Let us formulate the doctrine of strong self-intimation as follows:

(DSSI) If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking that p; and if I am not thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of not thinking that p.

Strong self-intimation renders the mind in some traditional sense transparent to itself. But the term transparency has had such wide currency in recent philosophy of mind that it would be better not to use it in the present context.

Consider now the converse of the doctrine of incorrigibility. It is the thesis that if I think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of thinking that p. It also entails DIF, as well as DSI. Again, a strong version can be formulated: If I think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of thinking that p; and if I do not think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of not thinking that p.

Finally, a parallel thesis could be formulated regarding knowledge: If I think that p, then I know that I think that p. The strong version would be:

(OSC) If I think that p, then I know that I think that p, and if I do not think that p, then I know that I do not think that p.

This last feature is probably the strongest epistemic privilege that could be claimed on behalf of self-consciousness. We may call the associated doctrine the Omniscience of Self-Consciousness. For it is the thesis that one knows everything that happens within ones mind, and everything that does not.

Freuds work on the unconscious has all but refuted the above doctrines (see especially Freud 1915). Thus few if any philosophers would defend them today. But many may consider restricted versions of them. The above doctrines are formulated in terms of thoughts, understood as mental states in general. But some theses can be formulated that would restrict the epistemic privileges to a special subset of mental states, such as sensations and feelings, or phenomenally conscious states, or some such. A thus restricted self-intimation thesis might read: if I have a sensation S, then I am self-conscious of having S; or, if I have a phenomenally conscious state S, then I am self-conscious of having S.

Counter-examples to even such appropriately restricted theses have been offered in the literature. Staying with self-intimation, it has been suggested that there are sensations and conscious states that occur without their subjects awareness. Arguably, I may have a sensationindeed, a phenomenally conscious sensationof the refrigerators hum without becoming self-conscious of it, let alone of myself hearing it.

Consider now a restricted version of the infallibility doctrine: If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of having sensation S, then I do have sensation S. An alleged counter-example is the fraternity initiation story. Suppose that, blindfolded, I am told that a particular spot on my neck is about to be cut with a razor (this is part of my fraternity initiation); then an ice cube is placed on that spot. At the very first instant, I am likely to be under the impression that I am having a pain sensation, while in reality I am having a coldness sensation. That is, at that instant, I am (seemingly) self-conscious of having a pain sensation but do not in fact have a pain sensation, or so the argument goes (see Horgan and Kriegel 2007).

Another way to restrict the above doctrines is by making their claims weaker. Consider the following variation on self-intimation: If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking. Whereas DSI claims that when I have the thought that p, I am self-conscious not just of having a thought, but of having specifically the thought that p, this variation claims only that I am self-conscious of having a thoughtsome thought.

We can apply strictures of this type to any of the above doctrines, and some of the resulting theses may be quite plausible. Thus, consider the following thesis:

If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of being in a phenomenally conscious state S, then I am in some phenomenally conscious state.

It is difficult to conceive of a situation in which one is aware of oneself as being in some conscious state when in fact one is in no conscious state (and hence is unconscious). In particular, the fraternity initiation tale does not tell against this thesis: although in the story I am not in fact in a pain state, I am nonetheless in some conscious state.

Such nuanced theses may thus survive modern critiques of the traditional doctrines of epistemic privilege. Their exploration in the literature is, in any case, far from complete. But let us move on to the semantic privileges sometimes imputed on self-consciousness.

On the two extremes, the first-person pronoun I has been claimed by some to be entirely non-referential (Anscombe 1975) and by others to be the only true form of reference (Chisholm 1976 Ch. 3, and in a more nuanced way, Lewis 1979). Presumably, analogous statements could be made about the concept we use in thought in order to think about ourselves in the first person. For convenience, I will call the relevant concept the Mentalese first-person pronoun, or just the Mentalese I. Plausibly, the special features of linguistic self-reference (the way I refers) derive from, or at least parallel, corresponding features of self-consciousness, and more specifically mental self-reference (the way the Mentalese I refers). In the present context, it is the latter that interest us. Our discussion will focus on two main features. In the next section, we will consider the alleged essential indexicality of self-consciousness (Perry 1979) and irreducibility of de se thoughts (Castaeda 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969). (These terms will be explicated in due course.) The present section considers a semantic peculiarity pointed out by Sydney Shoemaker (1968) under the name immunity to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun and related peculiarities discussed by Anscombe (1975), Evans (1982), and others.

When I think about things other than myself, there are two ways in which my thoughts may turn out to be false. Suppose I think that my next-door neighbor is a nice person. I may be wrong about either (i) whether he is a nice person or (ii) who my next-door neighbor is. The first error is one of mispredication, if you will, whereas the second is one of misidentification. Thus, if I mistake my neighbors tendency to smile for kindness, when in fact it serves a cynical ploy to lure me into signing an unjust petition against the superintendent, then I make a mistake of the first kind. By contrast, if I mistake the mailman for my next-door neighbor, and think that it is my next-door neighbor who is a nice person, when in fact it is the mailman who is, then I make a mistake of the second kind.

In this sense, my thought that my next-door neighbor is a nice person displays a composite structure, involving identification and predication. We may represent this by saying that my thought has the internal structure my next-door neighbor is the person smiling at me every morning & the person smiling at me every morning is a nice person, or more generally my next-door neighbor is the & the is a nice person. This is not to say that when I think that my next-door neighbor is a nice person I am thinking this as a conjunction, or that my thought takes a conjunctive proposition as its object. The above conjunctive representation of my thought is meant just as a device to bring out the fact that my thought has a composite structure. The point is just that my thought has two separable components, an identificational component and a predicational component.

Correspondingly, we can envisage three sorts of semantic peculiarity or privilege. (1) There could be a kind of thought K1, such that if a thought T is of that kind, then T can only be false due to mispredication; thoughts of kind K1 are thus immune to error through misidentification. (2) There could be a kind of thought K2, such that if T is of that kind, then T can only be false due to misidentification; thoughts of kind K2 are thus immune to error through mispredication. (3) There could be a kind of thought K3, such that if T is of that kind, then T can be false due to neither mispredication nor misidentification; thoughts of kind K3 are thus immune to error tout court. The above are just definitions of privileges. It remains to be seen whether any of these definitions is actually satisfied. Shoemakers claim is that the first definition is indeed satisfied by a certain subset of thoughts about oneself.

Note that the third peculiarity, immunity to error tout court, is basically infallibility. This way of conceiving of immunity to error through misidentification brings out its relation to the more traditional doctrine of infallibility. Unlike the latter, the doctrine of immunity to error through misidentification does not claim blanket immunity. But it does restrict in a principled manner the ways in which the relevant thoughts may turn out to be false. If I think that I feel angry, then I can be wrong about whether that is a feeling I really have, but I cannot be wrong about whom it is that is allegedly angry.

We said that according to Shoemaker, a certain subset of thoughts about oneself is immune to error through misidentification. What subset? One can think about oneself under any number of descriptions. And some descriptions one may not be aware of as applying to one. Thus, I may think that my mothers nieceless brothers only nephew is brown-eyed, without being aware that I am my mothers nieceless brothers only nephew. In that case, I think about myself, but not as myself. We might say that I have a thought about myself, but not a self-aware thought about myself. Let us call self-aware thoughts about oneself I-thoughts. According to Shoemaker, some I-thoughts are immune to error through misidentification, namely, those I-thoughts that are directed to ones mind and mental life, as opposed to ones body and corporeal life. (To take an example from Wittgenstein, suppose I see in the mirror a tangle of arms and I mistakenly take the nicest one to be mine. I may think to myself I have a nice arm. In that case, I may not only be wrong about whether my arm is nice, but also about whom it is that has a nice arm. Such an I-thought, being about my body, is not immune to error through misidentification. But my thoughts about my mind are so immune, claims Shoemaker.) More accurately, as we will see later on, Shoemaker holds that absolute, as opposed to circumstantial, immunity to error through misidentification applies only to mental I-thoughts.

We should distinguish two versions of the doctrine of immunity. According to the first, the relevant I-thoughts cannot be false through misidentification because the identifications they involve are always and necessarily correct; call this the infallible identification (II) version of the doctrine of immunity. According to the second version, the relevant I-thoughts cannot be false through misidentification because they do not involve identification in the first place; call this the identificationless reference (IR) version of the doctrine of immunity. (Brook [2001] speaks of ascriptionless reference, which may also be a good label for the specific feature under consideration.) Both versions claim a certain distinction on behalf of the relevant I-thoughts, but the distinction is very different. The first version claims the distinction of infallible identification, whereas the second one claims the distinction of dispensable identification.

Shoemaker appears to hold the IR version (see, for example, Shoemaker 1968: 558). In some respects this is the more radical version. On the II version, I-thoughts have the same composite structure as other thoughts. When I think that I am amused, the content of my thought has the structure I am the & the is amused. It is just that there is something special about the identificational component in the relevant I-thoughts that makes it impervious to error. Whenever I think that I am the , I am. The IR version is more radical. It claims that the relevant I-thoughts do not have the same composite structure as other thoughtsthat they are structurally different. More specifically, they lack any identificational component. My thought that I am amused hooks onto me in some direct, identification-free way.

The distinction between these two versions is important, because the burden of argument is very different in each case. To make the case for II, one would have to argue that the relevant self-identifications are infallible. To make the case for IR, by contrast, one would have to argue that the relevant I-thoughts are identification-free. There is also a corresponding difference in explanatory burden. II must explain how is it that certain acts of identification are impervious to error, whereas IR must explain how is it that some acts of reference can dispense with identification altogether (How do they hook onto the right referent without identifying it?).

Shoemakers (1968) argument for IR, in its barest outlines, proceeds as follows. Suppose (for reductio) that every self-reference required self-identification. Then every thought with a content I am F would have the internal structure I am the & the is F. That is, ascertaining that one is F would require that one identify oneself as the and then establish that the is F. But this would entail that the same would apply to I am the : it would have to have the internal structure I am the & the is the . That is, in order to ascertain that one is the , one would have to first identify oneself as the and then establish that the is the . And so on ad infinitum. To avert infinite regress, at least some self-reference must be identification-free.

To claim that immunity to error through misidentification is a peculiarity of self-consciousness is to claim that it is a feature peculiar to self-consciousness. One can deny this claim in two ways: (i) by arguing that it is not a feature of self-consciousness, and (ii) by arguing that it is not peculiar to self-consciousness (that is, although it is a feature of self-consciousness, it is also a feature of other forms of consciousness).

Several philosophers have pursued (i). Perhaps the most widely discussed argument is the following, due to Gareth Evans (1982: 108). On the basis of seeing in a mirror a large number of hands, one of which is touching a piece of cloth, and a certain feeling I have in my hand, as of touching a piece of cloth, I come to think that I am feeling a piece of cloth. But this is false, and false due to misidentification: I am not the one who is feeling the piece of cloth. Therefore, there are states of self-consciousness that are not immune to error through misidentification; so such immunity is not a feature of self-consciousness as such.

Arguably, however, this is not a pure case of self-consciousness. The thought in question involves self-consciousness, but it is also partly consciousness of something external, and it is the latter part of it that leads to the error. Consider the difference between the thought I am feeling a piece of cloth and the thought I am having a feeling as of a piece of cloth, or even more perspicuously, I am having a cloth-ish feeling. It is clear that if it turns out to be erroneous that I am having a cloth-ish feeling, it is not because I have misidentified myself in the mirror. Indeed, what I see in the mirror is entirely irrelevant to the truth of my thought that I am having a cloth-ish feeling.

More often, philosophers have pursued (ii), arguing that immunity to error through misidentification is not peculiar to self-consciousness. Evans (1982) himself, for instance, argued that thoughts about ones body, and even certain perceptions and perception-based judgments, can be equally immune to error through misidentification, indeed be identification-free. When I think that my legs are crossed, my thought seems to be immune to error through misidentification: it cannot turn out that someones legs are indeed crossed, but not mine.

One response would be to claim that thoughts about ones own body are a genuine form of self-consciousness, albeit bodily self-consciousness. But another would be to draw finer distinctions between kinds of immunity and attach a specific sort of immunity to self-consciousness. Shoemaker (1968) distinguished between absolute and circumstantial immunity to error through misidentification, claiming that only the relevant I-thoughts exhibit the absolute variety. In the same vein, McGinn (1983) distinguishes between derivative and non-derivative immunity to error through misidentification, and Pryor (1999) between de re misidentification and which-object misidentification, both claiming that only the relevant I-thoughts exhibit the latter. However, Stanley (1998) erects a considerable challenge to all these attempts. The issue of whether some kind of immunity to error through misidentification is a peculiarity of self-consciousness is still very much debated.

Let us end this section with a few general points. First, immunity to error through misidentification is at bottom a semantic, not an epistemic, peculiarity. It concerns the special way the Mentalese I hooks onto its referent. Thus, immunity to error through misidentification is not to be confused with immunity to error through unjustified identification, immunity to unjustifiedness through misidentification, or immunity to unjustifiedness through unjustified identificationall of which would be epistemic peculiarities.

Second, immunity to error through misidentification is a semantic peculiarity of strong self-consciousness, not weak self-consciousness, since it involves essentially consciousness of oneself, not just consciousness of a particular thought of one. So, if I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, it may be that I am not thinking that p, but only because it is not thinking that p that I am doingnot because it is not I who is doing the thinking.

Third, Shoemakers discovery of immunity preceded the Kripkean revolution in philosophy of language and more generally the theory of reference. A question therefore arises concerning the relation between his claim that self-reference is identification-free and Kripkes claim that many kinds of reference are direct or rigid. Direct referencewhich is commonly thought to characterize proper names, natural kind terms, and indexicalsis reference that is sense-free, if you will: it does not employ a sense, or mode of presentation, in hooking onto the referent. What is the relation, then, between sense-free reference and identification-free reference?

A natural thought is that some (perhaps all) senses are identifications, and so identification-freedom is simply one special case of sense-freedom. If so, Shoemakers discovery may be just a foreshadowing of the Kripkean revolution: it is the discovery of the possibility of sense-free reference, but with an overly restrictive assessment of its scope (where Kripke claimed that all sorts of representational devices are sense-free, Shoemaker thought that only I is).

But there is also another view of the matter. Kripkes directly referential terms do not employ senses, but they do employ reference-fixers. When I think that Tom is generous, there is something that fixes the reference of my Mentalese concept for Tomfor example, the fact that Tom is the salient person called Tom. This reference-fixing fact is not necessarily something I am aware of, which is why it does not qualify as a sense. But it is nonetheless operative in the reference-fixing. When thinking that Tom is generous, I am performing an identification of Tom, albeit an implicit identification, one of which I am not explicitly aware. One way to interpret Shoemakers claim is that self-reference does not even employ a reference-fixer. It is not only sense-free, but also reference-fixer-free. It is not only that the relevant I-thoughts hook onto oneself without the subject performing an explicit identification, but they hook onto oneself without the subject performing any identification, explicit or implicit. If so, Shoemakers claim is more radical than Kripkean direct reference: identification-free reference is not just direct, it is entirely unmediated.

A similar point can be made with respect to Elizabeth Anscombes claim that, unlike all other expressions, I cannot fail to refer. So I-thoughts are secure from reference-failure (Anscombe 1975: 149). That is, such I-thoughts as I am feeling hungry are, in effect, immune to error through reference-failure. What is the relation between immunity to error through misidentification and immunity to error through reference-failure? One view would be that there is no differencethe two are the same. But this would make Shoemakers ultimate claim that the relevant I-thoughts enjoy identification-freedom the same as Anscombes ultimate claim that they enjoy reference-freedom. Shoemaker states explicitly that I does refer, though in some identification-free manner. One way to make sense of this is by appeal, again, to freedom from reference-fixing. Here identification-free reference is construed as reference-fixer-free reference. On this view, the Mentalese I is referential, but it has the peculiarity that its reference is unmediated by any reference-fixing mechanism.

A crucial issue that remains unaddressed is how reference-fixer-free reference is possible. How can a representational item find its referent without any mechanism ensuring a connection between them? Any general theory of self-consciousness that embraces Shoemakers IR version of the doctrine of immunity must explain the possibility of reference unfixed. To my knowledge, this challenge remains to be broached in the literature.

In the last section we saw that, when one employs the Mentalese I in thought, ones thought probably acquires certain unusual features. In this section, we will see that in certain thoughts one cannot avoid employing the Mentalese I. This, too, is a semantic peculiarity, albeit of a different order.

In a well-known story, John Perry tells of his experience following a trail of sugar in a supermarket and thinking to himself The shopper with the torn bag of sugar is making a mess. Upon realizing that he is the person with the torn bag, he forms a new thought, I am making a mess. This thought is new: its functional role is different from the one of the original thought. Perrys subsequent actions can be explained by ascribing to him this I-thought in a way they cannot by ascribing to him the I-free thought. Perry calls beliefs such as I am making a mess locating beliefs, and argues that such beliefs cannot avoid employing Mentalese indexicals. There is no way to think the same thought without employing the Mentalese I. Such a thought thus contains an essential indexical, or more accurately, essentially contains an indexical reference. In this sense, these thoughts are irreducible to any other, non-indexical kind of thought.

It should be emphasized that the point here is not that such I-thoughts cannot be reported by anyone other than the subject, or that such first-person reports cannot be matched by third-person reports. In direct speech (oratio recta), one might report Perrys I-thought as follows:

(1) Perry thinks I am making a mess.

The same report could be made more naturally in indirect speech (oratio obliqua). In order to do so, however, one would need to employ what linguists call an indirect reflexive. Some languages apparently contain unique words for the indirect reflexives. English does not. But fortunately, the English indirect reflexives were discerned in the late 1960s by Hector-Neri Castaeda (curiously perhaps, not himself a native speaker). Castaeda showed that (1) is equivalent to:

(2) Perry thinks that he himself is making a mess.

At least this is so for paradigmatic uses of he himself. (There are also uses of he that function in this way, but these are more rare. And there are probablysomewhat unusualuses of he himself that do not function this way. Castaeda introduced the term he* as a term that behaves as an indirect reflexive in all its uses.) Castaeda called reports of this sort de se (that is, of oneself) and claimed that de se reports cannot be paraphrased into any de dicto or de re reports, and are thus semantically unique and irreducible. Correlatively, the mental states reported in de se reports, to which we may refer as de se thoughts, are irreducible to mental states reported in de dicto and de re reports. In a material mode of speech, this means that states of self-consciousness form an irreducible class of mental states.

Note, in any case, that Castaedas thesis is a generalization from Perrys thesis about reports of ones own self-conscious states (that is, first-person reports) to all reports of self-conscious states, including reports of others self-conscious states (third-person reports). According to Castaedas thesis, self-reference is irreducible to either de dicto or de re reference to what is in fact oneself. Castaeda argues for this by showing that the indirect reflexives he himself, she herself, and so forth, have special logical features. Thus (2) cannot be paraphrased into any (indirect-speech) report that does not employ he himself. Consider the following de dicto report:

(3) Perry thinks that the author of The Essential Indexical is making a mess.

The truth conditions of (3) and (2) are different, since the latter does not entail the former: Perry may be unaware that it is he who is the author of The Essential Indexical (that is, that he himself is the author of The Essential Indexical). So (3) and (2) are not equivalent. Presumably, the same goes for any other description the that picks out Perry uniquelyit could always be that Perry is unaware that he himself is the .

Consider next a de dicto report with a proper name instead of a definite description:

(4) Perry thinks that Perry is making a mess.

Again, Perry may be unaware that it is he who is Perry. Therefore, the truth conditions of (2) and (4) are different, and the two are not equivalent. What about the de re versions of (3) and (4)? These can be obtained, in fact, by reading the author of The Essential Indexical and Perry in (3) and (4) as used, in Donnellans (1966) terms, referentially rather than attributively. But the de re versions are more perspicuously put as follows:

(5) Perry thinks, of the author of The Essential Indexical, that he is making a mess.

(6) Perry thinks, of Perry, that he is making a mess.

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Self-Consciousness | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Written by grays

April 29th, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness


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