The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Dec 4, 2014
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Janum Sethi (UC Berkeley)
Kant on Empirical Self-Consciousness

Kant is often acknowledged as being the first to clearly distinguish between two kinds of self-consciousness: consciousness of oneself as subject, or transcendental self-consciousness, and consciousness of oneself as object, or empirical self-consciousness. What is less clear is how Kant himself understands the latter notion. I criticize the standard interpretation on which a subject is empirically self-conscious when she represents the world from her particular spatiotemporal point of view. Instead, I argue, empirical self-consciousness is a subject’s consciousness of mental states that she finds herself in as a result of her particular psychological associations. On my view, Kant’s claim that subjects can be both transcendentally and empirically self-conscious amounts to the claim that we can be conscious of ourselves as governed by both normative and natural laws.