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Paperback | $25.00 Short | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262522779 | 356 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 2000

"“University Presses in Space” showcases a special sampling of the many works that university presses have published about space and space exploration."

The Paradox of Self-Consciousness


In this book José Luis Bermúdez addresses two fundamental problems in the philosophy and psychology of self-consciousness: (1) Can we provide a noncircular account of full-fledged self-conscious thought and language in terms of more fundamental capacities? (2) Can we explain how full-fledged self-conscious thought and language can arise in the normal course of human development? Bermúdez argues that a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) arises from the apparent strict interdependence between self-conscious thought and linguistic self-reference. The paradox renders circular all theories that define self-consciousness in terms of linguistic mastery of the first-person pronoun. It seems to follow from the paradox of self-consciousness that no account or explanation of self-consciousness can be given.

Responding to the paradox, the author draws on recent work in empirical psychology and philosophy to cut the tie between self-conscious thought and linguistic self-reference. He argues that any explanation of full-fledged self-consciousness that answers these two questions requires attention to prelinguistic and preconceptual forms of self-consciousness.


"Interdisciplinary yet philosophically rigorous. . . . mark[s] the beginning of a new era in the study of human consciousness."
H. Storl, Choice