José Luis Bermúdez

José Luis Bermúdez is Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is the coeditor of The Body and the Self (MIT Press) and the author of The Paradox of Self-Consciousness (MIT Press) and several other books, including most recently Understanding “I”: Language and Thought.

  • The Bodily Self

    The Bodily Self

    Selected Essays

    José Luis Bermúdez

    Essays on the role of the body in self-consciousness, showing that full-fledged, linguistic self-consciousness is built on a rich foundation of primitive, nonconceptual self-consciousness.

    These essays explore how the rich and sophisticated forms of self-consciousness with which we are most familiar—as philosophers, psychologists, and as ordinary, reflective individuals—depend on a complex underpinning that has been largely invisible to students of the self and self-consciousness. José Luis Bermúdez, extending the insights of his groundbreaking 1998 book, The Paradox of Self-Consciousness, argues that full-fledged, linguistic self-consciousness is built on a rich foundation of primitive, nonconceptual self-consciousness, and that these more primitive forms of self-consciousness persist in ways that frame self-conscious thought. They extend throughout the animal kingdom, and some are present in newborn human infants.

    Bermúdez makes the case that these primitive forms of self-awareness can indeed be described as forms of self-consciousness, arguing that they share certain structural and epistemological features with full-fledged, linguistic self-consciousness. He offers accounts of certain important classes of states of nonconceptual content, including the self-specifying dimension of visual perception and the content of bodily awareness, considering how they represent the self. And he explores the general role of nonconceptual self-consciousness in our cognitive and affective lives, examining in several essays the relation between nonconceptual awareness of our bodies and what has been called our “sense of ownership” for our own bodies.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00
  • The Paradox of Self-Consciousness

    The Paradox of Self-Consciousness

    José Luis Bermúdez

    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 fully fledged self-conscious thought and language in terms of more fundamental capacities? (2) Can we explain how fully 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 such account or explanation can be given.

    Drawing on recent work in empirical psychology and philosophy, the author argues that any explanation of fully fledged self-consciousness that answers these two questions requires attention to primitive forms of self-consciousness that are prelinguistic and preconceptual. Such primitive forms of self-consciousness are to be found in somatic proprioception, the structure of exteroceptive perception, and prelinguistic forms of social interaction. The author uses these primitive forms of self-consciousness to dissolve the paradox of self-consciousness and to show how the two questions can be given an affirmative answer.

    • Hardcover $62.50
    • Paperback $6.75 £5.99
  • The Body and the Self

    The Body and the Self

    José Luis Bermúdez, Naomi Eilan, and Anthony Marcel

    The Body and the Self brings together recent work by philosophers and psychologists on the nature of self-consciousness, the nature of bodily awareness, and the relation between the two. The central problem addressed is How is our grasp of ourselves as one object among others underpinned by the ways in which we use and represent our bodies? The contributors take up such issues as how should we characterize the various distinctive ways we have of being in touch with our own bodies in sensation, proprioception, and action? How exactly does our grip on our bodies as objects connect with our ability to perceive the external environment, and with our ability to engage in various forms of social interaction? Can any of these ways of representing our bodies affect a bridge between body and self?

    • Hardcover $44.00
    • Paperback $32.00 £26.00