“SIR Hume and (I-)qualia: Self-Involving Representationalism”

A subjective sense of self has been vindicated as a constitutive element of experience by many philosophers and psychologists. Jesse Prinz has recently argued against this idea defending a strong reading of Hume’s observation that he can never catch himself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception. The aim of this paper is to respond to this objection by clarifying what the subjective sense of self consists in and offering a reductive theory thereof, out of which a weak reading of Hume’s observation turns out to be true: the subjective sense of self is not something to be found beyond the experience of the world, our body and our emotions.
For this purpose, I argue that the subjective sense of self can be accounted for in representational terms by means of de se content. In a naturalistic framework this requires in turn, following Lewis, an explanation of what self-attribution consists in. I offer a Self-Involving Representational (SIR) model that characterizes how a system can come to self-attribute a (perceptual) property and present the neurological mechanisms that would underlie such self-attribution.