Adverbial Account of Intransitive Self-Consciousness

  • Roberto Sá Pereira
Schlagworte: Intransitive Self-consciousness, pre-reflexive self-consciousness, self-concernement


This paper has two aims. First, it aims to provide an adverbial account of the idea of an intransitive self-consciousness and, second, it aims to argue in favor of this account. These aims both require a new framework that emerges from a critical review of Perry’s famous notion of the “unarticulated constituents” of propositional content (1986). First, I aim to show that the idea of an intransitive self-consciousness can be phenomenologically described in an analogy with the adverbial theory of perception. In an adverbial theory of perception, we do not see a blue sense-data, but we see something blue-ly, whereas in intransitive self-consciousness we are not conscious of ourselves when we undergo a conscious experience—instead, we experience something self-consciously. But what does this mean precisely? First, I take transitive self-consciousness to be the first-person operator that prefixes the content of any experience that the subject undergoes, regardless of whether or not the subject is self-referred. Further, I argue that this first-person adverbial way of entertaining a content of any experience in Perry’s revised framework fixes the subject as part of the circumstance of the evaluation of the content of her own experience. We can only evaluate whether the content is veridical of falsidical relative to the subject undergoing the experience. This is referred to here as “self-concernment without self-reference.” When I am absorbed reading a book, I do not self-represent my own experience of reading a book, let alone see myself as a constituent of the content of this experience. Even so, I experience that reading self-consciously in the precise sense that I do belong the circumstance of the evaluation of the selfless content of my experience of reading the book. The content of the experience of reading a book is simply a propositional function, true or false of myself.