What Does Christopher Peacocke mean by ‘Reflective Self-consciousness’?

Christopher Peacocke’s The Mirror of the World (2014) is largely about self-consciousness. In the book, Peacocke distinguishes “reflective” self-consciousness from other kinds of self-consciousness. Since my dissertation is about reflective reasoning, I want to try to understand what Peacocke means by ‘reflective’. In this post, I’ll unpack that.

For anyone who wants to read the relevant portions of Peacocke’s book, everything I discuss comes from chapters 9 and 10.

1. ‘Reflective’ and Mirrors

When someone says ‘reflective’ you might think of mirrors. Or, if you’re like me, you might think of a certain kind of reasoning. But if you’re Peacocke, then you might think of both.†

A drawing of a stick figure looking in a mirror.Start with mirrors. When we look into a mirror, we explain what we see in terms of our appearance. After all, our appearance in a mirror just is a reflection of our appearance. So mirrors allow us to become aware of our appearance from a third-personal point of view.

Similarly, we can become selfconscious third-personally. For example, when someone sees their facial reaction(s) on the Kiss cam, they might become aware that they are no longer excited at the prospect of kissing their partner in public.

But Peacocke wants to argue that we can also become self-conscious without this third-person point of view — without mirrors, so the speak. After all, Continue reading What Does Christopher Peacocke mean by ‘Reflective Self-consciousness’?

Can Unconscious Decisions Be Free?

(Image credit: “EEG Recording Cap” by Colin licensed under CC by 2.0)

 

Over the past few decades, many have tried to make sense of Libet’s Studies and their ilk. Even though the experiments were conducted decades ago, scientists and philosophers (and philosophers of science) still disagree. I suppose that is not surprising since free will is a concept that is tough to translate into a measurable outcome and one that we have strong feelings about.

Continue reading Can Unconscious Decisions Be Free?