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Sense, space, and self

Cheng, Huei-Ying (Tony); (2019) Sense, space, and self. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Object cognition is a basic capacity shared by many creatures in the animal kingdom. Self-consciousness or self-awareness, by contrast, seems to be a rather advanced capacity that is enjoyed only by relatively fewer beings. It might thereby be assumed that many creatures can have the capacity for object cognition without any interesting capacity for self-awareness. In this essay, I argue that a certain capacity for object cognition – cognition with the engaged stance – requires the capacity for awareness of oneself as a physical object in an objective world. I further argue that some animals in the actual world do have the kind of capacity for object cognition in question. These two theses together yield the conclusion that those animals – such as human infants and some other non-linguistic mammals – actually have the capacity for awareness of oneself as a physical object in an objective world, contrary to appearance. I call this two-premiss argument the Object Cognition Argument, mirroring Quassim Cassam’s Objectivity Argument (1997). Chapter 1 “Objectives” lays out the philosophical background and aims. Chapter 2 “Objects” discusses two capacities that underlie object cognition: object permanence, the understanding that things can persist when being occluded; and the constraint of solidity, the understanding that solid objects do not collocate in space at the same time. Chapter 3 “Objectivity” starts with object permanence and argues that it requires allocentric spatial representations, which further require awareness of oneself as a denizen of an objective world. Chapter 4 “Objecthood” starts with the constraint of solidity and argues that it requires representations of primary qualities that further require awareness of oneself as a physical object. Chapter 5 “Objections” modifies the Object Cognition Argument in light of three prominent objections: the Body Blindness, the Qua Subject, and the Missing Self Problems.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Sense, space, and self
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Object cognition; Self-consciousness/awareness; Spatial representation; Engagement; Acquaintance
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064788
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