International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Issue | Article

Can subjectivity be naturalized?

Lynne Rudder Baker

pp. 15-25

Subjectivity can be naturalized if and only if it can be reduced to nonperspectival “centerless” reality or eliminated altogether. After briefly discussing Searle’s use of a distinction between epistemic and ontological subjectivity, I show that subjectivity cannot be identified with mind-dependence. Then I focus on a paradigm example of subjectivity: the first-person perspective. After explaining the rudimentary and robust stages of a first-person perspective, I turn to a key ingredient of a robust first-person perspective: a self-concept. Then, I argue that a self-concept expresses a nonconceptual dispositional property, which can be neither eliminated nor reduced without cognitive loss. Hence, first-person properties (expressed by self-concepts) cannot be reduced to nonperspectival “centerless” reality or eliminated altogether. Since such first-person properties are paradigmatic of subjectivity, subjectivity cannot be naturalized.

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