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(1998) Alterity and facticity, Dordrecht, Kluwer.

Self-awareness and affection

Dan Zahavi

pp. 205-228

Manfred Frank has in recent publications criticized a number of prevailing views concerning the nature of self-awareness,1 and it is the so-called reflection theory of self-awareness which has been particularly under fire. That is, the theory which claims that self-awareness only comes about when consciousness directs its ‘gaze’ at itself, thereby taking itself as its own object. But in his elaboration of a position originally developed by Dieter Henrich (and, to a lesser extent, by Cramer and Pothast) Frank has also more generally criticized every attempt to conceive original self-awareness as a relation, be it a relation between two acts or a relation between the act and itself.2 Every relation entails a distinction between two (or more) relata and, according to Frank, it would be impossible to account for the immediacy and infallibility of self-awareness (particularly its so-called immunity to the error of misidentification), if it were in any way a mediated process. Thus, self-awareness cannot come about as the result of a self-identification, a reflection, an inner vision or introspection, nor should it be conceived as a type of intentionality or as a conceptually mediated propositional attitude, all of which entails the distinction between two or more relata. The pre-reflective self-awareness of an experience is not mediated by foreign elements such as concepts and classificatory criteria, nor by any internal difference or distance. It is an immediate and direct self-acquaintance which is characterized by being completely and absolutely irrelational (and consequently best described as a purely immanent self-presence).3

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-011-5064-4_9

Full citation:

Zahavi, D. (1998)., Self-awareness and affection, in N. Depraz & D. Zahavi (eds.), Alterity and facticity, Dordrecht, Kluwer, pp. 205-228.


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