Article/Publication Details

Strawson on the Notion of the First Person

(Original title: Strawson on the Notion of the First Person)
Organon F, 2009, vol. 16, No 4, pp. 477-492.
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The paper is an attempt to understand Strawson’s notion of the first person in the context of his general theory of a person. More specifically it will relook into the idea that the concept of a person is ‘primitive’, and see how Strawson’s idea of primitiveness of the concept of a person can be extended to his notion of the first person. One way of cashing out the notion of primitiveness in the context of the first person is in terms of the way the pronoun “I” functions in self ascription, like “I am feeling terrible”. As Strawson himself points out, ‘use of “I” is guaranteed against two kinds of failure to which the uses of some other definite referring expressions are sometimes exposed: it is guaranteed against lack of reference, and it is guaranteed against mistaken or incorrect reference.’ (1994, 215) Does this way of understanding the primitiveness of first person work? If it does what kind of a notion of first person and authoritative self-knowledge may be derived from it? Another related issue that will be dealt with in the paper is how can one construe the relationship between the first person and the world on the one hand and the first person and ‘the other’ on the other hand within the Strawsonian framework.

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