Bibliographic Metadata

Physiologische Psychologie des Selbstbewusstseins zwischen Wolff und Kant
AuthorThiel, Udo
Published in
Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, De Gruyter, 2014, Vol. 62, Issue 5, page 963-983
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)Enlightenment / empirical psychology / self-consciousness / Karl Franz von Irwing
Project-/ReportnumberAustrian Science Fund (FWF): P 25284-G15
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubg:3-4056 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Physiologische Psychologie des Selbstbewusstseins zwischen Wolff und Kant [0.15 mb]
Abstract (English)

Having outlined the development of early modern conceptions of selfconsciousness, this paper then examines and critically evaluates the late eighteenth- century empirical psychology of Karl Franz von Irwing, a German enlightenment thinker. Irwing’s four volume work Erfahrungen und Untersuchungen über den Menschen is devoted to an empirical ‘science of man’. In terms of the notions of consciousness and self-consciousness, he nevertheless follows Wolff in that he adopts the latter’s idea that the capacity to distinguish among perceptions must be assumed for self-consciousness to be possible. As it turns out, however, Irwing’s main interest is in line with his general project and concerns the empirical development of self-consciousness. He argues that non-conceptual, immediate selfawareness or Selbstgefühl has its origin in the sense of touch, but that a conceptually mediated form of self-consciousness requires in addition the development of certain mental activities which are in turn dependent on language. Further he accounts for what he calls ‘continued self-consciousness’ in which consists our personality. Irwing does not explain diachronic personal identity, however, as he is instead concerned only with how the idea of identity develops. This points to the limitations of a project such as Irwing’s, as it avoids the fundamental philosophical issues concerning self-consciousness and personal identity.

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