November 9, 2008

Self-awareness deficits following loss of inner speech: Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s case study

personal identity,self-awareness — alice @ 5:08 am

Alain Morin
Article in Consciousness and Cognition

Abstract
In her 2006 book ‘‘My Stroke of Insight” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor relates her experience of suffering from a left hemispheric stroke caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation which led to a loss of inner speech. Her phenomenological account strongly suggests that this impairment produced a global self-awareness deficit as well as more specific dysfunctions related to corporeal awareness, sense of individuality, retrieval of autobiographical memories, and self-conscious emotions. These are examined in details and corroborated by numerous excerpts from Taylor’s book.

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October 26, 2008

I move, therefore I am: A new theoretical framework to investigate agency and ownership

personal identity,self-awareness — alice @ 1:12 am

Matthis Synofzik, Gottfried Vosgerau and Albert Newen
Article in Consciousness and Cognition

Abstract
The neurocognitive structure of the acting self has recently been widely studied, yet is still perplexing and remains an often confounded issue in cognitive neuroscience, psychopathology and philosophy. We provide a new systematic account of two of its main features, the sense of agency and the sense of ownership, demonstrating that although both features appear as phenomenally uniform, they each in fact are complex crossmodal phenomena of largely heterogeneous functional and (self-)representational levels. These levels can be arranged within a gradually evolving, onto- and phylogenetically plausible framework which proceeds from basic non-conceptual sensorimotor processes to more complex conceptual and meta-representational processes of agency and ownership, respectively. In particular, three fundamental levels of agency and ownership processing have to be distinguished: The level of feeling, thinking and social interaction. This naturalistic account will not only allow to “ground the self in action”, but also provide an empirically testable taxonomy for cognitive neuroscience and a new tool for disentangling agency and ownership disturbances in psychopathology (e.g. alien hand, anarchic hand, anosognosia for one’s own hemiparesis).

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October 18, 2008

Toward a Cultural Phenomenology of Personal Identity

Excerpt from Tafarodi, R. W. (2008). Toward a cultural phenomenology of personal identity. In F. Sani (Ed.), Self-continuity: Individual and collective perspectives (pp. 27-40). New York: Psychology Press.   

How does our inherited world of meaning relate to our fundamental experience of ourselves as persons? Is there a core of self-consciousness that is sequestered from the constitutive reach of culture and language? Can we speak of an unmediated basis for personal identity? These are the questions I will explore in this chapter. My method will be analytic, not comparative or ethnographic. Psychological anthropology and cross-cultural psychology have produced rich literatures showcasing the diversity of conceptions of the person in terms of its physical, mental, and spiritual properties (Csordas, 1994; Fogelson, 1982; Heelas & Lock, 1981; Marsella, DeVos, & Hsu, 1985; Morris, 1994). I will not review these ample literatures here. Rather, my purpose is to provide a warrant and direction for considering self-consciousness as a thoroughly cultured form of experience. My argument will involve reviewing and questioning the commitment to a phenomenological universalism, exemplified by Kant’s transcendental account of the I. From there, I will proceed to a sociocultural discussion of the temporality of subjectivity, as it manifests in both the synchronic and diachronic unity of personal identity. By taking subjective time as my focus, I will demonstrate how cultural forms are implicated in even the most immanent and fundamental aspects of self-consciousness.

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