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Kant's Theory of Self-Consciousness$
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C. Thomas Powell

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198244486

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244486.001.0001

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Kant and the First Person

Kant and the First Person

(p.207) 6 Kant and the First Person
Kant's Theory of Self-Consciousness

C. Thomas Powell

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the views of Immanuel Kant on the first person as they relate to his theory of self-consciousness and compares them with those of Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe. In recent years, a good deal of literature has developed around the location of a philosophical/linguistic datum: that the first-person pronoun is completely immune from reference failure. In fact, this datum is actually two, since there are two ways of failing to achieve a reference that are not possible when one uses the expression ‘I’. The first kind of reference failure is the referential equivalent of shooting at one's shadow: the attempted reference fails precisely because no referent exists. The second kind of reference failure is more a matter of shooting an innocent bystander: the attempted reference actually does refer, but to the wrong referent.

Keywords:   Immanuel Kant, first-person pronoun, Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe, self-consciousness, reference failure, reference-failure immunity, apperception

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