Are There Degrees of Self-Consciousness?
It is widely assumed that ordinary conscious experience involves some form of sense of self or consciousness of oneself. Moreover, this claim is often restricted to a ‘thin’ or ‘minimal’ notion of self-consciousness, or even ‘the simplest form of self-consciousness’, as opposed to more sophisticated forms of self-consciousness which are not deemed ubiquitous in ordinary experience. These formulations suggest that self-consciousness comes in degrees, and that individual subjects may differ with respect to the degree of self-consciousness they exhibit at a given time. In this article, I critically examine this assumption. I consider what the claim that self-consciousness comes in degrees may mean, raise some challenges against the different versions of the claim, and conclude that none of them is both coherent and particularly plausible.