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Emerging Selves: Representational Foundations of Subjectivity

Wolfgang Prinz
Consciousness and Cognition, 2003, 12 (4): 515-528


A hypothetical evolutionary scenario is offered meant to account for the emergence of mental selves. According to the scenario, mental selves are constructed to solve a source-attribution problem. They emerge when internally generated mental contents (e.g., thoughts and goals) are treated like messages arising from external personal sources. As a result, mental contents becomes attributed to the self as an internal personal source. According to this view, subjectivity is construed outward-in, that is, one's own mental self is derived from, and is secondary to, the mental selves perceived in others. The social construction of subjectivity and selfhood relies on, and is maintained in, various discourses on subjectivity.