Several authors have recently defended the idea that there is a “pre-reflective self-consciousness”, or “pre-reflective self”, which is regarded as a very precocious psychic function that grounds every conscious act. In particular, Prebble, Addis & Tippett (2013) argue that this kind of self-consciousness is a fundamental prerequisite for episodic memory and is very similar to the Jamesian notion of I, or subjective self (as opposed to Me, or objective self). In this paper we will argue that the identification of the Jamesian notion of I with pre-reflective self-consciousness is a misunderstanding of James’ account and that self-consciousness is, properly said, the result of a gradual process of objectification, which requires conscious (but not self-conscious) activities of representation. Indeed, the subjective self (or self-consciousness), far from being the grounding source of every conscious mental activity, is the result of a complex neurocognitive and psycho-social construction, where the understanding of other minds both ontogenetically precedes and grounds the understanding of our own minds.
Marraffa, M., Paternoster, A. (2014). A third person approach to self-consciousness. ANTHROPOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY, 11, 107-120.