Self and World
1997 - published by Oxford University Press
Self and World is an exploration of the nature of self-awareness. Quassim Cassam challenges the widespread and influential view that we cannot be introspectively aware of ourselves as objects in the world. In opposition to the views of many empiricist and idealist philosophers, including Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein, he argues that the self is not systematically elusive from the perspective of self-consciousness, and that consciousness of our thoughts and experiences requires a sense of our thinking, experiencing selves as shaped, located, and solid physical objects in a world of such objects. Awareness of oneself as a physical object involves forms of bodily self-awareness whose importance has seldom been properly acknowledged in philosophical accounts of the self and self-awareness.
The conception of self-awareness defended in this book helps to undermine the idealist thesis that the self does not belong to the world, and also the claim that the existence of subjects or persons is only a derivative feature of reality. In the final part of the book, Cassam argues that the existence of persons is a substantial fact about the world, and that it is not possible to give a complete description of reality without claiming that persons exist.
This clear, original, and challenging treatment of one of the deepest of intellectual problems will demand the attention of all philosophers and cognitive scientists who are concerned with the self.