030116 How Do we Understand Ourselves? The Self in Memory and Social Cognition (Crone/Newen)

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When we ask ourselves who we are and what characterizes us as a particular person, our own life story plays an important role: we attribute personality traits to ourselves by recalling past experiences or formative life episodes, which we often share or exchange with others; the formation of a self-understanding seems to be inherently social. In the seminar, we will address the following questions: How is the capacity to understand oneself precisely structured? What role do personal memories play? What does it mean to understand others? Is self-understanding required to understand others - and vice versa? The seminar will be completely held in English. It has three parts: In the first part, we read and discuss theories of self and self-consciousness including Daniel Dennett’s theory of the narrative self, Thomas Metzinger’s no-self theory and the pattern theory of self (Shaun Gallagher; Albert Newen). In the second part the focus will shift to the role of narrative self in memory. Central questions are: how is the self shaped by our memories of past events, on the one hand, and how is self influencing how I recall a past episode, on the other hand? We need to discuss recent theories of self-memory-systems, also inspired by psychological theories. In the third part we will discuss the relation between self-understanding and understanding others. Thus, we will discuss theories of how we understand other human beings (Simulation Theory, Theory Theory, Interaction Theory; Person Model Theory). This is the background to read recent articles about the question to which degree our strategies of understanding others is not only used in the case of understanding human interaction partners but also to understand the behavior of AI systems. Students from Bochum meet in the Bochum lecture room. Student in Dortmund can meet there (or receive special instructions by Katja Crone). We are all connected via Zoom for joint discussions. The literature will be announced in the first session. As a preparation the students can read Dennett’s theory of the narrative self. A link to the text will be provided here: https://www.pe.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/philosophie/ii/newen/lehre.html.de