Strawson ”Individual” p.87-103                                    by Harai


[1] The two questions about states of consciousness, or experiences.
In this section, Strawson inquires how a distinction is made between oneself and what is not oneself (p.88).
Then, he thinks of the ways we talk of ourselves and the things which we ordinarily ascribe to ourselves. He says that some of the things we ascribe to ourselves are things which we also ascribe to material bodies, they are corporeal characteristics. And the others are things which should not be ascribed material bodies, they are states of consciousness. According to Strawson, because material bodies which corporeal characteristics are ascribed to are material things, they can be identified by ordinary physical criteria. On the other hand, it needs explanation that states of consciousness are ascribed to oneself or something which corporeal characteristics are also ascribed to, because they cannot be ascribed to material bodies. That is to say, there are two questions: why are one’s states of consciousness ascribed to anything at all? And why are they ascribed to the very same thing as corporeal characteristics? (pp.89-90)
[2] The special role of personal body in perceptual experience.
Strawson says that an answer to the two questions may be found in the special role of personal bodies in perceptual experience. For example, in visual experience, if the eyelids of one’s body are closed, he sees nothing.(p.90) But Strawson concludes this answer to be useless by saying that this special role of personal bodies is contingent matter.(p.92) Here, “contingent” means that perceptual experience is not necessarily affected by the same body(p.90). The reason why he can say so is that we can imagine the following case.
 In visual experience, there is a subject S, and there are three different bodies A, B, and C.
1. S sees only if the eyelids of A are open, and that of B and C is irrelevant.
2. Where S sees from is determined only by where C is, and where A and B may be is irrelevant.
3. The view seen by S depends on the direction of the head and eyeball of B, and that of A and C is irrelevant.
Because it is contingent mater, Strawson must say that the special role of personal bodies do not provide any answer to two questions. The fact that a body is special in a certain experience means that the body causally affects the experience, but does not means that both of the body and experience are ascribed to the same thing, the subject. That is to say, this fact explains why a subject of experience should pick out one body from other, but does not explain why the experiences should be ascribed to any subject. Furthermore, it does not explain the use that we make of the word “I”, or the concept of a person, Strawson says. (pp.93-94)
[3] The no-ownership views and the incoherence of that.
Strawson introduces the two types of view which reply to such issues by saying that the usage we ascribe the two different predicates (corporeal characteristics and states of consciousness) is confusing. The fist type of view is the Cartesian view, and the second is the no–ownership (or no-subject) view which was held by Wittgenstein at one period, Strawson says.
According to him, on both of these views, one of the questions he is considering in this chapter- why are they ascribed to the very same thing as corporeal characteristics?-does not arise; for on these views, it is only a linguistic illusion that both of two predicates are ascribed to same thing which is a common owner, or a subject. Next, he says that though the Cartesian view cannot escape the other question- why are one’s states of consciousness ascribed to anything at all?-, this question does not arise on the no-ownership; for it is also a linguistic illusion on this view that there is any subject which states of consciousness belong to.
In this section, Strawson tries to show the incoherence of the no-ownership view.
 According to him, this view denies that there is an “Ego” whose sole function is to provide an owner for experience. Strawson calls this type of possession “having2 by Ego”, on the other hand, calls the other type which the no-ownership view admits, namely, causal dependence of experiences on the body, “having1 by body”. However, the no-ownership view insists that “having2” is an illusion because this ownership by Ego is necessary, and logically non-transferable; for we cannot say “I am an owner of an experience” unless another person could have been owner of the experience. Therefore such an Ego must be eliminated, the no-ownership view insists.
The incoherence Strawson think is that it involves the denial that someone’s states of consciousness are anyone’s; when this view tries to show that it is contingent that experiences are owned by the body, it implies that there is a certain owner of experiences which it want to eliminate. That is to say, on the explanation of this view, we have to presuppose that there is an owner, when we identify the experiences, Strawson says. The theorist of this view may say that such an owner is reduced to a body. However, though the fact that someone’s experiences depend on the body is contingent matter, as he requires, the fact that someone’s experiences are owned by someone is analytic. So he cannot reduce something like Ego to bodies.
[4] The difficulty of the Cartesian views and the primitiveness of the concept of a person. .
 According to Strawson, the no-ownership view is the dualism of subject and no-subject on the one hand, and the Cartesian view is the dualism of two types of subject: the subject of experiences and that of corporeal characteristics.
 In this section, he defines the condition of ascribing states of consciousness by considering the fail of the no-ownership view; he says that it is a necessary condition of one’s ascribing states of consciousness to oneself that one should also ascribe them to others who are not oneself. Considering this condition, the Cartesian view has a difficulty in ascribing experiences to others, because the things which experiences are ascribed to are thought of as Egos on this view. Therefore, the compound of the condition Strawson sets and the difficulty we have to solve is that: one can ascribe states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience. And one cannot identify others if one can identify them only as subjects of experience, possessors of states of consciousness.
Strawson introduces the primitiveness of the concept of a person as a solution of this difficulty. What he means by this concept is “the concept of a type of entity” to which both of states of consciousness and corporeal characteristics can be ascribed. What he means by the primitiveness is that the concept of a person is logically prior to the subject of experiences and that of corporeal characteristics, because, if we think of a person as a compound of two subjects, it becomes impossible to see how we come by the idea of two subjects, in particular, the subject of experiences, which Hume could never discover anything but perception, Kant accorded a formal unity, and of which Wittgenstein spoke of that it is not a part of the world, but its limit. That is to say, a person exists in the primary sense, but these two different subjects exist in secondary sense. Therefore, we firstly identify an owner of experiences not as the subject of them but as a person.
 The concept of a person also gives the answer to the two questions raised in section1- why are one’s states of consciousness ascribed to anything at all? And why are they ascribed to the very same thing as corporeal characteristics? The concept of a person helps us to connect them in this way; states of consciousness could not be ascribed at all, unless they were ascribed to persons. So Strawson’s answer is that; because we identify these two types of attributes as owned by a certain person.
Now, what the word “I” refer to also comes out; this word does not refer to the subject of experiences or that of corporeal characteristics, because the former never becomes objects of experience, according to Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein, but refer to a person among others.