Cogito and I: A Bio-logical Approach

Abstract: The key mutation of the schizophrenic psyche can be described as a disturbance of the first person-ness of the I-sense, i.e., of the sense of the "I" as personal subject of experience and of action. Under these circumstances, representations of things are not definitively experienced as "my" representations—with the self-evidence of belonging to me. This uncertainty of selfhood, specific to schizophrenia, cannot be reduced to a disability of intellect, logic, judgment, or memory. In the course of developing his argument, the author criticizes philosopher Michel Henry's critique of Heidegger's (1961) interpretation of Descartes's cogito ergo sum.

The author hypothesizes that the basic disturbance of schizophrenia may be related to a discordance between individual subjectivity and the collective subjectivity to which a person also belongs. The schizophrenic individual seems to be unable to allow the self to dissolve into a kind of group subjectivity, i.e., to fuse the human I with auto-affection of living in general. This is connected with the fact that the sense of I-ness (of I as an ongoing subjectivity), which usually remains too self-evident to be brought to awareness, comes to arise explicitly in consciousness, with painfully elevated self-reflection and profound uncertainty about "the I-ness of the self or the selfness of the I."(Abstract written by special issue editor: L.A.S.)