UCL Philosophy


The Pains and Pleasures of Interpersonal Self-Consciousness

Professor Lucy O’Brien has been awarded a BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship for the project: The Pains and Pleasures of Interpersonal Self-Consciousness.

The pains and pleasures of a human life are closely tied to our consciousness of ourselves as the focus of consciousness of others. The project aims to develop an account of interpersonal self-consciousness, and to understand what it is for us to suffer from, or delight in, consciousness of ourselves in the eyes of another. Can we be too self-conscious? Can we be not self-conscious enough? How do we respond to a surfeit or lack?

To give an account of interpersonal self-consciousness is not easy: such self consciousness demands both a doubling of standpoints - me and my observer - and an integrated single intersubjective structure. The project seeks to make sense of what interpersonal self-consciousness is, to show that self-consciousness comes both in degrees, and in kinds, and to understand how human beings relate to, and aim practically to control, their own social self-consciousness.