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the precise logical relation between the three notions, as well as the correct accounting of the empirical status of our purported access to them, is not yet settled. a plausible and widely accepted view holds that there is no conceptual implication from the occurrence of for-me-ness to the presence of me-ness. intuitively, my experiences seem to be experiences of me, and not of someone else, to the extent that i have the right sort of self-ascription to make. and yet, the same intuition can be used to argue that the experience i am now having is not of me: all i can say is that what i am experiencing is that. there is no self-ascription; only an ascription of my experience to me. this seems empirically plausible: the feel of such experiences is of such a nature that a person’s denial of having the experience seems implausible and even pathological. but it is also empirically problematic: we may not yet understand, in either detail or generality, how and why this might be so. recent empirical findings in social cognition and decision-making could plausibly suggest that there is a conceptual difference between for-me-ness and mineness. in particular, if mineness is a modality of first-person sensemaking, then the empirical fact that i can distinguish which of my experiences it is i am having myself could provide evidence for believing that i need a way to distinguish which of my experiences i am having.

i argue that the phenomenon of alien thoughts, as described above, seems to run contrary to the idea that the sense of owning an experience is only available when we have for-me-ness. if, for example, i was in the experience that i am now thinking and feeling something that i believe is not mine, i would not find it plausible that the thought of the experience is mine. why should i be correct about this in these circumstances? there are two possible explanations.

one answer is that for-me-ness and me-ness are two distinct notions of personal identity. consider the person who wakes up the next day and experiences herself as a continuation of the person who last day closed her eyes. this person remembers having closed her eyes, and does so in a mood of some personal ownership of this closing of eyes. the person is phenomenally aware that she has in a sense been looking at the world, of experiencing a vivid mode of visual awareness. but her brain is not storing any of the visual information received by her eyes. she has not been visually aware of anything at all. she has not experienced herself visually. she has been experientially aware of some sensation in her feet, in her head, in her heart. but she is not experienced as herself as an owner of these feelings or sensations; she is neither phenomenally nor structurally aware of these experiences as having hers. only now, two days later, does she come to be aware of having been experientially aware of the world, of having had visual experience. she wakes up with that awareness. she is not experienced with it, not a causalist. for-me-ness is a distinctive and important notion of personal identity; personal identity is for-me-ness. a second answer is that, in fact, all three notions are ontologically distinct. for-me-ness does not require mineness, and for-me-ness does not require me-ness. for-me-ness is an objective notion of personal identity, whilst me-ness and mineness are subjective notions of personal identity. one can without contradiction be for-me-al, without being me-al, and have me-ness without having mineness. only for-me-ness needs to do with personal identity; mineness and me-ness relate to personal identity, but do not themselves play any role in it. that is, one need not have an a priori relation between mineness and for-me-ness; the two notions are not mutually implicative. but, as an empirical matter, for-me-ness does seem to imply mineness and me-ness. one can be a person without being a me. so, if depersonalisation results in a person that is experientially unaware of anything, then a for-me-ness cannot be instantiated for that person. but this implies that in a depersonalised patient, neither mineness nor me-ness can be instantiated. this further suggests that, in actual patients, both mineness and me-ness can go missing, and that for-me-ness remains to be fully instantiated (even when only mineness or me-ness are missing). ۵ec8ef588b