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Pre-reflective self-consciousness compared to reflective self-consciousness.

If you ask me to give you a description of the pain I feel in my right foot

 I would reflect on it and thereby take up a certain perspective that was one order removed from the pain or the thought. 

Thus, reflective self-consciousness is at least a second-order cognition

In contrast, pre-reflective self-consciousness is pre-reflective in the sense that

 (1) it is an awareness we have before we do any reflecting on our experience;

 (2) it is an implicit and first-order awareness rather than an explicit or higher-order form of self-consciousness

Indeed, an explicit reflective self-consciousness is possible only because there is a pre-reflective self-awareness that is an on-going and more primary self-consciousness.

So what is this pre-reflective consciousness?

Jean-Paul Sartre writes that pre-reflective self-consciousness is not simply a quality added to the experience, an accessory; rather, it constitutes the very mode of being of the experience:
This self-consciousness we ought to consider not as a new consciousness, but as the only mode of existence which is possible for a consciousness of something(Sartre 1943, 20 [1956, liv]).
In short, unless a mental process is pre-reflectively self-conscious there will be nothing to self reflect on.

Bermúdez (1998), to mention one further philosopher in the analytic tradition, argues that there are a variety of nonconceptual forms of self-consciousness that are “logically and ontogenetically more primitive than the higher forms of self-consciousness that are usually the focus of philosophical debate” (1998, 274; also see Poellner 2003). This growing consensus across philosophical studies supports the phenomenological view of pre-reflective self-consciousness.

Reflection, in the sense of a turning back, is only a mode of self-apprehension, but not the mode of primary self-disclosure (Heidegger 1989, 226 [1982, 159]).

If I count the sweets in that bowl
Image result for sweets in a bowl
 I have the impression of disclosing an objective property of this collection of sweets: they are a 2 dozen (let us say)

This property appears to my consciousness as a property existing in the world. It is very possible that I have no positional consciousness of counting them. Then I do not know myself as counting. Yet at the moment when these sweets are revealed to me as a dozen, I have a non-thetic consciousness of my adding activity. If anyone questioned me, indeed, if anyone should ask, “What are you doing there?” I should reply at once, “I am counting.” (Sartre 1943, 19–20 [1956, liii]).  But what triggered your counting.

 In pre-reflective self-awareness, experience is given, not as an object, but precisely as subjective experience

Hume, in a famous passage in A Treatise of Human Nature, declares that he cannot find a self when he searches his experiences, but finds only particular perceptions or feelings

Accordingly, we should not think of the self, in this most basic sense, as a substance, or as some kind of ineffable transcendental precondition, or as a social construct that gets generated through time; rather it is an integral part of conscious life, with an immediate experiential character 

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