The Self and Its Time – A Non-Reductive Neuro-Phenomenological Perspective on the Brain’s Spontaneous Activity

Georg Northoff, Saša Horvat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The self has been inherently connected with time, i.e., duration and temporal continuity, in the phenomenological approaches by Husserl and others. The key concept here is pre-reflective self-consciousness featured by its inherently temporal nature as distin-guished from reflective self-consciousness. Taking a non-reductive neuro-phenomenological perspective, we propose that the intimate connection of the self with duration/temporal continuity on the phenomenological level can be linked to the temporal structure of the brain’s spontaneous activity. Specifically, we show that the role of the brain’s spontaneous activity for the self also includes its temporal structure, as quantified with dynamic measures like scale-free activity and autocorrelation window. This suggests a close and intimate connection of self and time, i.e., duration/temporal continuity on the neural level as somewhat analogous to the phenomenological level. In conclusion, we provide a first exploratory step towards a non-reductive neuro-phenomenological synthesis of self and time. We tentatively postulate a convergence of neural and phenomenological levels with regard to their inherent relationship of self and time as described by the brains scale-free activity (empirical) and pre-reflective self-consciousness (phenomenological).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-216
Number of pages22
JournalMind and Matter
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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