Benj Hellie's vertiginous question is as follows. Of all the subjects of experience out there, why is this one—the one corresponding to the human being referred to as Benj Hellie—the one whose experiences are live? (The reader is supposed to substitute his/her own case for Hellie's.)
A simple response to this question is that it reduces to "Why are Hellie's experiences live from Hellie's perspective," which is trivial to answer. However, Hellie argues, through a parable, that this response leaves something out. The parable describes two situations, one reflecting a broad global constellation view of the world and everyone's phenomenal features, and one describing an embedded view from the perspective of a single subject. The former seems to align better with the simple response above, but the latter seems a better description of consciousness.
David Chalmers has written a response to Hellie, but he did not address the question itself. Hellie's argument is also closely related to Caspar Hare's theories of egocentric presentism and perspectival realism, of which several other philosophers have written reviews. Similar questions are also asked repeatedly by J.J. Valberg in justifying his horizonal view of the self.
- Hellie, Benj (2013). "Against egalitarianism". Analysis 73 (2): 304–320. doi:10.1093/analys/ans101.
- Chalmers, David (2013). "The Contents of Consciousness: Reply to Hellie, Peacocke and Siegel". Analysis 73 (2): 345–368. doi:10.1093/analys/ant024. http://consc.net/papers/contents.pdf.
- McDaniel, Kris (January 2012). "On Myself, and Other, Less Important Subjects by Hare, Caspar - Review by: Kris McDaniel". Ethics 122 (2): 403–410. doi:10.1086/663578. http://krmcdani.mysite.syr.edu/whymcxmattersmost.pdf.
- Markosian, Ned. "Are You Special? A Review of Caspar Hare's On Myself, and Other, Less Important Subjects". The Philosophical Review. http://myweb.facstaff.wwu.edu/nmarkos/Papers/Hare.Review.pdf. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Valberg, J.J. (2007). Dream, Death, and the Self. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691128597. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8416.html.
- Hellie, Benj. Against egalitarianism. Preprint of article in Analysis (2013).
- Benj Hellie's page at the University of Toronto.
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