CFP: The Relational Self

Interdisciplinary Special Issue to appear in TOPOI, an International Journal of Philosophy


Editor: Anna CIAUNICA (Institute of Philosophy Porto / Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences, UCL London)

The SI will consist of six invited contributors and a matched number of submitted papers (for submission instructions see below)


  • Maria BRINCKER (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
  • Katerina FOTOPOULOU (University College London)
  • Mattia GALLOTTI (School of Advanced Study, University of London)
  • Daniel D. HUTTO (School of Humanities and Social Inquiry University of Wollongong)
  • John MICHAEL (Warwick University & CEU Budapest)
  • Maria NUNEZ (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London)
Research Background and Objectives

Self-awareness, the feeling that our experiences are bound to the bodily self – as a unitary entity, the “I” – is a fundamentally first-personal subjective experience and is considered to be one of the most astonishing features of the human mind. However, bodily self-awareness is not an awareness of a body in passive isolation from the physical and social world. Indeed, our perceptual experiences of the world are not confined exclusively to the inputs that reach our sensory organs from our current (first-personal perspective) on the world. Rather, our prior experiences define how we perceive the world in any given time and space. If this is so, then one of the main challenges facing theories of the self is to identify and explain the precise nature of the basic and relational character of selfhood.

The main goal of this Special Issue (SI) is to examine the relationality of minimal selfhood with focus on the idea that the most primitive experiential life-episodes of human organisms are fundamentally embodied andshared in a strong ontological sense (i.e. pregnancy and early infancy). Hence, if one pays systematic attention to the openness and dynamic nature of living organisms, then one direct consequence is the observation that any satisfactory explanation of minimal selfhood should take into account the sociality and relationality of human embodiment from its outset. The overarching goal of this SI is to provide the first systematic discussion of these difficult questions within a rigorous and cross-disciplinary theoretical and empirical framework.

We invite philosophers, developmental psychologists, cognitive scientists and social psychologists to address the following (non-exhaustive) sets of questions:

  • What are the most basic or minimal forms of self-awareness? If selfhood is embedded in a wider physical and social world from the outset of the development, how should we define the dynamical and relational aspects of self-awareness?
  • How are these relational aspects impaired in developmental disorders such as Autistic Spectrum Disorders?
  • What is a self-model? How a self-model is constructed during encounters with others? If minimal selfhood is a matter of construing internal models which successfully predict or match the sensory consequences of our own movement, our intentions in action, and our sensory input – as the recent Predictive Processing (PP) theory claim – to what extent does this dynamic aspect encompass relatedness to others at early stages in infancy?
  • Is the PP theory of the self instructive with respect to narrative conceptions of the self? Is the Bayesian self a narrative self? To what extent cultural learning can be conceptualized as a form of active inference in Bayesian terms? Can the self-modelling in Bayesian terms be accommodated by a non-representationalist/enactivist framework?
Submission and Review Process

All papers will be subject to double-blind peer-review. Submissions for this issue should be made through Topoi Editorial Manager: and select the article type indicating the special issue (S.I. : The Relational Self (Ciaunica).

Please save your manuscript in one of the formats supported by the system (Word, RTF, etc.), which does NOT include PDF. Formatting instructions for submissions can be found at: (click ‘Information for Guest Editors and Authors’ on the right).

Papers must be written in English and should not exceed 8,000 words including notes and bibliography.

  • Deadline for submission of full papers: First of September 2017
  • Date of notification of acceptance: December 2017
  • Publication expected (online version): mid 2018

For further details, please contact the editor:

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