Selfies and self-knowledge: R. G. Collingwoods expressivism on the nature of selfies

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy

Subject Categories



College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Beverly Sarza


Since its introduction in the nineteenth century, photography has been popularly used as a medium for portraiture. This prevalent use became more intensified because of the development of digital photography and social media which paved way for people to capture and share their self-portraitures. In the past decade, self-portraiture had its renaissance as digital self-portraitures or popularly known as selfies. Selfies are self-taken photographs of oneself commonly uploaded and shared online. As a social phenomenon, selfies generated researches and studies from various academic disciplines like sociology, psychology, and popular media. Moreover, selfies are viewed in relation to philosophical problems or issues of digital photography and social media particularly with regard to self-presentation, self-identity, authenticity, and use of technology.

Furthermore, this thesis employs British philosopher R.G. Collingwood's expressivism as a framework to determine the value of selfies. Though Collingwood contends that representations like selfies do not belong to art proper, this research examines selfies not as artworks but whether or not they are derivations of his concept of self-knowledge. He defines self-knowledge as the knowledge of oneself that is not just an apprehension of personal feelings but of greater awareness of the world. While Collingwood views art as expressive and valuable for fostering self-knowledge, this research explores the expressive aspect of photography and the possibility of this concept to be derived from selfies.

Using Collingwood's expressivism, this thesis argues that some selfies can be derivations of his notion of self-knowledge. Accordingly, a selfie can be a derivation of Collingwood's concept of self-knowledge given that it reflects the following: (1) self-expressions and self-concepts, (2) self-awareness as forms of self and identity formation, and (3) social awareness through online collaboration. While works of art are valued as expressive of self-knowledge, some selfies, in view of Collingwood's expressivism, can be the same.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc ; 4 3/4 in.


Selfies (Photography)

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