"I sometimes find it difficult to follow discussions about free will because terms like "self" and "I" are often used so casually, and I never know quite what to make of them."
Those terms are being refined quite a bit by Damasio and Thompson in the linked free will thread, and in the links there to other threads. I'm also using that info in my new thread on states/stages and the WC lattice.
"Are expansionist and 'ever-inclusivist' accounts of the 'development of consciousness' pre-postmetaphysical?"
Not necessarily. I know it would be a huge task to read it but we've covered a lot of this ground in the OOO thread. The onticologists have some interesting things to say about (strange) mereology and assemblages. And while they typically are anti-teleological as something inherent to the nature of things, nonetheless we humans can and do impose a teleology upon things and do make progress (by our own definitions at least). While accepting their notion of the withdrawn as being inaccessible I do think we can access more of it than we do now, and just that little bit is significant. And we can still make transcendental deductions about the withdrawn, which also leads to progress in my view. After all, postmtaphysics is progress over metaphysics, not just on the philosophical armchair but with significant socio-political consequences.
"...contemporary accounts of the phenomenological process in its description of 'bare attention.'"
Hence my investigation of Damasio and Thompson on this bare attention in previous links, and how to better describe it postmetaphysically. It is still invaluable stuff, just not privileged access to the Real.
We obviously can never get at most of these unconscious processes, the cognitive unconsious of L&J or the withdrawn of Bryant. But we can learn to go deeper than our normal waking state and gain some access, control and development of more subtle (dream) and causal (sleep) states by conscious techniques like meditation, which exerts downward causation upon our cognitive unconscious and transforms those states. Again, we do not directly access them but we do indirectly access them in some small way that has real and significant effects. And we do not need to interpret (mistake) this for such direct access to the really Real with claims to Enlightenment. From Thompson in this post:
"But whereas the Advaitin takes this minimal selfhood to be a transcendental witness consciousness, I think itʼs open to us to maintain that it is my embodied self or bodily subjectivity, or what phenomenologists would call my pre-personal lived body. In this way, I think we can remove the Advaita conception of dreamless sleep from its native metaphysical framework and graft it onto a naturalist conception of the embodied mind."