How self-knowledge can't be naturalized (some remarks on a proposal by dretske)

Philosophical Studies 95 (3):311-28 (1999)
In his book Naturalizing the Mind, Fred Dretske, among other things, gives what he thinks is a naturalist account of what he calls introspective knowledge.1 I shall not quarrel with his labels; I shall quarrel with what he tries to sell by using them. For him, introspective knowledge is “the mind’s direct knowledge of itself”,2 and he concentrates on knowledge of one’s own current mental occurrences, especially those which belong to the realm of sensory perception. An example he discusses is the knowledge somebody has who looks at something and sees it as blue, and thereby knows that he is, as Dretske puts it, “representing” it as blue. I shall stick to this example. Harvey is looking at my shirt, and he thereby comes to know that he is representing it as blue. Dretske wants to answer the question: What is really happening when Harvey acquires this piece of introspective knowledge? Let me first give, in a very rough way, what I take to be Dretske’s basic idea. Introspective knowledge is not acquired by anything like looking inside oneself. One looks in the same direction as one does when one is acquiring “extraspective” knowledge. Harvey doesn’t first look at my shirt, saying “Uhuh, this shirt looks blue, but now I’d like to find out how I am representing it”, and then turns to look at something else in order to find out what the colour is he is representing the shirt to have. Harvey only looks at the shirt, when he acquires this item of introspective knowledge. In looking at that shirt, he acquires all the information he needs for acquiring the knowledge about himself that he is representing it as blue. The eyes’ job is done. The rest is exploiting that very information, not acquiring any new information
Keywords Metaphysics  Mind  Naturalism  Representation  Self-knowledge  Dretske, F
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DOI 10.1023/A:1004241924196
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