Overview It is widely assumed that Descartes’ philosophy of mind is organized around three major commitments. The first is to substance dualism. The second is to individualism about mental content. The third is to a particularly strong form of the doctrine of privileged firstperson access. Each of these commitments has been questioned by contemporary philosophers of mind. Substance dualism is generally regarded as a non-starter, individualism has come under attack from a number of different quarters, and the doctrine of privileged (...) access has been watered down or rejected. Yet, at least as far as questions about mental content and privileged access are concerned, contemporary discussions still address what they represent as Descartes’ views. More often than not crude parodies of these views end up as the focus of discussion but more careful critics are usually prepared to recognize that Descartes’ philosophy of mind is more subtle and nuanced than the parodies might lead one to suppose. (shrink)
I know that the laptop on which I am writing these words is dusty. How do I know? I can see that it is dusty. Seeing that it is dusty is a way of knowing that it is dusty. How come? According to what I’m going to call the entailment view, ‘S sees that P’ entails ‘S knows that P’ and it is only because this is so that seeing that the laptop is dusty qualifies as a way of knowing (...) that it is dusty. Generalizing from this, the entailment view concludes that Φ-ing that P is a way of knowing that P if and only if ‘S Φs that P’ entails ‘S knows that P’. (shrink)
A familiar claim is that knowledge of our own thoughts, beliefs and other attitudes is normally immediate, that is, not normally based on observation, inference or evidence. One explanation of the possibility of immediate self-knowledge turns on the transparency of the question ‘Do I believe that P?’ to the question ‘Is it the case that P?’ This paper explains why occurrent mental states such as passing thoughts do not fall within the purview of the transparency account and proposes a different (...) account of how we know our own passing thoughts. It is also argued that the transparency account fails to explain how knowledge of our own beliefs can be psychologically or epistemically immediate. Finally, questions are raised about the presumption that knowledge of our own beliefs is epistemically immediate. (shrink)
Abstract: Barry Stroud suggests that when we want to explain a certain kind of knowledge philosophically we feel we must explain it on the basis of another, prior kind of knowledge that does not imply or presuppose any of the knowledge we are trying to explain. If we accept this epistemic priority requirement (EPR) we find that we cannot explain our knowledge of the world in a way that satisfies it. If we reject EPR then we will be failing to (...) make all of our knowledge of the world intelligible all at once. I respond to this dilemma by questioning EPR and arguing that it is, in any case, a requirement that is satisfied by explanations of our knowledge in terms of non-epistemic seeing. Since non-epistemic seeing is not a form of knowing, such explanations show how knowledge of the world can come to be out of something that is not knowledge of the world. (shrink)
An epistemological how-possible question asks how knowledge, or knowledge of some specific kind, is possible. The main contention of Duncan Pritchard‟s stimulating comments is that what I call „explanatory minimalism‟ appears to offer us just what we are seeking when we ask such a question. This looks like a problem for me given that I defend a version of explanatory anti-minimalism. Pritchard outlines a version of minimalism inspired by the writings of John McDowell and does not find it obvious that (...) this position is lacking in any relevant respect. Nor do I. My minimalism is moderate rather than extreme but Pritchard‟s objections to anti-minimalism are objections to extreme anti-minimalism. Indeed, his comments do not seem to me to have any direct bearing on what I take to be the fundamental disagreement between minimalism and anti-minimalism. (shrink)
I discuss the claim what makes self-knowledge epistemologically distinctive is the fact that it is baseless or groundless. I draw a distinction between evidential and explanatory baselessness and argue that self-knowledge is only baseless in the first of these senses. Since evidential baselessness is a relatively widespread phenomenon the evidential baselessness of self-knowledge does not make it epistemologically distinctive and does not call for any special explanation. I do not deny that self-knowledge is epistemologically distinctive. My claim is only that (...) talk of its evidential baselessness is insufficient to account for its epistemological distinctiveness. (shrink)
What would a good answer to this question - call it (WK) - look like? What I’m going to call the standard analytic approach (SA) says that: (A) The way to answer WK is to analyse the concept of knowledge. (B) To analyse the concept of knowledge is to come up with non-circular necessary.
A point that Strawson often emphasized in his writings is that the concepts of knowledge and perception are closely linked. For example, the idea of such a link does important work in his exposition and defence of a causal analysis of perception. According to this analysis a material object M is perceived by a subject S only if M causes an experience in S. Why should this be? One reason, according to Strawson, is that such a causal requirement on perception (...) is implied by perception’s knowledge-giving role. This is one sense in which, in the words of Strawson's last book, 'we could not explain all the features of the concept of sense perception without reference to the concept of knowledge'. (shrink)
I focus on two questions: what is knowledge, and how is knowledge possible? The latter is an example of a how-possible question. I argue that how-possible questions are obstacle-dependent and that they need to be dealt with at three different levels, the level of means, of obstacle-removal, and of enabling conditions. At the first of these levels the possibility of knowledge is accounted for by identifying means of knowing, and I argue that the identification of such means also contributes to (...) a proper understanding of what knowledge is. (shrink)
Transcendental epistemology is an inquiry into conditions of human knowledge which reflect the structure of the human cognitive apparatus. The dependence thesis is the thesis that a proper investigation of such conditions must lean in important respects on the deliverances of science. I argue that Kant is right to object to the dependence thesis, but that the best objections to this thesis lead to the conclusion that the conditions of knowledge which Kant identifies are not, in any interesting sense, a (...) relection of the structure of the human cognitive apparatus. (shrink)
Self and World is an exploration of the nature of self-awareness. Cassam rejects the widespread view that the self eludes introspection, and argues that consciousness of our thoughts and experiences involves a sense of our thinking, experiencing selves as shaped, solid, and located physical objects in a world of such objects. This clear, original, and challenging treatment of one of the deepest of intellectual problems will demand the attention of all philosophers and cognitive scientists who are concerned with the self.
This volume brings together some of the most important and influential recent writings on knowledge of oneself and of one's own thoughts, sensations, and experiences. The essays give valuable insights into such fundamental philosophical issues as personal identity, the nature of consciousness, the relation between mind and body, and knowledge of other minds. Contributions include "Introduction" by Gilbert Ryle, "Knowing One's Own Mind" by Donald Davidson, "Individualism and Self-Knowledge" and "Introspection and the Self" by Sydney Shoemaker, "On the Observability of (...) the Self" by Roderick M. Chisholm, "Introspection" by D. M. Armstrong, "The First Person" by G. E. M. Anscombe, "On the Phenomeno-Logic of the I" by Hector-Neri Casta((n-))eda, "The Problem of the Essential Indexical" by John Perry, "Self-Identification" by Gareth Evans, and "The First Person--and Others" by P. F. Strawson. The only reader of its kind, Self-Knowledge fills a major gap in the history of philosophy and will be an accessible addition to a wide range of courses. (shrink)
In Knowledge and its Limits, Timothy Williamson argues for what I am going to call the Unanalysability Hypothesis (UH), the hypothesis that ‘the concept knows cannot be analysed into more basic concepts' (p. 33).1 Williamson’s defence of UH constitutes the negative phase of his discussion. The positive phase consists in an attempt to give a modest positive account of the concept of knowledge that is not an analysis in the traditional sense. There is room for such an account because, as (...) Williamson emphasizes, it does not follow from the fact that a concept cannot be analysed into more basic concepts that no reflective understanding of it is possible. (shrink)
In that book I had two different, though not unrelated aims. The first chapter was concerned with traditional scepticisms about, e.g., the external world and induction. In common with Hume and Wittgenstein (and even Heidegger) I argued that the attempt to combat such doubts by rational argument was misguided: for we are dealing here with the presuppositions, the framework, of all human thought and enquiry. In the other chapters my target was different. It was that species of naturalism which tended (...) to discredit, or somehow to reduce to more scientifically acceptable, physicalistic terms, whole regions of ordinary human thought, language, and experience – in particular the regions of moral discourse, of the subjectively mental and of the intensional. Here my reaction, as well as my target, was different. I did not merely stress the inescapability of the natural or common human standpoint from which we normally take for granted all that is called in question by scientistic naturalism. I also allowed the latter its own validity from its own limited standpoint.2 Philosophical scepticism and scientistic naturalism represent two types of challenge to ‘central features of our ordinary thought and talk’.3 The overall aim of Scepticism and Naturalism is to respond to these challenges and thereby to vindicate what Strawson refers to elsewhere as ‘our natural metaphysics’. (shrink)