About this topic

Introspection is the process through which people (and possibly some animals) become aware of their own current mental states like thoughts and sensory experiences. Statements like ‘I have a red afterimage’, ‘I am thinking about which route to take’, ‘I feel a pain in my toe’, are taken to be introspective reports that are the products of introspection. Disagreement still looms large about whether introspective awareness is a quasi-perceptual process or merely a conceptual affair, i.e. can we attend to or even sense our mental states, or merely think about them. Given that introspection often leads to knowledge about one’s mental states, many scholars are also interested in the epistemic properties, e.g. incorrigibility, certainty, reliability, of introspective reports. This category also hosts articles on introspectionism, a doctrine which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, and which considers introspection to be the primary scientific method for investigating mental states and processes.

Key works

The topic of introspection has a long tradition in philosophy: Locke 1689 and Kant 1991 are considered important forerunners of the inner-sense account of introspection which has been argued for in greater detail by Armstrong 1968 and Lycan 1996. Shoemaker 1994 has criticized the inner-sense account in a series of articles, whereas Dretske 1995 and Tye 2000 have proposed influential transparency-based accounts of introspection of sensory states, highlighting the importance of drawing an appearance-reality distinction in introspective reports. Other important views include self-monitoring accounts by I. Goldman 2006 and Nichols & Stich 2003, and self-fulfillment theories, e.g. Burge 1988.

Introductions Schwitzgebel 2010 and Gertler 2015 provide highly accessible introductions to the topic. Gertler 2003 and Smithies & Stoljar 2012 are useful collections of articles on introspection and self-knowledge.
Related categories

497 found
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  1. added 2019-01-15
    What has Transparency to Do with Husserlian Phenomenology?Chad Kidd - forthcoming - ProtoSociology.
    This paper critically evaluates Amie Thomasson’s (2003; 2005; 2006) view of the conscious mind and the interpretation of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction that it adopts. In Thomasson’s view, the phenomenological method is not an introspectionist method, but rather a “transparent” or “extrospectionist” method for acquiring epistemically privileged self-knowledge. I argue that Thomasson’s reading of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction is correct. But the view of consciousness that she pairs with it—a view of consciousness as “transparent” in the sense that first-order, world-oriented experience is (...)
  2. added 2018-11-07
    Modes of Introspective Access: A Pluralist Approach.Adriana Renero - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-22.
    Several contemporary philosophical theories of introspection have been offered, yet each faces a number of difficulties in providing an explanation of the exact nature of introspection. I contrast the inner-sense view that argues for a causal awareness with the acquaintance view that argues for a non-causal or direct awareness. After critically examining the inner-sense and the acquaintance views, I claim that these two views are complementary and not mutually exclusive, and that both perspectives, conceived of as modes of introspective access, (...)
  3. added 2018-10-23
    Perception and Reflection.Anil Gomes - 2017 - Philosophical Perspectives 31 (1):131-152.
  4. added 2018-10-21
    Consciousness, Introspection, and Subjective Measures.Maja Spener - forthcoming - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter discusses the main types of so-called ’subjective measures of consciousness’ used in current-day science of consciousness. After explaining the key worry about such measures, namely the problem of an ever-present response bias, I discuss the question of whether subjective measures of consciousness are introspective. I show that there is no clear answer to this question, as proponents of subjective measures do not employ a worked-out notion of subjective access. In turn, this makes the problem of response bias less (...)
  5. added 2018-10-21
    Introspecting in the 20th Century.Maja Spener - 2018 - In Amy Kind (ed.), Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. London: Rutledge. pp. 148-174.
  6. added 2018-08-28
    What Autism May Tell Us About Self-Awareness: A Commentary on Frith and Happé.Diana Raffman - 1999 - Mind and Language 14 (1):23–31.
  7. added 2018-07-27
    Filip Tvrdý o naturalizaci filosofie.Tomas Hribek - 2017 - Filosofie Dnes 9 (1):71-79.
    [Filip Tvrdý on Naturalizing Philosophy] The paper distinguishes several versions of contemporary naturalism: revisionary, constructive, and non-representational. Revisionary naturalism pleads substituting the traditional philosophical inquiry into the nature of things by a genetic inquiry into the origin of our – often faulty – beliefs about the nature of things. Constructive naturalism accepts the program of traditional philosophy, yet hoping that its questions could be answered by broadly scientific methods. Non-representational naturalism is an extension of metaethical expressivism, claiming that philosophical claims (...)
  8. added 2018-05-29
    Meditation and the Scope of Mental Action.Michael Brent & Candace Upton - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (1):52-71.
    While philosophers of mind have devoted abundant time and attention to questions of content and consciousness, philosophical questions about the nature and scope of mental action have been relatively neglected. Galen Strawson’s account of mental action, arguably the most well-known extant account, holds that cognitive mental action consists in triggering the delivery of content to one’s field of consciousness. However, Strawson fails to recognize several distinct types of mental action that might not reduce to triggering content delivery. In this paper, (...)
  9. added 2018-03-06
    Introspective Disputes Deflated: The Case for Phenomenal Variation.Sascha Benjamin Fink - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3165-3194.
    Sceptics vis-à-vis introspection often base their scepticism on ‘phenomenological disputes’, ‘introspective disagreement’, or ‘introspective disputes’ (Kriegel, 2007; Bayne and Spener, 2010; Schwitzgebel, 2011): introspectors massively diverge in their opinions about experiences, and there seems to be no method to resolve these issues. Sceptics take this to show that introspection lacks any epistemic merit. Here, I provide a list of paradigmatic examples, distill necessary and sufficient conditions for IDs, present the sceptical argument encouraged by IDs, and review the two main strategies (...)
  10. added 2018-02-26
    In Defense of H.O.T. Theory: A Second Reply to Adams and Shreve.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2017 - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 4 (2):231-239.
    In Gennaro (2016), I had originally replied to Fred Adams and Charlotte Shreve’s (2016) paper entitled “What Can Synesthesia Teach Us About Higher Order Theories of Consciousness?,” previously published in Symposion. I argued that H.O.T. theory does have the resources to account for synesthesia and the specific worries that they advance in their paper, such as the relationship between concepts and experience and the ability to handle instances of ‘pop-out’ experiences. They counter-reply in Adams and Shreve (2017) and also raise (...)
  11. added 2018-02-17
    Describing Inner Experience?: Proponent Meets Skeptic.Russell Hurlburt & Eric Schwitzgebel - 2007 - MIT Press.
    On a remarkably thin base of evidence – largely the spectral analysis of points of light – astronomers possess, or appear to possess, an abundance of knowledge about the structure and history of the universe. We likewise know more than might even have been imagined a few centuries ago about the nature of physical matter, about the mechanisms of life, about the ancient past. Enormous theoretical and methodological ingenuity has been required to obtain such knowledge; it does not invite easy (...)
  12. added 2018-01-11
    Wittgenstein and Peirce on Inner Experience.Rosa M. Calcaterra - 2005 - The Commens Encyclopedia: The Digital Encyclopedia of Peirce Studies.
    This essay surveys and critically discusses the anti-cartesian approach of both Peirce and Wittgenstein to the problem of private experiences, bringing to light the affinity of their own usage of the notion of “outward criteria”, that both introduce as alternative to the traditional logical principle of introspection. In particular, are taken in consideration the treatment of sensation language in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and Peirce’s critique of introspective method as a means for knowledge of so called “inner world”, in an attempt (...)
  13. added 2017-12-10
    Methodological Artefacts in Consciousness Science.Matthias Michel - 2017 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12):94-117.
    Consciousness is scientifically challenging to study because of its subjective aspect. This leads researchers to rely on report-based experimental paradigms in order to discover neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs). I argue that the reliance on reports has biased the search for NCCs, thus creating what I call 'methodological artefacts'. This paper has three main goals: first, describe the measurement problem in consciousness science and argue that this problem led to the emergence of methodological artefacts. Second, provide a critical assessment of (...)
  14. added 2017-11-28
    Introspection.D. M. Armstrong - 1994 - In Quassim Cassam (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 109--117.
    This paper will argue that there is no such thing as introspective access to judgments and decisions. I t won't challenge the existence of introspective access to perceptual and imagistic states, nor to emotional feelings and bodily sensations. On the contrary, the model presented in Section 2 presumes such access. Hence introspection is here divided into two categories: introspection of propositional attitude events, on the one hand, and introspection of broadly perceptual events, on the other. I shall assume that the (...)
  15. added 2017-10-05
    An Introduction to Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2000 - In Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: New Methodologies and Maps. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 1-15.
    (for online upload) The readings in Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness (2000) were developed from an International Symposium on Methodologies for the Study of Consciousness: A new Synthesis,” that I organised in April, 1996, funded and hosted by the Fetzer Institute, Wisconsin, USA, with the aim of fostering the development of first-person methods that could be used in conjunction with already well-developed third-person methods for investigating phenomenal consciousness. In this Introduction, we briefly survey the state of the art at that time, the (...)
  16. added 2017-10-05
    A Thoroughly Empirical First-Person Approach To Consciousness: Commentary On Baars On Contrastive Analysis.Max Velmans - 1994 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 1.
    According to Nagel, bat consciousness is "what it is like to be a bat.'' According to Baars , we will never know what it is like to be bat, so this approach to consciousness does not allow the science of consciousness to progress. Rather, the nature of consciousness as such should be determined empirically, by contrasting processes which are conscious with processes that are not conscious. The present commentary argues that contrastive analysis is appropriate for finding the processes most closely (...)
  17. added 2017-09-27
    Consciousness and the "Causal Paradox".Max Velmans - 1996 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 19 (3):538-542.
    Viewed from a first-person perspective consciousness appears to be necessary for complex, novel human activity - but viewed from a third-person perspective consciousness appears to play no role in the activity of brains, producing a "causal paradox". To resolve this paradox one needs to distinguish consciousness of processing from consciousness accompanying processing or causing processing. Accounts of consciousness/brain causal interactions switch between first- and third-person perspectives. However, epistemically, the differences between first- and third-person access are fundamental. First- and third-person accounts (...)
  18. added 2017-09-25
    Not in the Mood for Intentionalism.Davide Bordini - 2017 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 41 (1):60-81.
    According to intentionalism, the phenomenal character of experience is one and the same as the intentional content of experience. This view has a problem with moods (anxiety, depression, elation, irritation, gloominess, grumpiness, etc.). Mood experiences certainly have phenomenal character, but do not exhibit directedness, i.e., do not appear intentional. Standardly, intentionalists have re-described moods’ undirectedness in terms of directedness towards everything or the whole world (e.g., Crane, 1998; Seager, 1999). This move offers the intentionalist a way out, but is quite (...)
  19. added 2017-09-18
    How Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains?Max Velmans - 2002 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11):3-29.
    In everyday life we take it for granted that we have conscious control of some of our actions and that the part of us that exercises control is the conscious mind. Psychosomatic medicine also assumes that the conscious mind can affect body states, and this is supported by evidence that the use of imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback and other ‘mental interventions’ can be therapeutic in a variety of medical conditions. However, there is no accepted theory of mind/body interaction and this has (...)
  20. added 2017-09-17
    Principles of Gestalt Psychology.Kurt Koffka - 1935 - New York: Harcourt, Brace.
    A classical work on Gestalt psychology from a member of the "Berlin School." Discusses perception in relation to the environment, along with action, learning, memory, and socieity.
  21. added 2017-09-05
    Brentano and Wundt: Empirical and Experimental Psychology.E. B. Titchener - 1921 - American Journal of Psychology 32:108-120.
  22. added 2017-09-04
    Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: New Methodologies and Maps. Advances in Consciousness Research, Vol. 13.Max Velmans (ed.) - 2000 - John Benjamins.
    How can one investigate phenomenal consciousness? As in other areas of science, the investigation of consciousness aims for a more precise knowledge of its phenomena, and the discovery of general truths about their nature. This requires the development of appropriate first-person, second-person, and third-person methods. This book introduces some of the creative ways in which these methods can be applied to different purposes, e.g. to understand the relation of consciousness to brain, to examining or changing consciousness as such, and to (...)
  23. added 2017-07-20
    Two Analogy Strategies: The Cases of Mind Metaphors and Introspection.Eugen Fischer - 2018 - Connection Science 30 (2):211-243.
    Analogical reasoning is often employed in problem-solving and metaphor interpretation. This paper submits that, as a default, analogical reasoning addressing these different tasks employs different mapping strategies: In problem-solving, it employs analogy-maximising strategies (like structure mapping, Gentner & Markman 1997); in metaphor interpretation, analogy-minimising strategies (like ATT-Meta, Barnden 2015). The two strategies interact in analogical reasoning with conceptual metaphors. This interaction leads to predictable fallacies. The paper supports these hypotheses through case-studies on ‘mind’-metaphors from ordinary discourse, and abstract problem-solving in (...)
  24. added 2017-04-24
    Why Care Beyond the Square? Classical and Extended Shapes of Oppositions in Their Application to „Introspective Disputes“.Fink S. Benjamin - 2017 - In Jean-Yves Béziau & Gianfranco Basti (eds.), The Square of Opposition: A Cornerstone of Thought (Studies in Universal Logic). Birkhäuser. pp. 325-337.
    So called “shapes of opposition”—like the classical square of opposition and its extensions—can be seen as graphical representations of the ways in which types of statements constrain each other in their possible truth values. As such, they can be used as a novel way of analysing the subject matter of disputes. While there have been great refinements and extensions of this logico-topological tool in the last years, the broad range of shapes of opposition are not widely known outside of a (...)
  25. added 2017-03-05
    Transparency and Introspective Unification.Kateryna Samoilova - 2016 - Synthese 193 (10).
    Gareth Evans has observed that one merely needs to ‘look outward’ to discover one’s own beliefs. This observation of what has become known as belief ‘transparency’ has formed a basis for a cluster of views on the nature of introspection. These views may be well suited to account for our introspective access to beliefs, but whether similar transparency-based accounts of our introspective access to mental states other than belief can be given is not obvious. The question of whether a transparency-based (...)
  26. added 2017-03-05
    First-Person Privilege, Judgment, and Avowal.Kateryna Samoilova - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (2):169-182.
    It is a common intuition that I am in a better position to know my own mental states than someone else's. One view that takes this intuition very seriously is Neo-Expressivism, providing a “non-epistemic” account of first-person privilege. But some have denied that we enjoy any principled first-person privilege, as do those who have the Third-Person View, according to which there is no deep difference in our epistemic position with regard to our own and others' mental states. Despite their apparently (...)
  27. added 2017-03-02
    Knowing Our Degrees of Belief.Sinan Dogramaci - 2016 - Episteme 13 (3):269-287.
    The main question of this paper is: how do we manage to know what our own degrees of belief are? Section 1 briefly reviews and criticizes the traditional functionalist view, a view notably associated with David Lewis and sometimes called the theory-theory. I use this criticism to motivate the approach I want to promote. Section 2, the bulk of the paper, examines and begins to develop the view that we have a special kind of introspective access to our degrees of (...)
  28. added 2017-02-14
    L4 The Possibility of a Naturalistic Cartesianism Regarding Intuitions and Introspection.Georges Rey - 2013 - In Matthew C. Haug (ed.), Philosophical Methodology: The Armchair or the Laboratory? Routledge. pp. 243.
  29. added 2017-02-14
    Measuring Pain: An Introspective Look at Introspection.Yoshio Nakamura & C. Richard Chapman - 2002 - Consciousness and Cognition 11 (4):582-592.
    The measurement of pain depends upon subjective reports, but we know very little about how research subjects or pain patients produce self-reported judgments. Representationalist assumptions dominate the field of pain research and lead to the critical conjecture that the person in pain examines the contents of consciousness before making a report about the sensory or affective magnitude of pain experience as well as about its nature. Most studies to date have investigated what Fechner termed “outer psychophysics”: the relationship between characteristics (...)
  30. added 2017-02-14
    Wundt and the Americans.From Flirtation To Abandonment - 2001 - In Robert W. Rieber & David K. Robinson (eds.), Wilhelm Wundt in History: The Making of a Scientific Psychology. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
  31. added 2017-02-12
    A Gap in Nisbett and Wilson’s Findings? A First-Person Access to Our Cognitive Processes.Claire Petitmengin, Anne Remillieux, Béatrice Cahour & Shirley Carter-Thomas - 2013 - Consciousness and Cognition 22 (2):654-669.
    The well-known experiments of Nisbett and Wilson lead to the conclusion that we have no introspective access to our decision-making processes. Johansson et al. have recently developed an original protocol consisting in manipulating covertly the relationship between the subjects’ intended choice and the outcome they were presented with: in 79.6% of cases, they do not detect the manipulation and provide an explanation of the choice they did not make, confirming the findings of Nisbett and Wilson. We have reproduced this protocol, (...)
  32. added 2017-02-11
    Descriptive Experience Sampling: What is It Good For?Mark Engelbert & Peter Carruthers - 2011 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (1):130-149.
    We defend the reliability of Hurlburt's Descriptive Experi-ence Sampling method against some of Schwitzgebel's attacks. But we agree with Schwitzgebel that the method could be used much more widely than it has been, helping to answer questions about the nature and structure of consciousness in addition to cataloguing the latter's contents. We sketch a number of potential lines of further enquiry.
  33. added 2017-02-10
    Intuition and Introspection Problems in Henryk Elzenberg's Philosophy.Anita Benisławska - 2009 - Dialogue and Universalism 19 (8-9):83-92.
    Intuition and introspection are very interesting terms in Elzenberg’s thought. The intuition is connected with the earlier phase of Elzenberg’s philosophy. Intuition is a form of world cognition. It is tool of selection of the contents. In Elzenberg’s philosophy introspection is a later term than intuition. It may lead intuition but is not a necessity. Process of cognition can finish with introspection which is a phase of information collection. In this meaning introspection creates circumstances for intuition. Introspection is a form (...)
  34. added 2017-02-09
    Implicit Attentional Orienting in a Target Detection Task with Central Cues.Scott A. Peterson & Tanja N. Gibson - 2011 - Consciousness and Cognition 20 (4):1532-1547.
    Studies using Posner’s spatial cueing paradigm have demonstrated that participants can allocate their attention to specific target locations based on the predictiveness of preceding cues. Four experiments were conducted to investigate attentional orienting processes operating in a high probability condition as compared to a low probability condition using various types of centrally-presented cues. Spatially-informative cues resulted in cueing effects for both probability conditions, with significantly larger CEs in the high probability conditions than the low probability conditions. Participants in the high (...)
  35. added 2017-02-09
    Lyons, William. Approaches to Intentionality.Shaun Nichols - 1997 - Review of Metaphysics 50 (3):672-673.
  36. added 2017-02-08
    Self-Awareness Part 2: Neuroanatomy and Importance of Inner Speech.Alain Morin - 2011 - Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2:1004-1012.
    The present review of literature surveys two main issues related to self-referential processes: (1) Where in the brain are these processes located, and do they correlate with brain areas uniquely specialized in self-processing? (2) What are the empirical and theoretical links between inner speech and self-awareness? Although initial neuroimaging attempts tended to favor a right hemispheric view of selfawareness, more recent work shows that the brain areas which support self-related processes are located in both hemispheres and are not uniquely activated (...)
  37. added 2017-02-08
    Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic.Anthony I. Jack - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):283-287.
  38. added 2017-02-08
    Knowing Through the Body.Mark Johnson - 1991 - Philosophical Psychology 4 (1):3-18.
    Abstract Recent empirical studies of categorization, concept development, semantic structure, and reasoning reveal the inadequacies of all theories that regard knowledge as static, propositional, and sentential. These studies show that conceptual structure and reason are grounded in patterns of bodily experience. Structures of our spatial/temporal orientations, perceptual interactions, and motor programs provide an imaginative basis for our knowledge of, and reasoning about, more abstract domains. Such a view transcends both foundationalism and extreme relativism or scepticism.
  39. added 2017-02-07
    Self-Reference Amd Self-Awareness, Advances in Consciousness Research Volume 11.Andrew Brook & Richard Devidi (eds.) - 2001 - John Benjamins.
  40. added 2017-02-02
    Animal Metacognition? It's All in the Methods.Sara J. Shettleworth & Jennifer E. Sutton - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (3):353-354.
    When animals choose between completing a cognitive task and “escaping,” proper interpretation of their behavior depends crucially on methodological details, including how forced and freely chosen tests are mixed and whether appropriate transfer tests are administered. But no matter how rigorous the test, it is impossible to go beyond functional similarity between human and nonhuman behaviors to certainty about human-like consciousness.
  41. added 2017-02-01
    Review of Declan Smithies and Daniel Stoljar’s (Eds.) Introspection and Consciousness (2012, Oxford University Press). [REVIEW]Michael Roche & William Roche - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):203-208.
    This is an excellent collection of essays on introspection and consciousness. There are fifteen essays in total (all new except for Sydney Shoemaker’s essay). There is also an introduction where the editors explain the impetus for the collection and provide a helpful overview. The essays contain a wealth of new and challenging material sure to excite specialists and shape future research. Below we extract a skeptical argument from Fred Dretske’s essay and relate the remaining essays to that argument. Due to (...)
  42. added 2017-01-28
    TITCHENER, E. B. -Systematic Psychology: Prolegomena. [REVIEW]Rex Knight - 1930 - Mind 39:257.
  43. added 2017-01-28
    TITCHENER, E. B. - Psychology of the Thought-Processes. [REVIEW]H. J. Watt - 1911 - Mind 20:108.
  44. added 2017-01-28
    TITCHENER, E. B. -Experimental Psychology. Vol. II., Quantitative Experiments. [REVIEW]W. Mcd - 1908 - Mind 17:269.
  45. added 2017-01-28
    W. Wundt, Volkerpsychologie. [REVIEW]F. N. Hales - 1903 - Mind 12:239.
  46. added 2017-01-27
    Introspection and Consciousness. [REVIEW]Philip Woodward - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1241-1245.
  47. added 2017-01-27
    Introspection Illusion and the Methodological Denial of the First Person Perspective.Giuseppe Lo Dico - unknown
  48. added 2017-01-27
    Introspective Reports of Reaction Times in Dual-Tasks Reflect Experienced Difficulty Rather Than Timing of Cognitive Processes.Donna Bryce & Daniel Bratzke - 2014 - Consciousness and Cognition 27:254-267.
  49. added 2017-01-27
    The "Proton Pseudos" in Wundt's Criticism of R. Avenarius' Philosophy.Izabella Nowakowa - 2005 - Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 88:91-94.
  50. added 2017-01-27
    Wilhelm Wundt Resurrected.Roger Smith - 1982 - British Journal for the History of Science 15 (3):285-293.
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