The case for intrinsic theory VIII: The experiential in acquiring knowledge firsthand of one's experiences

Journal of Mind and Behavior 24 (3-4):289-316 (2003)
Discussion continues here of a theory I have previously described as being an equivocal remembrance theory of inner awareness, the direct appre-hension of one’s own mental-occurrence instances . O’Shaughnessy claims that we acquire knowledge of each of our experiences as it occurs, yet any occurrent cognitive awareness of it that we may have comes later and is mediated by memory. Thus, acquiring knowledge of an experience firsthand is automatic and silent, not a matter of experientially apprehending the experience. Although O’Shaughnessy does hold that every experience has itself as an object, this is not a matter of a cognitive self-apprehension . O’Shaughnessy’s grounds for his proposal of a nonexperiential acquisition of knowledge of one’s experiences amounts to the claim that to hold otherwise would imply an infinite regress of experiences, for the experience by which we would know of an experience would be itself the object of experience, etc. I argue that neither an appendage theory nor an intrinsic theory of inner awareness, both of which are experiential, sets an experiential regress going. Then, I argue that something experiential would seem to be essential to acquiring firsthand knowledge of one’s experiences according to O’Shaughnessy’s own account of environmental perception. At its core is the thesis that the basic perceptual experience, the primary component of a perception, is a nonconceptual and noncognitive noticing of present sensations produced by environmental items. This first component evokes a second, cognitive component of the experience that is a recognitional awareness of the first component. Only in this way could perception perform its cognitive function, according to the theory, which is to yield knowledge of sensations and their causes in the environment. But the recognitional awareness, the “interpretative” component, clearly is experiential and an inner awareness. Moreover, O’Shaughnessy does not appear to view this component as resulting in an infinite number of inner awarenesses because implicitly he considers it, perhaps, to be intrinsic to the perceptual experience
Keywords Awareness  Epistemology  Experience  Knowledge  Sensation  O'shaughnessy, B
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