The Mind’s “I” and the Theory of Mind’s “I”: Introspection and Two Concepts of Self

Philosophical Topics 28 (2):171-99 (2000)
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Abstract

Introspection plays a crucial role in Modern philosophy in two different ways. From the beginnings of Modern philosophy, introspection has been used a tool for philosophical exploration in a variety of thought experiments. But Modern philosophers (e.g., Locke and Hume) also tried to characterize the nature of introspection as a psychological phenomenon. In contemporary philosophy, introspection is still frequently used in thought experiments. And in the analytic tradition, philosophers have tried to characterize conceptually necessary features of introspection.2 But over the last several decades, philosophers have devoted relatively little attention to the cognitive characteristics of introspection. This has begun to change, impelled largely by a fascinating body of work on how children and autistic individuals understand the mind.3 In a pair of recent papers, Stephen Stich and I have drawn on this empirical work to develop an account of introspection or self-awareness.4 In this paper, I will elaborate and defend this cognitive theory of introspection further and argue that if the account is right, it may have important ramifications for psychological and philosophical debates over the self

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Shaun Nichols
Cornell University

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