Mind and Language 32 (1):39-64 (2017)
AbstractThis essay presents a new account of thought insertion. Prevailing views in both philosophy and cognitive science tend to characterize the experience of thought insertion as missing or lacking some element, such as a ‘sense of agency’, found in ordinary first-person awareness of one's own thoughts. By contrast, I propose that, rather than lacking something, experiences of thought insertion have an additional feature not present in ordinary conscious experiences of one's own thoughts. More specifically, I claim that the structure of an experience of thought insertion consists of two distinct elements: a state of ordinary first-person awareness and a sense that this state of awareness is highly unusual. In addition to modeling the experience of thought insertion, I also explain how a delusional pattern of thinking could lead someone who has this kind of experience to adopt a belief that some other entity is inserting thoughts into her mind. Finally, I briefly sketch a neurocomputational framework that could be developed to explain the sense that one's state of first-person awareness is highly irregular.
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