Mind and Language 28 (3):259-285 (2013)

Georges Rey
University of Maryland, College Park
Shoemaker presented a priori arguments against the possibility of ‘self‐blindness’, or the inability of someone, otherwise intelligent and possessed of mental concepts, to introspect any of her concurrent attitude states. Ironically enough, this seems to be a position that Gopnik and Carruthers have proposed as not only possible, but as the actual human condition generally! According to this ‘Objectivist’ view, supposed introspection of one's attitudes is not ‘direct’, but an ‘inference’ of precisely the sort we make about the attitudes of others, an inference that has the advantage in our own case of only our own sensory data and memories, our behavior, and of the context we are in; i.e. we are all substantially self‐ blind. After sorting out a number of methodological and verbal issues, I argue, first, that the a priori arguments against Objectivism don't succeed, and that Gopnik and Carruthers are right to regard the issue as an empirical one. On the other hand, I think they seriously underestimate the difficulty of establishing Objectivism. It is unlikely there is an inferential procedure from the data of pure sensation, behavior and context to the relevant self‐attributions that would be as spectacularly reliable as people manifestly seem to be. Moreover, there is a simpler model: the mind very likely consists of a panoply of sub‐routines some of whose outputs are ‘tagged’ for their having been so processed, rather in the way that software ‘documents’ are on standard computers. Introspection plausibly consists in a person's simply attending to distinctive constellations of these tags, even though they may lack phenomenal feels. This draws attention to an important independent fact: that much of phenomenology may be constituted by facts that are not phenomenal
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DOI 10.1111/mila.2013.28.issue-3
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The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Hutchinson & Co.
The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.

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