Self-knowledge is the focus of considerable attention from philosophers: Knowing Our Own Minds gives a much-needed overview of current work on the subject, bringing together new essays by leading figures. Knowledge of one's own sensations, desires, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, and other attitudes is characteristically different from other kinds of knowledge: it has greater immediacy, authority, and salience. The contributors examine philosophical questions raised by the distinctive character of self-knowledge, relating it to knowledge of other minds, to rationality (...) and agency, externalist theories of psychological content, and knowledge of language. Together these original, stimulating, and closely interlinked essays demonstrate the special relevance of self-knowledge to a broad range of issues in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
Knowledge of one's own sensations, desires, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, and other attitudes is characteristically different from other kinds of knowledge: it has greater immediacy, authority, and salience. This volume offers a powerful and comprehensive look at current work on this topic, featuring closely interlinked essays by leading figures in the field that examine philosophical questions raised by the distinctive character of self-knowledge, relating it to knowledge of other minds, to rationality and agency, externalist theories of psychological content, and knowledge (...) of language. (shrink)
We rely on language to know the minds of others, but does language have a role to play in knowing our own minds? To suppose it does is to look for a connection between mastery of a language and the epistemic relation we bear to our inner lives. What could such a connection consist in? To explore this, I shall examine strategies for explaining self-knowledge in terms of the use we make of language to express and report (...) our mental states. Success in these strategies will depend on the view we take of speakers' understanding of the words they use to speak their minds. The key is to avoid circularity in the account of how they know what they mean; for if knowing what one is saying in speaking a language provides a means of knowing one's own mind, it cannot simply be a part of it. I shall look at ways in which we might proceed here, and examine whether the strategy can make room for a genuinely first-person point of view. But first let me try to motivate the problem of self-knowledge. (shrink)
In this article I offer a naturalistic defence of semantic externalism. I argue against the following: (1) arguments for externalism rest mainly on conceptual analysis; (2) the community conceptual norms relevant to individuation of propositional attitudes are quasi-analytic; (3) externalism raises serious questions about knowledge of propositional attitudes; and (4) externalism might be OK for “folk psychology” but not for cognitive science. The naturalist alternatives are as follows. (1) Community norms are not anything like a priori; sometimes they are incoherent. (...) (2) Often propositional attitudes lack determinate content: we do not know the content of thoughts or sentences because there is no fully definite content to be known. (3) Often achieving determinate content is a major socially mediated cognitive achievement that depends on just the factors of social and environmental embedding posited as individuative by externalists, so (4) externalism explains how people can, sometimes, come to have, and to know, determinate attitude contents. (5) Reference and content, for both thought and language, are determined by complex and messy dialectical relations involving many such environmental and social factors; consequently, determinate reference, truth-conditions, etc., are somewhat uncommon outcomes. (6) The basic semantic relation is (typically imperfect) socially mediated accommodation between perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, classificatory and inferential dispositions and relevant causal structures in the environment. (7) This accommodation explains how concepts, language, taxonomies, etc., contribute to individuals' rational inductive, explanatory and practical achievements. (8) So externally individuated propositional attitudes are required for cognitive science explanations of individual human rationality and its inductive and explanatory achievements. “Individual rationality ain't (entirely) in the individual head.”. (shrink)
This is an anthology of ?fteen papers concerning various philosophical problems related to the topic of self-knowledge. All but one of the papers were previously unpublished, and all but two are descendants of presentations at a conference on self-knowledge held at the University of St Andrews in 1995. The collection.
In the author's words: "This book is an honest attempt to understand what it means to be educated in today's world." His argument is this: No matter how important science and technology seem to industry or government or indeed to the daily life of people, as a society we believe that those educated in literature, history, and other humanities are in some way better informed, more knowing, and somehow more worthy of the descriptor "well educated." This 19th-century conception of (...) the educated mind weighs heavily on our notions on how we educate our young. When we focus on intellectual and scholarly issues in high school as opposed to issues, such as communications, basic psychology, or child raising, we are continuing to rely on outdated notions of the educated mind that come from elitist notions of who is to be educated and what that means. To accommodate the realities of today's world it is necessary to change these elitist notions. We need to rethink what it means to be educated and begin to focus on a new conception of the very idea of education. Students need to learn how to think, not how to accomplish tasks, such as passing standardized tests and reciting rote facts. In this engaging book, Roger C. Schank sets forth the premises of his argument, cites its foundations in the Great Books themselves, and illustrates it with examples from an experimental curriculum that has been used in graduate schools and with K-12 students. Making Minds Less Well Educated Than Our Own is essential reading for scholars and students in the learning sciences, instructional design, curriculum theory and planning, educational policy, school reform, philosophy of education, higher education, and anyone interested in what it means to be educated in today's world. (shrink)
Locke defines knowledge as the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. Nevertheless, he claims that we know particular things: the identity of our ideas, our own existence, and the existence of external objects. Although much has been done to reconcile the definition of knowledge with our knowledge of external objects, there is virtually nothing in the scholarship when it comes to knowing ideas or our own existence. I fill in this gap by arguing that perceptions of ideas (...) are complex mental states that convey propositional knowledge due to agreeing elements therein. (shrink)
Our Own Minds presents an account of the nature and development of self-consciousness. Bogdan describes the mind of the infant as outward looking, turning in on itself only at a relatively late stage of development. This it does as a response to the increasingly sophisticated sociocultural pressures it faces throughout infancy and early childhood. The book is difficult to follow (about which, more later) but the main line of argument is this: to begin with, infants are attuned to their (...) physical and sociocultural environment, employing an early form of intuitive psychology, a practical capacity to interact with conspecifics, referred to by Bogdan as 'naïve psychology' (129). However, infants are faced with a series of sociocultural tasks (109-12), the implementation of which requires them to develop various executive capacities (105-9) which 'install' a form of self-consciousness, dubbed by Bogdan 'extrovert self-consciousness' (99-100). The increasingly demanding nature of these sociocultural tasks has the consequence that, around the age of 4, intuitive psychology undergoes a shift, becoming 'commonsense psychology' (129-30). This enables children to represent others' propositional attitudes and to think 'offline' (129-30). These new abilities and associated executive capacities, in their turn, 'install' a new form of self-consciousness, 'introvert self-consciousness' (159). Whilst the child's intuitive psychology and self-consciousness continue to develop until adolescence (33), this is where the book's central argument ends. (shrink)
Empirical examinations about cross-cultural variability of intuitions, the well-known publication of Stich and his colleagues criticiz-ing thought-experiments and intuitions in philosophical debates, is still a challenge that faces analytical philosophers, as any systematic investigation of the methodology of philosophy must give answers to these basic questions: What is intuition? What role should intuitions play in philosophy? I present and examine the sceptical argument of experimental philosophers, and claim that experimental philosophers misunderstand the role of evidence in philosophy. My argument will (...) utilize Goldman’s view, according to which intuitions give reliable evidence about a person’s concepts, and this knowledge is valuable for further philosophical research as well. I will argue that the sceptical conclusions of experimental philosophers are harmless against this conception of philosophy, because even from a naturalist perspective certain kind of intuitive judgments about our concepts can be warranted, and this grants the specific epistemic status of intuitions. Of course, the reliability of introspection can be challenged. However, denying self-knowledge about my internal mental states is disputable – as I will show – both from a philosophical and a scientific point of view. (shrink)
In traditional epistemology, psychological self-knowledge is taken to be the paradigm of privleged a priori knowledge. According to an influential incompatibilist line of thought, traditional epistemic features attributed to psychological self-knowledge are supposed to be inconsistent with content externalism. In this paper, I examine one prominent compatibilist response by an advocate of content externalism, i.e., Fred Dretske's answer tot he incompatibilist argument, based on the model of displaced perceptual knowledge. I discuss the costs and benefits of his answer.
The notion of simulation in dreaming of threat recognition and avoidance faces difficulties deriving from (1) some typical characteristics of dream artifacts (some “surreal,” some not) and (2) metaphysical issues involving the need for some representation in the theory of a perspective subject making use of the artifact. [Hobson et al.; Revonsuo].
‘How, then, she had asked herself, did one know one thing or another thing about people, sealed as they were?’ So asks Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse. It is this question, rather than any concern about pretence or deception, which forms the basis for the philosophical problem of other minds. Responses to this problem have tended to cluster around two solutions: either we know others’ minds through perception; or we know others’ minds through a form of (...) inference. In the first part of this paper I argue that this debate is best understood as concerning the question of whether our knowledge of others’ minds is based on perception or based on evidence. In the second part of the paper I suggest that our ordinary ways of thinking take our knowledge of others’ minds to be both non- evidential and non-perceptual. A satisfactory resolution to the philosophical problem of other minds thus requires us to take seriously the idea that we have a way of knowing about others’ minds which is both non-evidential and non-perceptual. I suggest that our knowledge of others’ minds which is based on their expressions – our expressive knowledge - may fit this bill. (shrink)
What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. (...) What exercises philosophers is the fact that people seem to produce these descriptions of their own mental lives without any pretence of considering evidence or reasons of any kind and yet these descriptions are treated by the rest of us as authoritative, at least in a wide range of cases. How can this be? (shrink)
Various researchers have suggested that below 7 years of age children do not recognize that they are the authority on knowledge about themselves, a suggestion that seems counter-intuitive because it raises the possibility that children do not appreciate their privileged first-person access to their own minds. Unlike previous research, children in the current investigation quantified knowledge and even 5-year-olds tended to assign relatively more to themselves than to an adult (Studies 1 and 2). Indeed, children's estimations were different from (...) ratings made by their mothers: Their mothers sometimes rated themselves as knowing more about their child than they rated their child as knowing (Study 2). While previous research seemed to suggest that children shift from viewing their mother to viewing themselves as the authority on knowledge about them (the children), these new findings surprisingly suggest the opposite. (shrink)
Researchers from the 1940's through the present have found that normal, sighted people can echolocate - that is, detect properties of silent objects by attending to sound reflected from them. We argue that echolocation is a normal part of our conscious, perceptual experience. Despite this, we argue that people are often grossly mistaken about their experience of echolocation. If so, echolocation provides a counterexample to the view that we cannot be seriously mistaken about our own current conscious experience.
Philosophers tend to assume that we have excellent knowledge of our own current conscious experience or 'phenomenology'. I argue that our knowledge of one aspect of our experience, the experience of visual imagery, is actually rather poor. Precedent for this position is found among the introspective psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two main arguments are advanced toward the conclusion that our knowledge of our own imagery is poor. First, the reader is asked to form a visual (...) image, and it is expected that answering questions about certain basic features of that experience will be difficult. If so, it seems reasonable to suppose that people could be mistaken about those basic features of their own imagery. Second, it is observed that although people give widely variable reports about their own experiences of visual imagery, differences in report do not systematically correlate with differences on tests of skills that psychologists have often supposed to require visual imagery, such as mental rotation, visual creativity, and visual memory. (shrink)
In ordinary life everyone assumes that he has a great deal of knowledge about other minds or persons. This assumption has naturally aroused the curiosity of philosophers; though perhaps they have not been as curious about it as they ought to have been, for they have devoted many volumes to our consciousness of the material world, but very few to our consciousness of one another. It was thought at one time that each of us derives his knowledge of other (...)minds from the observation of other human organisms. I observe that there are a number of bodies which resemble my own fairly closely in their shape, size, and manner of movement; I conclude by analogy that each of these bodies is animated by a. (shrink)
The traditional epistemological problem of other minds seeks to answer the following question: how can we know someone else's mental states? The problem is often taken to be generated by a fundamental asymmetry in the means of knowledge. In my own case, I can know directly what I think and feel. This sort of self-knowledge is epistemically direct in the sense of being non-inferential and non-observational. My knowledge of other minds, however, is thought to lack these epistemic features. (...) So what is the basic source of my knowledge of other minds if I know my mind in such a way that I cannot know the minds of others? The aim of this paper is to clarify and assess the pivotal role that the asymmetry in respect of knowledge plays within a broadly inferentialist approach to the epistemological problem of other minds. The received dogma has always been to endorse the asymmetry for conceptual reasons and to insist that the idea of knowing someone else's mental life in the same way as one knows one's own mind is a complete non-starter. Against this, I aim to show that it is at best a contingent matter that creatures such as us cannot know other minds just as we know a good deal of our own minds and also that the idea of having someone else's mind in one's own introspective reach is not obviously self-contradictory. So the dogma needs to be revisited. As a result, the dialectical position of those inferentialists who believe that we know about someone else's mentality in virtue of an analogical inference will be reinforced. (shrink)
J. David Velleman casts foreknowledge of one's own next move as psychologically active. As agents, we form prior intentions about what we will do next. Such prior intentions are licensed self-fulfilling beliefs or directive cognitions. These cognitions differ from ordinary predictions in their psychological relation to the evidence, in that they precede that crucial part of the evidence which consists in the fact that they have been formed. However, once formed, these cognitions are epistemologically unremarkable: they are directly justified by (...) evidence, which saliently includes the fact of their own existence. I argue that Velleman distorts both the epistemology and the etiology of self-knowing agency. Self-knowing agents typically know what they will do next non-evidentially, and yet their knowledge of their own next move is formed in response to their (perspective-relative) epistemic grounds. Velleman's account of self-knowing agency is doubly distortive because it ignores the role of the purely first-person point of view which typically characterizes such agency. In developing an alternative account of self-knowing agency, I argue that the kind of knowledge that we typically have of what we are about to do is like the kind of knowledge we have when we non-evidentially know what our own current, conscious propositional thoughts are. We can non-evidentially know what we think in virtue of having made up our minds what to think. Likewise, we can non-evidentially know what we are about to do in virtue of having settled on what to do next. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem about epistemic warrant. The problem is posed by philosophical arguments for externalism about the contents of thoughts, and similarly by philosophical arguments for architecturalism about thinking, when these arguments are put together with a thesis of first person authority. In each case, first personal knowledge about our thoughts plus the kind of knowledge that is provided by a philosophical argument seem, together, to open an unacceptably ‘non-empirical’ route to knowledge of empirical facts. Furthermore, this unwelcome (...) prospect of transferring a ‘non-empirical’ warrant from premises about our own mental states and about philosophical theory to a conclusion about external environment or internal architecture seems to depend upon little more than the possibility of knowledge by inference. (The use of the scare-quoted term ‘non-empirical’ is explained a couple of paragraphs further on.). (shrink)
The first part of the paper focuses on the role played in thought and action by possession of the first‐person concept. It is argued that only one who possesses the I concept is in a position to fully articulate certain fundamental, a priori aspects of the concept of reason. A full understanding of the concept of reason requires being inclined to be affected or immediately motivated by reasons—to form, change or confirm beliefs or other attitudes in accordance with them—when those (...) reasons apply to one's own attitudes. The cases where rational evaluations of acts and attitudes rationally motivate immediate implementation of the evaluations to shape the acts and attitudes are distinguished from cases where they do not, by the use of the first‐person concept to mark those acts and attitudes as one's own. The second part of the paper examines asymmetries between self‐knowledge and knowledge of other minds. The usual view that self‐knowledge has an immediate and a priori warrant, whereas knowledge of others’ minds rests on observation and inference is disputed. A sketch is given of knowledge of other minds that can be non‐inferential and can rest on an intellectual, non‐perceptual entitlement. When one seemingly understands an utterance in interlocution, one is a priori prima facie entitled to suppose that it comes from a rational source, and because knowledge of other minds can be immediate and epistemically grounded in intellectual, non‐empirical entitlements, it is distinguished from self‐knowledge not by being necessarily inferential or by being necessarily grounded in perception, but by being in some known contrast with thought known as one's own. (shrink)
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 (...) belief. I give an initial assessment of the view by examining its compatibility with leading theories of introspection. And I identify a challenge for the view, and explain why I'm optimistic that the view can overcome it. (shrink)
Citizens of liberal, affluent societies are regularly encouraged to support reforms meant to improve conditions for badly-off people in the developing world. Our economic and political support is solicited for causes such as: banning child labor, implementing universal primary education, closing down sweatshops and brothels, etc. But what if the relevant populations or individuals in the developing world do not support these particular reforms or aid programs? What if they would strongly prefer other reforms and programs, or would rank the (...) various benefits that might be offered differently than seems reasonable to the Western, liberal supporters of these campaigns and organizations? What is the proper liberal response here? I argue that the proper liberal response is to support those programs and reforms that the global poor most value. The bulk of the paper is devoted to arguing against the popular liberal argument which states that we can safely disregard the preferences of the oppressed when they seem very unreasonable because these individuals suffer from “adaptive preferences.” This typically is taken to mean that their preferences are “not their own” in an important sense. I put forward various different proposals for why adaptive preferences can be safely dismissed, but ultimately argue that they are not persuasive. And if it is no longer legitimate to appeal to adaptive preferences as a basis for disregarding what oppressed people want, then I argue that to do so is straightforward paternalism, and so is unjustifiable in all but the most extreme cases. Finally, I argue for the following concrete recommendations: Given that resources are not infinite, we should (1) Support programs that give oppressed people increased access to information, such as access to technology, (2) support those reforms and aid programs that the oppressed themselves regard as most important, with special emphasis on those opportunities for education that they deem valuable, and (3) refrain from supporting coercive policies intended to thwart adaptive preferences. (shrink)
The idea that introspection is transparent—that we know our minds by looking out to the world, not inwards towards some mental item—seems quite appealing when we think about belief. It seems that we know our beliefs by attending to their content; I know that I believe there is a café nearby by thinking about the streets near me, and not by thinking directly about my mind. Such an account is thought to have several advantages—for example, it is thought to (...) avoid the need to posit any extra mental faculties peculiar to introspection. In this paper I discuss recent attempts to extend this kind of outwards-looking account to our introspective knowledge of desire. According to these accounts, we know our desires by attending to what in the world we judge to be valuable. This, however, does not deal satisfactorily with cases where my value judgments and introspective knowledge of my desires come apart. I propose a better alternative for the proponent of transparency, but one that requires giving up on the supposed metaphysical advantages. (shrink)
At first thought, our question of the day seems to be "about the text itself." Is there, in all texts, or at least in some texts, what Abrams calls "a core of determinate meanings," "the central core of what they [the authors] undertook to communicate"? Miller has seemed to find in the texts of Nietzsche a claim that there is not, that "the same text authorizes innumerable interpretations: There is no 'correct' interpretation. . . . reading is never the objective (...) identifying of a sense but the importation of meaning into a text which has no meaning 'in itself.'" Abrams claims that Miller cannot report on Nietzsche's deconstructionist claims without violating them: Miller seems to claim that he has found something that Nietzsche's text really says, not something that Miller himself merely brought to it. Is this objection a quibble or a clincher?1 · 1. See my "M.H. Abrams: Historian as Critic, Critic as Pluralist," Critical Inquiry 2 : 411-45, and Abrams' reply, "Rationality and Imagination in Cultural History," pp. 447-64, esp. 456-58. Wayne C. Booth's other contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Kenneth Burke's Way of Knowing" , "Irony and Pity Once Again: Thais Revisited" , "Notes and Exchanges" , "Metaphor as Rhetoric: The Problem of Evaluation" ,"Ten Literal 'Theses" , with Wright Morris: "The Writing of Organic Fiction: A Conversation" , and with Robert E. Streeter, W.J.T. Mitchell: "Sheldon Sacks 1930-1979". (shrink)