Friday, December 01, 2006

New Book: Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic -- Now Online

here! (forthcoming with MIT Press in 2007)

Russ Hurlburt, a psychologist at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and I got together and jointly interviewed a subject, "Melanie", about randomly sampled moments of her "inner experience" while she was wearing a beeper. Russ has been using this methodology for decades to discover, he thinks, all kinds of interesting facts about people's inner lives. I've published a number of essays skeptical of our capacity accurately to introspect our experience, even under favorable conditions. At the center of the book is a lightly edited transcript of our six days of interviewing Melanie about 18 experiences.

In this book, Russ and I confront each other's views in the context of concrete, unselected reports by a particular person, Melanie. You get to see what Melanie says about her experience, how Russ tries to bring out what's accurate in her reports, and the sources of my doubts and criticisms. In side boxes, we continue our debates and connect what we say to contemporary and historical literature in philosophy and psychology. We've also written separate introductory and concluding chapters, each from our own point of view.

Right now I'm thinking I might present readers of the blog with one "beep" at a time every Friday, assuming people might be interested in that. Although Melanie’s experiences are in certain respects quite ordinary, we think the reader will find at least some of her descriptions surprising, intriguing, and suggestive -- even independently of Russ's and my disputes about how far to believe them.


Anonymous said...

This looks to be verrry cool!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, Pete! Now if you'd only write a review for Phil Review or NDPR...! ;)