Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My entry on "Introspection" is now up in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

... here.

From the intro:

Introspection, as the term is used in contemporary philosophy of mind, is a means of learning about one's own currently ongoing, or perhaps very recently past, mental states or processes. You can, of course, learn about your own mind in the same way you learn about others' minds—by reading psychology texts, by observing facial expressions (in a mirror), by examining readouts of brain activity, by noting patterns of past behavior—but it's generally thought that you can also learn about your mind introspectively, in a way that no one else can. But what exactly is introspection? No simple characterization is widely accepted. Although introspection must be a process that yields knowledge only of one's own current mental states, more than one type of process fits this characterization.

Introspection is a key concept in epistemology, since introspective knowledge is often thought to be particularly secure, maybe even immune to skeptical doubt. Introspective knowledge is also often held to be more immediate or direct than sensory knowledge. Both of these putative features of introspection have been cited in support of the idea that introspective knowledge can serve as a ground or foundation for other sorts of knowledge.

Introspection is also central to philosophy of mind, both as a process worth study in its own right and as a court of appeal for other claims about the mind. Philosophers of mind offer a variety of theories of the nature of introspection; and philosophical claims about consciousness, emotion, free will, personal identity, thought, belief, imagery, perception, and other mental phenomena are often thought to have introspective consequences or to be susceptible to introspective verification. For similar reasons, empirical psychologists too have discussed the accuracy of introspective judgments and the role of introspection in the science of the mind.


BNT said...

Congratulations Eric!

Just FYI, have you seen Gualtiero Piccinini's work? He has a few papers on introspective reports and their scientific status. In fact, he has a post on his latest paper just published on his blog brains. Thought you might be interested.

Skimming the entry, it looks *very* useful...

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, BNT. Yes, I know Gualtiero's work, and I agree that it's very interesting. I'm surprised to discover that I don't cite it in my entry. (I just checked.) I suppose that's because I don't get into the debate to which he most prominently contributes -- whether introspective (or "first-person") evidence has some unique type of scientific status (see also Dennett, Chalmers, and Goldman). The entry is already so long, I had to fight with the editors a bit to include everything I did include.

Unknown said...

I am a master student of western philosophy in Tehran university of Iran.
I translate this your blog post to Persian.
Do you allow to me posted this translate on my site?
My site address is:
This entry on introspection is very necessary and useful for our (I and my friends) research.
I am waiting for your permission.
Please answer my request on my mail.
Thanks a lot.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ MAJID: I'd be delighted if you translated this post into Persian. You have my permission.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your permission.
I translate and posted it on my site.
It's link:

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Neat! I love the Persian script. Wish I could make sense of it!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.