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Introspective Knowledge and Displaced Perception

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.6 
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"Dretske remarks that there are ‘two important differences between introspective knowledge and other forms of displaced perception’ (p. 60).   What are these differences?   Are they enough to call into question his view of introspective knowledge as displaced perception?"




The second chapter of Naturalizing the Mind is in the main an attempt to provide an account of introspective knowledge consistent with the Representational Thesis.   Dretske takes introspective knowledge to be a given and proceeds by trying to explain how such knowledge is possible without appealing to an ‘inner sense’, an idea that seems to conflict with the Thesis’s commitment to externalism about the content of mental states.   To this end, he proposes that introspection is a species of displaced perception.   However, he highlights two important differences between introspective knowledge and other forms of displaced perception that seem to suggest that introspective knowledge cannot in any relevant sense be viewed as an instance of displaced perception.   As a result, Dretske fails to explain how introspective knowledge is possible and therefore fails to provide a compelling alternative to the ‘inner sense’ account of introspective knowledge.


Introspective knowledge is "knowledge the mind has of itself" (p. 39).   For example, knowing, when I perceive a yellow box, that I am having a certain experience (namely an experience of a yellow box) is, for Dretske, an instance of introspective knowledge. This knowledge is not about the box’s being yellow or indeed about the box at all, it is knowledge about myself, knowledge that I am having a certain experience (on Dretske’s view, knowledge that I am representing a, perceived, box as yellow).   Introspective knowledge seems to have some strange properties.   "Natsoulas defines one form of consciousness—reflective consciousness—as a privileged ability to be...

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