Self-Knowledge and the Self

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Whether she is justified in believing in the resurrection is of course a separate matter. But an atheist can accuse a believer of epistemic irrationality without therein accusing her of insincerity. In chapter 5, Jane Heal further examines Peacocke's claim that a subject's conscious judgments, experiences and emotions "directly" justify her introspective belief in their existence.

A person can be fearful or jealous of someone, reflect to the best of her ability, and yet fail to recognize her emotion as fear or jealously. She may interpret her experience as discomfort with the target of her fear rather than fear of him, or insist that she is experiencing warranted disapproval of her rival's character rather than jealousy of his accomplishments Indeed, Heal rightly points out that interpretation or conceptualization also plays a role in the formation of our more basic introspective judgments. Consider a case of Gareth Evans' in which a subject sees ten lights before him but miscounts and judges there to be eleven lights there instead.

Such a subject will think it looks to him as though there are eleven lights before him when it really looks to him as though there are ten lights there. As Heal points out, even if knowledge of our minds is non-inferential and non-observational, epistemic or cognitive skill might still play an essential role in its acquisition. In chapter 7, Lucy O'Brien takes aim at Peacocke's account of our immediate awareness of our own actions.

The Self-Concept

On Peacocke's account, we have a "basic" way of being aware of what we are doing that is distinct from our conceptual knowledge of our actions. The awareness in question is non-perceptual; it is independent of any sensory perception of the action of which it is an awareness; and it can occur as a merely "apparent" awareness, as when it seems to you that you are raising your hand, when you are not Peacocke adopts a model of this phenomenon on which trying to do something direct causes the apparent awareness of the action one is trying to perform.

But O'Brien argues that this account comes to grief with regard to basic actions that are not initiated by "tryings. Peacocke responds to Heal and O'Brien in chapter 8. His reply to O'Brien is two-pronged. First he denies that one can act without trying. A severely depressed person can try to talk to herself but find herself with nothing to say. But even if there are basic actions that do not themselves incorporate tryings, Peacocke insists that his account can be easily modified to correctly model our immediate awareness of them.

Insofar as we are directly aware of actions we perform without trying, these actions will have some "initiating event" that plays the role Peacocke's current model assigns to tryings. In reply to Heal, Peacocke somewhat flat-footedly denies the phenomenon to which she points. He notes that fearing someone is not the same thing as being anxious in that person's presence. To fear someone, Peacocke argues, one must represent that person as dangerous and in this way or some other experience one's anxiety as fear The point is well taken, and Heal is perhaps guilty of under-describing the case on offer.

But it's hard to see how the existence of the cases to which she points can be reasonably denied. Puzzles remain.

According to the standard functionalist metaphysics, to believe that p, an agent's actions and inferences must be suitably guided or influenced by p. But how can I know in a direct manner whether I would act or reason on the information that p were it relevant to the task at hand? And if I cannot have immediate knowledge of my cognitive and behavioral dispositions, how can I have immediate knowledge of beliefs constituted by these dispositions? The four essays that comprise the volume's final section address questions in this vein.

In chapter 12, Akeel Bilgrami begins his answer with an argument for the ambiguity of "belief. Her views on her beliefs so understood do not carry a presumption of truth. But we also use "belief" to refer to a person's commitments. And a person's judgment or assertion that she is committed to the truth of a given proposition is justly granted authority. Coliva chapter 10 offers a similar account.

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We are authoritative about our commitments construed as speech acts or dispositions to such. Psychological concepts are acquired through "blind drill" with psychological terms. Children are taught to say, "I believe that p" as an alternative to saying "P" and they eventually pick up the habit. There is no epistemic gap between asserting that p believing that p and asserting that one believes that p believing that one believes that p because both of these phenomena can be equated with the commitment to use p in inference and defend p with arguments.

She describes the account as "constructivist. Bilgrami argues that the commitments in question are not just "normative" in that they are subject to criticism and evaluation -- they are "themselves normative states" But what is this supposed to mean? At first, Bilgrami says that a subject's believing that p cannot be equated with her having dispositions of any kind, but he soon retreats to the more modest claim that believing that p cannot be equated with the possession of a set of first order dispositions , n6.

To believe that men are no smarter than women is to commit oneself to employing this information in one's reasoning, deliberation and action. On Bilgrami's account, one's commitment to this truth is not put into doubt by one's misogynistic comments, inferences, hiring practices and the like, so long as one tries to do better when these behaviors are brought to one's attention. But the disposition to take the relevant criticism to heart and alter one's reasoning and behavior in its light is still a disposition.

Self-Knowledge and Self-Love | SpringerLink

So, while Bilgrami is right to reject crudely behavioristic accounts of belief that equate its possession with dispositions that can be specified without the use of psychological concepts, most functionalists join him in this stance. And most functionalists do not think of themselves as rejecting naturalism, or as pursuing an approach to psychological explanation that is discontinuous with the methodologies now prevalent in psychology departments. Bilgrami must do more to show that philosophers must abandon a naturalistic approach to the mind if they are to admit the existence of commitments construed as dispositions to revise one's reasoning and behavior in response to incongruities between them and one's assertions.

In Chapter 9, Dorit Bar-On further develops an "expressivist" approach to self-knowledge that resembles the Coliva-Bilgrami line in its emphasis on speech acts and rhetorical dispositions. But she situates the view in relation to "content externalism" and its seeming incompatibility with a distinctively introspective route to knowledge of one's own mind. According to the content externalist, the contents of our thoughts are in part determined by factors external to our minds or brains. If he is embedded in a sufficiently different environment, my duplicate might not share my beliefs.

Surely, introspection can only generate awareness of states, events and acts that are "internal" to a subject's mind or brain. Does perception do any work in an understanding of the first person? Consciousness and self-awareness, Jane Heal 6.

The Psychology and Epistemology of Self-Knowledge

Reasons and self-knowledge, Conor McHugh 7. Knowledge of actions and tryings, Lucy O'Brien 8. Robust or fragile? Externalism and skepticism: recognition, expression and self-knowledge, Dorit Bar-On One variety of self-knowledge: constitutivism as constructivism, Annalisa Coliva How to think about phenomenal self-knowledge, Paul Snowdon The unique status of self-knowledge, Akeel Bilgrami. She has authored seven books, edited four, and published several articles in international journals.

There are lots of carefully-defined views, and disagreements keep on emerging. The reader who is already immersed in the topic will recognise many of the views, and will spot new moves in the debate. The reader who is new to the field will have to work hard to map out the different views and the common themes, but that itself will be a most rewarding mental exercise. In all, this volume offers a nice range of papers on self-knowledge, and I'd recommend it to specialists working in the area. The more that Bruce Lee went inside, the more outwardly visible his essence became.

The deeper you know your inner essence, the more you come into harmony with nature and everything around you. This is why it is important to check-in with how your relationships are in your life. What is your personal level of happiness and satisfaction? How truly happy are you in every moment? Do you feel free? Do you have peace of mind?

These are good questions to ask yourself to uncover the real truth about where you are on your journey to self-knowledge. Look at your relationships, check them out, what is the quality? Can you sustain them? Or do you cycle through them? Look at your friendships, love relationships, coworkers, neighbors, and casual relationships and how you would rate the relationship and your satisfaction. Where are your areas of confusion?

Where are you feeling lost or upset? Look at them objectively and ask what your ignorance is there. Tackle it a little bit at a time, one subject at a time. Make a list of strengths and weaknesses—both are great teachers. Miwa Matreyek is an animator, director, designer, and performer living and working in Los Angeles.