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Consciousness, self-consciousness, and introspective self-knowledge.

Isabella, M.; (2005) Consciousness, self-consciousness, and introspective self-knowledge. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

We are, it seems, able to know a wide range of our own thoughts, beliefs, desires and emotions in a special immediate, authoritative way in which we are not able to know the mental states of others, nor indeed a certain range of our own such states. How is this possible What is this special way we have of knowing a certain class of our own mental states What, in fact, is the class of states of which we are able to have such knowledge, and, what is it about this class that enables us to know them in such a distinctive, authoritative way The broad aim of this thesis is to bring out, in answering these questions, an important point of intersection between issues about world-directed consciousness, self-consciousness and introspective self-knowledge. More specifically, starting from the problem of authoritative self-knowledge, the aim of the thesis is threefold: to motivate, to articulate, and to expand upon a particular Sartrian solution to this problem, based on a view of our world-directed conscious states as being in some sense at the same time states of implicit or 'pre- reflective' self-consciousness. In accordance with this threefold aim, the thesis divides into three parts as follows: Part I begins with the problem of authoritative self-knowledge and the standard solutions on offer in the literature: inferential models, perceptual models, and constitutive accounts. It then suggests how a close examination of the shortcomings of these standard approaches ultimately points towards a solution along the above Sartrian lines, ie. based on an understanding of first-order consciousness as involving already itself an implicit form of self-consciousness. Part II then focuses more narrowly on this notion of implicit self- consciousness, proceeding (a) to distinguish it first from other similar-sounding notions in the literature (ie. notions of 'non-conceptual' self-consciousness, higher- order-thought conceptions of consciousness, and constitutive accounts of self- knowledge), moving on then (b) to show how the notion introduced here, contra these others, can indeed provide the basis for a solution to the initial problem of introspective self-knowledge meeting all the desiderata on a successful such theory. Finally, Part III takes on the more concrete issue of how such a form of implicit self-consciousness might, in practice, be seen to be involved in our two main categories of world-directed states, ie. in our cognitive states on the one hand (thoughts, beliefs, perceptual experiences), and in our emotions on the other (desires, fears, hopes, etc). This section of the thesis goes beyond mere concerns about the relation between an implicit form of self-consciousness and the problem of self- knowledge, drawing on both other parts of the philosophical literature and on various parts of the current psychological literature, to make not only more concrete sense of the view of world-directed consciousness here advocated, but to thereby show it to be also plausible independently from the theoretical considerations about self-knowledge initially driving it in this thesis.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Consciousness, self-consciousness, and introspective self-knowledge.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592928
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445604
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