Introspection Without Judgment
The focus of this paper is introspection of phenomenal states, i.e. the distinctively first-personal method through which one can form beliefs about the phenomenology of one’s current conscious mental states. I argue that two different kinds of phenomenal state introspection should be distinguished: one which involves recognizing and classifying the introspected phenomenal state as an instance of a certain experience type, and another which does not involve such classification. Whereas the former is potentially judgment-like, the latter is not. I call them, respectively, reflective introspection and primitive introspection. The purpose of this paper is to argue that primitive introspection is a psychologically real phenomenon. My main argument for the existence of primitive introspection is an argument from phenomenal-concept acquisition. By assuming that the capacity to classify or recognize a phenomenal state as an instance of an experience type (e.g. pain experience) maps into one’s possession of the relevant phenomenal concept (e.g. PAIN), I argue that if all introspection involved classification, most phenomenal concepts could not be acquired. I conclude that, if we are to avoid radical nativism about phenomenal concepts, we must accept the existence of non-classificatory introspection (i.e. primitive introspection).
This work was supported by the French National Research Agency’s Grants ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL and ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC. For extensive comments to previous drafts of this paper, I am extremely grateful to Uriah Kriegel, long and numerous conversations with whom made a fundamental contribution to this paper. I’m also grateful to David Chalmers, Jim Pryor, Charles Siewert, and Andrew Lee for their comments to a previous draft. I have benefitted from presenting parts of this paper at the Doc’in Nicod (IJN, Paris) and at the Washington Square Circle (NYU). I am grateful to the audiences there, and especially to François Recanati, Michael Murez, Luca Gasparri, Paul Egré, Enrico Terrone, Andrew Lee, Dan Hoek, Chris Scambler, Arden Koehler, Alma Barner, and Ben Holguin. The paper benefitted also from being presented at the “Consciousness and Introspection” seminar at the Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris), at the “Introspection and Self-Knowledge” seminar at the Université de Lille 3 (Lille), at the PLM4 conference at the Ruhr University (Bochum), and at the “Introspection Sucks!” workshop at the University of Antwerp. I am grateful to the audiences there and particularly to Pascal Ludwig, François Kammerer, Matthias Michel, Emile Thalabard, Arnauld Dewalque, Denis Seron, Bertille de Vlieger, Michele Palmira, Tobias Schlicht, Sascha Fink, Manuel Martínez Merino, Bence Nanay, Adriana Renero, Katia Samoilova, Kranti Saran, and Eric Schwitzgebel.
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