So-Called Internal Perception

  • Moritz Schlick
Part of the LEP Library of Exact Philosophy book series (LEP, volume 11)


We have seen that the theory of self-evidence is full of discrepancies and contradictions. And we have ascertained the proton pseudos of all these confusions: that those who use the expressions ‘self-evidence’ (Evidenz) and ‘is evident’ (einleuchten) speak and reason as if consciousness stood there face to face with and inspecting truths and the facts of its own consciousness. (Thus Stumpf says: “We designate as immediately given that which is immediately evident as a fact43.”) And then of course they require a special criterion by which to determine whether the inspection has been correct. But this is precisely what self-evidence is supposed to provide. To be sure, they cannot conceal from themselves the circumstance that one’s own thought processes are not facts foreign to consciousness, but form part of it. Nevertheless, they persist in thinking of them as severed from the subject or the “I”, only then to tie them intimately to it again by an act supposed to be quite similar to the one which we imagine as setting up a connection between consciousness and things outside of consciousness: the act of perception.


Carbonic Acid Mental Element External Perception Internal Perception Musical Chord 
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    “Erscheinungen und psychische Funktionen”, Abhandlungen der Königlichen Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1906, p. 6.Google Scholar
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    Untersuchungen zum Problem der Evidenz der inneren Wahrnehmungen, Halle 1908.Google Scholar
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    The same thing is true of Brentano’s account in his Psychologic There he differentiates internal perception (our mere “being-given”) from internal observation, and correctly declares that the latter does not exist. He is also quite consistent when he rejects the unconscious.Google Scholar
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    Erscheinungen und psychische Funktionen, p. 34.Google Scholar
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    On this question, see the admirable exposition by Kurt Koffka, Probleme der experimentellen Psychologie, Numbers 1 and 2, Die Naturwissenschaften, 1917.Google Scholar
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    Hans Cornelius, Einleitung in die Philosophie, 3rd edition, 1911, pp. 313 ff.Google Scholar
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    Carl Stumpf, Erscheinungen und psychische Funktionen, p. 13.Google Scholar
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    Erkenntnistheorie, 1910, especially p. 33.Google Scholar
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    R. Herbertz explores a similar way of speaking meaningfully of internal perception. He says (Prolegomena zu einer realistischen Logik, p. 190): “The processes of consciousness — while we experience them and through our experiencing of them — are not directly given at all. We must first bring their existence reflexively to consciousness… in special acts of mental grasping. They are first ‘given’ us as objects of self-perception.” In these sentences the word ‘given’ is used in an altogether different sense from the one we have employed here; consequently, the sense in which Herbertz speaks of self-perception is not identical with the one we have had to reject. In this passage, as in Dürr, internal perception can be understood as apperception, and so has nothing to do with our problem.Google Scholar
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    Wundt, System der Philosophie, Volume II, 3rd edition, p. 138.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1974

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  • Moritz Schlick

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