Poking Out the Inner Eye
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Although the understanding of introspection as a kind of inner perception is common and deep-rooted in ordinary, philosophical, and scientific conceptions of the mind, there are good reasons to think that the inner perception model of introspection is flawed and ultimately untenable.1 In this chapter, I will explain some of those reasons, detailing physiological, phenomenological, functional, and evolutionary problems that inner perception accounts face. More specifically, I will argue that there is a) no physiologically-identifiable faculty of introspection, b) no perceptual phenomenology of mental objects, with no distinctive qualitative character by which they appear, c) no perceptual account of the recursive functions that introspection performs, and d) no plausible evolutionary explanation of an inner perception function. Whichever of these angles one takes on the matter, the notion of inner perception does not hold up to close scrutiny. Collectively, these reasons constitute a strong case against the existence of anything like a mind’s eye, as a distinctive faculty through which we somehow literally perceive the contents of our own mind.
KeywordsMental State Perceptual Experience Phenomenal Quality Brain State Perceptual Object
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