Introspection as a Metaphor

Part of the New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science book series (NDPCS)


So, if introspection is not a kind of perception, what is it? What are we doing when we introspect? The primary goal of the remainder of this book is to develop a satisfying answer to this question, providing a viable understanding of introspection and its epistemic properties. Before turning to the details, however, I want to emphasize here in this transitional chapter the fact that introspection is a diverse phenomenon, held together not by a single kind of cognitive process or epistemic status, but rather by a metaphorical unity applied to the subjective first-person orientation we have towards our own minds. Key to understanding the diversity of introspection is the realization that the concept of introspection itself, as a looking within, is a metaphor. If we want an accurate characterization of introspection, we cannot take the concept itself literally. It is, rather, a unifying perceptual metaphor projected onto a diverse set of epistemic relationships we hold to ourselves. Once this is understood, the concept of introspection is opened up for revision, to be reconsidered and reconceived. Regarded as a metaphor, introspection need not be confined to a singular mechanism or process. Instead, it can be treated as a unifying concept for multiple states and processes at work in our first-person epistemic grasp of our own minds. The articulation of this point here will provide a framework for understanding how the various aspects of introspection discussed in subsequent chapters fall together under this one umbrella concept of ‘introspection’.


Epistemic Status Phenomenal Awareness Epistemic Property Single Kind Umbrella Concept 
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Copyright information

© Jesse Butler 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central ArkansasUSA

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