Introspection through Cognition

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


In the previous chapter, I explained an immediate kind of introspective knowledge that occurs through the intrinsic phenomenal quality of a conscious experience itself. However, many introspective states are mediated through various higher-level cognitive processes. The typical image of introspection involves an inward-focused, soul-searching person who ruminates, analyzes, and reflects upon her own mental life. This takes us beyond the immediate knowledge of a conscious phenomenal state toward more complicated reflective states that engage the extensive cognitive capacities of the human mind. In this chapter, I lay out a framework for understanding this more robust sense of introspection by drawing upon the fundamental processes involved in human cognition. The central idea is that we engage in higher-level introspection by utilizing the mind’s cognitive capacities to represent and think about our own minds. There is no need to posit any special cognitive processes or faculties that are specifically dedicated to introspection. The cognitive processes that we already know about (at least to some extent) can be utilized to understand what goes on when we introspect in a reflective manner.


Conscious Experience Representational Content Mental Life Previous Chapter Folk Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Jesse Butler 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central ArkansasUSA

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