On the Social Side of Self-Knowledge

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


Philosophical conceptions of introspection and self-knowledge typically emphasize first-person access to one’s own mind, an orientation which we have analyzed in various ways throughout this book. More recent philosophical and scientific work emphasizes third-person objectivity which I have also brought into the mix to provide a more accurate and well-rounded understanding of introspection, as well as to mitigate some of the over-inflated epistemic privilege that has been granted to the first-person perspective, especially in Cartesian approaches to the mind. However, self-knowledge involves second-person interpersonal processes as well, through social interactions in which epistemic agents learn about themselves from others. The second-person stance is often not considered in philosophical and scientific work on the mind, though some have made efforts to give it more attention (e.g., Thompson, 2001; Ratcliffe, 2007, pp. 152–185). This chapter establishes a framework for bringing second-person social interaction into our understanding of introspection and self-knowledge. In particular, I will look at how substantial components of self-knowledge are acquired through social navigation and interpersonal testimony, via an agent’s ability to navigate her position in social environments through what others say to her.


Folk Psychology Epistemic Agent Testimonial Knowledge Social Trait Epistemic Dependence 
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Copyright information

© Jesse Butler 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central ArkansasUSA

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