Seminar, Fall  `98 Doug Long, Dorit Bar-On


Knowing Our Minds


            In this seminar we want to explore a cluster of philosophical issues surrounding our knowledge of our own minds.  These issues have become pressing again in recent years.  This is no doubt due to the increasing dominance of physicalist views which attempt to explicate the nature of mind and knowledge in terms that fit squarely within a ‘naturalist’ picture of the world.  This picture seems to have no room for the traditional notion that we have a very unique way of knowing our own mind, through a special ‘inner sense’, or subjective introspection.  But then it is not clear how to explain, on the naturalist picture, the apparent contrasts between knowledge of other people's minds and knowledge of our own.  The so-called “first-person authority” which we are each said to enjoy with respect to our own states of minds would seem to vanish on the naturalist picture.


            Can we preserve the idea that there is something truly special about our knowledge of our own minds without invoking the traditional conception of  introspection – of inner gaze into goings-on in immaterial minds?  Our specific aim will be to develop an approach that does precisely that.  But along the way we will attempt to understand the significance of questions regarding our knowledge of our own minds for the philosophy of mind and epistemology as well as ethics.




            The grade for the seminar will be determined on the basis of a full-length (roughly 20 double-space pages) term paper due by the end of exam week.  Students will be asked to come prepared with questions/issues to raise during seminar meetings. 


            Students who wish to give a presentation on the seminar materials will have an opportunity to do so.

            Auditors are welcome.




A folder with copies of reading materials will be placed in the coffee room.



Note: There will be no seminar meetings October14 (Fall Break) and November 25 (Thanksgiving). 


(I)             Background

- Kenny, “Cartesian Privacy”
– Ryle, “Self-Knowledge”

(II)           1st/3rd Person Asymmetries


       Armstrong, “Introspection”          
- Rorty, “Incorrigibility as the Mark of the Mental”



                  Anscombe, “The First Person”                                  

                  “Wittgenstein, “The First Person” (excerpts) 


- Strawson,  “The First Person – and Others”
– Evans, “Self-Identification”

(IV)         Asymmetries without Knowledge

- Wright, “Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy of Mind: Sensation, Privacy and Intention”
– Moran, “Introspection and Deflation”

(V)           What is Right about Cartesianism?

(VI)         Readings:
- Shoemaker, “First-Person Access”

(VII)       ‘Expressing Your Mind’

- Peacocke, “Wittgenstein and Experience”
– Foot, “Peacocke on Wittgenstein and Experience”
– Jacobsen, “Wittgenstein on Self-Knowledge and Self-Expression”
- Wright, “Self-Knowledge: The Wittgensteinian Legacy”
– Moran, “Self-Knowledge: Discovery, Resolution and Undoing”