A Defense of Inner Awareness: The Memory Argument Revisited

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Abstract
The psychological reality of an inner awareness built into conscious experience has traditionally been a central element of philosophy of consciousness, from Aristotle, to Descartes, Brentano, the phenomenological tradition, and early and contemporary analytic philosophy. Its existence, however, has recently been called into question, especially by defenders of so-called transparency of experience and first-order representationalists about phenomenal consciousness. In this paper, I put forward a defense of inner awareness based on an argument from memory. Roughly, the idea is that since we can only recall something if we were aware of it at the time of its occurrence, and since we can recall our own experiences, we must be aware of our own experiences at the time of their occurrence. The argument is far from new: it goes back to the Buddhist tradition and has been revived more recently in Buddhist Scholarship but also in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind, in particular by Uriah Kriegel. However, I believe that, since it is the best extant argument for inner awareness, it deserves more extensive treatment. My goal is to strengthen the memory argument by (i) making some conceptual distinctions as to the exact thesis about inner awareness the argument is supposed to support, (ii) considering different ways the argument may be reconstructed depending on the exact thesis to be supported, and (iii) defending the argument from a new objection, raised very recently by Daniel Stoljar.
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Archival date: 2021-11-22
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