Inner Opacity. Nietzsche on Introspection and Agency

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (3):221-243 (2015)
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Abstract

Nietzsche believes that we do not know our own actions, nor their real motives. This belief, however, is but a consequence of his assuming a quite general skepticism about introspection. The main aim of this paper is to offer a reading of this last view, which I shall call the Inner Opacity (IO) view. In the first part of the paper I show that a strong motivation behind IO lies in Nietzsche’s claim that self-knowledge exploits the same set of cognitive capacities as well as the same folk-psychological framework involved in outward-directed mind-reading. In the second part I turn to Nietzsche’s view of agency and argue that he sees a fundamental discrepancy between the conscious attitudes we have introspective access to, on the one hand, and the subpersonal processes and states occurring at the unconscious level of the drives, on the other hand.

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Mattia Riccardi
University of Porto

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