Introspective Training Apprehensively Defended: Reflections on Titchener's Lab Manual

Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (7-8):58-76 (2004)
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To study conscious experience we must, to some extent, trust introspective reports; yet introspective reports often do not merit our trust. A century ago, E.B. Titchener advocated extensive introspective training as a means of resolving this difficulty. He describes many of his training techniques in his four-volume laboratory manual of 1901- 1905. This paper explores Titchener's laboratory manual with an eye to general questions about the prospects of introspective training for contemporary consciousness studies, with a focus on the following examples: introspective knowledge of the combination tones that arise when a musical interval is played; the 'flight of colours' in the afterimage of a field of bright, broad- spectrum light; and the possibility of non-obvious visual illusions. Introspective training appears to have some merit, but also to involve significant hazards.

Author's Profile

Eric Schwitzgebel
University of California, Riverside


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