Memory, Imagery, and Self-Knowledge

Avant: Special Issue-Thinking with Images 10 (2) (2019)
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Abstract

One distinct interest in self-knowledge concerns whether one can know about one’s own mental states and processes, how much, and by what methods. One broad distinction is between accounts that centrally claim that we look inward for self-knowledge (introspective methods) and those that claim that we look outward for self-knowledge (transparency methods). It is here argued that neither method is sufficient, and that we see this as soon as we move beyond questions about knowledge of one’s beliefs, focusing instead on how one distinguishes, for oneself, one’s veridical visual memories from mere (non-veridical) visual images. Given robust psychological and phenomenal similarities between episodic memories and mere imagery, the following is a genuine question that one might pose to oneself: “Do I actually remember that happening, or am I just imagining it?” After critical analysis of the transparency method (advocated by Byrne 2010, following Evans 1982) to this latter epistemological question, a brief sketch is offered of a more holistic and inferential method for acquisition of broader self-knowledge (broadly following the interpretive-sensory access account of Carruthers 2011). In a slogan, knowing more of the mind requires using more of the mind.

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Dustin Stokes
University of Utah

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