Russell on Introspection and Self-Knowledge

In Russell Wahl (ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Bertrand Russell. New York, NY, USA: pp. 256-285 (2018)
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This chapter examines Bertrand Russell's developing views--roughly from 1911 to 1918--on the nature of introspective knowledge and subjects' most basic knowledge of themselves as themselves. It argues that Russell's theory of introspection distinguishes between direct awareness of individual psychological objects and features, the presentation of psychological complexes involving those objects and features, and introspective judgments which aim to correspond with them. It also explores his transition from believing that subjects enjoy introspective self-acquaintance, to believing that they only know themselves by self-description, and eventually to believing that self-knowledge is a logical construction. It concludes by sketching how Russell's views about introspection and self-knowledge change as a result of his adoption of neutral monism. Along the way, it sheds additional light on his acquaintance-based theory of knowledge, preference for logical constructions over inferred entities, and gradual progression towards neutral monism.
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Archival date: 2019-05-29
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