Notebook

Boyle, M. (2009): Two kinds of self-knowledge

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Uniformity thesis

we should seek some common explanation of all of the cases in which we can speak immediately and authoritatively about our own mental states. (141)

Transparency thesis

the question whether I believe that p is said to be ‘‘transparent’’ to the question whether p because it seems that I can set- tle the former question by settling the latter. (137)

“Moran” type self-knowledge

precondition of self-knowledge?

the kind of self-knowledge Moran describes is fundamental, not just in the sense that any self-knower must be in a position to acquire such knowledge by learning that he is entitled to attach ‘‘I believe that’’ to claims he is prepared to endorse, but in the further sense that, whether or not he has learned to use such an expression, his implicit grasp that he has the power to make up his mind is a condition of his understand- ing the first person at all. If his use of the term ‘‘I’’ does not reflect an understanding that it refers to the person whose mind is his to make up, he does not understand the content of this term, and hence does not understand the content of any sentence of which it is a part. (155)

precondition of self-consciousness?

What Moran has given us, then, is not a model that can be generalized to account for all varieties of self-knowledge, but an account of the way of knowing one’s own mind that is a precondition of self-consciousness. This kind of self-knowledge is fundamental because it characterizes the framework into which any story about other varieties of self-knowledge must fit (156)

Transparent self-knowledge

Inferential vs. reflective accounts

Instead of thinking of the subject as making an inference from P to I believe P, he can think of the subject as taking a different sort of step, from believing P to reflectively judging (i.e.┬áconsciously thinking to himself): I believe P. The step, in other words, will not be an inferential transition between contents, but a coming to explicit acknowledgment of a condition of which one is already tacitly aware. The traditional philosophical term for this sort of cognitive step is ‘reflection’, so I will call this a reflective approach to explaining transparency. (boyle2011 Transparent Self Knowledge, 5)

According to the reflective account believing that p entails (at least) tacitly knowing that p.

It treats the following as a basic, irreducible fact about believing as it occurs in a creature capable of reflection: a subject in this condition is such as to be tacitly cognizant of being in this condition. Hence, in the normal and basic case, believing P and knowing oneself to believe P are not two cognitive states; they are two aspects of one cognitive state—the state, as we might put it, of knowingly believing P. (boyle2011 Transparent Self Knowledge, 6)

The reflective approach explains doxastic transparency in a simi- lar way: as a matter, not of inferring of a psychological fact from a fact about the world, but of shifting one’s attention from the world with which one is engaged to one’s engagement with it—an engagement of which one was already tacitly cognizant even when one’s attention was ‘directed outward’. The reflective approach thus does not seek to explain how we acquire doxastic self-knowledge. It explains this knowledge, not by appeal to some mechanism or method that allows the subject to know an otherwise unknown fact about himself, but in terms of the nature of belief itself. It treats the following as a basic, irreducible fact about believing as it occurs in a creature capable of reflection: a subject in this condition is such as to be tacitly cognizant of being in this condition. Hence, in the normal and basic case, believing P and knowing oneself to believe P are not two cognitive states; they are two aspects of one cognitive state—the state, as we might put it, of knowingly believing P. (boyle2011 Transparent Self Knowledge, 6)

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