Our Knowledge of the Internal World (Lines of Thought)
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On the traditional Cartesian picture, knowledge of one's own internal world -- of one's current thoughts and feelings -- is the unproblematic foundation for all knowledge. The philosophical problem is to explain how we can move beyond this knowledge, how we can form a conception of an objective world, and how we can know that the world answers to our conception of it. This book is in the anti-Cartesian tradition that seeks to reverse the order of explanation. Robert Stalnaker argues that we can understand our knowledge of our thoughts and feelings only by viewing ourselves from the outside, and by seeing our inner lives as features of the world as it is in itself. He uses the framework of possible worlds both to articulate a conception of the world as it is in itself, and to represent the relation between our objective knowledge and our knowledge of our place in the world. He explores an analogy between knowledge of one's own phenomenal experience and self-locating knowledge -- knowledge of who one is, and what time it is. He criticizes the philosopher's use of the notion of acquaintance to characterize our intimate epistemic relation to the phenomenal character of our experience, and explores the tension between an anti-individualist conception of the contents of thought and the thesis that we have introspective access to that content. The conception of knowledge that emerges is a contextualist and anti-foundationalist one but, it is argued, a conception that is compatible with realism about both the external and internal worlds.
different (uncentered) world. To set up the modiﬁed account that I think will give a more adequate representation of self-locating content, let me start by distinguishing two questions: (1) How should a person’s state of belief as a whole be represented so that it includes his or her self-locating beliefs? (2) What is the content of a self-locating belief ? In the classical formal semantic models for knowledge and belief that ignores the phenomenon of self-location, a belief state as a whole is
Sleeping Beauty be in precisely the same epistemic situation on the two different days (on the assumption that the coin landed tails). It cannot be that it is slightly darker, or lighter, in the room in which she wakes up on one of the two days, or that the exact arrangement of the bedcovers that she sees as she wakes up is slightly different, or that she hears a dog bark in the distance on one day, but not the other. Sometimes a science ﬁction variant of the story is told in which an exact
rise to the ‘‘wow’’ type phenomenal experience. Why does her old word ‘‘red’’ connect more directly to the property red than her new word ‘‘rouge’’? (And why does her old word ‘‘ph-red’’ connect more or less directly to her phenomenal experience of red than her new word ‘‘wow’’?) We, who attribute belief and knowledge, refer to properties and things (and qualia, if there are such things) and characterize the content of other people’s belief in terms of those things. In the right context, we
without knowledge of the essence of the city or person, so he thinks that we cannot have singular beliefs about the qualitative character of our experience without knowing the properties that are essential to them. One might conclude that since we obviously are acquainted with the character of our experience, we thereby must know their essential nature, and Lewis thinks that it is part of the folk concept of phenomenal experience that we do have such knowledge, simply in virtue of having the
layer between the knower and the features of the world (or in this case, features of the subject) that are known. (The main attraction of concepts, I think, is that they facilitate equivocation between the vehicles of representation—the linguistic or mental objects or Acquaintance and Essence ∼ 105 features that do the representing—and the meaning or content of the representation.) So what are concepts? Some think of them as something like mental words—words of a language of thought.