The Circumstances of Self-Knowledge
Nijmegen : [S.n.]
Number of pages
Radboud University, 23 mei 2017
Promotores : Slors, M.V.P., Bransen, J.A.M., Cassam, Q. Co-promotores : Geurts, B., Schwitzgebel, E., Düwell, M.
Display more detailsDisplay less details
Leerstoel Filosofie van cognitie en taal
SubjectCenter for Cognition, Culture and Language (CCCL)
1. Introduction 1. The Gist of the Thesis: Atomism versus Holism Do you have self-knowledge of your intention to be at work on time tomorrow if you’ve had a few drinks too many? Do you know that you want a divorce if you express your desire during a fit of anger? Do you know your own desires, hopes and beliefs if you’re depressed, insecure, or got out of bed on the wrong side of the bed? Do you have self-knowledge of your desire to buy a healthy quinoa salad rather than fish-and-chips for lunch, if it’s evident that you’ve been ‘nudged’? Do you have self-knowledge of your belief that having a baby boy is better than having a baby girl, if you’ve been manipulated by state propaganda? These are fundamental and difficult questions about self-knowledge; about what it means to know your own beliefs, desires, hopes, intentions and other attitudes. The answers to these questions are by no means obvious. The aim of this thesis is not to provide a concrete answer to such questions, but rather to ask what is required in order to answer them. More specifically, the aim is to explore whether contemporary philosophical theories of self-knowledge have the materials to handle such questions in a satisfactory manner, i.e. in a way that respects their subtleties and intricacies. The current philosophical debate on self-knowledge is mostly concerned with the question of whether self-knowledge is a matter of looking into our minds (introspectionism), interpreting our minds (interpretivism), speaking our minds (expressivism) or making up our minds (rationalism). Hence, when working on self-knowledge, one of the first questions one is confronted with is whether one is an ‘introspectionist’, ‘interpretationist’, ‘expressivist’, ‘rationalist’, or perhaps a ‘pluralist’ of some sort. In other words, much of the current self-knowledge debate focuses on the methods or procedures of self-knowledge, their differences, similarities and (in)compatibilities. The focus of this thesis will instead be on what appears to be a widely shared though implicit assumption, which I’ll refer to as the assumption of atomism about self-knowledge. This is an assumption about what is required for someone to acquire knowledge of her attitudes. The atomist assumption comes down to this: following the theorist’s preferred procedure or method (such as speaking or making up one’s mind) is sufficient for a subject to acquire knowledge of her attitudes. The alternative ‘holist’ approach can be understood negatively as the reverse of atomism: the mere following of any of these standard methods or procedures by itself does not guarantee that they will yield self-knowledge. The plan is to articulate and problematize the atomist approach to the question of self-knowledge. More specifically, my aim is to address the preconditions of self-knowledge, which I will address by asking under what circumstances following some particular method is actually knowledge-conducive. In so doing I will concentrate, specifically, on the expressivist and rationalist accounts.
This item appears in the following Collection(s)
- Academic publications 
- Dissertations 
- Electronic publications 
- Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies 
- Open Access publications 
Upload full text
Use your RU credentials (u/z-number and password) to log in with SURFconext to upload a file for processing by the repository team.