Calendar | Conference

Introspection and Self-Consciousness

URPh Annual Seminar

Liège, 23 - 26 April 2019

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Our research center is organizing its 13th annual seminar, devoted to a central and recurring theme in the philosophy of the last two centuries: self-knowledge in the widest sense, including self-consciousness and introspection.

A crucial issue for both psychology and the philosophy of mind is how the subject can have access to her own mental life and acquire knowledge of it. Since the early 19th century this issue has given rise to numerous controversies which are still ongoing in the current literature and to which a wide range of phenomenologically-oriented philosophers have largely contributed. The aim of the seminar is to explore and discuss these debates, with a special focus on contributions from phenomenologically-oriented philosophers.

CFP is openOriginal Call for Papers

Systematic and historical contributions (e.g., on James, Wundt, the Brentano School, the Würzburg School, Husserl, Sartre, Wittgenstein, etc.) are welcome. For example, papers may engage with questions such as:

  1. Does “self-consciousness” exist? Is mental life as such phenomenologically manifest? (Transparency of experience argument, etc.)

  2. Supposing that it makes sense to talk of self-consciousness, is self-consciousness a kind of representation? (The infinite regress objection, etc.)

  3. Is self-consciousness infallible? Does it involve “first person authority” or, in a Cartesian line of thought, possessing a privileged access to a special, private realm?

  4. Is introspection possible? Is it possible as a source of (scientific) knowledge? (Comte, Kantians like Natorp, Behaviorists.)

  5. Supposing that introspection is possible, how are we to define it? Does it really involve, as some tend to claim, having one’s own mental states as one’s objects?

  6. If introspection has an object, is this object distinct from the objects of external observation? (G.E. Moore’s version of the argument from the transparency of experience.)

  7. Does introspection involve some alteration of the mental state as it is merely experienced? When you introspect (I) your own state S’, is S’ identical with the state S it would be if it were not introspected? Is the object of I the whole compound IS’, or the introspected state only?

  8. Is it possible to introspect one’s own mental life at the moment it is experienced? Some authors have claimed that there must be a temporal gap between the introspecting state and its introspected object. In this case, how can we be sure that the past unintrospected state S is identical with the state that is presently introspected through memory?

  9. Supposing that introspection is a real source of knowledge, is it a reliable source? The answers to this question have varied on a large spectrum from pure unreliability to infallibility. Many authors have defended the view that introspection is more reliable in some cases and less in others, claiming that it can be improved by training and monitoring.

Proposals (title and abstract, maximum 700 words) are invited from senior researchers as well as graduate students, and must be sent via email to D. Seron (d.seron[at]uliege.be) and Ch. Gauvry (c.gauvry[at]uliege.be) by January 15, 2019. Please use only the electronic submission form (doc - txt).

The abstracts will be evaluated by the URPh board through a blind-review process. Acceptance or refusal will be notified at the end of January at the latest.