• T Clark
    4.2k
    I've been thinking about this question. I've joked that I'm a "seems to me" philosopher. Sometimes people have criticized me for that. I rarely quote well-known philosophers. When I do it's generally Emerson's "Self-reliance" and Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" or sometimes maybe William James' "Pragmatism" and R.G. Collingwood's "Essay on Metaphysics." I include feelings, values, impressions, and personal experience - both internal and external - in my arguments. I'm not sure how this relates exactly, but I also am a broken record (if you remember or ever knew what that means) for the distinction between questions of metaphysics and epistemology and questions of fact.

    I depend mostly on my own introspection for my positions on philosophical questions. I try to be very self-aware about my own internal experience, especially for questions of knowledge, which is very important to me. I'm not sure if that's because I'm an engineer or if I became an engineer because knowledge is so important.

    I think most people probably will agree that introspection is valuable. We'll see. There's more to it than that - should we depend less on introspection than on ratiocination? Love that word. Means, more or less, rational thinking. If so, how do they compare in terms of their credibility? It should be clear where I come down.
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    Well, I think that like subjectivity, introspection can be considered a filter through which you experience the world, which are by definition, experienced through the lens of your life, emotions, upbringing, what you've read etc. Objectivity is arguably impossible, although the scientific method does attempt to account for our subjective biases and distortions.

    I do not think there is a relationship between knowledge being important and engineering as an occupation. I think engineering has financial incentives, but knowledge is acquired through many different occupations, none of them being superior to the other, as can be seen in the raging debates between philosophers and physicists.

    I think while rationality attempted to be parsimonious with regards to categorizing "truth" from our own biases, the fact is, this rationality is also traveling through the filters I mentioned earlier. From your point of view, you may have a dispassionate evaluation of "just the facts," but your biases, beliefs, culture, etc, will automatically preclude some "facts" from even being an option to you.

    So overall I think introspection is valuable, but I am skeptical that "rationality" and introspection can really be two separate categories when armchair philosophizing. When building a bridge, yeah of course they are different, but when pondering philosophical questions, that becomes much less clear.
  • DingoJones
    1k


    I would go further, and say introspection is INvaluable. Like the man said, the unexamined life is not worth living.
    I honestly respect a philosophical view built from within and on ones own than the regurgitation of historical philosophy if I had to choose, although a mix of both is ideal.
  • Judaka
    395

    Introspection is a useful tool, it's necessary to understand yourself, others and the world. Introspection always yields results, you can learn about others by knowing yourself and you can start to put things together. Knowing things like intelligence, ambition, laziness, focus, emotion and the list goes on without introspection might be just an exercise in theory, I don't believe you can really know them without introspection. Rationality, on the other hand, does not only not always yield results and it can lead one astray.

    Lots of things make sense, seem good on paper and are 100% false. There are psychological factors like cognitive dissonance, cognitive biases like the dunning-kruger effect, confirmation biases. Incomplete information, incorrect premises, logic unreasonably applied and using argumentation that seems good but fails.

    I think introspection should be a large component of any philosopher's understanding of the world. Philosophers who fail to utilise their understanding of themselves and others and rely on rationality instead fail and end up in their own little world.
  • TheMadFool
    3.9k
    There's more to it than that - should we depend less on introspection than on ratiocination?T Clark

    I don't understand and I understand. :smile:

    I don't understand because rationality is mandatory and not an option you can deny. I read somewhere that to be irrational is to fail or, worse, die a premature death. There's a youtube video:


    In other words introspection has to be done rationally. Otherwise you'd be schizophrenic, right? Of course there are times when I think it's better to be insane than normal but that's another topic.


    I understand because you read Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching is, in my humble opinion, a different type of philosophy. It's replete with what are normally considered fatal errors in philosophy - vagueness, paradoxes, etc.

    You probably mean that you think for yourself and use external material/sources simply as a good place to start an investigation. That's wonderful but how do you deal with frustration? I mean some philosophical ideas are notoriously difficult. Wouldn't it be illogical to go into the wilderness without a guide/friend who knows the trails?

    Anyways, good luck!
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    So overall I think introspection is valuable, but I am skeptical that "rationality" and introspection can really be two separate categories when armchair philosophizing. When building a bridge, yeah of course they are different, but when pondering philosophical questions, that becomes much less clear.rlclauer

    Yes, I think I agree with what you are saying. When I made the distinction, I was ...maybe projecting is the right word - anticipating what others might say. To me they are both just part of the package of what goes into knowledge. Maybe it's that self-awareness in this context is something I feel good at, while a rational approach doesn't feel as natural. I think it comes back to this quote from Kafka, which I haven't used in a week or two:

    You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

    It's all right there in front of us. We only need to pay attention.

    I do not think there is a relationship between knowledge being important and engineering as an occupation. I think engineering has financial incentives, but knowledge is acquired through many different occupations, none of them being superior to the other, as can be seen in the raging debates between philosophers and physicists.rlclauer

    I was speaking personally here, as an engineer. I wasn't making comparisons. Working as an engineer, I have been, needed to be, tried to be, very, self-consciously, aware of how knowledge works in the specific situations where I used it. I had to get it right. I wasn't saying that others don't do the same things.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    I honestly respect a philosophical view built from within and on ones own than the regurgitation of historical philosophy if I had to choose, although a mix of both is ideal.DingoJones

    Sounds like you and I agree. How aware are you of how your mind is working while you think? Is it something you pay attention to?
  • DingoJones
    1k


    Yes, I practice meditation and have spent alot of time in deep reflection which becomes habit while thinking.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    should we depend less on introspection than on ratiocination? Love that word. Means, more or less, rational thinking. If so, how do they compare in terms of their credibility?T Clark

    Seems a different sort of question than the titular question :D. I don't think they are separable, even in matters of fact, as you put it. So there's an interesting bundle of alternating answers in there, between yourself and myself, while still agreeing that they are not separable.

    But is introspection a kind of knowledge at all, or if it be a kind of knowledge is it a valid one? I don't think that I'd agree that introspection is a kind of knowledge, but rather is way of thinking. We look into ourselves, and try and identify -- make into words -- different parts of our mind. This is the belief that is based on a gut feeling. This is the belief that is based on an observation. The terms "gut feeling" and "observation" are products of a way of thinking about our beliefs and classifying them -- the introspective way.

    But then you say this:
    I include feelings, values, impressions, and personal experience - both internal and external - in my arguments.T Clark

    And I wonder -- is this more of what you mean by introspection? Because the inclusion of feelings, values, impressions, and personal experience within an argument -- so I would say -- does not invalidate it as knowledge. Knowledge is made by people, after all, and people are motivated by feelings. So the inclusion of what moves us to make knowledge is only honest -- and in fact is often asked after when someone does make an argument or provide some chain of reasoning.



    Which is a dizzying sort of way to say that I think there's a lot to untangle.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    I don't understand because rationality is mandatory and not an option you can deny. I read somewhere that to be irrational is to fail or, worse, die a premature deathTheMadFool

    I can deny that rationality is mandatory. Not that I don't ever use it, but most of what I do and know is not rational. It's not irrational either. It's non-rational. I have a lot of experience collecting, organizing, evaluating, and using data - specifically data regarding properties and bodies of water with contaminated soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment. Most of the upfront work we do is non-rational. Rationality mostly comes in when we have to explain conditions at the site to others and justify planned future work.

    In other words introspection has to be done rationally. Otherwise you'd be schizophrenic, right?TheMadFool

    No. Introspection is observing yourself the same way you observe the rest of the world. You see what's going on. That's mostly non-rational. Then rationality comes in when you explain what's going on - to yourself and others. The experience itself - the observation - can easily be made more difficult by rationality.

    I understand because you read Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching is, in my humble opinion, a different type of philosophy. It's replete with what are normally considered fatal errors in philosophy - vagueness, paradoxes, etc.TheMadFool

    So, 3,500 years of Chinese philosophy is wrong? I don't think so. Your "humble opinion" seems to be presumptuous and based on ignorance or misunderstanding. There's only one world. There are lots of ways of looking at it, but they're all describing the same thing. Eastern philosophy may be unfamiliar, but it's often sophisticated, subtle, and clear headed. Perhaps some western philosophers see see it as replete with fatal errors, vagueness, paradoxes, but it's not. Schopenhauer read Indian philosophy and acknowledged that many of his ideas are, if not influenced by it, at least consistent with it. Many of the vague ideas you talk about are also found in western philosophers. Kant's noumena have a lot in common with Lao Tzu's Tao as does Schopenhauer's will.

    You probably mean that you think for yourself and use external material/sources simply as a good place to start an investigation. That's wonderful but how do you deal with frustration? I mean some philosophical ideas are notoriously difficult. Wouldn't it be illogical to go into the wilderness without a guide/friend who knows the trails?TheMadFool

    In my experience, many western philosophical ideas are difficult because they are inflated to ten times their actual size by adding unnecessary words that are more likely to hide reality than uncover it. I recognize that many people feel differently and get great value from western philosophy. I have been impressed with how they use it to understand how things work, but I have no patience with what I see as dead weight verbiage. I am very lazy which, by the way, is something I recognize because of introspection.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Knowing things like intelligence, ambition, laziness, focus, emotion and the list goes on without introspection might be just an exercise in theory, I don't believe you can really know them without introspection. Rationality, on the other hand, does not only not always yield results and it can lead one astray.Judaka

    I think introspection should be a large component of any philosopher's understanding of the world. Philosophers who fail to utilise their understanding of themselves and others and rely on rationality instead fail and end up in their own little world.Judaka

    You and I seem to agree. I would add to your list of mental experiences that can be known with introspection our experience of knowing, feeling, being conscious, and perceiving.
  • Coben
    832
    Is introspection a valid type of knowledge
    Just gonna start by being fussy and say that introspection is not a type of knowledge and change the question to: does introspection gather information that can be used to form knowledge?

    God, that's a terrible version. Maybe I can find a better one later.

    But my point is that introspection is a process, whereas knowledge is more like a product - some belief or assertion about the world that we think is likely to be true.

    That said. Without introspection there can be no knowledge.
  • TheMadFool
    3.9k
    Well I did say I understand and don't understand. I though that was a Zen/Lao Tzu trademark.

    Anyway, I don't understand this non-rational stuff you're talking about.

    The way I make sense of non-rational is that it doesn't involve thinking of any kind at all, not even irrational thinking. Reminds me of the quote made by someone "you're not even wrong".

    Non-rational, the third wheel, unnecessary they say but you always need one when you blow a tire.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    But is introspection a kind of knowledge at all, or if it be a kind of knowledge is it a valid one? I don't think that I'd agree that introspection is a kind of knowledge, but rather is way of thinking. We look into ourselves, and try and identify -- make into words -- different parts of our mind. This is the belief that is based on a gut feeling. This is the belief that is based on an observation. The terms "gut feeling" and "observation" are products of a way of thinking about our beliefs and classifying them -- the introspective way.Moliere

    Good point. I don't really think I'd say introspection is a way of thinking, but maybe I should have said that it is a good way of gaining knowledge.
  • TheMadFool
    3.9k
    Good point. I don't really think I'd say introspection is a way of thinking, but maybe I should have said that it is a good way of gaining knowledge.T Clark

    Now that makes sense to me. We could possibly divide all knowledge into two - internal (self) and external (physical world). Introspection is an inquiry into the former.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Anyway, I don't understand this non-rational stuff you're talking about.

    The way I make sense of non-rational is that it doesn't involve thinking of any kind at all, not even irrational thinking.
    TheMadFool

    Imagine one of your favorite foods - for me it's, let's say, a nice creamy fish chowder. I picture the bowl. Imagine the smell and the feel of it on my tongue - the warmth, the flavor, the feel of the chunks of haddock in my mouth. Don't label it, put it into words, think about it. Just experience it. That is non-rational.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Now that makes sense to me. We could possibly divide all knowledge into two - internal (self) and external (physical world). Introspection is an inquiry into the former.TheMadFool

    Yes. I agree.
  • Galuchat
    662
    Is introspection a valid type of knowledge — T Clark
    No.
    Introspection is a type of reflection, which is a type of problem-solving, not a type of knowledge.

    There's more to it than that - should we depend less on introspection than on ratiocination?T Clark

    Why not depend on both?
    Seems to me they are different types of problem-solving tools.
    Introspection examines mental events.
    Reason creates and/or develops arguments.

    If so, how do they compare in terms of their credibility?T Clark

    Mental faculties don't have credibility, people do.
  • TheMadFool
    3.9k
    Imagine one of your favorite foods - for me it's, let's say, a nice creamy fish chowder. I picture the bowl. Imagine the smell and the feel of it on my tongue - the warmth, the flavor, the feel of the chunks of haddock in my mouth. Don't label it, put it into words, think about it. Just experience it. That is non-rational.T Clark

    :ok:
  • Coben
    832
    If so, how do they compare in terms of their credibility?T Clark
    Ratiocination without introspection: I'd love to see an example of that. You'd not be able to notice your own internal evaluations of the semantics of the terms in your argument. You'd not be able to notice the 'there, I these premises seem correct' quale. You'd have no way of noticing if it seemed right to you that your argument was sound. And so on.

    Introspection without ratiocination: that could lead to knowledge via intuition. You might have a sudden insight, with some black boxed process leading to it.
  • Mww
    994
    Sorry, but I’m old.....with all that implies......so I have to ask: has there come into vogue a school of Western philosophy that holds the act of introspection to be categorically distinct from the act of reason? You know, like, when we examine ourselves, which I have always supposed introspection to mean, we’re not really engaging our rationality in order to do it?

    I’d be very interested in how that would work, if someone wishes to help me out.
  • Pantagruel
    155
    Since the self is uniquely available to introspection, introspection is, at minimum, a valid avenue of knowledge about the self. However just the act of introspecting does not constitute knowledge any more than does the act of observing. Additional criteria of knowledge still apply.
  • Galuchat
    662
    Sorry, but I’m old.....with all that implies......so I have to ask: has there come into vogue a school of Western philosophy that holds the act of introspection to be categorically distinct from the act of reason?Mww

    How is reason (the construction of an argument) related to these types of reflection (examinations of experience)?

    1) An introspection: I had a certain emotion when something happened to something I am concerned about.
    2) An observation: I saw the cat run across the road.
  • Coben
    832
    Sorry, but I’m old.....with all that implies......so I have to ask: has there come into vogue a school of Western philosophy that holds the act of introspection to be categorically distinct from the act of reason?Mww
    I can't see how they can be categorically distinct. That's my take.
  • Coben
    832
    How is reason (the construction of an argument) related to these types of reflection (examinations of experience)?Galuchat
    You can't really reason without examining experience and memories of experience and your own reactions to the parts of your reasoning. How do you know you saw a cat run across the road? Or better put, what makes you think you did?
    Then throw that remembered observation into an arguement and if you dig into the phenomenology of your process of coming up with that argument, you will find many, often fleeting, instances of introspection, without which you wouldn't be able to mount that argument, know when it is over, know that you think it makes sense, know that the semantics of the terms used fit your memory or whatever is refered to and so on.
  • Mww
    994


    Thing is, about being old and all....I already have answers to both those questions. But it seems my answers aren’t in accord with current thinking. So because I got two questions rather than an answer to my one, I haven’t learned anything.

    But thanks anyway, for getting back.
  • Mww
    994


    Mmmm....yeah, me too. Wait. Are you old too?!?!? Bet I got you beat: my first new car was actually made in Detroit, and had fins!!!

    Maybe introspection and rationality aren’t categorically distinct. Just, you know, kindasorta distinct.
  • Coben
    832
    I would guess you are older, but I grew up in a big city and one with good public transport, so the first car came later. I think the words introspection and rationality are useful and each focus on different aspects of mind and its processes. But they overlap in our activities. I would say that introspection is more independent of rationality then rationality is independent of introspection. One can just notice the contents of our minds. Sit and mull with eyes closed. Without trying to draw a conclusion or mount an argument or analyze. But if you sit there and reason your way to an argument you are going to have to introspect along the way. These introspective moments will likely often be rather quick. Quick checks. Not even fully conscious.

    It's a bit like when people contrast intuition and reason. I think that is meaningfull also, but you cannot reason without intuitive processes.
  • Galuchat
    662
    You can't really reason without examining experience and memories of experience and your own reactions to the parts of your reasoning.Coben
    Does reflection necessarily lead to reasoning?
    If not, reflection and reasoning are different types of mental events.
    Could reflection lead to other types of mental events (e.g., categorisation) independent of reason?
  • Coben
    832
    Does reflection necessarily lead to reasoning?Galuchat
    I was working with introspection rather than reflection. And no, it doesn't necessarily, but it is necessary for reasoning. There is overlap between these processes. They are not completely distinct. One can blend them. I have argued above that one cannot reason without introspecting. So I think that introspection is a part of reasoning. It is not the part we tend to focus on or think of, but it is in there.
  • Galuchat
    662
    Thing is, about being old and all....I already have answers to both those questions. But it seems my answers aren’t in accord with current thinking. So because I got two questions rather than an answer to my one, I haven’t learned anything.Mww
    I asked you one question in answer to one of yours, here (in case you forgot). As far as "learning anything", I guess it's true what they say about old dogs. So we are done for now.
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