• Galuchat
    662
    I have argued above that one cannot reason without introspecting. So I think that introspection is a part of reasoning.Coben
    Can one reason from observation independent of introspection?
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    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

    Cool. I think this speaks to a lot of underlying disagreement, where I was more than happy to agree with some of your conclusions -- because now I think I'd say definitely no. :D Even self-knowledge, I think, is better understood in conjunction with other ways of gaining knowledge. Not that you could have self-knowledge without introspection, but rather that speaking to others -- be it friends or priests or therapists -- helps one to gain self-knowledge better than introspection alone.

    I'm not sure to what extent I'd include introspection in other kinds of knowledge. And some of this comes down to the big buggaboo: knowledge, and its characterization.


    All that being said I do agree that introspection can be valuable. I also think that we can get a bit too caught up in ourselves by introspecting, though perhaps you'd call that something other than introspection.
  • Coben
    832
    I don't think so. When we reason we are repeatedly checking our arguement. This means checking the words we use, their semantics, the scope of the premises and so on. This requires (no doubt quick) dips into introspection. Does it feel right? Does that seem justified? We mull, and then wait for a quale of 'that is fair' 'that makes sense' 'that follows'. Small moments of feeling that it makes sense. We are not like computers running through programmed steps. We are always following intuitive feelings about what we are suggesting is logical. We also have to decide we thought about step b in the argument enough, so there will be a quale related to that. There need not be some sustained introspection, where we sit for five minutes and check our inner experience, but there are smaller dips throughout the process of reasoning. We check inside for satisfaction that each piece makes sense, that it follows, that it is relevent, that the words fit, that it fits our memories of texts and life and experiences, we run it though an inner VR, and introspect on our own reactions to what we've reasoned so far, and so on.
    Can one reason from observation independent of introspection?
    These observations will be in memory, not in the now. We have to access them. Place them in contexts, all this requiring all sorts of intuitive checking where we 'go inside' as it were and check these and their placement, similarity, relevance. We cannot stay just on the surface so to speak with the words.
  • Coben
    832
    Actually it's the results of research into the phenomenology of verbal thinking as part of a master's course in philosophy. Summed up in lay person terms. Feel free to respond in a respectful manner to the ideas in it or not.
  • Mww
    994
    I think the words introspection and rationality are useful and each focus on different aspects of mind and its processes.Coben

    Different aspects, yes; different processes, not so much. Different processes implies different methodologies. If one methodology is established as rationality, in which a subject concerns himself with an object. Current thinking holds that introspection is the case wherein a self thinks about itself, which is the same as a thing being simultaneously both subject and object. The only logical way around this catastrophic violation of the Law of Identity, is to re-phrase introspection as that wherein a subject thinks about his thoughts. Which gets us right back to rationality, where the self as subject thinks about the contents of itself as objects, but not itself as an object.
    ——————-

    One can just notice the contents of our minds.Coben

    But is mere noticing really an introspective procedure? Surely there’s a given relational hierarchy between noticing the mind has content, which can have only one of two possible conclusions, as opposed to noticing the contents of the mind, which can have a multiplicity of conclusions. Regardless, a relational paradigm must have taken place, and all relations absolutely arise from the thought of them.
    ——————-

    I would say that introspection is more independent of rationality then rationality is independent of introspection.Coben

    From the directly above, I would counter with......

    The theorem:
    Introspection is more a mode, or kind, of rationality, rather than a separation from it.

    The proof:
    Noticing anything at all presupposes the antecedent of not noticing. In this view, noticing itself is neither rationality nor introspection, because as yet nothing has been noticed, noticing so far being nothing but a succession in time. As soon as noticing incorporates, say, the content of our minds, a relation over and above simply a relation in time, becomes immediate, which requires rationality in order to distinguish the act (subject = notice) from what is being acted upon (object = content).

    Because I’ve already instantiated rationality in order to grant noticing the content of mind in the first place, I can either leave it at that, or I can call that rationality in what I just did, the introspection in what I am enabled to do because of it. But I cannot call it introspection first, hence independent of rationality, for I would then have no (gasp!!) concrete idea of what I’m introspecting about.

    The conclusion:
    Introspection examines relations; rationality gives the relations introspection examines.
    ——————-

    All that to say this.....

    Sit and mull with eyes closed. Without trying to draw a conclusion or mount an argument or analyze.Coben

    .......is absolutely the way the average human seems to do things. Daydreaming. Flights of fancy. That is what we think introspection to be, yes. Without reasoning or self-contained argument. I submit this is not what’s happening at all. Keyword: mull. To mull is to examine relations. And we’re right back where we started.

    Now.....wasn’t that fun???
  • removedmembershiprc
    113
    My point was the mentioning your occupation was irrelevant to the idea you were putting forward. In my opinion, the only reason you mentioned it is because you take great pride in the fact that you are an engineer, and not part of the unwashed masses.
  • Mww
    994
    We are always following intuitive feelings about what we are suggesting is logical.Coben

    Exactly right. Technically, that procedure is called judgement, but what judgement is, is in effect just what you say.
  • Galuchat
    662

    Of course it is.
  • Coben
    832
    .......is absolutely the way the average human seems to do things. Daydreaming. Flights of fancy. That is what we think introspection to be, yes. Without reasoning or self-contained argument. I submit this is not what’s happening at all. Keyword: mull. To mull is to examine relations. And we’re right back where we started.Mww
    I could take out mull. And I did hesitate to include it. I think reasoning/rationality includes an attempt to put assertions in a logical arrangement with conclusions. I don't think I am always doing that when I introspect. I think we have non-rational stretches of activity and without the goal of using even these in some later rational argument. For me, I should add, just for context: I don't consider non-rational the same as irrational, which includes, generally the pejorative. I am in fact a big fan of non-rational processes - and consider them also part of the foundation of rational ones, but, as I am arguing here, not always are experienced as part of or used for that purpose.

    I still have to get to our big post.
  • Coben
    832
    Facile, again. Ok, I'll ignore you and your laziness from here on out.
  • Judaka
    395

    Introspection involves rationality, for sure, it's rationality that doesn't necessarily involve introspection. Rationality without introspection becomes something like ungrounded theorycrafting when it comes to understanding people and the systems that involve people. That's my view.

    I do want to say that may not always be true but it's usually true. I know that psychology for example, tries to limit introspection as a tool for understanding people in favour of statistics and that has its place too.
  • NOS4A2
    621


    It seems to me very important. :wink:

    But I worry one can get lost in it, almost to the point of solipsism. Like the Jourdain’s paradox, it is almost inevitable that introspection becomes self-referential and circular.
  • Mww
    994
    Introspection involves rationality, for sure, it's rationality that doesn't necessarily involve introspection.Judaka

    Agreed, to a point. Rationality doesn’t necessarily involve introspection. I think it important to reduce the idea one step further, insofar as when a thinking subject examines his feelings, he is the less using his rationality and the more using his introspection. This is because we are allowed a much narrower field of judgement with respect to empirical experience, which are always cognitions, than we are with judgements with respect to aesthetics, which are not. In other words, it is much harder to explain the reasons we are affected by an emotion, than it is to explain the reasons we are affected by, say, a building.
    ———————-

    Rationality without introspection becomes something like ungrounded theorycrafting when it comes to understanding people and the systems that involve people.Judaka

    While I grant fallacious speculation, or ungrounded theorycrafting, isn’t such a good thing, I’m not sure how personal introspection relates to a theory regarding people and systems that involve people, usually considered the purview of ethics. Interpretations of the Golden Rule, on the other hand, suggests one should have foreknowledge of himself in order to know how to treat others, which presupposes introspection, but is hardly theoretical. But you’re correct, in that I got no business sitting here thinking up an ethical theory on how everybody else should act predicated solely on how I myself act.

    Hopefully I didn’t misunderstand what you’re trying to say.
  • 3017amen
    166


    ...another ironic thing about the act of introspection is, once one decides to embark on the self-discovery process, something completely novel can be uncovered. And that sort of begs the question(s) of whether that new knowledge always existed; it just required you to uncover it. And then in turn that could lead to other questions about, say, the Will and its function in our consciousness.

    Didn't Aristotle say the greatest gift we can give to ourselves is to 'know thyself' (?)
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Introspection is a type of reflection, which is a type of problem-solving, not a type of knowledge.Galuchat

    In a previous post, @TheMadFool pointed out that, as you say, introspection is not a type of knowledge. I agreed that it made more sense to say it is a good way of gaining knowledge.

    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.
    Galuchat

    I do use reason, but people here don't usually doubt the value of it, while it seems to me that introspection is often distrusted. That's why I started the discussion.

    Mental faculties don't have credibility, people do.Galuchat

    Sources of information have credibility. You believe some more than others.
  • petrichor
    186
    We can't verify the existence of the experiential by any non-introspective means. Objective empirical and rational methods of investigation are utterly blind to the interiority of the world. Can we say that we know we are conscious and have such things as pains? Isn't it through a kind of introspection that we know this? You have to have access to the inside, to be something, in order to know "what it is like".
  • T Clark
    4.2k


    I'm going to have a bowl of fish chowder for lunch today. Thanks for the inspiration.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    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.Coben

    I don't think most people observe their thinking while they are thinking. I think they just think. That requires that they be aware of the issues being discussed, but not of the mental processes themselves. I often experience being aware of my mental processes while I'm thinking, feeling, perceiving. So, I'm aware that I'm aware of my thinking.

    Introspection without ratiocination: that could lead to knowledge via intuition. You might have a sudden insight, with some black boxed process leading to it.Coben

    Yes, that happens to me all the time. Most of my ideas just pop up. For me, that's where rationality comes in - when I try to explain them to myself and others.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Even self-knowledge, I think, is better understood in conjunction with other ways of gaining knowledge. Not that you could have self-knowledge without introspection, but rather that speaking to others -- be it friends or priests or therapists -- helps one to gain self-knowledge better than introspection alone.Moliere

    In my experience, all the ways of gaining knowledge are generally working together all the time. In my experience a good therapist or a friend who knows you well helps you improve your self-awareness, make your introspection more effective.

    All that being said I do agree that introspection can be valuable. I also think that we can get a bit too caught up in ourselves by introspecting, though perhaps you'd call that something other than introspection.Moliere

    Funny. I would say the same thing about rationality. Just look at all the people who tangle themselves up with their words here on the forum and elsewhere. I can't deny I've done it myself.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    When we reason we are repeatedly checking our arguement. This means checking the words we use, their semantics, the scope of the premises and so on. This requires (no doubt quick) dips into introspection. Does it feel right? Does that seem justified? We mull, and then wait for a quale of 'that is fair' 'that makes sense' 'that follows'. Small moments of feeling that it makes sense.Coben

    You do that. I do that, but I don't think most people do that, or at least I'm not sure they do. You can just think without thinking about thinking.

    Can one reason from observation independent of introspection?

    Yes, I think we can.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Introspection is more a mode, or kind, of rationality, rather than a separation from it.Mww

    Introspection is a mode of observation, not rationality. Or do you think observation is a rational process? I don't. First you observe, then you think about what you've seen. Rinse and repeat.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    My point was the mentioning your occupation was irrelevant to the idea you were putting forward.rlclauer

    I disagree.

    In my opinion, the only reason you mentioned it is because you take great pride in the fact that you are an engineer, and not part of the unwashed masses.rlclauer

    Don't psychoanalyze me. Respond to my statements.

    [edit] Let's make that "Respond to my fucking statements."
  • Mww
    994
    I think reasoning/rationality includes an attempt to put assertions in a logical arrangement with conclusions.Coben

    Absolutely.

    I don't think I am always doing that when I introspect.Coben

    I have to grant that because I can’t argue otherwise. At the very least, I might say you’re not putting assertions in logical arrangement because it’s already been done, and introspection of this nature is merely a review. But if your dialectical co-respondent happened to be a cognitive reductionist.......

    And if this be the case, then, regarding the OP, introspection is not a valid type of knowledge, for a review presupposes the arrangement wherein the knowledge actually resides.
  • Mww
    994
    Introspection is a mode of observationT Clark

    Gonna have to object to that; I can safely say I’ve never seen myself think. I can imagine myself sitting on a rock, appearing to ponder this or that, but nothing concerning the this or that can arise from it, that isn’t actually me doing it.

    Truth be told, I don’t know how to respond to the idea that observation has something to do with that which is not of the senses, without invoking the absurdity of a categorical error. This is not to reject the idea out of hand, but merely to object to it, as the means to alleviate possible self-contradictions. If I can say I observe myself with respect to something as abstract as objects of thought, I have no means to claim any certainty with respect to objects of the world I perceive by sight.
    —————————

    Or do you think observation is a rational process?T Clark

    No, observation proper, in and of itself, is not a rational process, but everything consequential to the mere appearances given from observation, certainly is. Cognitive neuroscience aside, of course.
    —————————

    First you observe, then you think about what you've seen.T Clark

    Correct. A posteriori, anyway. One can still think without observing anything, a priori. Which supports the disassociation of observation from introspection, for introspection is always a priori.

    I admit, despite all that, it is much easier to think of introspection as observing the self.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.2k
    @T Clark

    Self-knowledge is real knowledge, though it is knowledge that only the subject person can possess in detail, and introspection is the essential process of gaining it.

    A question: How much of our self-knowledge can a benign interrogator (not the water-boarding type) gain through long-term discussion (such as that with a psychoanalyst)? Can one unpack somebody else's mind, with their cooperation? (Not now. if there is no willingness to share.).

    I've engaged in intense self-examination / reflection during the last third of my life (so, starting about 23 years ago). I've written many pages of the results (now lost on dead hard-drives, which is probably just as well). One of the shortcomings of self-examination is that one must be both advocate and adversary: "Is that really what happened 60 years ago?" "How sure can you be that the memory of your first love in college is accurate, now?" "What happened in years where there are no clear memories, compared to the year before when there are more memories?" (Second grade is kind of a blank. Did bad things happen in that room?)

    There is a paradox in "the unexamined life is not worth living" and that is that most of us can not do mature self-examination until much of our life has been lived. At 25 or 45 I did a lot of ruminating, but it wasn't very informative. Of course I may have been an unusually uninsightful schmuck when I was a young man. (There is some evidence that I was.).

    My soundest advice is this: Never engage in introspection while riding a bike in downtown traffic.
  • Mww
    994
    First you say......
    Can one reason from observation independent of introspection? Yes, I think we can.T Clark

    ....then you say.....
    Introspection is a mode of observationT Clark

    Which seems to say you think we can reason from observation independent of a mode of observation. Which is a perfect example of why I insist (to myself, to be sure) on assigning observation to the empirical domain alone.

    If you’d said you think we can reason from observation independent of introspection, I wouldn’t object. But saying introspection is a mode of observation makes the correctness of that proposition quite suspect.

    Dunno.....maybe it’s just me exercising overly-critical thinking. I do that a lot, I must say.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    But I worry one can get lost in it, almost to the point of solipsism. Like the Jourdain’s paradox, it is almost inevitable that introspection becomes self-referential and circular.NOS4A2

    I think that rationality is more likely to lead to circular, even chaotic, discussions than introspection is.
  • Moliere
    1.7k
    In my experience, all the ways of gaining knowledge are generally working together all the time. In my experience a good therapist or a friend who knows you well helps you improve your self-awareness, make your introspection more effective.T Clark

    Cool. Then I think our main disagreement is just in our characterization of introspection. I don't really think of it as a method for gaining knowledge because knowledge is a social phenomena -- it's something we produce together. Whereas introspection is looking in at the self, so it necessarily could not be knowledge (if my characterization of knowledge is held to, at least -- obviously there's other ways of parsing knowledge).

    Funny. I would say the same thing about rationality. Just look at all the people who tangle themselves up with their words here on the forum and elsewhere. I can't deny I've done it myself.T Clark

    I'd agree with this, though I don't think I'd pit introspection against rationality either. But yes we can get a little too caught up in the rational mode -- to a point that one might even claim that a person is behaving irrationally.
  • unenlightened
    3.9k
    Two psychologists meet:
    How am I?
    You're fine, how am I?

    Some of us are so radical as not only to rely on our own introspection, but also on that of others.
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