Our Knowledge of the Internal World

Paperback | August 1, 2010

byRobert C. Stalnaker

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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 anobjective 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 fromthe 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 ofour 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 thatis compatible with realism about both the external and internal worlds.

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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 anobjective world, and how we can know that the world ...

Robert C. Stalnaker is Professor of Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His teaching and research interests are in philosophical logic, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is the author of Inquiry (Bradford Books, 1984), Context and Content (OUP, 1999), and Ways a World Might Be (OUP, 2003).

other books by Robert C. Stalnaker

Context and Content: Essays on Intentionality in Speech and Thought
Context and Content: Essays on Intentionality in Speech...

Hardcover|Apr 1 1999

$203.85 online$276.00list price(save 26%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:160 pagesPublished:August 1, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199592039

ISBN - 13:9780199592036

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Table of Contents

1. Starting in the Middle2. Epistemic Possibilities and the Knowledge Argument3. Locating Ourselves in the World4. Notes on Models of Self-Locating Belief5. Phenomenal and Epistemic Indistinguishability6. Acquaintance and Essence7. Knowing What One is Thinking8. After the FallReferences

Editorial Reviews

Review from previous edition: "Extremely engaging and rewarding... Any philosopher will be better off for having read the book... It is challenging, rigourous and innovative - and it continues to make you think long after you have closed the cover." --Clare Batty, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews