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Listening from Within

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Abstract:

In this paper we list the various criticisms that have been formulated against introspection, from Auguste Comte denying that consciousness can observe itself, to recent criticisms of the reliability of first person descriptions. We show that these criticisms rely on the one hand on poor knowledge of the introspective process, and on the other hand on a naïve conception of scientific objectivity. Two kinds of answers are offered: the first one is grounded on a refined description of the process of becoming aware of one's experience and describing it, the second one relies on a comparison with the methods of the experimental sciences. We conclude the article by providing a renewed definition of 'the truth' of a first person description.

Keywords: Introspection; awareness; consciousness; description; epistemology; experience; explicitation; first person; methodology; phenomenology; pre-reflective consciousness; reliability; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre de Recherche en Épistémologie Appliquée, 32 boulevard Victor, 75015 Paris, France., Email: claire.petitmengin@polytechnique.edu 2: Email: michel.bitpol@polytechnique.edu

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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