Fruits of introspection


T. Natsoulas has kindly sent me an email with a paper attached, ‘On the Intrinsic Nature of States of Consciousness: attempted Inroads from the First-Person Perspective’, T Natsoulas, The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 2001. The paper deals with the ideas of W. James from the 1890s and F. Bradley from the 1910s, both having explored consciousness using introspection as their tool.

I have not had much hope that introspection would yield much except the preconceptions of the introspector. Maybe I was wrong, and a diligent, intelligent, open-minded person can learn something about the nature of consciousness by introspection. James seems to have found in his introspection reason to believe four very important ideas: consciousness is about awareness, it is a stream of individual moments/states/pulses of mentality, there is only one stream at a time that we can experience, and finally, a individual state in the stream has an indivisible unity. Well I think that is surprisingly good returns for just thinking about one’s own thinking, with practically no additional material from psychology or neurology.

Looking forward to a generally acceptable theory of consciousness – the theory must be able to describe consciousness in ways and vocabularies that fit with:

  • some theory of the brain function and its biology, chemistry and physics,

  • some theory of mental cognition, emotion and memory in psychological terms,

  • a way to philosophically interpret our own introspective experiences.

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