The Introspective Peepshow: Consciousness and the ‘Dreaded Unknown Unknowns’

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day: That it feels so unnatural to conceive ourselves as natural is itself a decisive expression of our nature.


This is a paper I finished a couple of months back, my latest attempt to ease those with a more ‘analytic’ mindset into the upside-down madness of my views. It definitely requires a thorough rewrite, so if you see any problems, or have any questions, or simply see a more elegant way of getting from A to B, please sound off. As for the fixation with ‘show’ in my titles, I haven’t the foggiest!

Oh, yes, the Abstract:

“Evidence from the cognitive sciences increasingly suggests that introspection is unreliable – in some cases spectacularly so – in a number of respects, even though both philosophers and the ‘folk’ almost universally assume the complete opposite. This draft represents an attempt to explain this ‘introspective paradox’ in terms of the ‘unknown unknown,’ the curious way the absence of explicit information pertaining to the reliability of introspectively accessed information leads to the implicit assumption of reliability. The brain is not only blind to its inner workings, it’s blind to this blindness, and therefore assumes that it sees everything there is to see. In a sense, we are all ‘natural anosognosiacs,’ a fact that could very well explain why we find the consciousness we think we have so difficult to explain.”

More generally I want to apologize for neglecting the comments of late. Routine is my lifeblood, and I’m just getting things back online after a particularly ‘noro-chaotic’ holiday. The more boring my life is, the more excited I become.