|C. D. Broad, Mind and Its Place in Nature , 1925|
Under the general heading of "Introspection" I shall discuss the intuitive and non-inferential knowledge which a mind is supposed by many people to have of itself and its states. Here we enter on even more controversial ground than before. No one doubts that there are perceptual situations, and that in them we seem to have intuitive and non-inferential knowledge of physical things and events. But many people deny that we can in any sense "perceive" our own minds or their states. Some hold that we can "perceive" contemporary mental states of all kinds, but not our selves. Others hold that we can "perceive" mental states of one kind, viz., "presentations", but that we have only discursive and inferential knowledge of mental states of another kind, viz., "acts". Yet others hold that we can "remember" certain mental states, but that we cannot "perceive" any kind of mental state while it is happening. I think that the treatment of introspection by philosophers has been much less careful than their treatment of perception, and that many necessary distinctions have been ignored. A great part of the disagreement about introspection seems to me to be due to the ambiguities of the word which arise through the failure to recognize these necessary distinctions. I hope that in this chapter I may at least clear up some of these ambiguities.
General Characteristics of Introspection.
I think that it would generally be agreed that, if there is a process which deserves to be called "introspection" at all, the following characteristics must belong to it.
- It must be intuitive, like perception, and not merely discursive. That is, it must not consist simply of judgments about minds and their states; and minds and their states must not be known simply as the subjects of such and such propositions. No doubt, if there is introspection, there will be introspective judgments; and these, like perceptual judgments will be about their subjects. But, if there is introspection, our minds or certain states of them must be or seem to be objective constituents of introspective situations, just as physical events or things are or seem to be objective constituents of perceptual situations. These objective constituents of introspective situations must manifest certain apparent characteristics, as the objective constituents of perceptual situations manifest redness, hardness, etc. And introspective judgments must state explicitly the characteristics which the objective constituents of introspective situations manifest.
- Introspective judgments must not be reached by inference. Even if they pass beyond the objective constituent of the intfospective situation and its manifested characteristics, and are in some sense based on the latter, they must not be inferred from the latter.
- If there are introspective situations, their objects are the mind of the subject of the situation or some mental event which is a state of that mind. It is commonly held that no one could have this kind of intuitive and non-inferential knowledge of any mind but himself or of any mental events but his own mental states. Thus the objects of introspection are supposed to be essentially private to the introspecting mind.
The Objects of Introspection.
We are alleged by certain people to have introspective knowledge of ourselves and of some of our mental states. And our mental states themselves are divided into two classes, viz., acts and presentations. Some people hold that we have introspective knowledge of both; others that we have such knowledge only of the latter. I will first consider our alleged introspective knowledge of ourselves, as contrasted with our alleged introspective knowledge of our states; and I will then consider the two different kinds of mental states, and our alleged introspective knowledge or lack of knowledge of them.
Introspective Knowledge of the Self.
The distinction between a self and particular states of it, such as a certain feeling of toothache or a certain act of thinking, is obviously analogous to the distinction between a physical object, such as a chair, and a physical event, such as a flash of lightning or a certain short phase in the total history of the chair. Just as a short slice of the history of a physical object may consist of a number of different but temporally overlapping physical events, so a short slice of the history of a mind may consist of a number of different but temporally overlapping mental events. The characteristic unity of the successive slices of the history of a mind is no doubt different from the characteristic unity of the successive slices of the history of a physical object. And the characteristic unity of the temporally overlapping events which together make up a slice of the history of a mind is no doubt different from the characteristic unity of the temporally overlapping events which together make up a slice of the history of a physical object. But, apart from these characteristic differences, there is a general resemblance which enables us to regard each as a persistent substance which passes through successive total phases, each of which in turn consists of distinguishable but temporally overlapping events. So far then we may compare the distinction between a state of mind and the mind which owns it with the distinction between a physical object and a certain part of a certain slice of its history. And we may compare our alleged introspective knowledge of ourselves and certain of our states with our alleged perceptual knowledge of a physical object and of certain events in its history.
But we must now mention a difference between the two cases, which complicates the present problem. It is very commonly believed that the characteristic unity of the various events in one slice of the history of a self, and the characteristic unity of the successive slices of the total history of a self, depend on the presence of a peculiar constituent in every self. This peculiar constituent is called the "Pure Ego". I do not think that anyone seriously holds a similar view about the characteristic unity of a physical object. Now a result of the wide prevalence of the Pure Ego Theory is this. When people talk of the "Self" they sometimes mean the supposed Pure Ego, and not the states which it is supposed to own. Sometimes they mean the complex whole composed, as they believe, of all the states of the self in their interrelations and of the Pure Ego in its relations to these states. And sometimes they simply mean the whole composed of the states in their interrelations, leaving the question of a Pure Ego perfectly open or denying its existence. If, then, people mean three different things by the "Self", it is evident that the question whether we have introspective knowledge of our selves is ambiguous; we might have to answer "Yes" to one form of it, "No" to another, and "It is uncertain" to a third. Let us first consider the self as Pure Ego.
I do not mean to discuss in this chapter whether the Pure Ego theory of the self is true. Here I merely wish to ask the hypothetical question: "If there were a Pure Ego would there be any objection to the supposition that we can have introspective knowledge of it?" Now the Pure Ego might, I take it, be conceived in at least two different ways.
(1) We might suppose that the Pure Ego is a single long strand of history of which every slice is exactly like every other slice in all its qualities. On this view the Pure Ego could not possibly be the objective constituent of any introspective situation, since the duration of the Pure Ego stretches from the cradle to the grave, whilst that of any introspective situation is only a few seconds or at most minutes. This, however, would not put the Pure Ego in any less favourable position than the physical object. Various slices of the history of a Pure Ego might be literally objective constituents of introspective situations, just as various slices of the history of a physical object might be literally objective constituents of perceptual situations. We should have to admit that the introspective judgment: "There is a single Pure Ego which lasts without qualitative change throughout my life and owns all my successive states" goes beyond what is manifested in any introspective situation; but we have had to make a similar admission about the perceptual judgment: "There is a penny which is hard and cold as well as brown, and which existed before and will exist after the present perceptual situation." It would not follow that our beliefs about the Pure Ego must be reached by inference. It might be an essential feature of every introspective situation that its objective constituent is believed to be a slice of a longer strand which is qualitatively uniform.
(2) A second possible view is that the Pure Ego is a timeless particular and not a long uniform strand of history. On that hypothesis there is no a priori reason why it should not be literally an objective constituent of each one of a whole series of introspective situations.
But, even if we accept a Pure Ego and admit that it might conceivably be an objective constituent of an introspective situation, I think that our actual experience would force us to admit the following two propositions.
Suppose, e.g., that the total objective constituent of a certain introspective situation is a feeling of toothache, together with the Pure Ego (or a slice of the history of the Pure Ego) which owns this feeling. Then it must] be admitted that the toothache manifests in the situation (i.e., "seems to have") certain empirical qualities, such as throbbingness, stabbingness, and so on. And it must he admitted that the Pure Ego, or the slice of its history, does not in this sense manifest any empirical qualities. One can think of at least two possible explanations of this.
- It is never the complete objective constituent of any introspective situation. If it be there at all it is always accompanied by some particular mental event which it owns.
- It does not manifest empirical qualities in the introspective situation in the way in which the particular mental event does so.
- Perhaps the Pure Ego fails to manifest any empirical qualities because it has none to manifest. It may simply have categorial characteristics, such as "being a substance", "being a particular", "being timeless", etc.; and empirical relational properties, such ash "owning this toothache", "owning that thought", and so on.
- Perhaps the Pure Ego has empirical qualities, but is incapable of manifesting them in introspective situations to the mind of which it is a constituent. There are analogies to this in the case of sense-perception. If we take a naively realistic view of sense-perception, a slice of the history of the top of a penny is an objective constituent of my visual situation when I look at the top of this penny. And it has the empirical quality of coldness. But it certainly does not manifest this quality in the visual situation as it manifests the empirical quality of brownness. Moreover, we should admit that it may have empirical qualities, e.g., magnetic ones, which it fails to manifest in this way in any perceptual situation of which we are capable of being subject. We only extend this a little further when we suggest that the Pure Ego may be incapable of manifesting any of its empirical qualities in any introspective situation. It is no doubt unfortunate that, if it exists at all, it should . be so extremely retiring; but its modesty is certainly not a proof that it does not exist or that it cannot be part of the total objective constituent of an introspective situation.
In this connexion I may just mention Mr Hume's famous statement that, whenever he tried to introspect his Self, he always a stumbled upon "some particular mental event instead. I take it that Mr Hume did here mean by his "Self" a supposed Pure Ego which was alleged to own all his mental states. And I think that the conclusion which has generally been drawn from Mr Hume's statement is either that the Pure Ego is a pure myth; or at any rate that, if it exists, our knowledge of it is discursive and inferential. I think that we may accept Mr Hume's statement if we understand it to mean
Now I think that this does entail the conclusion that, if we know the Pure Ego at all, we know it discursively (i.e., simply as the subject of certain propositions) and not intuitively. But it does not follow that our knowledge of it is inferential; it does not follow that there is no Pure Ego; and it does not follow that the Pure Ego has no empirical qualities.
- that the Pure Ego is never the whole of the objective constituent of any introspective situation, even if the whole Pure Ego be part of the objective constituent of every introspective situation; and
- that, even if the whole Pure Ego be part of the objective constituent of every introspective situation, it never manifests any of its empirical qualities, as the other part of the total objective constituent does.
If we are to hold that we have non-intuitive but noninferential knowledge of the Pure Ego, I think we shall have to suppose that it arises somewhat as follows. We shall have to suppose that each particular mental event which we become acquainted with in an introspective situation manifests in that situation the relational property of "being owned by something"; that, on comparison and reflexion, we can see that this "something" is the same for all the mental events which we can introspect, whether they be successive or simultaneous, and that it is not itself a mental event or a group of interrelated mental events. The Pure Ego would then be known discursively, but not of necessity inferentially, as the common owner of such and such particular contemporary and successive mental events. Now, since the Pure Ego can be known only in this way even if it be a constituent of all introspective situations, there seems no very good reason for holding that it is in fact part of the objective constituent of any such situation. For, on the one hand, since it manifests no empirical qualities in any introspective situation, there seems to be no direct reason for regarding it as part of the objective constituent. And, on the other hand, if we can have such non-inferential knowledge about it in spite of its manifesting no empirical qualities in introspective situations, there seems no reason why we should not be able to have the same kind of knowledge about it even though it were not part of the objective constituent of any such situation. Thus the conclusion seems to be that, although the Pure Ego might be part of the objective constituent of introspective situations, there is no good reason to suppose that it in fact us, even if we admit its existence and admit that we have non-inferential knowledge of it.
I have now considered our alleged introspective knowledge of the Self, in the sense of the Pure Ego. Let us next consider our alleged introspective knowledge of the Self, in the sense of the whole complex of contemporary and successive interrelated mental events which together constitute our mental history. If we reject the Pure Ego theory this complex will be the Total Self. If we accept the Pure Ego theory the Total Self will be this complex together with the Pure Ego in its relation of ownership to all the events in the complex. Let us call the complex of interrelated mental events the "Empirical Self". No one seriously doubts the existence of Empirical Selves, whether he accepts or rejects the Pure Ego theory. If a man rejects the Pure Ego theory, the Total Self and the Empirical Self are, on his view, identical. If he accepts the Pure Ego theory, the Empirical Self must still be admitted to exist; but the Total Self will not be identical with it. The Total Self will then be the larger complex which consists of the Empirical Self and of the Pure Ego standing in the relation of ownership to the mental events which are constituents of the Empirical Self. The present question is whether, and in what sense, we can have introspective knowledge of the Empirical or the Total Self.
The Empirical Self is, for the present purpose, precisely analogous to a physical thing; i.e., each is a long strand of history whose successive slices have a certain continuity with each other and are themselves composed of various temporally overlapping events united in a characteristic way. Now I have argued that physical things cannot, as such, be constituents of perceptual situations, quite apart from all questions of delusive perception. For the thing which we are said to perceive is admitted to last longer than the perceptual situation; it is admitted that only a certain part of a certain slice of its history could literally be a constituent of any one perceptual situation; and it is admitted that even this part of this slice does not manifest in the perceptual situation all the empirical qualities which it in fact has. Precisely similar considerations apply to the Empirical Self and to our alleged knowledge of it by introspection. The Empirical Self is something which lasts from birth till death at least; its successive slices differ from each other qualitatively; and each slice is differentiated into a number of distinct but temporally overlapping mental events. A particular introspective situation probably lasts for a minute or so; and it cannot contain as objective constituent more than a certain short slice of the Empirical Self. Moreover, it is doubtful whether it would ever contain the whole of such a slice; it might, e.g., contain a twinge of toothache and a little more besides, but miss out the rest of my contemporary mental states. Lastly, there is no reason to suppose that a mental event which is an objective constituent of an introspective situation must, ipso facto, manifest all the empirical properties which it in fact possesses. When I introspect my present feeling of toothache it may manifest the quality of throbbingness; but, even if it be literally an objective constituent of my present introspective situation, there is no reason why it should not have dozens of other characteristics which it does not manifest in this situation.
It is necessary to insist on this last point because of the wide prevalence of a curious superstition. This is the belief that, if there be introspection at all, it must give exhaustive and infallible information. It seems to be thought that, because the objects of my introspection are my self and my states, therefore they can have no qualities which they do not reveal to introspection by me. And it seems to be thought that, for the same reason, my states cannot appear to me to have qualities which are other than and inconsistent with those which they do have. Now the first part of this is simply superstition, and there is nothing more to be said about it. I will not dismiss the second part at present so cavalierly; it is always difficult to understand how anything can seem to have characteristics which are other than and inconsistent with those which it really does have; and it may be that there are special difficulties on the assumption that mental events are literally objective constituents of introspective situations. But these difficulties are certainly not due to the fact that the states which I introspect are my states; if anything can seem to have characteristics which are inconsistent with those which it does have, in spite of its being intuitively known, there is no special reason why my states should not seem to me to have such characteristics. It is very easy to deny the existence of introspection, if you start out with the principle that introspection must give exhaustive and infallible knowledge of its objects; and it is therefore important to say firmly that there is no reason to accept the principle.
To return, after this digression, to the Empirical Self. The upshot of the discussion is this. On the most favourable view possible we cannot hold that the Empirical Self as such is the objective constituent of any introspective situation. The most we could say is that the objective constituents of all my introspective situations are mental events which are in fact parts of slices of the history of my Empirical Self, and that the characteristics which they manifest in these introspective situations are some of the characteristics which they do in fact possess. It does not of course follow from this that our knowledge of the Empirical Self must be dis- cursive and inferential; any more than it follows from the similar considerations which we brought forward in the case of perception that our knowledge of physical things must be discursive and inferential. It might be an essential factor in every introspective situation that its objective constituent is believed to be a fragment of a short slice of a long strand of history whose structure is such that we call it an "Empirical Self". I am inclined to think thy this is in fact the case. And, for anything that we have seen at present, this belief, which always forms part of the total introspective situation, might always be true. In that case I should say that our introspective knowledge of the Empirical Self was intuitive and non-inferential in precisely the same sense in which our perceptual knowledge of a chair or a penny is so. It will be remembered that, in the analogous case of perception, we had to conclude that our instinctive belief that the objective constituent of the perceptual situation is literally a spatio-temporal part of the physical object which we are said to be perceiving is certainly sometimes false. This was because of totally delusive perceptual situations, such as the drunkard's seeing pink rats. Now, so far as I know, there are no introspective situations which we have reason to believe to be totally delusive in this sense. Let us consider what would be the introspective analogon of a totally delusive perceptual situation. Suppose I were subject of an introspective situation whose objective constituent manifested certain characteristics; and suppose that I had a non-inferential belief that this event which manifests these characteristics is a state of my mind, in the sense that it is a fragment of that total strand of history which is my Empirical Self. This introspective situation would be totally delusive, in the sense in which the drunkard's perception of pink rats is so, if and only if there were nothing which corresponds in the least to my notion of my Empirical Self or to my belief that this event is part of the history of my Empirical Self. We call the drunkard's perceptual situation " totally delusive " because we believe that there are no such things in the world as pink rats; or because we believe that, even if there be pink rats somewhere in the universe, the objective constituent of the drunkard's perceptual situation does not stand in any specially intimate relation to a certain pink rat, which the drunkard asserts to be occupying a certain position on his bed at the moment. Now I say that there are no introspective situations which are known to be delusive, in this sense. We have no good reason to doubt that there are such strands of history as we call " Empirical Selves"; we have no good reason to doubt that all the introspective situations of whose existence we know are in fact events in the history of some Empirical Self; and we have no good reason to doubt that the objective constituent of every introspective situation does stand in a certain peculiarly intimate relation to that particular Empirical Self which owns this introspective situation. There is therefore no ground for thinking that the belief which forms an essential factor in all introspective situations is ever false in its main outlines.
I must, however, warn the reader at this point against three misunderstandings.
- I am not saying that there is no reason to doubt that every mental event stands in this peculiary intimate relation to a certain Empirical Self; I am saying this only of every mental event which is an object of introspection. There may be excellent reasons for accepting the reality of mental events which we cannot introspect and which are not connected in this way with any Empirical Self.
- I am talking of the Empirical Self, and not of the Pure Ego. I do not think that it is any part of the claim made by the introspective situation that its objective constituent is owned by a Pure Ego. And, if it were, I might think that there was good reason for doubting the claim. As Shave said, I think that, even if there be a Pure Ego and it be in fact a constituent of every introspective situation, it is not revealed to us in any introspective situation, but is known only by a process of comparison and reflection.
- I am not saying that there is no good reason to doubt the claim made by the introspective situation in the precise form in which it is made. I think that the introspective situation does claim that its objective constituent is literally a part of a slice of the history of a certain Empirical Self; and that the characteristics which it manifests in the situation do really belong to it, though they need not be all that belong to it. It may very well be that the claim in this extreme form cannot be upheld in view of all the facts. It may be that we shall find it impossible to hold that the objective constituents of introspective situations are literally parts of the Empirical Self; or that we can hold this only on the hypothesis that they can seem to have characteristics which are other than and inconsistent with those which they really do have. Nevertheless, the claim that the objective constituents of introspective situations stand in a certain peculiarly intimate relation to the Empirical Self might be upheld; as we have upheld the corresponding claim of the perceptual situation, in spite of our inability to accept it in the precise form in which it is made. We must therefore consider next our alleged introspective knowledge of particular mental events.
Introspective Knowledge of Mental Events.
We must begin by noticing that, under the head of "mental events", a number of existents of very different kinds are included. Various people between them claim to have introspective knowledge of events of all these different kinds. Consequently we have some reason to suppose that, under the head of "introspection" a number of extremely different kinds of cognition may be included.
(1) Many people regard the objective constituents of visual, tactual, and auditory perceptual situations as states of the percipient's mind. Now there are situations hl which we specially attend to them and try to describe the characteristics which they seem to have, as distinct from describing the characteristics which the perceived physical object is believed to have. Such people would describe such situations as "introspective".
(2) Some people would hesitate to call the objective constituents of such perceptual situations as these " mental events ", and would hesitate to call the act of attending to them and their apparent characteristics "introspection". But they would count bodily feelings, like headache and toothache, as mental states. They would hold that, when we try to describe accurately to a dentist "what our toothache feels like", we are introspecting it. Now, for our purpose, these two cases are so much alike that they may be treated together.
- It might reasonably be held that, when we have a certain bodily feeling, we are perceiving a certain process in our bodies in precisely the same sense in which we perceive a process in a certain external object when we sense a noise or a coloured patch. No doubt some bodily feelings are accompanied by such vague perceptual judgments about our own bodies that the situation approximates to one of pure feeling. But it is also true that there are visual and auditory situations which approximate to pure sensation.
- The privacy of bodily feelings is no ground for drawing a fundamental distinction between them and the objective constituents of visual or auditory situations. As we have seen, the objective constituents of several visual situations with the same epistemological object always seem on careful inspection to differ in their determinate characteristics, and are probably always numerically different. At most we can say that there is a correlation of their apparent characteristics with each other and with the positions of the observers. The additional privacy of bodily feelings consists only in the fact that there are not groups of correlated bodily feelings, in the sense in which there are groups of correlated visual or auditory sensa.
- When we attend to a toothache it manifests, not only such "sensible" qualities as "throbbinrrness" etc. (which may be compared to redness or "squeakiness"), but also the peculiar characteristic of painfulness. Most noises or coloured patches which we sense do not manifest painfulness or pleasantness when we attend to them. But, after all, some bodily feelings are practically neutral; and some very squeaky noises or very dazzling flashes are distinctly painful. So this introduces no essential distinction.
- There is one important feature which is common M the two cases w hich we have so far considered and is absent in those which we have to consider next. I express this by saying that a toothache, a noise, a flash, and a coloured patch all seem to be homogeneous events. No doubt they all have or seem to have temporal parts, and some of them have or seem to have spatial parts. No doubt the different parts may manifest different determinate qualities; e.g., one bit of a coloured patch may seem red and another may seem blue, or the earlier part of a twinge of toothache may seem "dull" and the later part "throbbing ", and so on. But all the parts which we can distinguish seem to be of the same kind as each other and as the whole which they compose. Moreover, the parts of the whole are united to form the whole by the unique relation of spatial, temporal, or spatio-temporal adjunction. This is what I mean bv calling toothaches, noises, coloured patches, flashes, etc., "homogeneous events". Now there are other events, which some people say that we can introspect, that are certainly not homogeneous in this sense. e.g., a perceptual situation (i.e., the kind of situation which we denote by such a phrase as "So-and-so seeing such-and-such") is not a homogeneous event in the sense defined. For it is a complex in which we can distinguish an objective constituent, a subjective constituent, and a characteristic relation between them which is not that of adjunction. We may call it a "heterogeneous event". Now some people hold that perceptual situations, and other mental situations which are heterogeneous in the sense defined, can be introspected.
For the reasons which I have just given it seems to me likely that there is no essential difference between what is called "introspecting" a bodily feeling and what some people would refuse to call "introspecting" the objective constituent of a visual, tactual, or auditory perceptual situation. And it seems to me likely that there is a difference between this and what is called "introspecting" a heterogeneous mental event, such as a perceptual situation or a memory-situation. Now the word "introspection" is generally taken to imply that its object is a state of the introspector's mind. I certainly do not want to use language which would suggest that noises, flashes, toothaches, etc., are states of the mind which senses or feels them; for this is a matter of controversy, and my own view is that they are probably not states of mind. Nevertheless there are situations in which we specially attend to such events and to their apparent characteristics, and it is necessary to have some neutral name for such situations. I propose to call such situations "inspective", and not "introspective". Anyone who holds that toothaches, noises, etc., are states of the mind which feels or senses them will simply regard inspection as a species of introspection. Anyone who rejects this view will deny that inspection is a species of introspection. But both parties can agree to use the name " inspection " for the situations which I have been describing, without committing themselves to any special view on this further question.
(3) The third case then that we have to distinguish is our alleged introspective knowledge of heterogeneous mental events such as perceptual and memory-situations. It is necessary to introduce a further distinction under this head, which has often been overlooked. All the situations which we are at present considering have internal complexity; there is an objective constituent, a subjective constituent; and a characteristic relation between the two. But, in addition to this internal complexity, some, if not all, of these situations refer to an epistemological object which is not a constituent of the situation. It is one thing to recognise that a certain perceptual situation, e.g., contains a mass of bodily feeling and a brown elliptical patch related in a certain specific way; and it is another thing to recognise that it refers to a certain epistemological object, e.g., "this penny". Now some people would say that, if we are asked: "What are you seeing; what are you remembering; what are you desiring" and we answer: "I am seeing a penny; I am remembering the tie which my friend wore yesterday; and I am wanting my tea", we are introspecting in order to answer these questions. Plainly we must distinguish between analysing a situation, describing its various constituents, and noting the relations which subsist between them in the situation, on the one hand; and recognising, on the other hand, that it refers to such and such an epistemological object which is not a constituent of it. If both these processes are to be called "introspection", they ought to be distinguished by suitable adjectives. We might call the first "psychological introspection" and the second "epistemological introspection". I want now to see whether "epistemological introspection" deserves the name of "introspection" at all.
I think that there are two cases to be considered.
(i) The situation may contain as an essential constituent a judgment or some other psychological attitude, such as supposition, whose "objective" (to use Meinong's expression) is a certain proposition or set of propositions. The epistemological object of the situation is determined by these propositions. On this alternative the recognition that the situation has such and such an epistemological object is not an additional cognitive process which may or may not be superinduced on the original situation; it is an essential part of the original situation itself. In judging or supposing certain propositions I, ipso facto, know what are the propositions which I am judging or supposing; and therefore in being the subject of such a situation I, ipso facto, know what is its epistemological object. The most that we can do is to put this judgment or supposition explicitly into words; and I do not see any reason to call this process "introspection". Now it is important to notice that this process is not infallible, and that in fact it is liable to a certain systematic error which might be called "The Epistemologist's Fallacy". Although we cannot help knowing what we are judging, we may find it very difficult to say accurately either to ourselves or others what we are judging; because the subtlety of language is not equal to the subtlety of fact. The systematic error, which I call the Epistemologist's Fallacy, is to substitute a mere determinate judgment or supposition for the vaguer and less determinate judgment or supposition which really formed part of the original situation. In addition to the process which I have been describing we may
These two processes are of course particular cases of psychological introspection It seems then that, in this case, the so-called process of "epistemological introspection" splits into two parts. One is not introspection at all, but is merely the statement in words of certain propositions which are judged or supposed in the original situation. The other is a particular instance of psychological introspection, viz., the recognition of the particular attitude which we take towards these propositions and of the relation of this attitude to the other factors in the situation.
- recognise what kind of attitude we are taking towards the propositions in question; e.g., we may recognise that it is judgment or that it is supposition, or that it is doubt, and so on. And
- we may recognise the precise relation which this factor in the situation bears to the other factors in it, i.e., to the objective constituent, to the subjective constituent, and so on.
(ii) The second case is this. There are certain situations, notably perceptual ones, which have epistemological objects, but probably do not contain as constituents judgments or other attitudes towards propositions. I have described them as best I could by saying that we adjust our bodies as if we had made certain judgments about what is coming next, and are surprised and disappointed if something different happens. Instead of containing judgments, the situations contain the feelings due to these bodily adiustments related in a characteristic way to the other constituents of the situation. In such cases, when we try to state what is the epistemological object of the situation, we are really trying to state explicitly those propositions in accordance with which we have acted and adjusted ourselves. Here we are quite definitely going beyond anything that was contained in the original situation; otherwise this case is identical with the last which we considered.
The upshot of the matter is that "epistemological introspection" is not introspection at all, and need not be further considered. I cannot, however, resist the temptation to remark that the extraordinary confusions which I seem to find in Mr Russell's argument about Desire in the first chapter of his Analysis of Mind are due to a failure to distinguish between psychological and epistemological introspection coupled with the superstition that, if there were introspective knowledge at all, it would have to be infallible. Mr Russell is anxious to prove that we do not know our own mental states by introspection. Having discussed this question about other kinds of mental state, he here raises it about Desire. And he thinks it relevant to his purpose to point out (what he need scarcely have gone to the Behaviourists and the Psycho-Analysts to learn) that we are often mistaken in our beliefs about what would in fact satisfy us. This seems to me to be triply irrelevant to his contention that we do not know the mental situation called "Desire" by introspection.
Mr Russell's argument is thus absolutely irrelevant to his conclusion, even if his conclusion be true; and he has failed to see this because he has for the moment overlooked the distinctions which I have been drawing. An exact parallel to his argument about desire would be the following imaginary argument about perception: "It is evident that we do not know of the existence and the constituents and the structure of perceptual situations by introspection; for it is notorious that we may think we are perceiving an Archdeacon when we are really perceiving a scarecrow." The utter irrelevance of this argument is obvious; but it is irrelevant in precisely the same way and for precisely the same reasons as Mr Russell's argument to prove that we have no introspective knowledge of desire.
- It assumes that introspective knowledge, if it existed at all, must he infallible. No reason is given for this assumption.
- It would prove only that we do not know "what we desire" (i.e., the epistemological object of the conative situation) by epistemological introspection. It would not have the faintest tendency to show that we do not know the mental situation of desiring, and do not recognise its constituents and its characteristic internal structure, by psychological introspection.
- But the facts adduced by Mr Russell are irrelevant even to epistemological introspection, and even on the assumption that introspection must be infallible if it exists at all. For he has failed to distinguish between the epistemological object and the ontological object of a conative situation. The ontological object of such a situation is that state of affairs which would in fact satisfy us; its epistemological object is that state of affairs which we believe, while the situation is occurring, would satisfy us. Who in the world ever supposed that introspection could give us infallible information about the former, even if he supposed that it could do so about the latter?
The outcome of this sub-section is that we have to recognise two and only two apparently distinct kinds of knowledge which would commonly be counted as introspection of mental events. One is the inspection of sensa, images, bodily feelings, and other homogeneous events. The other is the introspection of heterogeneous mental situations The so-called "epistemological introspection", which turns up in connexion with situations that have epistemological objects, resolves itself into something which is not introspection, and into something else which is a particular instance of psychological introspection. I propose now to consider inspection and psychological introspection in turn.
We must begin by distinguishing a number of different but connected relations in which such an event as a noise, or a patch that appears coloured, may stand to a percipient. Let us suppose that I am looking attentively at a penny. There is a certain objective constituent which, on inspection, will seem to have a certain determinate ellipticity and a certain non-uniform distribution of various shades of brown. This patch will itself be a spatial part of a bigger visual field. Now
We can inspect only what we have selected, and we can perceive only with what we have selected. And we can select only those parts of a sensed field which we sense. But we can either inspect or perceive with a part of a field which we sense and select; and I am inclined to think that we must do one or the other. I think that it is vital for the present purpose to distinguish these relations of being sensed, being selected, being inspected, and being used for perceiving; and to get clear about their mutual connexions.
- this visual field as a whole stands in a certain peculiar relation to me which I express by saying that it "is being sensed by me". If another person be looking at the penny at the same time, this visual field will not stand in this relation to him; though there will be another visual field which does stand in this relation to him and does not stand in it to me. Moreover, if I turn my back, this visual field (even if it continues to exist) will cease to stand in this relation to me. These statements will, I hope, indicate what I mean by saying that a visual field is sensed.
- It seems to me that when a field is sensed there is always one, and there may well be many, "sets of adjoined parts" such that each member of this set is also sensed by me. By a "set of adjoined parts" I mean a set of spatially or temporally or spatio-temporally extended parts which fit together without overlapping to make up an extended whole. It is evident that the same extended whole has an enormous number of different sets of adjoined parts; for this merely means that it can be exhaustively divided up in an enormous number of different ways. (I owe the conception of a set of adjoined parts to Dr McTaggart.)
- On the other hand, it seems to me that when a whole is sensed it may quite well have parts which are not sensed because they are too small or of too short duration. Thus it is possible that a visual field which is sensed may have many sets of adjoined parts such that no member of any of these sets is sensed. And of course there may be sets of adjoined parts of a sensed whole such that some members of any such set are sensed and other members of that set are not sensed.
- In our example the visual appearance of the penny and the remainder of the visual field form a set of adjoined parts of the visual field. And both members of this set are sensed.
- Now, although the visual appearance of the penny and the rest of the visual field agree in the fact that they are both sensed by me, they differ in another respect. I express this difference by saying that the former is and the latter is not "selected by me". Whatever part of a field is selected by me must also be sensed by me; but there may be parts of the field which are sensed by me without being selected by me.
- At this point we come to a parting of the ways. A part of the field which is selected by me may
- be used for perceiving a certain physical object and for learning about its physical characteristics, or
- it may become an object of inspection by me with a view to learning accurately its own apparent characteristics.
Inspective situations undoubtedly do arise, though they are of course far less common than perceptual and sensational situations. In ordinary life the most important inspective situations are those in which we select and inspect a certain bodily feeling in order to describe its apparent characteristics as accurately as we can to our doctor or our dentist. Inspective situations which are not concerned with bodily feelings are almost confined to philosophers, psychologists, and those physiologists who study the psycho-physiology of sense-perception. And even these specialists are subjects of such situations only at certain rare intervals when inspection becomes necessary for their investigations. Anyone who has ever put himself in an inspective situation and tried to discover the apparent qualities of his visual or auditory sensa, as distinct from trying to discover the physical qualities of external objects, will recognise how utterly different it is to inspect a sensum and to perceive with it.
There are several questions to be raised about inspection.
(1) I have said that, when we select a certain part of a sense-field in addition to merely sensing it, we must either inspect it or perceive with it. Can we do both? Can we perceive with and inspect precisely and numerically the same noise or apparently coloured patch? I think it is very doubtful whether we can. At any rate I find that, when I am tempted to think that I do so, I have really been alternating quickly to and fro between "perceiving with" and "inspecting". Now this raises a problem. My main motive as a philosopher for inspecting a certain noise or apparently coloured patch is to describe accurately the apparent qualities of the objective constituent of some auditory or visual perceptual situation. But, if what I inspect be probably never numerically the same as what I have perceived with, what right have I to believe that the objective constituent of the past perceptual situation had (or would have seemed to have) those characteristics which the objective constituent of the present inspective situation does now seem to have? To this question I can only make the following answers. No conclusive reason can be given for this belief; it is a memory-judgment, and the correctness of memory in general cannot be proved by argument. It may be that the characteristics which the objective constituent of an inspective situation seems to have are always different from those which the objective constituent of the immediately previous perceptual situation had or seemed to have. If it amuses anyone to assert this I cannot possibly refute him. But, on the other hand, there is not the least reason to believe him. If any memory-judgment be true, this one would seem to have the strongest possible claims. The numerical diversity of the two objective constituents is of course no bar to complete identity of their actual or their apparent qualities. And the two situations, and their respective objective constituents, are contiguous in time; so that there is the minimum possible opportunity for forgetting.
(2) We can now state our position about the relation between inspection and memory. Inspection itself is not memory. The purely inspective situation does not refer to the past; it merely professes to describe the apparent characteristics of its own objective constituent. But the objective constituent of an inspective situation is very often the objective constituent of a co-existing memory-situation. And the epistemological object of this memory-situation is such that, if anything corresponds to it, this corresponding object is the objective constituent of an immediately previous perceptual situation or of smne other immediately previous situation such as a memory-situation. In so far as we profess to be learning by inspection about the apparent characteristics of the objective constituent of a perceptual or memory-situation, we are relying, not on inspection alone, but on inspection and memory. But the conditions are such that, if any memory-situation be veridical, this one may reasonably be expected to be so.
(3) What is the precise difference between trying to learn more accurately about the determinate qualities and the details of a perceived physical object by careful attention, and trying to learn more accurately about the determinate qualities and details of the objective constituent of a perceptual situation by inspection? It seems to me that one very important difference is the following.
- In the former case I do not try to keep the perceptual situation constant. I try to replace it by a certain series of perceptual situations with different objective constituents. And, in particular, I choose certain special situations whose objective constituents are believed to reveal certain details or qualities of the perceived object more fully or determinately than others. An elementary example of what I mean is looking at the thing from various points of view and approaching it until it is at the distance of most distinct vision. An exaggerated example is looking at the thing through some optical instrument, such as a microscope or a telescope.
- In the latter case I try to keep the perceptual situation as nearly constant as I can, and to inspect the objective constituent of that situation or of others as like it as possible. To look through a microscope does not tell me more about the objective constituent of my previous visual situation; it replaces it by another visual situation with the same epistemological object and a different objective constituent. And the new objective constituent is supposed to justify certain more determinate judgments about the details of the perceived object than the old one could do.
(4) There is one other question which I wish to discuss in this subsection. Is inspection infallible; and, if so, in what sense? We must begin by drawing certain distinctions.
- We must not confuse the pure inspective judgment with the memory-judgment which so often accompanies it and is based on the same objective constituent. Of the latter we can only say that it has as good a chance of being true as any memory-judgment can possibly have, and a much better chance than most memoryjudgments have.
- We must not confuse the inspective judgment itself with the sentences in which we may try to express it to ourselves or to others. There are many more degrees of determinateness in our judgments than variations in language to express them. Owing to this inevitable limitation of language the most careful formulation of an inspective judgment in words may convey a wrong impression even though the judgment be itself true.
- There is no reason to suppose that inspective judgments are infallible in the sense of being exhaustive. Suppose I sense, select and inspect a certain noise or a certain apparently red patch. Such an object is exhaustively divisible in innumerable different ways into different sets of adjoined parts. Now some of these sets of adjoined parts may consist of members all of which are too small or of too short duration to be sensed or selected or inspected; yet together the members of any one of these sets make up a whole which is sensed, selected and inspected. We must not suppose then that, because we inspect a certain spatio-temporally extended whole, we therefore, ipso facto, have inspective knowledge of all or of most of its parts.
- So far as I can see, a certain whole might have a certain characteristic and there might be a certain set of adjoined parts which make up this whole and do not have this characteristic. There might be another set of adjoined parts of the same whole all of which do have the same characteristic as the whole. E.g., a certain patch may appear red as a whole. There is one set of adjoined parts consisting of two halves of this patch; each member of this set may also appear red. But there may also be a set of adjoined parts of the patch each member of which is too small to appear red or to appear to have any colour at all, Thus the characteristic of "appearing to be red" may belong to a whole and to some of its parts, but this whole may also be composed of a set of adjoined parts none of which has this characteristic of "appearing to be red". Nor do I see any reason why the whole and some of its parts should not be red, whilst none of the members of a certain set of adjoined parts of this whole are red. And, just as a whole may have certain characteristics which do not belong to any member of a certain set of adjoined parts of it, so all the members of a certain set of adjoined parts of a certain whole might have some positive characteristic which does not belong to the whole or to some of its parts. A red whole may have a set of adjoined parts none of which is red; and every one of these parts might, e.g., be a mind, whilst the whole is not a mind. We must not therefore suppose that, because we have inspective knowledge of certain characteristics of a certain whole, we shall therefore, ipso facto, have inspective knowledge of all the characteristics of all its parts.
- I have now pointed out certain common confusions which we must avoid in discussing our present question, and have shown that there is no reason to think that inspection will give us exhaustive information about its objects. The question that remains is this: "Is there any ground for doubting that the events which we inspect do have precisely those qualities which they seem to have and those parts which we seem to find on inspecting them as carefully as we can?"
I think that the answer to this last question is that there is no ground for doubt in any case except when the apparent characteristics of the inspected event are ascribed by a memory-judgment to the objective constituent of an immediately past perceptual situation. I inspect a certain selected patch in my visual field, and I find that it looks elliptical. I make a memory-judgment ascribing this apparent shape to the objective constituent of an immediately past perceptual situation in which I claimed to be seeing the round top of a certain penny. Now, if I insist on identifying the objective constituent of this recent perceptual situation with the actual top of the penny, I have two alternatives.
- I may reject the memory-judgment. I may say: "The objective constituent of my present inspective situation certainly appears elliptical; but my memory-judgment that the objective constituent of my past perceptual situation appeared elliptical must be mistaken. The latter objective constituent must have appeared round." On this alternative there is no need for me to suppose that either objective constituent seems to have a different characteristic from that which it does have. One was round and appeared so; the other is elliptical and appears so; my memory simply deceives me when I ascribe the characteristic of the second to the first.
- I may accept the memoryjudgment, I may say: "The objective constituent of my present inspective situation certainly appears elliptical; and my memory-judgment that the objective constituent of my past perceptual situation appeared elliptical is correct. So this latter objective constituent must have been round, although it appeared elliptical." On this alternative it is not indeed positively necessary to hold that the objective constituent of the present inspective situation has a different characteristic from that which it appears to have. But it is necessary to hold this about the objective constituent of the past perceptual situation. And this would make it very rash to be sure that the objective constituent of the present inspective situation does have the characteristic which it seems to have. For, if there is certainly this divergence between apparent and actual characteristics in the objective constituent of the perceptual situation, we can hardly feel confident that a like divergence may not exist in the case of the inspective situation.
It will be noticed, however, that both these unpleasant alternatives depend on the assumption that the objective constituent of a perceptual situation must be literally a spatio-temporal part of the perceived physical object. If we reject this assumption, there is no reason why we should not accept both the view that the objective constituent of the inspective situation has the characteristics which it seems to have, and also the memoryjudgment that the objective constituent of the previous perceptual situation seemed to have these same characteristics. For there is now no reason to suppose that the latter did not have the characteristics which the memory-judgment asserts that it seemed to have. We can therefore accept the memoryjudgment without casting doubt on the proposition that the objective constituent of the inspective situation has the characteristics which it seems to have. For, if there be now no reason to doubt that the objective constituent of the recent perceptual situation had the characteristics which we remember that it seemed to have, there is no reason to doubt that the objective constituent of the present inspective situation has the characteristics which it seems to have.
The upshot of the matter is that there is no reason to doubt that inspection gives us information which is accurate, so far as it goes, about certain characteristics which actually belong to the inspected object; and there is no reason to doubt that these characteristics did actually belong to the objective constituent of the immediately past perceptual situation. For the only ground for doubting either of these propositions is the assumption that the objective constituent of a perceptual situation must be literally identical with a certain part of the perceived physical object. And we saw, in discussing Perception, that there are almost conclusive objections to this assumption.
It will be remembered that I refused to call the kind of cognition which I have just been discussing "Introspection" because I think it doubtful whether its objects, viz., sensa, images, bodily feelings, ets., can properly be regarded as "states of mind". I am doubtful whether they are even existentially mind-dependent, though I think it likely that they are to some extent qualitatively mind-dependent. Even if they be existentially mind-dependent it would not follow that they can be counted as states of our minds, i.e., as literally parts of that strand of history which is our Empirical Self. When we reflect I think we find that we do not really regard noises, visual and auditory images, and so on, as literally parts of ourselves or items in our mental history, in the sense in which we do regard "being aware of" a noise or an image as part of our mental history. About bodily feelings I think we are more doubtful. This is because we find more difficulty in distinguishing between a toothache and the awareness of a toothache than in distinguishing between a noise and the awareness of a noise. However this may be I think that every one would admit that what is indubitably mental and indubitably part of our mental history is such events as "being aware of a noise", "contemplating an image", "remembering a past event", "seeing a penny", and so on. If there are situations in which we have intuitive and non-inferential knowledge of such heterogeneous mental events as these there is no doubt that they would be called "introspective situations" par excellece.
We must begin by distinguishing these heterogeneous mental events into two classes, viz.
As we have seen, perceptual and memory-situations belong to the former class. So far as I can see, purely inspective situations would belong to the latter class. So would pure sensation, the mere awareness of an image, etc. Whether situations of the second kind ever exist in isolation is a doubtful point; I am inclined to think that pure sensations, etc., are ideal-limits rather than actual facts. But all situations of the first kind involve situations of the second kind; we cannot perceive without sensing, or remember without being aware of a sensum or an image of some kind. Let us call situations of the first kind "referential" and those of the second kind "non-referential".
- those which do, and
- those which do not have an external reference to an epistemelogical object.
As we have said, all referential situations (e.g., perceptual situations) have both an epistemological object (e.g. the top of a certain penny) and an objective constituent (e.g., a patch which appears brown and elliptical). They also involve a situation which is non-referential but has an objective constituent (e.g., the sensing of this sensum). When I say that they "involve" this, I think I mean something of the following kind. I mean that the perceptual situation could not exist unless I sensed this sensum, whilst it seems logically possible that I should sense a precisely similar sensum without perceiving anything. Whether this is causally possible is another question; and whether, even if it be causally possible, it ever in fact happens is yet another question. I shall say that a perceptual situation is both "objective" and "referential". I shall say that a pure sensation of a noise or a patch would be "objective" and "non-referential"; meaning that it would have an objective constituent, but no epistemological object. Now, in theory there might be mental events which were referential and non-objective; and mental events which were non-referential and non-objective. I do not think that there are or could be instances of the former class. I am inclined to think that a referential situation must also be an objective situation. But I am not at all sure that there are not mental events which are both non - objective and non-referential. Suppose, e.g., that noises, apparently coloured patches, and so on, were literally mental events, as many excellent people have held. Then it seems quite clear that they would be both non-objective and non-referential; for a noise certainly does not contain something else as an objective constituent, as a perceptual situation may contain a noise as an objective constituent. Even if we deny that noises, coloured patches, and so on, are mental events, we might be inclined to hold that toothaches and other more obscure bodily feelings are so. If we do, we must count them as non-objective and non-referential mental events.
We must of course carefully distinguish between being "objective" in the present sense, and being "objectifiable." And we must further distinguish between being "epistemologically objectifiable" and being "psychologically objectifiable". To be "objective" means to be a situation which has an objective constituent. To be "epistemologically objectifiable" means to be capable of corresponding to the epistemological object of some referential situation. Now everything is in principle epistemologically objectifiable, for everything can at least be thought about, and is thus capable of corresponding to the epistemological object of some thought-situation. To be "psychologically objectifiable" means to be capable of being an objective constituent of some objective mental situation. If a toothache be a non-objective mental event, it nevertheless becomes an objective constituent of a mental situation whenever it is inspected. If a noise be a non-objective mental event, it nevertheless becomes an objective constituent of a mental situation whenever it is sensed, or selected, or inspected, or used for perceiving. Thus, such events as these are certainly psychologically objectifiable even if they be themselves non-objective mental events. On the other hand, there is no reason whatever why all mental events should be psychologically objectifiable. It is in fact just those events which are certainly objective, in the present sense, about which we may most plausibly doubt whether they are psychologically objectifiable.
All mental events which we need consider at present are certainly "owned" by some Empirical Self; i.e., they are literally parts of its history. Now owning is not itself a mode of cognition. What is owned may be "felt" or "sensed"; and this is a mode of cognition. But, even if everything that is owned be felt or sensed, and everything that is felt or sensed be owned, the relation of owning differs from that of feeling or sensing. What is felt or sensed may be selected; and what is selected may be inspected or used as the objective constituent of some referential situation, such as perception or memory.
We must then distinguish three kinds of event, of which the following are examples.
If there be introspection proper, as distinct from inspection, it is concerned with events of the second and third kind. Let us begin by considering our knowledge of objective but non-referential situations, such as sensing a noise or feeling a pang of toothache.
- A noise or a toothache. This is studied by inspection; and, if it be a mental event at all, it will be non-objective and nonreferential. Such mental events, if such there be, may be called "purely subjective".
- The feeling of a toothache or the sensing of a noise. This is an objective and non-referential mental event.
- The perception of a process in one's tooth by means of the felt toothache; or the perception of a process in a bell by means of the sensed noise. This is an objective and referential mental event.
People who deny that we can introspect such situations rest their case on the fact that, when I try to introspect the situation of sensing a noise or feeling a toothache, I seem to find myself merely inspecting the noise or the toothache itself. I imagine that this is what people are referring to when they talk of the "diaphanous" character of "consciousness". Others admit that they seem to find something beside the noise or the toothache, but tell us that this "something more" is merely certain feelings connected with the adjustment of their sense-organs or with the reactions of other parts of their bodies. These men are also inclined to deny that we can introspect the situation of sensing a noise or feeling a toothache. Now it seems to me that the latter set of psychologists are very nearly right in what they assert, and quite wrong in what they deny. If there be such a thing as an objective situation it must presumably consist of at least two constituents, related in a certain specific way by an asymmetrical relation so that one of these constituents occupies a special position (viz., that of objective constituent) and the other occupies a characteristically different position (viz., that of subjective constituent). Now suppose that there were complexes of this kind, and that I were acquainted with them introspectively, we ought not to expect the relating relation, which makes this a complex of such and such a structure, to be presented to us in the same way as the substantival constituents. The relating relation of a complex never is a constituent of it in the same sense in which the terms are. When I look at a pattern composed of three dots, A, B. and C, arranged in that order on a line, I know intuitively that B is between A and C. But I do not "see" the relation of "between" in the sense in which I "see" the dots; though it would be quite in accordance with usage to say that "I see that B is between A and C". Now no one in his senses supposes that the fact that I "see" nothing but the dots proves, either that the dots are not in fact related in a certain order by the relation of a "between", or that I do not know this relation in a perfectly direct and non-inferential way. People who make such facts as we have been mentioning an argument against the possibility of introspective knowledge of objective mental situations are demanding of introspection something which no one thinks of demanding of inspection, and something which is from the nature of the case incapable of fulfilment. If they contented themselves with saying: "When I try to introspect the sensing of a noise or the feeling of a pang of toothache the only particular existents which are intuitively presented to me are the noise or the toothache and certain bodily feelings," they might be approximately or exactly right. But it seems to me perfectly clear that these particular existents are presented to me as terms, each of which occupies a characteristic position in a complex of a certain specific kind. This complex is the objective mental situation of sensing the noise or feeling the toothache; and we have direct non-inferential knowledge of its relating relation, as we have of the relating relation of "between" when a pattern of three dots in a line is presented to our inspection. Naturally, further knowledge of the situation will consist largely in learning more about the characteristics of its constituents by inspecting them; just as we should learn more about a pattern of dots of various colours by seeing exactly what colour belongs to each dot in each position in the pattern. But, if we were confined to inspecting each constituent, we should never know that they were constituents of a whole of a certain specific structure. And it seems to me that we do know this about the noise or the toothache and the bodily feelings which we find when we try to introspect the situation of sensing a noise or feeling a toothache.
There is one other remark to be made before leaving this subject. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that, when I try to introspect the situation of sensing a noise or feeling a toothache, no particular existent except the noise or the toothache itself were presented to my mind as an object. It would still be most rash to conclude that the situation does not contain anything but the noise or the toothache, or to conclude that I cannot know directly and non-inferentially that it contains more than this. Suppose, e.g., that the situation contained two constituents, one of which is sensed and can be selected, whilst the other is only sensed or felt and cannot be selected or inspected. Then, if we tried to introspect the situation, nothing would be presented to us except the former constituent. But, since the other constituent is sensed or felt by us, though it cannot be selected or inspected by us, we might quite well know with complete certainty that what we are inspecting is not the whole of the situation. We must therefore always be prepared for the possibility that the constituents of a mental situation which we can actually inspect are not the whole of its constituents; and we must be prepared to recognise that we may be able to know this directly and non-inferentially because the remaining constituents are felt or sensed by us though not selected or inspected.
To sum up. I cannot of course prove that we have introspective knowledge of such situations as sensing a noise or feeling a toothache, beside inspective knowledge of the noise or toothache itself. I can only say that it seems to me that I do have it, though it may be very inadequate; and that I do not understand how otherwise I could distinguish between the existence of noises and toothaches and the sensing or feeling of them. But I do think that I have shown that the reasons which have been brought forward for believing that I do not have such knowledge are utterly inadequate to prove this conclusion or even to make it probable.
I now pass to the case of mental situations which are referential as well as objective; e.g., perceptual situations, memory-situations, and so on. There is a difficulty here which does not apply to non-referential objective situations, such as we have just been considering. It seems very doubtful whether I can at the same time refer to an epistemological object and also make the mental situation which has this external reference into an objective constituent of an introspective situation. For this would require a division of attention between two very different objects, and it is doubtful whether we can accomplish anything more than a quick alternation of attention backwards and forwards between the two. Here I think we must draw a distinction between two different cases; viz.,
It is the latter of these which I doubt to be possible; and this would be involved by the claim to introspect perceptual and memory-situations The former seems to me to be difficult, but not impossible. Attention has various degrees; and, although it may be impossible to attend equally to two different objects of the same order at the same time, it does seem to be possible to distribute one's attention so that each of them gets some of it, though one gets more than the other. In particular it seems to me to be possible to attend to a situation which does not itself involve attention to something else, and at the same time to use this situation as the objective constituent of a memory-situation which refers to a certain epistemological object. I therefore suggest that what is called "introspecting" a perceptual or memory-situation should be analysed as follows.
- attending simultaneously to two objects of the same order, and
- attending to a situation which itself involves attending to something else.
- We really do introspect something else, which is now present; and
- we make this "something else" the objective constituent of a memory-situation whose epistemological object is such that, if anything corresponds to it, what does so is the immediately past perceptual or memory-situation which we are commonly said to be "introspecting."
The next question is: "What is it that we really do introspect in such cases, and make the objective constituent of a memory-situation?" Let us suppose that we are concerned with a perceptual situation. This contains
The whole of these are bound together into a complex of an unique kind, in consequence of which the whole situation has such and such an external reference. Suppose now that we pass immediately from the perceptive to the introspective attitude.
- a sensed and selected sensum;
- certain bodily feelings connected with the adjustment and excitement of the relevant sense-organs;
- certain bodily feelings connected with the adjustment of our muscles, etc., in order to respond to the situation;
- possibly certain images, and certainly vague but characteristic feelings, due to the excitement of traces.
So far then there is probably a great resemblance between the constituents of the present situation, which we introspect, and the immediately past situation, which we remember by means of it. There is probably no constituent of the present introspected situation which does not resemble or continue some constituent of the immediately past perceptual situation. And the constituents of the introspected situation are probably so related that its structure is at least analogous to that of the perceptual situation. But there is this difference. The images, feelings, etc., were purely subjective constituents of the original perceptual situation. The feelings, images, etc., which continue and resemble them in the introspected situation, are now psychologically objectified; i.e., they have become objective constituents of the introspective situation. The latter contains a new subjective constituent, which consists of (or, at any rate, includes) those bodily feelings which are characteristic of the purely theoretic and contemplative situation of introspecting as distinct from the active and practical situation of perceiving. And this new subjectiveconstituent is related in a characteristic way to the introspected situation and its constituents, so that the whole thus formed contains the latter as its objective constituent. In contemplating the constituents and the structure of the present introspected situation we remember the similar constituents and the analogous, but not identical, structure of the immediately past perceptual situation.
- There will still be a sensed and selected sensum, continuous with and qualitatively similar to that which was the objective constituent of the immediately past perceptual situation.
- Since the relevant sense-organs will still be adjusted and excited as before, the bodily feelings connected with these will be continuous with and qualitatively like those which were constituents of the perceptual situa tion.
- On the other hand, we shall no longer be adjusting our muscles, etc., so as to react to the situation practically. Hence the feelings connected with such adjustments in the past perceptual situation will not be continued in the present situation. It is not unlikely, however, that they will be represented by images which resemble them in quality and bear the mark of "familiarity".
- The traces excited in the perceptual situation will still be excited, so that the present situation will contain images and feelings which are continuous with and similar to those which were due to the excitement of these traces in the perceptual situation.
This memory-judgment has no more claim to infallibility than any other memory-judgment about equally recent events. Like all such judgments, it cannot be defended by argument against a sceptic who chooses to doubt the trustworthiness of memory in general. But there is no social reason for doubting the substantial correctness of this particular kind of memory-judgment; and therefore no special reason to doubt that perceptual and other referential situations have substantially the structure and the constituents which we assign to them on the ground of introspection and memory.
Summary of Conclusions.
- If there were a Pure Egos and it were timeless, it might literally be part of the total objective constituent of every introspect tive situation. But
- even if it were so, it certainly does not manifest any of its empirical qualities (if it has any) in any introspective situation. And
- it is certainly never the whole of the objective constituent of any introspective situation.
- There is therefore no direct reason to believe that it is a part of the objective constituent of any introspective situation.
- If it exists, and is known at all, it is known discursively by comparison of contemporary and successive mental events which we introspect. It does not follow from this that its existence and properties are known, if at all, only by inference.
- The Empirical Self cannot, from its nature, be literally an objective constituent of any introspective situation. But
- it is possible that every introspective situation might claim that its objective constituent is literally a part of the Empirical Self; and it is possible that this claim might be true.
- If we distinguish Introspection Proper from Inspection, I think we must admit that this claim is made by all genuinely introspective situations. And
- there seems to be no positive reason for rejecting it, as there is in the case of the analogous claim which the perceptual situation makes for its objective constituent.
- This does not imply that there may not be mental events which are not parts of the history of any Empirical Self. It implies only that, if there be such events, they are not possible objects of introspection.
- The so-called "Epistemological Introspection", by which we know "what we are believing", "what we are desiring", and so on, is not a special kind of introspection. It can be analysed into a process which is not introspection at all, and into another which is ordinary Psychological Introspection.
- There are situations in which an event, such as an image, a twinge of toothache, a noise, etc., are examined with a view to discovering accurately their own apparent qualities instead of learning about the physical qualities of our own or external bodies. Such situations are called by us "Inspective", because it is doubtful whether the events which are their objective constituents are states of mind at all.
- If such events be states of mind, they are "non-objective", in the sense that they do not contain objective constituents, though they may be and often are objective constituents of other mental events. And, on this supposition, inspection will be the kind of introspection which is concerned with non-objective mental events.
- Introspection proper is concerned with objective situations, such as perceptual and memory-situations, the sensing of sensa, the feeling of toothaches, and so on. These are undoubtedly mental events; and it is an essential factor of the introspective situation to claim that they are parts of the historyof the Empirical Self.
- There is no reason to doubt that inspection is correct, so far as it goes, in the information which it supplies about the apparent characteristics of its objective constituents. And
- there is no good reason to doubt that the latter have the characteristics which they seem on careful inspection to have. But
- there is no ground for supposing that inspective knowledge is exhaustive. An inspected whole may have sets of adjoined parts, such that no member of one of these sets is revealed to inspection. And members of such sets may have characteristics which are not manifested to inspection, which differ from those that are manifested as belonging to the whole, and which differ from those that are manifested as belonging to members of other sets of adjoined parts of the same inspected whole.
- When we profess to be inspecting the objective constituent of a perceptual situation we are probably inspecting a later event, which is continuous with and qualitatively similar to the former; and are using it as the basis for a memory-judgment about the former. This memory-judgment is not infallible; but it has as good a chance of being true as any memory-judgment, and a better chance than most.
- The existence of introspection proper has been denied on the ground that, when we try to introspect an objective situation, we find ourselves merely inspecting its objective constituent; or, at best, this together with certain bodily feelings.
- This contention has no weight, because it rests on the assumption that, if we have non-inferential knowledge of the structure of a whole, this structure must be presented in the same way as the constituents. And this demand is absurd. Moreover
- it is perfectly possible that an objective situation may have constituents which cannot be made into objects of inspection. And it is possible that we may know this; because these constituents, though not capable of being selected or inspected, are nevertheless sensed or felt.
- It seems likely that we cannot strictly introspect situations which, beside being objective, have also an external reference to an epistemological object. This is not so much because it is difficult to attend to two different objects at once as because it is difficult to attend to a situation which itself involves attention to something else.
- Here again we have probably to be content with introspecting a present non-referential situation and using this as the basis for memory-judgments about the structure and constituents of the immediately past referential situation. Such memory-judgments are not infallible; but there is no special reason for thinking that they are peculiarly likely to be incorrect.