The Opacity of Mind: An Integrative Theory of Self-Knowledge
Carruthers (Peter)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Inside Cover Blurb

  1. It is widely believed that people have privileged and authoritative access to their own thoughts, and many theories have been proposed to explain this supposed fact.
  2. The Opacity of Mind challenges the consensus view and subjects the theories in question to critical scrutiny, while showing that they are not protected against the findings of cognitive science by belonging to a separate 'explanatory space'. The book argues that our access to our own thoughts is almost always interpretive, grounded in perceptual awareness of our own circumstances and behavior, together with our own sensory imagery (including inner speech). In fact our access to our own thoughts is no different in principle from our access to the thoughts of other people, utilizing the conceptual and inferential resources of the same 'mindreading' faculty, and relying on many of the same sources of evidence.
  3. Peter Carruthers proposes and defends the Interpretive Sensory-Access (ISA) theory of self-knowledge. This is supported through comprehensive examination of many different types of evidence from across cognitive science, integrating a diverse set of findings into a single well-articulated theory. One outcome is that there are hardly any kinds of conscious thought. Another is that there is no such thing as conscious agency.
  4. Written with Carruthers' usual clarity and directness, this book will be essential reading for philosophers interested in self-knowledge, consciousness, and related areas of philosophy. It will also be of vital interest to cognitive scientists, since it casts the existing data in a new theoretical light. Moreover, the ISA theory makes many new predictions while also suggesting constraints and controls that should be placed on future experimental investigations of self-knowledge.

Back Cover Reviews
  1. The Opacity of Mind is a terrific book. In a nutshell, the plot is this; Gilbert Ryle meets contemporary cognitive science, and together they produce a novel and exciting theory of self-knowledge ... This hardly scratches the surface of Carruthers's rich and thought-provoking book. Many other topics are discussed at length: mental architecture, inner sense theories, third-person mindreading, alleged dissociations between self- and other-knowledge, the evidence for widespread confabulation, and much more. As is usual with Carruthers's work, the book is packed with numerous references to the empirical literature — a welcome corrective to work on self-knowledge which blithely disregards it. The Opacity of Mind contains much to disagree with, but also much to learn.
    … Alex Byrne, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
  2. The Opacity of Mind offers a vigorous defense of the startling view that self-knowledge is based on error prone inferences from sensory experience rather than direct access to what we are thinking. Drawing heavily on cognitive science, Carruthers makes his radical thesis look eminently reasonable, and he delivers fatal blows to the competition.
    … Jesse Prinz, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York
  3. In this terrific book, Peter Carruthers aims to show that current theories of our knowledge of our own mental states don't sit at all well with our best theories of how the mind works. Carruthers also proposes and defends a radical alternative theory, which he succeeds in lending an impressive degree of support with appeal to both philosophical argumentation and a wealth of considerations drawn from recent work in cognitive science and related areas. In doing so, he offers a model of how an enduring and central philosophical issue can be fruitfully engaged in an empirically-informed manner. Philosophers of mind and epistemologists continue to be fascinated by our knowledge of our own mental lives; such readers will be fascinated by Carruthers's book, whether or not they agree with its deeply revisionary conclusions.
    … Aidan McGlynn, Philosophical Quarterly
  4. The Opacity of Mind is a challenging and provocative book, informed by an extraordinary knowledge of scientific psychology and cognitive science. Carruthers certainly places a formidable burden on anyone challenging the key ideas of the ISA theory — in particular, to anyone who wants to maintain any sort of transparent access to prepositional attitudes.
    Jose Luis Bermudez, Mind

BOOK COMMENT:
  • OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (1 Aug. 2013)
  • See Link



"Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Preface"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: An Integrative Theory of Self-Knowledge



"Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 1


Sections
  1. The Interpretive Sensory-Access (ISA) Theory – 1
  2. Predictions of the ISA Theory – 3
  3. Transparent-Access Accounts – 7
  4. A Guide1 Through the Volume – 8




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction")

Footnote 1: This section has been chopped up and used for the Abstracts of the various Chapters.



"Carruthers (Peter) - The Mental Transparency Assumption"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 2


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapter 2 argues that the intuition that our own thoughts are transparently accessible to us, although quite widely shared across time and place, may very well be false, and should be given no weight in advance of empirical inquiry.
  2. One goal of the chapter is to show that our intuitions of transparent access to our attitudes might be produced by heuristic processing rules that are built into the structure of the mindreading faculty (whether by evolution or by learning). With our intuitions of transparency thereby explained away, the playing field between the ISA theory and its transparent-access opponents should then be a level one.
  3. Another goal of the chapter, however, is to show that philosophers cannot render their views immune to the arguments presented in this book by consigning the ISA theory (and the data that support it) to a distinct explanatory level (subpersonal as opposed to personal).

Sections
  1. Prospect – 11
  2. Transparency Assumptions in Philosophy – 17
  3. Are Transparency Assumptions a Human Universal? – 25
  4. Explaining our Intuitions of Transparency – 32
  5. Leveling the Playing Field – 39
  6. Conclusion – 45




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - The Mental Transparency Assumption")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - The ISA Theory: Foundations and Elaborations"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 3


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapter 3 further explains and elaborates the ISA theory of self-knowledge, and shows how it coheres nicely with a number of surrounding theories in cognitive science (gaining both direct and indirect support from the latter). These are
    1. a global broadcasting architecture for attended sensory information, first postulated by Baars (1988) and widely confirmed since;
    2. models of human working memory that entail the involvement of sensory information in all working memory activities, which are now widely accepted; and
    3. theories of the evolution of human metarepresentational capacities that see them as grounded in the exigencies of complex social living (both competitive and cooperative).
  2. The ISA theory coheres well with these theories, and is best formulated in the framework that they provide. But it also receives partial direct support from them. Specifically, the "one mechanism" component of the ISA account is supported by (iii), and the claim that all access to our own attitudes is sensory in character is supported by (i) and (ii).

Sections
  1. A Global Broadcast Architecture – 47
  2. Working Memory – 56
  3. The Social Intelligence Hypothesis – 64
  4. The ISA Model Revisited – 68
  5. Sensory Self-Knowledge – 72
  6. Conclusion – 78




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - The ISA Theory: Foundations and Elaborations")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Attitudes?"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 4


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 4 & 5 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Affect") discuss attempts to vindicate the transparency assumption in ways that are consistent with the sensory-access component of the ISA account, while denying that access to our own attitudes is always interpretive.
  2. Chapter 4 considers attempts of this sort for propositional attitudes in general. These attempts are criticized on a variety of different grounds.

Sections
  1. Self-Knowledge by Looking Outward – 79
  2. Self-Knowledge by Expression – 84
  3. Constitutive Authority and Dual Systems – 96
  4. Revisionary Attitudes – 108
  5. Conclusion – 118




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Attitudes?")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Affect"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 5


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 4 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Attitudes?") & 5 discuss attempts to vindicate the transparency assumption in ways that are consistent with the sensory-access component of the ISA account, while denying that access to our own attitudes is always interpretive.
  2. Chapter 5 considers the suggestion that we might have transparent sensory access to our affective attitudes in particular. This idea will be seen to contain an element of truth. But transparent access to our affective attitudes in general is nevertheless rejected. The upshot is that any sort of general defense of transparent access to attitudes will require more than mere sensory access.

Sections
  1. Desire and Emotion – 119
  2. Awareness of Affect – 126
  3. Awareness of Affective Attitude Strength? – 135
  4. Awareness of Affective Attitude Content? – 147
  5. Conclusion – 154




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Transparent Sensory Access to Affect")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Intermediate-Strength Transparent-Access Theories"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 6


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapter 6 considers some theories of self-knowledge that are of intermediate strength, neither consistent with a sensory-access restriction, on the one hand, nor postulating a full-blown faculty of inner sense, on the other.
    1. One of these accounts claims that attitude-indicating "tags" might be attached to our sensory representations, enabling our access to some of our own attitudes to be more recognition-like than interpretive.
    2. Another utilizes a supposed form of propositional working memory to argue that we have non-interpretive access to our attitudes.
    3. And a third takes awareness of our own actions as given, and tries to explain on that basis how we might have transparent access to our mental actions.
  2. These accounts, too, are shown to be problematic.

Sections
  1. The Tagging Hypothesis – 156
  2. Attitudinal Working Memory – 166
  3. Awareness of Action – 178
  4. The Active Mind – 187
  5. Conclusion – 190




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Intermediate-Strength Transparent-Access Theories")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Inner Sense Theories"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 7


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 7 & 8 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Mindreading in Mind") embark on an examination of a trio of inner sense theories. These are distinguished from one another by the ways in which they view the relationship between the supposed faculty of inner sense and the mindreading faculty that underlies our capacity to attribute mental states to other people.
  2. In Chapter 7 these theories are explained, and some initial arguments supporting them are evaluated and found wanting.

Sections
  1. Inner Sense and Mindreading; Three Theories – 192
  2. Developmental Evidence – 203
  3. Emotional Mirroring – 209
  4. Unsymbolized Thinking – 214
  5. Conclusion – 222


COMMENT: See Link.




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Inner Sense Theories")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Mindreading in Mind"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 8


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 7 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Inner Sense Theories") & 8 embark on an examination of a trio of inner sense theories. These are distinguished from one another by the ways in which they view the relationship between the supposed faculty of inner sense and the mindreading faculty that underlies our capacity to attribute mental states to other people.
  2. Chapter 8 then discusses a number of different theories of third-person mindreading, showing that those that might lend support to one or another inner sense theory are among the least plausible, whereas the best-supported model is the one that comports best with the ISA account.

Sections
  1. The Theoretical Options – 223
  2. Why Mindreading Matters – 230
  3. Evidence of Early Mindreading – 240
  4. Explaining the Gap – 248
  5. Mindreading in Animals – 254
  6. Conclusion – 259




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Mindreading in Mind")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - Metacognition and Control"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 9


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 9 & 10 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Dissociation Data") discuss the main predictions of inner sense theories. One concerns our capacities to monitor and control our own mental processes (often called "metacognition"), and another concerns the likely incidence of metacognitive capacities in non-human primates.
  2. These issues are discussed in Chapter 9, where it is shown that the evidence counts heavily against inner sense views, while vindicating the predictions made by the ISA account (as sketched in Section 2.42).

Sections
  1. Inner Sense versus ISA – 261
  2. Human Metacognition – 263
  3. Human Meta-Reasoning – 272
  4. Animal Metacognition – 278
  5. Epistemic Emotions in Humans and Animals – 288
  6. Conclusion – 292




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Metacognition and Control")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".

Footnote 2: Of the Introduction.



"Carruthers (Peter) - Dissociation Data"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 10


Author’s Abstract1
  1. Chapters 9 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Metacognition and Control") & 10 discuss the main predictions of inner sense theories. One concerns our capacities to monitor and control our own mental processes (often called "metacognition"), and another concerns the likely incidence of metacognitive capacities in non-human primates.
  2. Yet another set of predictions made by inner sense theories concern expected patterns of dissociation. Chapter 10 considers a number of possibilities and concludes that none of them stands up under examination. On the contrary, the current evidence is consistent with the predictions of the ISA theory (as outlined in Section 2.32).

Sections
  1. Schizophrenia – 293
  2. Autism – 301
  3. Alexithymia – 309
  4. Images of the Brain – 311
  5. Conclusion – 324




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Dissociation Data")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".

Footnote 2: Of the Introduction.



"Carruthers (Peter) - Self-Interpretation and Confabulation"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 11


Author’s Abstract1
  1. By this point in the book the various main attempts to vindicate the transparency of our access to our own attitudes will have been considered, and all will have been found to be problematic at best. In contrast, the relevant data will generally have been accommodated quite smoothly by the ISA theory.
  2. Chapter 11 then considers the central prediction of the latter, which is that people should frequently be misled in attributing attitudes to themselves, just as they can go wrong when attributing attitudes to other people. This prediction is found to be amply confirmed, in ways that are quite hard for transparent-access theories to account for.

Sections
  1. The Limits of Introspection – 326
  2. When Will the Two Methods Operate? – 333
  3. Confabulated Decisions, Intentions, and Judgments – 339
  4. Self-Perception Data – 345
  5. Dissonance Data – 356
  6. Concluding Comments – 365




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - Self-Interpretation and Confabulation")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



"Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Conclusion and Implications"

Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind, Chapter 12


Author’s Abstract1
  1. The concluding chapter of the book (Chapter 12) begins with a summary of its main argument, the upshot of which is that access to our own prepositional attitudes is not only sensory-based but almost always interpretive.
  2. Thereafter the chapter addresses some likely implications. One is that there are hardly any kinds of conscious attitude. Another is that there is no such thing as conscious agency.
  3. The chapter concludes that many of our presuppositions about who we ourselves are, the boundaries of the self and our responsibility for our own actions, may need to be re-examined.

Sections
  1. Summary: The Case Against Transparent Access to Attitudes – 368
  2. Eliminating Most Kinds of Conscious Attitude – 373
  3. Eliminating Conscious Agency – 379
  4. Rethinking Responsibility – 381
  5. Conclusion – 383




In-Page Footnotes ("Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Conclusion and Implications")

Footnote 1: Take from Section 4 of "Carruthers (Peter) - The Opacity of Mind: Introduction".



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