Prof. John Perry Seminar, 4/18/2019: “The Complexity of Self-Knowledge”

Seminar: “Self-Knowledge”
Who: Prof. John Perry (Stanford Philosophy)
When: 4:30pm – 6pm Thursday, April 18th
Where: Alway M106 (Stanford Medical School). 


In this talk I will distinguish three kinds of “self-knowledge” and explain their relations.  A story Ernst Mach told about himself will motivate the distinctions.  Mach once entered a large crowded bus in Vienna by the back door.  Looking towards the front, he noticed a disheveled looking man.  “What a shabby pedagogue he is” Mach said to himself.  But in a bit he realized that he was seeing himself in the mirror that conductors use to keep track of things in the rear of the bus. At first, Mach believed that a certain person was disheveled, and that person was him.  I call this knowledge of the person one happens to be.  After he realized what was happening, he had what I call ordinary self-knowledge.  He would have said “I am a shabby pedagogue.”  I’ll claim we need to recognize a third variety, what I call primitive self-knowledge, to explain the difference. I call it primitive because animals can have it that don’t have ordinary self-knowledge — roughly, animals that don’t pass the “mirror test.”  After explaining how these three varieties of self-knowledge are related, I’ll say a few things about what the great philosophers have said about self-knowledge and the self.

6 Responses to “Prof. John Perry Seminar, 4/18/2019: “The Complexity of Self-Knowledge””

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