Existimo Ergo Scribo


Existimo ergo scribo
Je pense donc que j’écris
Jeg tror derfor jeg skriver
Ich denke daher, dass ich schreiben
Creo que por eso escribo
i think therefore i write

One of the pleasures I have customarily acquainted myself with is writing down my thoughts, feelings, studies, research, and perceptions about the world. Being a fan of journal writing for some time, I have realized it has allowed me to assiduously concentrate on my subject and therefore crystallize my thoughts for a deeper understanding, one that allows me to go back, rethink, and even update my perspective upon further analysis.

The problem with self analysis is usually the ego, a faulty self- perception, or in the process of introspection that has been debated over its reliability as taken out of this Wikipedia excerpt….

Introspection, as the term is used in contemporary philosophy of mind, is a means of learning about one’s own currently ongoing, or perhaps very recently past, mental states or processes. You can, of course, learn about your own mind in the same way you learn about others’ minds—by reading psychology texts, by observing facial expressions (in a mirror), by examining readouts of brain activity, by noting patterns of past behavior—but it’s generally thought that you can also learn about your mind introspectively, in a way that no one else can. But what exactly is introspection? No simple characterization is widely accepted. Although introspection must be a process that yields knowledge only of one’s own current mental states, more than one type of process fits this characterization.

Introspection is a key concept in epistemology, since introspective knowledge is often thought to be particularly secure, maybe even immune to skeptical doubt. Introspective knowledge is also often held to be more immediate or direct than sensory knowledge. Both of these putative features of introspection have been cited in support of the idea that introspective knowledge can serve as a ground or foundation for other sorts of knowledge.

Introspection is also central to philosophy of mind, both as a process worth study in its own right and as a court of appeal for other claims about the mind. Philosophers of mind offer a variety of theories of the nature of introspection; and philosophical claims about consciousness, emotion, free will, personal identity, thought, belief, imagery, perception, and other mental phenomena are often thought to have introspective consequences or to be susceptible to introspective verification. For similar reasons, empirical psychologists too have discussed the accuracy of introspective judgments and the role of introspection in the science of the mind.

See also: Introspection illusion
Already in the 18th century authors had criticized the use of introspection, both for knowing one’s own mind and as a method for psychology. David Hume pointed out that introspecting a mental state tends to alter the very state itself; a German author, Christian Gottfried Schütz, noted that introspection is often described as mere “inner sensation”, but actually requires also attention, that introspection does not get at unconscious mental states, and that it cannot be used naively – one needs to know what to look for. Immanuel Kant added that, if they are understood too narrowly, introspective experiments are impossible. Introspection delivers, at best, hints about what goes on in the mind; it does not suffice to justify knowledge claims about the mind.[15] Similarly, the idea continued to be discussed between John Stuart Mill and August Comte. Recent psychological research on cognition and attribution has asked people to report on their mental processes, for instance to say why they made a particular choice or how they arrived at a judgment. In some situations, these reports are clearly confabulated.[16] For example, people justify choices they have not in fact made.[17] Such results undermine the idea that those verbal reports are based on direct introspective access to mental content. Instead, judgements about one’s own mind seem to be inferences from overt behavior, similar to judgements made about another person.[16] However, it is hard to assess whether these results only apply to unusual experimental situations, or if they reveal something about everyday introspection.[18] The theory of the adaptive unconscious suggests that a very large proportion of mental processes, even “high-level” processes like goal-setting and decision-making, are inaccessible to introspection.[19] Indeed, it is questionable how confident researchers can be in their own introspections.
One of the central implications of dissociations between consciousness and meta-consciousness is that individuals, presumably including researchers, can misrepresent their experiences to themselves. Jack and Roepstorff assert, ‘…there is also a sense in which subjects simply cannot be wrong about their own experiential states.’ Presumably they arrived at this conclusion by drawing on the seemingly self-evident quality of their own introspections, and assumed that it must equally apply to others. However, when we consider research on the topic, this conclusion seems less self-evident. If, for example, extensive introspection can cause people to make decisions that they later regret [2], then one very reasonable possibility is that the introspection caused them to ‘lose touch with their feelings’. In short, empirical studies suggest that people can fail to appraise adequately (i.e. are wrong about) their own experiential states.
Another question in regards to the veracious accountability of introspection is if researchers lack the confidence in their own introspections and those of their participants, then how can it gain legitimacy? Three strategies are accountable: identifying behaviors that establish credibility, finding common ground that enables mutual understanding, and developing a trust that allows one to know when to give the benefit of the doubt. That is to say, that words are only meaningful if validated by one’s actions; When people report strategies, feelings or beliefs, their behaviors must correspond with these statements if they are to be believed.[20]
Even when their introspections are uninformative, people still give confident descriptions of their mental processes, being “unaware of their unawareness”.[21] This phenomenon has been termed the introspection illusion and has been used to explain some cognitive biases[22] and belief in some paranormal phenomena.[23] When making judgements about themselves, subjects treat their own introspections as reliable, whereas they judge other people based on their behavior.[24] This can lead to illusions of superiority. For example, people generally see themselves as less conformist than others, and this seems to be because they do not introspect any urge to conform.[25] Another reliable finding is that people generally see themselves as less biased than everyone else, because they are not likely to introspect any biased thought processes.[24] These introspections are misleading, however, because biases work sub-consciously.

These fail to mention the contributions made in the field of philosophy of language by Ludwig Wittgenstein, W.V. Quine, Linguist Noam Chomsky, and the early 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard insisted that language ought to play a larger role in Western philosophy. He argues that philosophy has not sufficiently focused on the role language plays in cognition and that future philosophy ought to proceed with a conscious focus on language: “If the claim of philosophers to be unbiased were all it pretends to be, it would also have to take account of language and its whole significance in relation to speculative philosophy … Language is partly something originally given, partly that which develops freely. And just as the individual can never reach the point at which he becomes absolutely independent … so too with language.”   Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855). In Cloeren, H. Language and Thought. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1988

The reader must please excuse the author from all of this background digression on my simple post on the joys of writing, specifically upon the view of looking inward, but I presume it’s just a part of my nature… ask me what time it is; I’ll tell you how to build a clock.

Semper aliquid existimantem.   –  Always Thinking

4 thoughts on “Existimo Ergo Scribo

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