Ideas of Quassim Cassam, by Theme

[British, fl. 1995, Of Wadham College, Oxford. Then at London University, then Professor at Cambridge University.]

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16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 7. Self and Body / a. Self needs body
If we have a pain, we are strongly aware of the bodily self
     Full Idea: Since sensations such as pain generally present themselves as in some part of one's body, the bodily self seems to be anything but elusive in sensory awareness.
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žI)
     A reaction: This strikes me as a really good observation. Whenever we do Hume's experiment in introspection, we tend to examine either pure sense experiences or abstract ideas. If we introspect a pain, we actually find the body at the centre of activity.
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 1. Introspection
Knowledge of thoughts covers both their existence and their contents
     Full Idea: Our knowledge of our thoughts includes both our knowledge that we think and our knowledge of the contents of our thought.
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žI)
     A reaction: This seems like a simple, self-evident and true distinction. We might question the first part, though. Knowledge involves the contents, but the fact that we think may be an inference from the contents, or even a fictional abstraction. Contents alone?
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 2. Knowing the Self
Outer senses are as important as introspection in the acquisition of self-knowledge
     Full Idea: It would be quite legitimate to claim that the outer senses are at least as important as introspection in the acquisition of self-knowledge.
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žI)
     A reaction: It is interesting to speculate about the extent to which a 'mind in a void' could have a personal identity. Experiences tend to be 'mine' because of my body, which has a history and a space-time location. But this doesn't make identity entirely cultural.
Is there a mode of self-awareness that isn't perception, and could it give self-knowledge?
     Full Idea: The key questions are: can one be introspectively aware of oneself other than through an inner sense, and, if there is a non-perceptual mode of introspective self-awareness, can it be the ground or basis of one's self-knowledge?
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žI)
     A reaction: Perception would involve a controlled attempt to experience a separate object. The other mode would presumably be more direct. The question boils down to 'is there an object which introspection can attempt to perceive?' Good question.
Neither self-consciousness nor self-reference require self-knowledge
     Full Idea: According to Kant, self-consciousness does not require self-knowledge, and it also appears that self-reference does not require self-knowledge.
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žII)
     A reaction: Kant's point is that knowledge requires a stage of conceptualisation, which simple self-consciousness might not involve. The second point is that self-reference require no knowledge because error is impossible. Two nice points, and useful distinctions.
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 3. Limits of Introspection
We can't introspect ourselves as objects, because that would involve possible error
     Full Idea: One can identify an object in a mirror as oneself, but that brings with it the possibility of misidentification, so since introspective awareness statements are immune to error, one is not introspectively aware of oneself as an object.
     From: Quassim Cassam (Introduction to 'Self-Knowledge' [1994], žI)
     A reaction: As a pure argument this looks weak. There could be two sorts of knowledge of objects, one admitting possible error, the other not. Introspecting pain appears to be awareness of oneself as an object. Planning my future needs my body.