Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jesse Prinz

Committee Members

Jesse Prinz

Iakovos Vasiliou

Susanna Siegel

Saul Kripke

Eric Mandelbaum

Subject Categories

Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind


introspection, consciousness, mental states, cognitive processes, mental imagery, superposition


My dissertation proposes a new model of introspection by examining those aspects of the nature of introspection that have been neglected in the contemporary literature, such as the ones determining variables or mental phenomena in accordance with specific cases of introspection. I assert that these neglected aspects are the very ones which provide a precise account of the way we are aware of our mental life and help us arrive at self-attributions. I begin by raising issues already extant in the epistemology of introspection, and not only argue against skeptical doubts about the reliability of introspection but also provide empirical evidence for its accuracy. I then discuss leading models of introspection, such as the inner-sense view and the acquaintance view, and show that both of these views fail to provide an explanation of the exact nature of introspection and to distinguish between different modes of introspective awareness. I finally offer a new model according to which introspection operates as what I call a cognitive superposition of mental phenomena—namely, a particular function of combining and integrating variables. It is by introspection that we become aware of the character and contents of our mental states as well as the changes, transitions, and boundaries among them. Yet while my own model of introspection builds on specific pluralist approaches which contend that introspection involves several cognitive processes, my model also shows that the operation of introspection remains distinct from the operation of other cognitive processes such as perception, attention, or inference, and thus cannot be reducible to them.