Varieties of Self-knowledge

March 11, 2016 - March 12, 2016
Department of Philosophy, Harvard University

Thompson Room
The Barker Center
Cambridge 02138
United States


Dorit Bar-On
University of Connecticut
Alex Byrne
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lucy OBrien
Sarah Paul
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Christopher Peacocke
Columbia University
Sebastian Rödl
Universität Leipzig
Kieran Setiya
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Matthew Boyle
Harvard University
Richard Moran
Harvard University

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The workshop aims to bring together philosophers who have worked on the topic of self-knowledge from diverse standpoints to discuss what varieties of self-knowledge are worth distinguishing and how they might matter to a characteristically human life.  Questions about the epistemic basis of self-knowledge, and the extent to which we humans possess it, will undoubtedly play a part in the discussion, but our primary goal is not so much to adjudicate these issues as to consider such questions as the following:

•    What should be our attitude toward the famous Delphic injunction to “know thyself”?  Are there forms of self-knowledge that are crucial to a successful human life?  Are there ways in which self-knowledge might be an obstacle to our lives?  

•    What connection is there, if any, between rationality and self-knowledge?  Does rationality entail some capacity for privileged self-knowledge?  Is some form of self-knowledge necessary for rationality?

•    What is the relationship between self-knowledge and self-consciousness?  Must a subject who is capable of thinking of herself first personally (or having "de se" representations of herself) be capable of certain forms of self-knowledge?  What forms of self-awareness should we distinguish, and what relations of dependency (if any) hold between them? 

•     What difference of principle (if any) does our capacity for self-knowledge make to our cognitive capacities in general?  Is self-knowledge just more knowledge, potentially useful in the way that any knowledge might be, or does our capacity for some form of self-knowledge transform our very capacity to know in some important way?

•    What might it mean to speak of a “first person perspective” on mind, and how might a consideration of that perspective be important to the philosophy of mind?  

•    How (if at all) are capacities for self-awareness drawn on in more specific forms of human activity such as: intentional action, contentful communication, understanding and interacting with other people, etc.?

This will be a read-in-advance workshop.  Papers will be pre-circulated, and will not be presented in full.  To register for the workshop and receive access to the papers, please email Olivia Bailey at [email protected]

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March 10, 2016, 4:00am EST

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University of California, Berkeley
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#self-knowledge, #boston events