From: Whitehouse Chantal (
Date: Mon May 20 1996 - 16:15:03 BST

What is wrong with introspection as a way to study the mind?

Introspection is basically thinking about thinking. It's looking
inside our own minds to try and work out how they, and their
processes, work. For example, if asked how you remembered somebody's
name you would probably try to wor backwards- "I remembered the name
because I pictured his face, I got his face from memory- how did I do
that?" There are two main problems with using introspection to study
the mind. Firstly we'd never know for sure if we knew about everthing
that was going on inside our heads. There may be some vital
unconscious process going on that we couldn't ever grasp hold of or
comprehend. We may feel that we understand it all but this could just
be a subjective feeling of having the question answered which would
come from the mind. The second problem is that you don't know if what
you, yourself, feel or the processes your mind uses are the same as
everyone elses (or if anyone thinks anything at all). Every single
person could have different thought mechanisms. It seems unlikely as
our biological systems are all similar, but the point is that we
can't be positive. Nothing can be proven with introspection.

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