Self-Knowledge: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By Brie Gertler


318 pages

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How do you know your own thoughts and feelings? Do we have ‘privileged access’ to our own minds? Does introspection provide a grasp of a thinking self or ‘I’?

The problem of self-knowledge is one of the most fascinating in all of philosophy and has crucial significance for the philosophy of mind and epistemology. In this outstanding introduction Brie Gertler assesses the leading theoretical approaches to self-knowledge, explaining the work of many of the key figures in the field: from Descartes and Kant, through to Bertrand Russell and Gareth Evans, as well as recent work by Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, William Lycan and Sydney Shoemaker.

Beginning with an outline of the distinction between self-knowledge and self-awareness and providing essential historical background to the problem, Gertler addresses specific theories of self-knowledge such as the acquaintance theory, the inner sense theory, and the rationalist theory, as well as leading accounts of self-awareness. The book concludes with a critical explication of the dispute between empiricist and rationalist approaches.

Including helpful chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, Self Knowledge is essential reading for those interested in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and personal identity.


"Recommended." - CHOICE

"This broad-ranging treatise provides a framework for the metaphysics and epistemology of self-knowledge. It also gives historical background of great interest in itself and also helpful for framing the contemporary controversies. Brie Gertler has mastered the subject matter, has thought it through acutely, and shares her excellent understanding in lucid, readable prose." – Ernest Sosa, Rutgers University, USA

"Self Knowledge provides a clear, well-organized, accurate, and comprehensive overview of the analytic philosophical discussion of self-knowledge over the past thirty years. It is ideally suited as a text for any advanced undergraduate course on self-knowledge, and will be widely discussed in the field." - Ram Neta, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

"Self Knowledge offers a terrific presentation and assessment of the contemporary thinking about self-knowledge, and is the best available introduction to these debates. The treatment is well-organized, comprehensive, fair and balanced, and I hope it might get even more students and philosophers to be intrigued by this philosophical conversation." - Luca Ferrero, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, USA

"This is an outstanding piece of work. Gertler goes to great lengths to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the main positions on self-knowledge. Her style is clear and straightforward without over-simplifying the material. This book is the best in-depth discussion I've read on the various theories of self-knowledge currently available." - Jordi Fernandez, University of Adelaide, Australia

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Historical Background 3. The Nature and Scope of (Purportedly) Special Self-Knowledge 4. The Acquaintance Theory of Self-Knowledge 5. The Inner Sense Theory of Self-Knowledge 6. The Rationalist Theory of Self-Knowledge 7. Awareness of the Self 8. The Dispute between Empiricism and Rationalism: A diagnosis. Glossary. Bibliography. Index

About the Author

Brie Gertler is Associate Professor at the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in Analysis, Mind, Noûs, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and other journals. She is editor (with Lawrence Shapiro) of Arguing About the Mind (Routledge 2007).

About the Series

New Problems of Philosophy

New Problems of Philosophy

Series Editor: José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M University

'Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series has a most impressive line-up of topical volumes aimed at upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and at others with interests in cutting edge philosophical work. The authors are influential figures in their respective fields and notably adept at synthesizing and explaining intricate topics fairly and comprehensively.' - John Heil, Monash University, Australia, and Washington University, St Louis, USA

'This is an outstanding collection of volumes. The topics are well chosen and the authors are outstanding. They will be fine texts in a wide range of courses.' - Stephen Stich, Rutgers University, USA

The New Problems of Philosophy series provides accessible and engaging surveys of the most important problems in contemporary philosophy. Each book examines a topic or theme that has emerged on the philosophical landscape in recent years, or that is a longstanding problem refreshed in light of recent work in philosophy and related disciplines. Clearly explaining the nature of the problem at hand and assessing attempts to answer it, books in the series are excellent starting-points for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to study a single topic in depth. They will also be essential reading for professional philosophers. Additional features include chapter summaries, further reading, and a glossary of technical terms.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology