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Self-Knowledge for Humans$
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Quassim Cassam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657575.001.0001

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Knowing Yourself

Knowing Yourself

(p.171) 13 Knowing Yourself
Self-Knowledge for Humans

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

Inferentialism about substantial self-knowledge says that theory-mediated inferences from internal promptings are an important source of substantial self-knowledge. This view can account for knowledge of one’s own character, values, and emotions. In all of these cases, inferentialism provides a plausible alternative to crude behaviourism about substantial self-knowledge. Inferentialism can be defended against Nussbaum’s charge that it is guilty of an unacceptable intellectualism in its account of self-knowledge of emotions such as love. In Nussbaum’s example from Proust, Marcel can infer that he loves Albertine from his anguish on hearing of her departure. Inferentialism does not imply that we are mere passive recorders of our own emotions, and can accommodate the role of insight in the acquisition of substantial self-knowledge. Literature and film are not sui generis sources of self-knowledge but aspects of our character and emotions, and values can be inferred from our reactions to novels and films.

Keywords:   inferentialism, character, values, emotions, Martha Nussbaum, intellectualism, love, Marcel Proust, literature, film

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