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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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(p.188) 14 Self-Ignorance
Self-Knowledge for Humans

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

Some self-ignorance, even with respect to one’s own standing attitudes, is inevitable and normal for humans. Self-ignorance needn’t be explained by reference to motivational factors such as repression. Inferentialism about self-knowledge makes available a non-motivational account of self-ignorance in terms of a lack of evidence, inattention, poor reasoning or misinterpretation of the evidence for beliefs about oneself. Successful deliberation does not necessarily provide us with knowledge of why we believe what we believe, because it fails to provide any insight into the impact on one’s beliefs and other attitudes of non-rational factors such as one’s epistemic character. Nisbett and Wilson provide further evidence of our inability in many cases to explain our own choices and decisions. The prevalence of self-ignorance is an empirical matter, and the overcoming of self-ignorance requires the identification and removal of obstacles to self-knowledge. This is not always possible.

Keywords:   self-ignorance, motivational factors, repression, deliberation, non-rational factors, epistemic character, obstacles

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