Simon Browne and the paradox of ?Being in denial?

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):3 – 19 (2001)
  Copy   BIBTEX


It is often taken to be intuitively obvious that if one is in a given conscious state, then one knows that one is in that state. This alleged obvious truth lies at the heart of two very different philosophical doctrines fithe Cartesian doctrine that one has incorrigible knowledge about one?s own conscious states (which still has its defenders today), and the view that one can explain all conscious states in terms of higher-order awareness of mental states. The present paper begins with a description of the real-life case of Simon Browne, a man who believed he had no conscious states whatsoever, although all external evidence overwhelmingly suggests that he had. This case as well as other cases of what can be called ?being in denial? figives reason to reject both the alleged intuitively obvious truth and the two philosophical doctrines which attempt to exploit it. Having abandoned these doctrines, it remains to give an account of Browne?s condition, which picks out both why it is possible and why it is so unusual. This is done by arguing that Browne?s belief is contrary to evidence which he absolutely ought to accept, and that this is necessarily, not just contingently, unusual. In addition, it is shown how Browne?s philosophical beliefs about the mind?body relation contributed to his odd belief.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,391

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Conceiving of Conscious States.Christopher Peacocke - 2012 - In J. Ellis & D. Guevara (eds.), Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
Unity of consciousness and the self.David M. Rosenthal - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):325-352.
Two concepts of consciousness.David M. Rosenthal - 1986 - Philosophical Studies 49 (May):329-59.
Some sceptical thoughts about metacognition.Derek Browne - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (3):340-341.
Morality, Prudential Rationality, and Cheating.Alister Browne & Katharine Browne - 2007 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 16 (1):53-62.


Added to PP

23 (#502,277)

6 months
2 (#300,121)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Brian Garvey
Lancaster University

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references