Introspection

Introspection
   1) Experimental Introspection Is the One Reliable Method of Knowing Ourselves
   When we are trying to understand the mental processes of a child or a dog or an insect as shown by conduct and action, the outward signs of mental processes, . . . we must always fall back upon experimental introspection . . . [;] we cannot imagine processes in another mind that we do not find in our own. Experimental introspection is thus our one reliable method of knowing ourselves; it is the sole gateway to psychology. (Titchener, 1914, p. 32)
   2) The Limitation of Introspection
   There is a somewhat misleading point of view that one's own experience provides a sufficient understanding of mental life for scientific purposes. Indeed, early in the history of experimental psychology, the main method for studying cognition was introspection. By observing one's own mind, the argument went, one could say how one carried out cognitive activities. . . .
   Yet introspection failed to be a good technique for the elucidation of mental processes in general. There are two simple reasons for this. First, so many things which we can do seem to be quite unrelated to conscious experience. Someone asks you your name. You do not know how you retrieve it, yet obviously there is some process by which the retrieval occurs. In the same way, when someone speaks to you, you understand what they say, but you do not know how you came to understand. Yet somehow processes take place in which words are picked out from the jumble of sound waves which reach your ears, in-built knowledge of syntax and semantics gives it meaning, and the significance of the message comes to be appreciated. Clearly, introspection is not of much use here, but it is undeniable that understanding language is as much a part of mental life as is thinking.
   As if these arguments were not enough, it is also the case that introspective data are notoriously difficult to evaluate. Because it is private to the experiencer, and experience may be difficult to convey in words to somebody else. Many early introspective protocols were very confusing to read and, even worse, the kinds of introspection reported tended to conform to the theoretical categories used in different laboratories. Clearly, what was needed was both a change in experimental method and a different (non-subjective) theoretical framework to describe mental life. (Sanford, 1987, pp. 2-3)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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  • introspection — [ ɛ̃trɔspɛksjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1838; mot angl., du lat. introspicere « regarder à l intérieur » ♦ Psychol. Observation d une conscience individuelle par elle même. Se livrer, être porté à l introspection, à analyser ses états d âme, ses sentiments. La …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Introspection — is the self observation and reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious mental and usually purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one s own thoughts, feelings, and, in more spiritual… …   Wikipedia

  • Introspection — In tro*spec tion, n. [Cf. F. introspection.] A view of the inside or interior; a looking inward; specifically, the act or process of self examination, or inspection of one s own thoughts and feelings; the cognition which the mind has of its own… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • introspection — I noun contemplation, innermost thoughts, introversion, ipsum se inspicere, looking within, meditation, musing, pensiveness, reflection, reverie, self absorption, self communion, self counsel, self examination, self inspection, self knowledge,… …   Law dictionary

  • introspection — 1670s, noun of action from pp. stem of L. introspicere to look into, look at, from intro inward (see INTRO (Cf. intro )) + specere to look at (see SCOPE (Cf. scope) (1)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • introspection — [n] self analysis brooding, contemplation, deep thought, egoism, heartsearching, introversion, meditation, reflection, rumination, scrutiny, self absorption, selfexamination, self observation, self questioning, soul searching; concepts 24,410 …   New thesaurus

  • introspection — ► NOUN ▪ the examination of one s own thoughts or feelings. DERIVATIVES introspective adjective introspectively adverb. ORIGIN from Latin introspicere look into , or from introspectare keep looking into …   English terms dictionary

  • introspection — [in΄trōspek′shən, in΄trəspek′shən] n. a looking into one s own mind, feelings, etc.; observation and analysis of oneself introspective adj. introspectively adv. introspectiveness n …   English World dictionary

  • Introspection —  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Introspection (informatique).  Étymologiquement, le terme d introspection vient du latin « introspectus », action de regarder à l intérieur. En général, il désigne le fait, pour une conscience,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • introspection — introspectional, adj. introspectionist, n., adj. /in treuh spek sheuhn/, n. 1. observation or examination of one s own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself. 2. the tendency or disposition to do… …   Universalium

  • introspection — The process of looking into one s mind, to examine one s own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Data from introspection can be of some value in examining mental processes, but our introspection may not be accurate, and many mental processes are …   Dictionary of sociology

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