|Transparent Minds |
by Jordi Fernández
What happens is that we feel pressured to accept the content of that belief. If I think that one of my beliefs about my wife is that she is cheating on me, then the question of whether she is cheating on me or not is no longer open for me. I thereby feel inclined to accept that she is cheating on me. I call this the 'assertiveness' of self-knowledge. The theory sketched above can explain why self-knowledge is assertive. The reason is that, when I think that one of my beliefs about my wife is that she is cheating on me, I have formed that higher-order belief on the basis of my grounds for believing that my wife is cheating on me. It seems natural, then, that if I have grounds for my first-order belief, I should feel inclined to have that belief.
The proposal about thought insertion is that thought insertion patients do not experience the same in self-knowledge. They find certain thoughts in their minds, but experience their thoughts as mere pieces of information that may or may not match the world. What they are trying to say, I propose, is that they find the thought that such-and-such in their minds, but the thought is neutral on whether such-and-such is happening in the world or not. If the theory of self-knowledge sketched above explains the assertiveness of self-knowledge, and this diagnosis of the delusion is correct, then this suggests a hypothesis about why these patients experience the thought insertion delusion. The reason is that they have trouble attributing thoughts to themselves through the 'transparent' procedure that, for us, is normal to follow in self-knowledge.
If you are interested, Lauren Ashwell just wrote a very informative review of the book for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.