Schwitzgebel's New Book Explores the Accuracy of Consciousness

By Pauline Moc, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Describing Inner ExperienceEric Schwitzgebel, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Russell T. Hurlburt, Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, joined forces to explore human consciousness. Can people give reliable descriptions of their experiences and emotions? Schwitzgebel and Hurlburt agree that consciousness is mystifying; however, Schwitzgebel doubts that humans can accurately recall and describe their thoughts.

In their new book, Describing Inner Experience? Proponent Meets Skeptic, published by MIT Press in November 2007, Schwitzgebel and Hurlburt examined "Melanie," 20, to resolve their disagreement. Melanie's job was straightforward: She would narrate her thoughts using Hurlburt's Descriptive Experience Sampling Method, a technique in which the subject is notified by random beeps to start recounting her experiences. Hurlburt would interview Melanie; Schwitzgebel would cross-examine her; and, together, they would determine whether her responses were accurate.

Schwitzgebel received his Ph.D. in Philosophy at UC Berkeley in 1997. His areas of interest include Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Development, Philosophy of Science, Classical Chinese Philosophy, Epistemology, Perceptual and Cognitive Psychology, and Metaphilosophy.


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