We have subjective experiences (SEs), which often mirror the outside world. But metaphorically speaking, we also have an “inner eye”.

For example, if I look at a black square table in a white room like this...

  1. The question “What do you see?”, I can answer with “A slightly reflective, black square table in a white room.”
  2. The question “What is your visual SE like?”, I might answer with “Roughly speaking, I experience a huge dark gray parallelogram with four dark gray parallel lines of similar length extending from its corners down vertically. All this, surrounded by white.”

This “inner eye”, which enables a partial answer by analogy to the second question, doesn't produce its own SE, there aren't any “second-level qualia”. It works in an immediate way (so “inner eye” seems like a misnomer, actually).

It is conceivable that the observation of the outer world could work in a way similar to how the “inner eye” informs us about our SEs – that is, immediately.

How SEs are produced by the brain is unknown, yet if we're materialists, we probably easily accept that SEs might not be “good for anything”. On the other hand, proponents of any non-materialist philosophy of mind more likely want to say something about what SEs might enable us to do.

So, did they? Are there any theories in this regard?

1 Answer 1


What you say reminds me of Fichte. Not exactly Fichte, but in the "neighborhood" of Fichte.

Note as you read the article when you come to "second order images...."

Fichte: Gentlemen, think the wall, now, gentlemen, think the one who thinks the wall....

This seems to run to an infinite regress. However, and now we move past Fichte I think, there is this intuitive feeling that this "you" is always available to us, this extra "you", if you will. Frederick Copleston, a well known Anglo historian of philosophy, took note of this extra "you" (like an always available extra) and he had something interesting to say about it but I can't remember exactly what it was! If I can find it I will update this post.

I don't know if any of this will help you, but my intuition ! tells me you might benefit from the Andy Bluden article above. I think somehow something in Fichte might further stimulate your thinking.

  • ok, it's not really an answer. But the pointers were very good, so accepted & thanks.
    – viuser
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:55

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