Introspective Training: Reflections on Titchener's Lab Manual

Eric Schwitzgebel

Journal of Consciousness Studies, 11 (2004), no. 7-8, pp. 58-76


To study conscious experience we must, to some extent, trust introspective reports; yet introspective reports often do not merit our trust.  A century ago, E.B. Titchener advocated extensive introspective training as a means to resolve this difficulty, describing many of the training techniques in his four volume laboratory manual of 1901-1905.  This paper explores Titchener’s laboratory manual with an eye to general questions about the prospects of introspective training for contemporary consciousness studies.  Particular issues that are treated in some detail include: introspective knowledge of the combination tones that arise when a musical interval is played; the “flight of colors” in the afterimage of a field of bright, broad spectrum light; and the possibility of non-obvious visual illusions.

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