Introspection Concept – In psychology, in philosophy, function

We explain what introspection is, its function and how it is done. Also, what is introspection for psychology and for philosophy.

Through introspection a person can get to know himself better.

What is introspection?

Introspection (from Latin introspicere, “Look inwards”) is the internal inspection or inner gaze through which we observe our own thoughts, memories and emotions, or our own behavior. It is an act of self-awareness or self-evaluation, in which we turn our attention inwards, momentarily ignoring the outside.

Through introspection we can analyze ourselves, draw personal conclusions and, more importantly, get to know ourselves better, in order to make better decisions for the future.

For this reason, many of the self-help or personal growth techniques employ various methods of introspection, either according to a formal methodology (developed by psychology specialists) or informally, as an invitation, simply, to review ourselves in an informal way. honest.

Introspection in psychology

Sigmund Freud - tolerance
The experiences of Sigmund Freud and Eugen Bleuer were heavily influenced by introspection.

In psychology, introspection is a formal method of internal review of thoughts and emotions, in order to reveal the subject himself. At the end of the 19th century, this method was formally developed by Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and Pierre Janet (1859-1947), two French psychologists who reached the same conclusions almost simultaneously and independently.

The two proposed to develop a psychotherapeutic method that consisted of the voluntary revision of one’s interiority, thus opposing the positivist current that prevailed at the time, for which such experiences were considered subjective and therefore very little useful.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century, the experiences of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Eugen Bleuer (1857-1939) were highly influenced by introspection, to the point of consisting almost exclusively of their analytical method: making the subject reveal and observe yourself.

Although this possibility was not exempt from criticism at the time, especially from those who claimed that no one can observe one’s psyche objectively, introspection is still being promoted today as a valuable form of self-knowledge, whether for therapeutic purposes or no.

Introspection in philosophy

positivism auguste-comte
Positivists like Auguste Comte did not resort to introspection.

Philosophy, for its part, understands introspection as a method to apprehend one’s states of consciousness, through meditation and reflection.

The foundations for this concept were specially developed by the French René Descartes (1596-1650). In their Metaphysical meditations (1641) proposed it as a method of a “reflective conscience”, guided by a “transparency” regarding the vision that could be achieved of oneself.

This legacy was of utmost importance for another central philosopher in the West, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), for whom introspection was the way to “possess the self from its representation”. Thus he established it in his philosophy of the subject.

However, with the arrival of positivism, Augusto Comte (1798-1857) considered it to be a “supposed Cartesian method” in which one aspired to be both observer and observed. According to the positivists, the human mind is capable of observing all phenomena in the universe, except its own.