The project addresses the epistemic import of conscious episodes often called insights, or “Aha!” experiences. Do any phenomenal properties unify such episodes? And do such phenomenal properties somehow correspond to the epistemic benefits we reap from having such experiences?
How are epistemic and phenomenal properties of understanding related? In my dissertation, I offer an answer to this question, relying on an account of how understanding gains its positive epistemic status and on an account of what conscious experiences are associated with understanding. Chapters I and II discuss epistemic aspects of understanding. Chapter III concerns experiences associated with understanding, and classifies them according to the modes in which understanding occurs to us. Then, in Chapter IV, I address the epistemic bearing of these types of experiences for understanding.
Do perceiving subjects represent kind properties in the content of their conscious visual experience when they see and recognize instances of those natural kinds? In Part 1 of my thesis I clarify this question, in Part 2 I answer it, and in Part 3 I raise a problem for previous answers. Part 1 conceives of conscious experience in an internalist way, and the unified conscious episode does not exclude having beliefs about what one sees. Following Siegel (2006) and Bayne (2011), Part 2 formulates two arguments in support of representing kind properties in the content of experience. In Part 3, I argue that attempts to distinguish visual experiences from visual beliefs might fail to account for the interplay of sensory and cognitive elements in visual object recognition. I conclude by suggesting it has not been established that visual experiences can be distinguished from visual beliefs.