Introspection in Thinking about Thinking
By the end of the last century philosophers had built up a substantial body of evidence on thought processes, but it has tended to be ignored by the later experimental psychologists. Of course many of the early ideas on thinking have proved inadequate. Empirical evidence is important, and can provide a more solid basis from which to develop theories. But that evidence must be drawn from the same type of everyday thinking which the philosophers tackled. Too often psychologists have shied away from the complexity of such thinking and become fascinated by one particular restricted facet of thought processes. In itself this procedure of narrowing down the problem to manageable proportions is understandable and appropriate. What is wrong is to go on to suggest that such findings have any necessary relevance to everyday thinking. That mayor may not be true. Both Brownowski and Bantock have pointed out the dangers in carrying out scientific investigations without seeing their restricted applicability.