Bruno Cortesi


Some remarks on the correct interpretation of the thesis of Revelation in the philosophy of mind


The thesis of Revelation claims that phenomenal mental events have the potential to reveal (part of) their essence to a subject just in virtue of their being entertained and of an act of introspection directed at them. Many agree that although at least some versions of Revelation might strike us as plausible, they are inconsistent with physicalism about phenomenal consciousness, as it claims phenomenal properties to be nothing over and above a kind of physical properties. The aim of my paper is to counter two arguments that attempts to undermine the cogency of Revelation against physicalism, namely those put forth in Damjanovic (2012) and Trogdon (2016). Both of them construe the kind of knowledge one would allegedly achieve as per Revelation as a kind of propositional knowledge and/or in terms of some kind of "special feature" phenomenal concepts would allegedly possess. Here instead I argue that the kind of knowledge one gains in Revelation is best construed as a non-conceptual yet epistemic kind of grasping, which I claim may be interpreted in analogy with what David Pitt (2011) labels acquaintance-as-knowledge, to be distinguished from (propositional) knowledge by acquaintance, or as an instance of what Giustina (e.g. 2017; 2021) call primitive introspection, to be distinguished from reflective introspection. Moreover, whilst it is true that phenomenal concepts might provide just a partial essential characterization of their referents, if one embraces an uncompromising version of primitivism about phenomenal properties, it follows that those concepts do provide a full essential characterization of their referents.

Date / Time / Place

June 23rd / 10:45 / Aula Magna