A comment by Marcus on my last post made me realise that I should have given you some background to the debate.
The basic question we should start with is: How are cognitions cognised?
- Philosophers of the Nyāya school (ca. 1st c. BCE--today, sic!) maintain that cognitions are not aware of themselves at the moment they arise. They are, instead, only aware of their object. However, at a later time the subject can act as a synthetiser and perform a higher order perception (henceforth HOP), which is a sort of apperception and makes the subject aware of the fact that he or she has cognised something. It is only because such a HOP has taken place that we can, for instance, be aware of the fact that we have cognised a certain thing and then remember our experience of it. Without HOP we would only remeber the cognition's content, but not the cognition itself. This position can be labelled non-reflexivism, insofar as it stresses that cognitions are not "transparent" for themselves.
- Philosophers of the Buddhist School of Epistemology (ca. 5th c. AD--13 th. c. AD in India), instead, maintain that cognitions are at the same time aware of their objects and of themselves. A cognition C is, thus, by the same token, aware of its content (say, a patch of blue) and of itself. Thus, a cognition is like a light, which at the same time illuminates itself and other objects. This position is usually labelled by Analytic Philosophers working on Indian material as "reflexivism".
- Philosophers of the Bhāṭṭa branch of the Mīmāṃsā school (ca. 5 th c. AD--19th c.) maintain that cognitions are not aware of themselves. While cognising X, I am not aware of my own cognition of it, but only of X. Why is it, then, that I can remember not only X, but also the fact that I have experienced it? Because I have inferred out fo the fact that X had become known to me, that a cognition must have taken place. Thus, my awareness of the fact that I cognised something is of inferential nature. This also means that cognitions are recursive: I can cognise a patch of blue through cognition M, and then know M through cognition M' and so on.
To put it in an extreme way: If we do not accept reflexivism, we live as zombies as regards the most part of our cognitions, apart the ones for which we do a HOP. This means, that most of our "unimportant" cognitions would remain blind. However, accepting reflexivism involves the problem we have seen in the provious post.