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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores points of contact between philosophy of mind and scientific approaches to spontaneous thought. While offering a series of conceptual instruments that might prove helpful for researchers on the empirical research frontier, it begins by asking what the explanandum for theories of mind-wandering is, how one can conceptually individuate single occurrences of this specific target phenomenon, and how one might arrive at a more fine-grained taxonomy. The second half of this contribution sketches some positive proposals as to how one might understand mind-wandering on a conceptual level, namely, as a loss of mental autonomy resulting in involuntary mental behavior, as a highly specific epistemic deficit relating to self-knowledge, and as a discontinuous phenomenological process in which one’s conscious “unit of identification” is switched.

Keywords: mental autonomy, mind-wandering, philosophy of mind, self-knowledge, consciousness, mental behavior, unit of identification

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