Wait a minute! Naturally, you may raise an objection as such: the intention that defines one’s action (e.g. fulfilling a shopping list) remains unconscious to that person until he retrieves a line labeled “intention” from somewhere in the brain through “introspection”. This objection serves as a perfect beginning of a Socratic dialogue: Me: If so, knowing what oneself is doing would cause many surprises, just like suddenly becoming aware that he is daydreaming or having tripped on a pebble. Interlocutor: We “introspect” our own intentions all the time and in real time, and that is the reason why our actions are unsurprising to us. Me: But how about shifting to a new action, i.e. forming a new intention that defines a new action? Does the shift surprise you like tripping on a pebble? Interlocutor: No, it does not. Me: It should surprise you like tripping on a pebble, because each action has a beginning at a definite moment in time, which is, in this sense, “sudden” or “abrupt”. Unless... unless you are also aware of something else that makes it unsurprising. Interlocutor: Yes! Let us say that we are also aware of something going before it – the decision-making that leads to the intention or at least a judgment about its appropriate nature given the circumstances facing us. Me: What if the decision-making is too fast? Interlocutor: Be it fast or slow. It must be there to make the action unsurprising. Me: Now you also need to assume that we “introspect” our decision-making or judgment about the action’s appropriateness all the time and in real time to eliminate the surprise. Interlocutor: Let us assume that we can “introspect” many mental states at the same time, as many as needed. To tell you the truth, besides “introspection” I cannot think of any other access through which we can be aware of any mental state. Me: But the problem of too many surprises is merely delayed rather than solved by resorting to “something going before the action”. For example, why aren’t you surprised by the abrupt beginning of the decision-making itself? Interlocutor: Perhaps I am also aware of the decision to begin that decision-making! Me: But then you also need to be aware of the decision to begin the decision to begin that decision-making, and so on and so forth. It will form an infinite regress that burns out the best computer in the world. Interlocutor: That indeed sounds too much for our brains... but who knows? Me: Perhaps what we need in order to eliminate the too many surprises is not “something going before the action” but something else. Perhaps the surprise brought about by suddenly becoming aware of daydreaming or tripping on a pebble is not due to the “suddenness” of those events. Interlocutor: That sounds refreshing to me. At least “suddenness” here cannot simply mean “having a beginning at a definite moment in time”. Any event has a beginning and an end, but it does not necessarily feels sudden. Me: Suppose you are driving on a highway and suddenly notice a McDonald’s sign. You suddenly feel hungry and take the exit to buy a burger. Does that surprise you? Interlocutor: I may be surprised by the sign or the hunger, but definitely not my taking the exit. Me: And why? Interlocutor: Because I see the sign and I feel hungry! Me: Yes! That constitutes a reason for your action. Perhaps being suddenly aware of daydreaming or tripping on a pebble constitutes a surprise not due to its “suddenness” but due to its occurring without a “reason”. Interlocutor: But I have already said that through “introspection” I am aware of my decision-making or my judgment about the appropriate nature of my action. Me: But then you also need to be aware of your judgment about the appropriateness of your judgment about the appropriateness of your action and so on and so forth. Another infinite regress. Interlocutor: There must be a way to stop the regress. Me: The unsurprising nature of what we are doing in contrast with the surprising nature of what happens to us can only be accounted for by our direct awareness of the reasonable nature of the action prior to and during the action, instead of the awareness of any judgment we make about its reasonableness. Interlocutor: I can give you that. But we still need an “intention” to define the action! The awareness of the action’s reasonable nature cannot be the “intention” itself, can it? Me: Why not? If an “intention” is a mental state that makes our bodily movement unsurprising, that is, makes it an “action” rather than a mere happening, we can find nothing other than that to be the “intention”. Interlocutor: I am sort of satisfied with your answer now, except that we also need “introspection” to be aware of an action’s reasonableness. Me: Here comes the punchline. “Introspection” offers us access to an existing mental or brain state, yet the reasonableness of an action is NOT a mental or brain state. It means that our awareness of it cannot be attributed to “introspection”. Interlocutor: Then to what shall we attribute it? Me: ... You can give a name to it. The important thing is that we now see our awareness of our intention or action cannot simply be attributed to “introspection”.