Philosophy Index

Fred Dretske

Fred Dretske (1932– ) is an American philosopher, best known for his contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind.

Dretske describes an externalist account of mind, which claims that, at any time, some of an individual’s mental states depend on the mind’s relation to external influence. Hence, the mind is never perfectly aware of itself, and so our awareness of our own minds is limited.

In Dretske’s article, “The Mind’s Awareness of Itself”, he concludes:

The mind is the first—indeed, the only—thing we are aware with, but it is among the last things we are aware of.

Selected Works

  • Seeing and Knowing (1969)
  • Knowledge and the Flow of Information (1981)
  • Naturalizing The Mind (1995)
  • Perception, Knowledge and Belief (Essays, 2000)


Name: Frederick Irwin Dretske
Born: 1932
Degrees: Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, 1960)
MA (University of Minnesota, 1958)
BSEE (Purdue University, 1954)
Awards: Jean Nicod Prize (1994)