Can “I” prevent you from entering my mind?

Abstract

Shaun Gallagher has actively looked into the possibility that psychopathologies involving “thought insertion” might supply a counterexample to the Cartesian principle according to which one can always recognize one’s own thoughts as one’s own. Animated by a general distrust of a priori demonstrations, Gallagher is convinced that pitting clinical cases against philosophical arguments is a worthwhile endeavor. There is no doubt that, if true, a falsification of the immunity to error through misidentification would entail drastic revisions in how we conceive the boundary between self and other. However, I argue that (1) the idea of unearthing an exception to the Cartesian thesis is, on further reflection, not a realistic prospect and that (2) this casts doubt on the attempt to conjoin first-person phenomenology and third-person cognitive science in the service of philosophical debates

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