David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophia 38 (1):157-167 (2010)
Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream story can be read as a skeptical response to the Cartesian Cogito, ergo sum solution, for it presents I exist as fundamentally unprovable, on the grounds that the notion about “I” that it is guaranteed to refer to something existing, which Descartes seems to assume, is unwarranted. The modern anti-skepticism of Hilary Putnam employs a different strategy, which seeks to derive the existence of the world not from some “indubitable” truth such as the existence of myself , but from the meaning of some particular assertion I make. In this paper, I argue, however, that Putnam’s argument fails to deliver on the promise of showing the self-refuting nature of the skeptical hypothesis, as it relies on a double use of “I”, a fallacy of equivocation, reflecting an unsolved tension between the argument’s general premise, which is rather Zhuangzian in spirit, and his unwitting adoption of that unwarranted notion about “I”. I try to show further that the skepticism in Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream not only can be used to refute the proofs of the existence of the empirical I , but also is effective against accounts concerning the existence of the transcendental I.
|Keywords||Zhuangzi Butterfly Dream Descartes Cogito, ergo sum Hilary Putnam Brains in a Vat the Transcendental I|
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Burton Watson (ed.) (1968). The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. Columbia University Press.
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