Evans's anti-cartesian argument: A critical evaluation

Ratio 19 (2):214-228 (2006)
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Abstract

In chapter 7 of The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans claimed to have an argument that would present "an antidote" to the Cartesian conception of the self as a purely mental entity. On the basis of considerations drawn from philosophy of language and thought, Evans claimed to be able to show that bodily awareness is a form of self-awareness. The apparent basis for this claim is the datum that sometimes judgements about one’s position based on body sense are immune to errors of misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun 'I'. However, Evans’s argument suffers from a crucial ambiguity. 'I' sometimes refers to the subject's mind, sometimes to the person, and sometimes to the subject's body. Once disambiguated, it turns out that Evans’s argument either begs the question against the Cartesian or fails to be plausible at all. Nonetheless, the argument is important for drawing our attention to the idea that bodily modes of awareness should be taken seriously as possible forms of self-awareness.

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Anne Newstead
Swinburne University of Technology

Citations of this work

Evans on Bodily Awareness and Perceptual Self‐Location.Ignacio Ávila - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):269-287.
Evans, Transparency, and Cartesianism.David Zapero - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):685-702.
Persons and Mysterianism.Hagit Benbaji - 2013 - Dialogue 52 (1):165-188.

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References found in this work

Self-Reference and Self-Awareness.Sydney S. Shoemaker - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (October):555-67.

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