The everyday capacity to understand the mind, or 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our ordinary lives. Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich provide a detailed and integrated account of the intricate web of mental components underlying this fascinating and multifarious skill. The imagination, they argue, is essential to understanding others, and there are special cognitive mechanisms for understanding oneself. The account that emerges has broad implications for longstanding philosophical debates over the status of folk psychology. Mindreading is another trailblazing volume (...) in the prestigious interdisciplinary Oxford Cognitive Science series. (shrink)
Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the one’s attention (...) cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be aware of others as subjects of mental states is often construed as the question of how we are epistemically justified in attributing mental states to others. The dominant answer to this latter question is that we are so justified in virtue of grasping the role of mental states in explaining observed behaviour. This chapter challenges this picture and formulates an alternative by reflecting on the interpretation of early joint attention interactions. It argues (...) that the standard picture is committed to an implausible account of children's awareness of the co-attender's focus of attention. On a more natural interpretation, children engaged in joint attention perceptually recognize the co-attender's attitude to some object, as something like the (correct) answer to the question of what the object is like. The developmentally basic case is not that of attributing mental states as the causes of observed behaviour but of understanding perceived attitudes and actions as appropriate responses to the shared world. The chapter concludes by exploring how this developmental claim bears on mature adult knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge (...) or rational justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). (shrink)
Psyche: Inventions of the Other is the first publication in English of the twenty-eight essay collection Jacques Derrida published in two volumes in 1998 and 2003. Advancing his reflection on many issues, such as sexual difference, architecture, negative theology, politics, war, nationalism, and religion, Volume II also carries on Derrida's engagement with a number of key thinkers and writers: De Certeau, Heidegger, Kant, Lacoue-Labarthe, Mandela, Rosenszweig, and Shakespeare, among others. Included in this volume are new or revised translations of (...) seminal essays (for example, "Geschlecht I: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference," "Geschlecht II: Heidegger's Hand," "How to Avoid Speaking: Denials," and " Interpretations at War : Kant, the Jew, the German"). (shrink)
How do I know whether there are any minds beside my own? This problem of other minds in philosophy raises questions which are at the heart of all philosophical investigations--how it is that we know, what is in the mind, and whether we can be certain about any of our beliefs. In this book, Anita Avramides begins with a historical overview of the problem from the Ancient Skeptics to Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, Reid, and Wittgenstein. The second part of (...) the book investigates the views of influential contemporary philosophers such as Strawson, Davidson, Nagel and Searle. (shrink)
Experiences justify beliefs about our environment. Sometimes the justification is immediate: seeing a red light immediately justifies believing there is a red light. Other times the justification is mediate: seeing a red light justifies believing one should brake in a way that is mediated by background knowledge of traffic signals. How does this distinction map onto the distinction between what is and what isn't part of the content of experience? Epistemic egalitarians think that experiences immediately justify whatever is part (...) of their content. Epistemic elitists deny this and think that there is some further constraint the contents of experience must satisfy to be immediately justified. Here I defend epistemic elitism, propose a phenomenological account of what the further constraint is, and explore the resulting view's consequences for our knowledge of other minds, and in particular for perceptual theories of this knowledge. (shrink)
This paper dispels the Cartesian reading of Augustine’s treatment of mind and other minds by examining key passages from De Trinitate and De Civitate Dei. While Augustine does vigorously argue that mind is indubitable and immaterial, he disavows the fundamental thesis of the dualistic tradition: the separation of invisible spirit and visible body. The immediate self-awareness of mind includes awareness of life, that is, of animating a body. Each of us animates our own body; seeing other animated bodies (...) enables us to see other animating souls or minds. Augustine’s affirmation of animation lets us perceive that other minds are present, but Descartes’ denial of animation renders others ineluctably absent. Augustine’s soul is no ghost, because his body is no machine. (shrink)
Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. (...) But what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body. (shrink)
Suggesting that phenomenology results in an “imperialism of the same” that considers the other only in terms of their effect upon the subject rather than in their genuine alterity, Levinas initiates a line of thought that can still be discerned in the work of Foucault, Derrida and Claude Lefort. However, this paper argues that Merleau-Ponty’s work is capable of avoiding this line of criticism, and that his position is an important alternative to the more dominant Derridean and Levinasian conceptions (...) of alterity. Moreover, this essay will also extricate Merleau-Ponty from Levinas’ claim that his philosophy is “sustained by an unaccountable affection”. Rather than ignoring the alterity of the other, and also without presupposing some primordial affectionate bond with the other, Merleau-Ponty explicates an interesting conception of what responsibility towards the ‘otherness of the other’ should consist in. Basically, he insists upon the way in which self and other are always already intertwined together (or reversible), and suggests that respecting the alterity of the other should involve the imperative to further immerse oneself in this transformative bond – to transform what we think of as self, and also what we think of as ‘other’. (shrink)
Current discussions on social cognition, empathy, and interpersonal understanding are largely built on the question of how we recognize and access particular mental states of others. Mental states have been treated as temporally individuated, momentary or temporally narrow unities that can be grasped at one go. Drawing on the phenomenological tradition—on Stein and Husserl in particular—I will problematize this approach, and argue that the other’s experiential states can appear meaningful to us only they are viewed in connection with further, (...) non-simultaneous experiential states of the other. I will focus on the temporal structure of mental states which has received less attention in the available literature. Building a comparison between empathy and music perception, I will argue that approaching the problem of other minds from the point of view of particular mental states is like considering music from the point of view of particular notes. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the conceptual problem of other minds cannot be properly addressed as long as we subscribe to an individualistic model of how we stand in relation to our own experiences and the behaviour of others. For it is commitment to this picture that sponsors the strong first/third person divide that lies at the heart of the two false accounts of experiential concept learning sketched above. This is the true source of the problem. To deal successfully with (...) it we must reconsider our assumptions about the way in which we learn our concepts of experience, self and other, and the order in which we do so. Specifically, we must recognize the intersubjective character of the learning process and we must abandon the idea that we gain a secure grasp of the self/other dichotomy prior to learning our concepts of experience. Focusing on these issues allows us to understand the asymmetrical nature of such concepts. In order to bring these points into sharp relief, the next section is devoted to reviewing the major features of Brewer’s approach to the very same problem in his contribution to this volume, ‘Emotion and Other Minds’. Although his proposal makes some moves in the right direction, I argue that he does not go far enough. In particular, in focusing exclusively on demonstrative reference, he fails to challenge crucial aspects of the individualistic model that are responsible for generating the problem. Still, using his work as a springboard, it becomes clear exactly which fundamental assumptions need to be revised if we are to understand the context in which we learn our psychological concepts. (shrink)
Recently within the critical accounting literature Funnell (1998) has argued that accounting was implicated in the Holocaust. This charge is primarily related to the technical, mathematical nature of accounting and its ability to dehumanise individuals. Broadbent (1998, see also DeMoss and McCann, 1997) has also contended that "accounting logic" excludes emotion. She suggests that a more emancipatory form of accounting could be possible if emotion were given a voice and allowed to be heard within accounting discourse (see also Kjonstad and (...) Wilmott, 1995). This paper contends that emotion should be introduced into accounting education and in particular emotional commitment to other individuals should be encouraged. It is suggested that one way to do this may be through business ethics education. It is also suggested that increasing ethical commitment to other individuals may go some way towards combating the tendency for accountancy to dehumanise other people. While there have been specific studies of ethics and accounting education there has, as yet, been little open debate about what the objectives of accounting ethics education should be or the specific techniques that could be used to meet the desired aims. This paper contends that accountancy has become dangerously dehumanised and that one of the most important objectives for any business ethics education must be to develop an empathy with "the other". The paper studies the developments within the medical, legal and engineering profession in order to suggest some specific methods which could be employed in order to re-humanise accountancy and develop a sense of moral commitment towards other individuals. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the claim that testimony can serve as a basic source of knowledge of other people’s mental lives against the objection that testimonial knowledge presupposes knowledge of other people’s mental lives and therefore can’t be used to explain it.
Why are we conscious? What does consciousness enable us to do that cannot be done by zombies in the dark? This paper argues that introspective consciousness probably co-evolved as a "spandrel" along with our more useful ability to represent the mental states of other people. The first part of the paper defines and motivates a conception of consciousness as a kind of "double vision" – the perception of how things seem to us as well as what they are – (...) along lines recently explored by Peter Carruthers. The second part explains the basic socioepistemic function of consciousness and suggests an evolutionary pathway to this cognitive capacity that begins with predators and prey. The third part discusses the relevance of these considerations to the traditional problem of other minds. (shrink)
Epistemologists often assume that an agent’s epistemic goal is simply to acquire as much knowledge as possible for herself. Drawing on an analogy with ethics and other practices, I argue that being situated in an epistemic community introduces a range of epistemic virtues (and goals) which fall outside of those typically recognized by both individualistic and social epistemologists. Candidate virtues include such traits as honesty, integrity (including an unwillingness to misuse one’s status as an expert), patience, and creativity. We (...) can understand such traits to be epistemic virtues insofar as they tend to produce knowledge – not for the agent alone, but for her community. Recognition of such ‘otherregarding epistemic virtues’ both broadens the area of inquiry of epistemology, and introduces new standards for the evaluation of epistemic agents. (shrink)
True Bergsonianism : beginnings of a philosopher -- The controversy over intersubjectivity -- Nazism and crisis : the interruption of a trajectory -- Totaliter aliter : revelation in interwar thought -- Levinas's discovery of the other in the making of French existentialism -- The ethical turn : philosophy and Judaism in the Cold War.
We live in a world which is more connected than ever before. We can now send messages to a friend or colleague with a touch of a button, can learn about other’s interests before we even meet them, and now leave a digital trail behind us—whether we intend to or not. One question which, in proportion to its importance, has been asked quite infrequently since the dawn of the Internet era involves exactly how meaningful all of these connections are. (...) To what extent can we love another if we only communicate via social technology? What value does visiting a friend have which e-mailing him or texting him does not? “Social Media, Love, and the Look of the Other” attempts to answer these questions by applying the framework of social communication established by Jean-Paul Sartre to the realm of social media. Sartre writes that in all communications with the other, we face the look of the other—or our own perception of how the other judges us. The direction in which the look points determines, to a large degree, the character of any interaction with others. How does social media affect the nature of this look? Particularly, this inquiry seeks to discover the nature of the object to which this look points—and what implications, in cases where the look is not directed at ourselves, this has on our ability to develop and share concern for others. (shrink)
The rubric autoimmunity currently encompasses sixty to seventy diverse illnesses which affect many of the tissues of the human body. Western medical practice asserts that the crisis known as autoimmune disease arises when a biological organism compromises its own integrity by misrecognising parts of itself as other than itself and then seeks to eliminate these unrecognised and hence antagonistic aspects of itself. That is, autoimmune illnesses seem to manifest the contradictory and sometimes deadly proposition that the “identity”: body/self both (...) is and is not “itself”. Based on the assumption that under normal circumstances “the self” ought to coincide naturally with “the body”—or at the very least the self ought to inhabit the living location of the body more or less unproblematically—this scientific paradigm depicts autoimmune illness as a vital paradox. Yet for those of us who have lived through the experience of an autoimmune crisis, the living paradox that we embody may also lead us to question the basis upon which these medical assumptions rest. This essay raises some of these questions. (shrink)
Scepticism is sometimes expressed about whether there is any interesting problem of other minds. In this paper I set out a version of the conceptual problem of other minds which turns on the way in which mental occurrences are presented to the subject and situate it in relation to debates about our knowledge of other people's mental lives. The result is a distinctive problem in the philosophy of mind concerning our relation to other people.
In this essay I provide a reading of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner that focuses upon the question of the kind of creatures the Replicants are depicted as being, and the meaning that depiction should have for us. I draw upon Stanley Cavell's account of the problem of other minds to argue that the empathy test is in fact a mode of resisting the acknowledgment of others. And I draw upon Martin Heidegger's account of authenticity and mortality to argue that (...) this acknowledgment is crucial if one would become human. The film does not so much suggest that Replicants are, as such, human, but rather that humanity is won through the encounter with the inauthentic. (shrink)
This paper discusses Wittgenstein's take on the problem of other minds. In opposition to certain widespread views that I collect under the heading of the “No Problem Interpretation,” I argue that Wittgenstein does address some problem of other minds. However, Wittgenstein's problem is not the traditional epistemological problem of other minds; rather, it is more reminiscent of the issue of intersubjectivity as it emerges in the writings of phenomenologists such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger. This is one (...) sense in which Wittgenstein's perspective on other minds might be called “phenomenological.” Yet there is another sense as well, in that Wittgenstein's positive views on this issue resemble the views defended by phenomenologists. The key to a proper philosophical grasp of intersubjectivity, on both views, lies in rethinking the mind. If we conceive of minds as essentially embodied we can understand how intersubjectivity is possible. (shrink)
John McDowell’s original motivation of disjunctivism occurs in the context of a problem regarding other minds. Recent commentators have insisted that McDowell’s disjunctivism should be classed as an epistemological disjunctivism about epistemic warrant, and distinguished from the perceptual disjunctivism of Hinton, Snowdon and others. In this paper I investigate the relation between the problem of other minds and disjunctivism, and raise some questions for this interpretation of McDowell.
Quassim Cassam has recently defended a perceptual model of knowledge of other minds: one on which we can see and thereby know that another thinks and feels. In the course of defending this model, he addresses issues about our ability to think about other minds. I argue that his solution to this 'conceptual problem' does not work. A solution to the conceptual problem is necessary if we wish to explain knowledge of other minds.
In contemporary Western analytic philosophy, the classic analogical argument explaining our knowledge of other minds has been rejected. But at least three alternative positive theories of our knowledge of the second person have been formulated: the theory-theory, the simulation theory and the theory of direct empathy. After sketching out the problems faced by these accounts of the ego’s access to the contents of the mind of a “second ego”, this paper tries to recreate one argument given by Abhinavagupta (Shaiva (...) philosopher of recognition) to the effect that even in another’s body, one must feel and recognize one’s own self, if one is able to address that embodied person as a “you”. The otherness of You does not take away from its subjectivity. In that sense, just as every second person to whom one could speak is, first, a person, she is also a first person. Even as I regret that I do not know exactly how some other person is feeling right now, I must have some general access to the subjective experience of that other person, for otherwise what is it that I feel so painfully ignorant about? My subjective world is mine only to the extent that I recognize its continuity with a sharable subjective world where other I-s can make a You out of me. (shrink)
The problem of other minds is a collection of problems centering upon the extent to which our belief in other minds or other's minds can be justified. Swedish psychologist, Gunnar Borg has developed a principle called "the range principle" which helps fill out our "knowledge" of other minds. Borg developed this principle partly in response to the skeptical challenge of Harvard psychophysicist S S Stevens. Stevens claimed that the intersubjective comparison of experience was scientifically impossible. Borg (...) postulates that the range of individual experience is roughly identical for all individuals. We can test Borg's principle or theory is we include the similarity of physical range for individuals. We have an interesting case of experimental work casting light on a traditional philosophical problem. (shrink)
Other minds and their place in the Hume-literature -- A modern approach -- Scepticism versus naturalism -- The vulgar and the philosopher -- Relative ideas -- Concepts of the real -- Intuition and common sense -- Epistemic responsibility -- Degeneration of reason -- Just philosophy -- Conceiving minds -- Abstraction -- Argument from analogy -- Sympathy -- Limitations -- Generality -- Hume's concept of mind -- The world and the other -- Habit and intersubjective responsiveness -- Belief and (...) education -- Mental facts -- Signs of mind and world -- The belief-grounding function of sympathy -- Corrigibility of belief -- Cognitive architecture. (shrink)
I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more (...) complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities. (shrink)
The problem of the other was one of the central problems for the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl. He investigated the other as the alter ego intensively in the Fifth Cartesian Meditation, in which he introduced the conceptions of “analogical apperception'' and “pairing'' as fundamental forms of “passive synthesis.'' Although it is no doubt Husserl who investigated the other most seriously and intensively, there is anaporiain his theory of the other. If the other is an (...) object of ego's intentional consciousness, the other turns out to be no more than a modification of the ego. In the face of such anaporia, some phenomenologists embarked upon inquiry into the other. This paper focuses primarily on Alfred Schutz's discussion of the “other'' in general and about the “stranger'' in particular. (shrink)
Paul Churchland characterizes the "epistemological problem" in philosophy of mind as the problem "concerned with how we come to have knowledge of the internal activities of conscious, intelligent minds." This problem is itself divided into two separate, but related problems: (1) the problem of self-consciousness -- that of determining how one comes to have knowledge of one's own mental states, and (2) the problem of other minds -- that of explaining how one can ever come to know that something (...)other than oneself has a mind, i.e., is a thinking, feeling, conscious being. My primary aim is to examine and solve the problem of other minds. However, since Churchland contends that the problem of other minds is inextricably intertwined with the problem of self-consciousness, I examine this latter problem, as well. (shrink)
This book brings together the most interesting and far-reaching responses to the work of Levinas in three key areas: contemporary feminism, psychotherapy and Levinas's relation to other philosophers. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
This paper is concerned with the issue of authenticity in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology. In the manuscripts published as Letzte Schriften über die Philosophie der Psychologie – Das Innere und das Äußere, the German term Echtheit is mostly translated as ‘genuineness’. In these manuscripts, Wittgenstein frequently uses the term as referring to a feature of the expression of feeling and emotion: -/- […] I want to say that there is an original genuine expression of pain; that the expression of pain (...) therefore is not equally connected to the pain and to the pretence. (LW II, p. 55) -/- “This weeping gives the impression of being genuine” – so there is such a thing as genuine weeping. […]. (LW II, p. 87) -/- […] Genuineness and falseness are not the only essential characteristics of an expression of feeling. […]. (LW II, p. 90) -/- Wittgenstein contrasts the genuineness of the expressions with the possibility that the expressions are feigned. It seems to me that Wittgenstein is trying to discredit a specific version of the sceptical claim that we do not know other minds. I will refer to it as the sceptical innuendo. The sceptical innuendo says that every expression of feeling and emotion may be pretended. Wittgenstein’s approach to the issue reflects his later interest in the philosophy of psychology and, in particular, the problem of the ascription of psychological states (P-ascriptions) on the basis of someone else’s expression of feeling or emotion. Thus, the attempt to reject the sceptical innuendo is done mainly by means of conceptual and psychological arguments. Let’s look at this short dialogue between the sceptic and Wittgenstein. The former asks „How do you know that someone else is in a certain psychological state?“ Wittgenstein’s first reply is „I know that he is glad because I see him“. But the sceptic cannot be very happy with this reply. The sceptic’s next question is: „How do you know that he is really glad and he is not pretending?“ Wittgenstein’s response is not a direct refutation but is composed of a number of related reasons. These may be summed up in three arguments: -/- (i) A psychological argument from the very nature of the expressions. The expressions are meant to be natural symptoms of someone else’s psychological state (P-state). -/- (ii) A conceptual argument about the nature of pretence. It claims that pretence is a psychological property which is rightly ascribed when an observer has evidence for it. -/- (iii) A psychological argument from genuineness. It claims that we are committed to accept people’s expressions of feeling and emotion as genuine. (shrink)
This article describes some of the main arguments for the existence of other minds, and intersubjectivity more generally, that depend upon a transcendental justification. This means that our focus will be largely on ‘continental’ philosophy, not only because of the abiding interest in this tradition in thematising intersubjectivity, but also because transcendental reasoning is close to ubiquitous in continental philosophy. Neither point holds for analytic philosophy. As such, this essay will introduce some of the important contributions of Edmund Husserl, (...) Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Karl-Otto Apel, all of whom use transcendental reasoning as a key part of their analyses of intersubjectivity, and we also consider the work of Peter Strawson who does likewise in the analytic tradition. (shrink)
The Face of the Other and the Trace of God contain essays on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, and how his philosophy intersects with that of other philosophers, particularly Husserl, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Derrida. This collection is broadly divided into two parts: relations with the other, and the questions of God.
What is the relation between emotional experience and its behavioural expression? As very preliminary clarification, I mean by ‘emotional experience’ such things as the subjective feeling of being afraid of something, or of being angry at someone. On the side of behavioural expression, I focus on such things as cowering in fear, or shaking a fist or thumping the table in anger. Very crudely, this is behaviour intermediate between the bodily changes which just happen in emotional arousal, such as sweating (...) or the secretion of adrenalin, and reasoned actions done ‘out of an emotion’, such as breathing deeply to clam down, or writing a letter of complaint, for which a standard rationalizing explanation can be given.1 I pursue the relation between this experience and expression in a somewhat roundabout manner. First, I note an analogy between a problem of other minds, and Berkeley’s (1975) challenge to Locke’s (1975) realism. Second, I sketch what I regard as the correct strategy for meeting this challenge. Third, I develop and defend a parallel response to the problem of other minds, as this applies to certain basic directed emotions. This yields the following answer to my opening question. Reference to the appropriate expressive behaviour is essential to the identification of the way in which various emotional experiences present their worldly objects. (shrink)
Most commentators working on Wittgenstein’s remarks on ethics note that he rejects the very possibility of traditional normative ethics, that is, a philosophically justified normative guide for right conduct. In this article, Wittgenstein’s view of ethical reflection as presented in his notebooks from 1936 to 1938 is investigated, and the question of whether it involves ethical guidance is addressed. In Wittgenstein’s remarks, we can identify three requirements inherent in ethical reflection. The first two is revealed in the realisation that ethical (...) reflection presupposes both a clear understanding of oneself and a normative ideal of how one ought to live and reason. The third source of normativity springs from the fact that ethical reflection involves a relationship with the other, not as judge, but as example and addressee. In this way, ethical reflection is essentially relational. In the article, we unfold how these three normative sources figure in Wittgenstein’s remarks, especially how the third requirement, the relationship with the other, shows both a point of conversion and a difference between his view of ethics and religious faith. It will also be argued that even if Wittgenstein thus presents ethical reflection as a normatively guided activity, the content of the guidance is personal, springing solely from the reflecting individual. (shrink)
The, so called, ‘conceptual problem of other minds’ has been articulated in a number of different ways. I discuss two, drawing out some constraints on an adequate account of the grasp of concepts of mental states. Distinguishing between behaviour-based and identity-based approaches to the problem, I argue that the former, exemplified by Brewer and Pickard, are incomplete as they presuppose, but do not provide an answer to, what I shall call the conceptual problem of other bodies. I end (...) with some remarks on identity-based approaches, pointing out related problems for versions of this approach held by Cassam and Peacocke. (shrink)
This essay examines some of Derrida’s most famous ‘possible-impossible’ aporias, including his discussions of giving, hospitality, forgiveness, and mourning. He argues that the condition of the possibility of such themes is also, and at once, the condition of their impossibility. In order to reveal the shared logic upon which these aporias rely, and also to raise some questions about their persuasive efficacy, it will be argued that of the two polarities evoked by each of his possible-impossible aporias, the ‘impossible’ term (...) of the opposition invariably posits a separation between “two radical singularities”, or in somewhat more controversial terms, between a self and an other. While Derrida emphasises this ‘impossible’ aspect of giving, hospitality, forgiveness, etc., Merleau-Ponty’s abiding emphasis upon the chiasmic intertwining of self and other provides the resources to challenge this emphasis, and even to reverse it. While Merleau-Ponty rarely directly addresses the kind of aporias that concern Derrida, his chiasmic account of embodiment, and his emphasis upon the body-subject’s propensity to seek an equilibrium with its environment, better accounts for the ‘possible’ side of the aporias that Derrida describes. In the process, it will be argued that Merleau-Ponty’s later philosophy also allows for a more politically efficacious idea of responsibility towards the other than the position to which Derrida is tacitly committed. (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre struggled for the whole of their philosophical careers against one of modern Western philosophy's most pervasive concepts, the Cartesian notion of self. A notion of self is always a complex of ideas; in the case of Beauvoir and Sartre it includes the ideas of embodiment, temporality, the Other, and intersubjectivity. This essay will show the considerable part that gender, especially Beauvoir's position as a woman in twentieth-century France, played in the development, presentation and (...) reception of the couple's alternative formulation. (shrink)
I would like to show how with Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas, we have to do with three different ways of understanding the experience of the other. For Sartre it is a visual experience, the experience of being looked at by the other, so that the experience of the other is understood as a confrontation; for Merleau-Ponty, the experience of the other necessarily implies coexistence and what he calls intercorporeality, so that for him the other is (...) never to be found in front, but instead beside me, in reciprocity with me; for Levinas, the experience of the other is the experience of a non-reciprocity, of an assymetrical relation, because the experience of the other is for him an ethical and not an ontological experience, and because this experience of the face of the other is the experience of a speaking and not in the first place corporeal presence. There are consequently three different ways of finding an access to the other : the look for Sartre, intercorporeality for Merleau-Ponty and the face for Levinas. (shrink)
While there is a great diversity of treatments of other minds and inter-subjectivity within both analytic and continental philosophy, this article specifies some of the core structural differences between these treatments. Although there is no canonical account of the problem of other minds that can be baldly stated and that is exhaustive of both traditions, the problem(s) of other minds can be loosely defined in family resemblances terms. It seems to have: (1) an epistemological dimension (How do (...) we know that others exist? Can we justifiably claim to know that they do?); (2) an ontological dimension that incorporates issues having to do with personal identity (What is the structure of our world such that inter-subjectivity is possible? What are the fundamental aspects of our relations to others? How do they impact upon our self-identity?); and (3) A conceptual dimension in that it depends on one's answer to the question what is a mind (How does the mind – or the concept of 'mind'– relate to the brain, the body and the world?). While these three issues are co-imbricated, I will claim that analytic engagements with the problem of other minds focus on (1), whereas continental philosophers focus far more on (2). In addition, this article will also point to various other downstream consequences of this, including the preoccupation with embodiment and forms of expressivism that feature heavily in various forms of continental philosophy, and which generally aim to ground our relations with others in a pre-reflective manner of inhabiting the world that is said to be the condition of reflection and knowledge. (shrink)
We resist Schilbach et al.’s characterization of the “social perception” approach to social cognition as a “spectator theory” of other minds. We show how the social perception view acknowledges the crucial role interaction plays in enabling social understanding. We also highlight a dilemma Schilbach et al. face in attempting to distinguish their second person approach from the social perception view.
In his later writings on ethics Foucault argues that rapport à soi – the relationship to oneself – is what gives meaning to our commitment to ‘moral behaviour’. In the absence of rapport à soi, Foucault believes, ethical adherence collapses into obedience to rules (‘an authoritarian structure’). I make a case, in broadly Levinasian terms, for saying that the call of ‘the other’ is fundamental to ethics. This prompts the question whether rapport à soi fashions an ethical subject who (...) is unduly self-concerned. Here we confront two apparently irreconcilable pictures of the source of moral demands. I describe one way of trying to reconcile them from a Foucaultian perspective, and I note the limitations in the attempt. I also try to clear away what I think to be a misunderstanding on Foucault’s part about what is at stake in the choice between these pictures. To clarify my critique of Foucault, I also relate it to a similar recent critique of virtue ethics by Thomas Hurka. (shrink)
This paper outlines the basic traits of a responsive phenomenology by focusing on the issue of originary substitution. On the one hand, a phenomenology of alienness or otherness and an ethics of the other in the sense of Levinas will prove to be closely bound up with this sort of substitution. On the other side, this substitution can be concretised by transitional figures such as the advocate, the therapist, the translator, the witness, or the field researcher; they all (...) intervene from the position of a Third without closing the fissure which opens between ourselves and the Other, between the own and the alien. Precisely by focussing on the issue of substitution, we have the opportunity to outline the basis traits of a responsive phenomenology and to discuss some of its institutional consequences. (shrink)
Our approach to global bioethics will depend, among other things, on how we answer the questions whether global bioethics is possible and whether it, if it is possible, is desirable. Our approach to global bioethics will also vary depending on whether we believe that the required bioethical deliberation should take as its principal point of departure that which we have in common or that which we have in common and that on which we differ. The aim of this article (...) is to elaborate a theoretical underpinning for a bioethics that acknowledges the diversity of traditions and experiences without leading to relativism. The theoretical underpinning will be elaborated through an exploration of the concepts of sameness, otherness, self and other, and through a discussion of the conditions for understanding and critical reflection. Furthermore, the article discusses whether the principle of respect for the other as both the same and different can function as the normative core of this global bioethics. The article also discusses the New Jersey Death Definition Law and the Japanese Transplantation Law. These laws are helpful in order to highlight possible implications of the principle of respect for the other as both the same and different. Both of these laws open the door to more than one concept of death within one and the same legal system. Both of them relate preference for a particular concept of death to religious and/or cultural beliefs. (shrink)
The self-other asymmetry is a prominent and important feature of common-sense morality. It is also a feature that does not find a home in standard versions of act-utilitarianism. Theodore Sider has attempted to make a place for it by constructing a novel version of utilitarianism that incorporates the asymmetry into its framework. So far as I know, it is the best attempt to bring the two together. I argue, however, that Sider's ingenious attempt fails. I also offer a diagnosis (...) that explains why no theory that remains recognizably act-utilitarian can successfully incorporate the asymmetry. (shrink)