Can someone help me with this passage about Knowing Other Minds?

I am reading an entry to an encyclopedia.

Its called “Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds”

It is a work that makes an argument against solipsism

I’m having trouble understanding what is being said in *section 5: Knowing Other Minds *though.

What is being said here? Such statements as:

—*We are now in a position to see the essential redundancy of the argument from analogy. First, it is a misconception to think that we need any inferential argument to assure us of the existence of other minds. Such an assurance seems necessary only so long as it is assumed that each of us has to work “outwards” from the interiority of his/her own consciousness, to abstract from our own cases to the “internal” world of others. As indicated above, this assumption is fundamentally wrong - our knowledge that other human beings are conscious and our knowledge of their mental states at a given time is not inferential in nature at all, but is rather determined by the public criteria that govern the application of psychological concepts. *

The question must be faced, however, is how or in what respects am I different from or similar to other human beings? The answer is that I am neither. I am a living human being, as are these others. I see about me living human beings and the argument from analogy is supposed to allow me to infer that these are persons like myself. However, the truth is that I have no criterion for discriminating living human beings from persons, for the very good reason that persons are living human beings - there is no conceptual difference between the two. Since the argument acknowledges that I know living human beings directly, it thereby implicitly acknowledges that I know other persons directly, thus making itself functionally redundant. (Malcolm, N. op. cit.).

Plausible as this objection seems at first sight, it is (ironically, on Wittgensteinian criteria) quite mistaken. For it is not the case that when I am in pain I first identify the pain and subsequently come to recognize that it is one that I, as distinct from someone else, have. The personal pronoun “I” in the locution “I am in pain” is not the “I” of personal individuation - it does not refer to me or discriminate me as a publicly situated person as distinct from others. (The Blue Book and Brown Books, pp. 67-69; also Investigations, I. § 406). The exponent of the argument from analogy is not guilty of the charge of presupposing the very thing that he is endeavoring to demonstrate, as both Strawson and Malcolm suggest. Wittgenstein in fact considered that there is a genuine asymmetry here, in relation to the ascription of psychological predicates to oneself and to others, which is dimly perceived but misrepresented by those who feel the need of the argument from analogy. Whereas one ascribes psychological states to others by reference to bodily and behavioral criteria, one has and requires no criteria at all to self-ascribe or self-avow them. (Investigations, I. § 289-290).

-However, Wittgenstein here calls attention to the fact that the asymmetry is not one that exists between the supposedly direct and certain knowledge that I have of my own mental states as distinct from the wholly inferential knowledge which, allegedly, I have of the mental states of others. Rather, the asymmetry is that the ascriptions of psychological predicates to others require criterial justificatory grounds, whereas the self-avowals or self-ascriptions of such predicates are criterionless. It thus transpires that the argument from analogy appears possible and necessary only to those who misapprehend the asymmetry between the criterial bases for third-person psychological predicate ascription and the non-criterial right for their self-ascription or self-avowal for a cognitive asymmetry between direct and indirect knowledge of mental states. The Cartesian egocentric view of the mind and of mental events that gives rise both to the specter of solipsism and attempts to evade it by means of the argument from analogy has its origins in this very misapprehension.

I’m having a hard time figuring out if these are arguments against other minds or arguments against solipsism

I’ll print this thing out and study it; good mental exercise for Lent; and pass on what I come up with.

Reads like another philosophical overdose.


Unless you have to study this for an exam ,why would you waste your time on the meanderings of people whose contribution to human life is to waste the time of good student minds, to distract , and for no other reason ?
To fill in time to justify their salaries, the universities in the west in the last 2 centuries has been filled with padding , which has no meaning at all .

Of course not all have been ,but don’t do what Neizche did . He drove himself mad trying to solve problems which were very simple ,but he needed to complicate them to pass the time .:slight_smile:

Part 3 was an argument against solipism. The passage you quoted, it seemed to me, was just a discussion of the arguments pro and con the argument against solipism.

So did anybody come up with what this guy is trying to say yet?

I’m kind of hung up on what he means by “redundant”

I don’t believe I have to read this to posit a possible argument.

How can you know you are not in a dream; in your own reality. How do you know you are communicating anything to someone if anyone?

This thread wasn’t meant to posit an argument for solipsism.

It was meant to decipher what was being said in this encyclopedia link.

Until you can point out how this can help you advance the belief of those who do not know the Catholic Faith, I am unable to help you.
Unless you ask me a direct question.
I will not try to help you edit a wiki page.

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