Other Minds

Other Minds

Other Minds

Other Minds

Excerpt

[ Re-printed from MIND: a Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy . Vol. L., N.S., No. 197.]

"BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT."

Black . We can never really be certain what is going on in the mind of another. Even if a man, when given a gold watch, showed every sign of being delighted and never, before or afterwards, not even to his most intimate friends, gave us any ground to suppose he was anything but what he then appeared to be, it would still remain possible that he was not delighted. And by the same reasoning, even were parrots or monkeys to talk like people at a party it would remain possible that they neither thought nor felt, and there is nothing illogical in supposing that a friend's body should continue to nod, smile and talk just as before he went to sleep, although now his mind and soul are no longer in his body -- the body keeps up the old habits -- there is nothing logically absurd about this idea any more than there is anything logically absurd about the idea that though his body is still in death his mind is active, thinking and feeling in some other world.

White . You might as well say we can't be certain there aren't leprechauns in watches. You might as well say we can't be certain that any current runs in electric wires. You might as well say we can't be certain that there's any energy in live batteries, as say we can't be certain that there's any consciousness in live bodies.

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