Philosophy and Its Epistemic Neuroses

By Michael Hymers | Go to book overview

or "I beg you. . . ." or "I promise . . ." typically plays a performative role, not a descriptive one. Typically, "I believe that it is raining" expresses my belief, as does "It is raining," and both of them are reports about the world, not about me. But, again, holding this is compatible with holding that sometimes my utterance of "I believe that p" or simply "p" is a report about me, not about the world: "The language-game of reporting can be given such a turn that a report is not meant to inform the hearer about its subject matter but about the person making the report" ( 1968, 190). And I think it is also compatible with holding that sometimes I can have doubts about what I believe, hope, fear, or desire. Wittgenstein concurs:

Does it make sense to ask "How do you know that you believe?" -- and is the answer: "I know it by introspection"?

In some cases it will be possible to say some such thing, in most not.

It makes sense to ask: "Do I really love her, or am I only pretending to myself?" and the process of introspection is the calling up of memories; of imagined possible situations, and of the feelings one would have if . . . ( 1968, §587)

Socratic self-knowledge is the result of a kind of investigation into one's attitudes, and without such an investigation a person will live in self-ignorance. But an investigation that aims at Socratic self-knowledge is quite compatible with the firstperson authority that I have claimed characterizes non-Socratic self-knowledge. Indeed, it is an investigation that presupposes first-person authority, for it can be carried out only against a background of knowing how to give linguistic expression to one's attitudes. Without such a background, there would be no questions to raise and no way of answering them.


Notes
1.
It should be added that, inasmuch as cultural boundaries are not precise things, what begins as cultural relativism can easily turn into subjectivism. And by the same dynamic, the alleged incomprehensibility of other cultures can easily turn into the classical problem of other minds.
2.
Putnam 1975, 215-71.
3.
Putnam complains that this option treats terms like beech and elm as if they were "absolutely indexical" like I and now ( 1975, 245f.).
4.
Putnam seems to grant the idea of narrow content for the sake of argument. But, as Burge complains, many of Putnam's remarks have "a distinctly individualistic ring" ( 1979, 118 n. 2). Putnam has acknowledged this even about some of his later writings ( 1994a, 456-65).
5.
See Burge 1981, 97-120, and 1979, 117 n. 2. Burge ( 1979) argues for the social individuation of intentional types.
6.
I use Burge's terminology and avoid the issue of interpreting Descartes's own views for now.

-169-

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Philosophy and Its Epistemic Neuroses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction: Philosophy and Neurosis 1
  • Notes 11
  • 1 - The "External" World 12
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Internal Relations 36
  • Notes 53
  • 3 - Truth and Reference 57
  • Notes 77
  • 4 - Renouncing All Theory 80
  • Notes 100
  • 5 - Conceptual Schemes 103
  • Notes 124
  • 6 - The Ethical-Political Argument 127
  • Notes 148
  • 7 - Realism and Self-Knowledge 151
  • Notes 169
  • 8 - Self-Knowledge and Self-Unity 173
  • Notes 190
  • Conclusion: the Rhetoric of Neurosis 193
  • Notes 199
  • Credits 201
  • Reference List 202
  • Index 213
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