TH E TH REAT OF S CE PTI CI S M
hold in suspense all attribution of psychological properties. Conversely, if we do achieve clarity on this matter we will also achieve a fundamentally non-sceptical and nonbehaviourist conception of being with others. No doubt this is highly opaque at present. No less so will be my alternative. I will argue that an event of behaviour with respect to which we do not hold in suspense all attribution of psychological properties must have the same logical structure as writing, and so is something which, as such, must be read. This may not seem to get us any further. Surely the significance of writing derives from, or at least stands in need of, a writer, an author who, at least at the time of writing, was present to and intended what he or she wrote? Such an author would be the ‘thickening’ source of the ‘inscribing’ behaviour. While I will not deny that writings have a context of inscription which includes what we call ‘the presence of the writer’, I will argue that the ‘thickening’ solution (which is simply the metaphysics of the subject qua author) involves a misunderstanding of this presence. That is, again, it construes such presence in terms of self-presence. Appeal to the phenomenon of writing can help us remove the felt need to make recourse to such a subject because, patently, writing can do without the presence of the writer and still function. One of the central arguments of this book is that this feature can be generalised to all significant behaviour. If this can be achieved, then the assumption that the behaviour of living things stands in need of ‘thickening’ by reference to something (a ‘subject’) which is co-present-at-hand ‘in’ or ‘behind’ it will be removed. To paraphrase Wittgenstein: on the line of thought that I aim to defend, whatever accompanies the writing would just be more writing.3 This analysis will then be used to show how we can affirm the suggestion that to see the behaviour of a living thing is to see its soul. First, however, we must examine the thinking which most dramatically stands in the way of such an affirmation: scepticism.
A SCE PTICAL ARGU M ENT What follows is an example of a sceptical meditation. It is not a reconstruction of any particular philosopher’s argument. Nor, however, is it a philosophically naive voice. While the meditation may appear innocent, and to begin at the beginning, in reality the sceptic will have begun at the end and aims to entice us to follow.4
Ordinarily I am quite ready to make claims to know about the most diverse range of facts. And in doing so I am not ordinarily aware of having performed an especially striking or remarkable feat. It seems to come quite naturally. However, sometimes when I sit back and look around me, this capacity to know external facts can give rise to a real sense of wonder. At such times the thought of my mind’s ability to grasp reality in its net, the possibility of my