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TH E TH REAT O F SCE PTICI S M

These worries might seem like the ravings of a lunatic. But the problem is that if I am asked to justify how I knew my friend was in the inner state I said he was in, I have to concede that I am going beyond and saying much more than what is given in the behavioural, physical, facts that I really have

evidence for. I am prompted by the following doubt. Can my experiences of the behaviour of a certain body provide a reliable guide to the states of what I want to call ‘the soul’ of my friend N.N.? The idea that it is a reliable guide seems to be an unproven assumption.12 And if this is true of my friend, how can I ever be secure in my claims (2b) in general? How can I be sure that this assumption is correct? Isn’t it consistent with all the evidence that all those entities that I call Others are just sophisticated automata, humanoid androids?13 Isn’t it at least conceivable that someone no less cunning and deceiving than powerful has used all his artifice to deceive me?14 I have just employed the Cartesian hypothesis of an ‘evil genius’. And I realise that I am not the first to have been captured or captivated by a kind of doubt that would normally seem ludicrous and hyperbolical. Strangely, Descartes himself does not consider the doubts about Others that I have been discussing. However, in a famous passage in the Meditations he does at least broach the difficulty that arises when one considers the behaviour of those I have called Others. Descartes is looking out of his window at some people passing in the street below him. He notes that he would not normally hesitate to say that he was seeing people out there. However, he considers it to be indisputable that if he restricts himself to what he has sensory evidence for, he has to concede that ‘what do I see from this window other than hats and cloaks, which can cover ghosts or dummies who move only by means of springs.’15 The point is that whether or not certain entities are Others or automata is not something that can be discovered merely on the basis of what is apparent to the senses, namely the behaviour of bodies, for that is consistent with either state of affairs. This kind of observation is the heart of my problem. How am I to overcome the sceptical hypothesis? Descartes’s conclusion is interesting. He argues that, since his senses cannot decide the case, his belief that they are people (i.e. Others) must have its source in what he calls his faculty of ‘judgement’ that is in

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Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein  
Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein  
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