Summary Of B. Russell's The Argument For Other Minds

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The problem I hope to expose in this paper is the lack of evidence in The Argument from Analogy for Other Minds supporting that A, a thought or feeling, is the only cause of B. Russell believes that there are other minds because he can see actions in others that are analogous to his own without thinking about them. He believes that all actions are caused by thoughts, but what happens when we have a reaction resulting as an action of something forced upon one’s self? Such as when a doctor hits your patellar tendon with a reflex hammer to test your knee-jerk reflex. Russell does not answer this question. He is only “highly probable” that we are to know other minds exist through his A is the cause of B postulate. In Russell’s The Argument from…show more content…
The problem with Russell’s argument arises when he states “we must know that only A causes B.” (Russell, 248) We are given no reason to accept that only A causes B. Russell does not explain the concept of reflexes in his argument. A reflex is “an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus and without conscious thought.” (Reflex) You have the thought that your reflex will be stimulated but this does not cause the reaction of the reflex. There is an action that must occur to cause the reaction of the reflex. When a reflex is stimulated you don 't need to think about the action that is taking place. Involuntary bodily functions also go against the postulate for the Existence of Other Minds. We do not need to think about the involuntary bodily functions taking place inside of us to know they are functioning. In order to be alive your brain is controlling more actions then you could even think of. If you had to think about every time your heart was to beat or every time you were to take a breath you would most likely forget to do either one of these two and die. This causes great uncertainty as to whether Russell’s new postulate is true or not. When faced with the question of this uncertainty he responds by saying that “It is not necessary that we should know this with any certainty; it is enough if it is highly probable.” (Russell, 249) The only way this position is able to be salvaged is if Russell were to distinguish between what actions he was talking about in his A causes B postulate. If Russell was to specify that only voluntary thought provoked actions are included in the postulate for the Existence of Other Minds then he would have made his argument stronger. He leaves doubt in his argument when he references all analogous visible human movements. We do not think to blink, breathe, or pump our blood.
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