The Problem Of Other Minds

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In a world of over seven billion people, one can often feel alone due to factors such as social isolation, lack of intimate connections, and general stress. This feeling of loneliness is often times made worse by the presumed understanding that these seven billion people are alive and conscious. But why is it that humans assume anyone aside from themselves possess true consciousness and a developed mind? This idea that everyone has a mind is not, in fact, inborn. Children do not exhibit development of a theory of mind, the understanding that other humans possess thoughts, consciousness and intentionality, until around the ages of three or four. Past this age, those questioning whether others could have a mind are considered to be either philosophers or suffering from a mental abnormality. Focusing specifically on former, philosophers address this assumption by exploring the problem of other minds: a challenge that questions if one can only observe the behavior of others and is not privy to any potential inner workings, how can one attribute a mind to others? The objective of this paper is to explore interdisciplinary approaches to proving others do have minds similar to one’s own and weigh in on the credibility of the credibility of the problem of other minds. As anyone who has taken a European history or general philosophy course can attest to, the famous philosopher René Descartes set the stage for using introspection as a measure of mental states. His famous phrase, “I think, therefore I am” supports the idea that humans are only capable of proving their own existence by confirming the presence of a mind. According to the New World Encyclopedia, “Introspection provides a foundation for knowledge of the physical world, and one... ... middle of paper ... ...lower of Freud, believed instead that the unconscious was divided into two categories, the first being the personal unconscious and the second being the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious, similar to Freud’s unconscious, is largely filled with material either suppressed or forgotten by the conscious mind. The collective conscious is an inherited reservoir of psychic structures and experiences. The collective conscious is shared by the entire human race and can explain phenomena such as innate fears that all or most humans share, such as fear of spiders. Aside from criticisms of Freud’s emphasis on sex, the unconscious mind is largely criticized for simply being a misunderstanding of experiences of which we are unaware. Some critics state that there is no unconscious mind at all. After all, how can humans have concrete thoughts without registering them?

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