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Seeing the Other’s Mind: McDowell and Husserl on Bodily Expressivity and the Problem of Other Minds

  • Zhida LuoEmail author
Theoretical / Philosophical Paper

Abstract

McDowell motivates a disjunctive conception of experience in the context of other-minds skepticism, but his conception of other minds has been less frequently discussed. In this paper, I focus on McDowell’s perceptual account of others that emphasizes the primitivity of others’ bodily expressivity and his defense of a common-sense understanding of others. And I suggest that Husserl’s subtle analysis of bodily expressivity not only bears fundamental similarities with McDowell’s but also helps to demonstrate the sense in which McDowell’s emphasis on bodily expressivity can remove some of the grounds for other minds skepticism. I argue that the other’s behavioral manifestation is first and foremost perceived in a salient Gestalt and social perception is inherently infused with a constitutive propensity with which we normally take the other as human person in the first place. In this light, I show that Husserl’s account can better elucidate human expressivity and its intrinsic features, thereby helping to remove some of the props of other-minds skepticism. As a result, I believe it proves fruitful to juxtapose McDowell’s and Husserl’s account of bodily expressivity, so as to alternate the Cartesian picture of other-minds that engenders skeptic anxiety and to secure a common-sense understanding of other people.

Keywords

Other minds Expressivity Gestalt Normativity Naivety 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper was presented at the “Mind and World” Workshop in Shanghai, the “Brown lunch bag” workshop in Zhuhai, and the Conference of “What is phenomenology? Ideas from east Asia” in Sapporo. I’m indebted to the discussants and audience for critical and helpful discussions. I’m particularly grateful to Shun Sato, Hao Tang, Wenjing Cai, Luis Rodrigues for reading earlier versions of the paper and for their helpful suggestions, and in particular to James Jardine for his in-depth comments and careful proofreading, as well as two anonymous reviewers at Human Studies for their helpful suggestions. This paper is supported by Guangdong Provincial Fund of Social Sciences and Humanities (No. GD18YZX01) and by Sun Yat-sen University (No. 17wkpy74)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy (Zhuhai)Sun Yat-sen UniversityZhuhai CityChina

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