Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 325–342 | Cite as

The Cartesian other

  • Alex Burri

Knowledge of other minds poses a problem for many philosophical positions, but it seems especially so for Cartesian metaphysics and epistemology. After all, substance dualism and the sense data theory of perception that supposedly goes with it seem to block off access to other minds in a double way: first, by making access to corporal things, including other bodies, indirect and knotty, and second, by requiring an additional, even shakier inferential step from other bodies to other minds. This, I submit, is false. I shall argue to the effect that Cartesian knowledge of one’s own mind, rightly conceived, must come about through a method which also uncovers the contents of someone else’s thoughts—or at least of someone else’s experiences. Moreover, although that method is applicable both to the ego and the alter ego in an almost symmetric manner, it nevertheless preserves first-person authority in matters of mind reading.

My conclusions will be reached through a series of arguments that...


Cartesianism Descartes Hallucination Knowledge of other minds Perception Representationalism Self-knowledge Substance dualism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ErfurtErfurtGermany

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