Intro to Philosophy
Bertrand Russell: Knowledge of others’ mind
Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher that lived from 1872-1970, thought that we can have knowledge of others’ minds. Russell says we do this by observing their behavior, and that we make these assumptions based off our own experiences. Russell also tells that we are limited to what we can know about others’ minds.
Russell starts by saying we can know others’ minds by their behavior. It is similar to cause and effect. When we see someone acting a certain way, we assume that a specific thaing happened to make that person act in that way based off ourselves and what makes us act that way. For example, if you see someone drop a heavy object on their foot, and they drop to the ground holding their foot and yelling, we assume that they are in pain. We assume this because that is how most people act if their foot is in pain.
There are problems with this theory though. Russell uses the letter “A” as a variable for a thought of feeling and “B” as a bodily act. You know that when you experience B in your own body, A is the cause. However, when you see someone exert the behavior of B, the A may be different from yours. Not all people act the same way as everyone else. Therefore we cannot completely know others’ minds. We are only making assumptions based off of our own behaviors. A is not the only cause for B. Even if A is the only cause for B for you, it may not be for someone else.
In conclusion, we cannot completely certain that what causes B for someone is the same as ours. Otherwise we are only making assumptions based off of our own experiences. The only way we can fully know ones mind is if we have been told directly by them what state of mind they are in. [continues]
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