Epistemology and methodology main trends and ends. (Эпистемология и Методология) — страница 4

  • Просмотров 2545
  • Скачиваний 409
  • Размер файла 270
    Кб

know what anything is really like, if the perceptual evidence one has is conflicting. The "other minds" problem." The second problem also involves seeing but in a somewhat unusual way. It deals with that which one cannot see, namely the mind of another. Suppose a woman is scheduled to have an operation on her right knee and her surgeon tells her that when she wakes up she will feel a sharp pain in her knee. When she wakes up, she does feel the pain the surgeon alluded to. He can hear her groaning and see certain contortions on her face. But he cannot feel what she is feeling. There is thus a sense in which he cannot know what she knows. What he claims to know, he knows because of what others who have undergone operations tell him they have experienced. But, unless

he has had a similar operation, he cannot know what it is that she feels. Indeed, the situation is still more complicated; for, even if the doctor has had such a surgical intervention, he cannot know that what he is feeling after his operation is exactly the same sensation that the woman is feeling. Because each person's sensation is private, the surgeon cannot really know that what the woman is describing as a pain and what he is describing as a pain are really the same thing. For all he knows, she could be referring to a sensation that is wholly different from the one to which he is alluding. In short, though another person can perceive the physical manifestations the woman exhibits, such as facial grimaces and various sorts of behaviour, it seems that only she can have

knowledge of the contents of her mind. If this assessment of the situation is correct, it follows that it is impossible for one person to know what is going on in another person's mind. One can conjecture that a person is experiencing a certain sensation, but one cannot, in a strict sense of the term, know it to be the case. If this analysis is correct, one can conclude that each human being is inevitably and even in principle cut off from having knowledge of the mind of another. Most people, conditioned by the great advances of modern technology, believe that in principle there is nothing in the world of fact about which science cannot obtain knowledge. But the "other-minds problem" suggests the contrary--namely, that there is a whole domain of private human experience

that is resistant to any sort of external inquiry. Thus, one is faced with a profound puzzle, one of whose implications is that there can never be a science of the human mind. Implications. These two problems resemble each other in certain ways and differ in others, but both have important implications for epistemology. First, as the divergent perceptions about the stick indicate, things cannot just be, as they appear to be. People believe that the stick, which looks bent when it is in the water, is really straight, and they also believe that the stick, which looks straight when it is out of the water, is really straight. But, if the belief that the stick in water is really straight is correct, then it follows that the perception human beings have when they see the stick in water

cannot be correct. That particular perception is misleading with respect to the real shape of the stick. Hence, one has to conclude that things are not always, as they appear to be. It is possible to derive a similar conclusion with respect to the mind of another. A person can exhibit all the signs of being in pain, but he may not be. He may be pretending. On the basis of what can be observed, it cannot be known with certitude that he is or that he is not in pain. The way he appears to be may be misleading with respect to the way he actually is. Once again vision can be misleading. Both problems thus force one to distinguish between the way things appear and the way they really are. This is the famous philosophical distinction between appearance and reality. But, once that

distinction is drawn, profound difficulties arise about how to distinguish reality from mere appearance. As will be shown, innumerable theories have been presented by philosophers attempting to answer this question since time immemorial. Second, there is the question of what is meant by "knowledge." People claim to know that the stick is really straight even when it is half-submerged in water. But, as indicated earlier, if this claim is correct, then knowledge cannot simply be identical with perception. For whatever theory about the nature of knowledge one develops, the theory cannot have as a consequence that knowing something to be the case can sometimes be mistaken or misleading. Third, even if knowledge is not simply to be identified with perception, there