Dialogue

Articles

Other Minds1

Joseph Margolisa1

a1 University of Cincinnati

I May, at a gathering, notice that Peter is sitting very stiffly in his chair. I say to myself, “Perhaps he has a pain. Yes, I think he has some sort of pain.” I have inferred a feeling of some sort from bodily behavior. It is not an impossible thing to do, to infer sometimes a feeling from bodily behavior. But it is a puzzling thing to do, at least in a philosophieal sense. Because we ordinarily hold that we cannot “observe” the feelings of another, that we can never directly confront these feelings, that feelings as actually felt are private to each of us. There may be interesting ways of challenging this sort of remark—for instance, by way of telepathy. But there is an advantage in puzzling over the kind of inference indicated, without the challenge of telepathy or similar abilities.

Footnotes

1 This investigation was supported by a Public Health Service Special Fellowship (MSP-18,220) from the National Institute of Mental Health, Public Health Service, Washington, D.C.