I remember when I was about 11 or 12 I used to spend a lot of time thinking that maybe I was the only person in the whole world with a mind. I kept thinking that it’s strange that I should only be able to experience *my* point of view, that there’s no way for me to experience the mind or point of view of another. It made me think that my own thoughts are all there is to the world. I cannot jump out of my own skin and possess another person as it were.

After all, I’m not capable of telepathy, this is not Star Wars, we’re not living in the Starcraft Universe where the Protoss are united by the psychic link called the Khala. I cannot sense your thoughts, I cannot feel what you feel. So, logically, since my own feelings are the only ones I do feel, and since I can’t feel anyone’s else feelings, ergo there’s no evidence to me that any other people have feelings.

You could argue that other people should have feelings if they possess the same biology as I do. But so what? A corpse possess the same biology as I do. Someone sleeping possess the same biology as I do, it doesn’t follow that there’s anything going on “inside them”. To ask that I infer that other people have minds simply because they resemble my biology or my own flesh is just an argument from analogy, and argument from analogies are not exactly the strongest of arguments. It would be like trying to infer that simply because the realistic Boston dynamics robot dog “winces” and struggles to its feet in such a realistic way when you kick it therefore it is feels pain.

Again, I only know my own thoughts, for everyone else, all I see is their meat, and logically, they are nothing more than meat machines and biological automatons. Their arms could just be jerking the same way the arms of crabs and frogs jerk even after they have been dismembered. I remember a youtube video where after some country boy beheaded a snapping turtle the legs were still wiggling. Many everyone else is just like that, their lips jerking randomly but there’s nothing going on “inside”. I have no way of knowing personally by experience that they actually have anything “inside” of them.

Fast forward to today, I realise that there’s actually an entire philosophical discussion on the problem of other minds and the technical term for people who behave exactly normally but with “nothing” inside them is a philosophical zombie. However, I am still not persuaded that I have any philosophical reason to hold that other people have minds. Maybe they’re all dead inside.

Switching gears, a friend pointed out to me on a post where I argued that we should be able to “see” the divine mind and design behind the rational order of nature, by parallel to our own minds, that Alvin Plantinga had already drawn the connection between the problem of other minds and the problem of arguments for the divine mind/design. It’s as difficult, philosophically, to prove that there is a mind behind nature just as it is incredibly difficult to prove that there is a mind behind any other person except our own. There’s simply no philosophical or logical link between our own thoughts and our empirical experience of other people. So, if we cannot infer that other people have minds simply on the basis of their outward features, how can we infer that there’s a divine mind behind nature? This is not because there’s something qualitatively special about divine minds as opposed to normal minds, this is just a general problem of trying to relate minds to empirically visible things in general.

And yet, we do believe that other people have minds, we only doubt it when we’re being strictly logical about it to the point of autism. We don’t hold that we need a rigorous persuasive philosophical demonstration that other people have minds, we just treat it as common sense. I think perhaps “seeing” God’s mind behind nature is very much like “seeing” other people’s minds in their bodies. It’s not that we can sense their thoughts or experience their feelings, it’s just common sense which we only doubt if we were autistic. This isn’t an argument to be sure, but it is more like a consideration against making an argument at all.

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