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An Examination Of Sir William Hamilton 's Philosophy, And Of The Principal Philosophical Questions

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The Problem of Other Minds is said to be first introduced by John Stuart Mill in his 1979 works “An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy, and of The Principal Philosophical Questions Discussed in his Writings” (Mill, 1867) in which Mill talks about his “fellow creatures” and his belief that there are other minds beside our own. The idea behind the problem of other minds is whether or not we can justify our belief that there are other minds beside our own. It is often claimed that the Problem of Other Minds was in fact first introduced by Rene Descartes, his interpretation of minds as separate entities gives rise to not only his problem of mental causation but also the Problem of Other Minds. Descartes theory that dogs cannot…show more content…
Many people found trouble with this, one of whom included Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia who challenged Descartes in a letter which asked how it can be true that minds which occupy no space are able to move bodies, physical beings which are spatially located material things. In his ‘Discourse on Method’ (Descartes, 1637) he claims that him being a thinking being means he exists, a claim which most philosophers do not doubt. Further he claims that his soul, an embodiment of his thoughts, feelings and mental goings on, is distinct from his physical being. Contrary to Descartes views, the Problem of Other Minds is often said to be an argument for mental phenomena as part of the physical world. Descartes like many people today took it for granted that other human beings have minds and thus his work never explored the idea of ‘solipsism’. (REF) Descartes, although never denying that other human beings have minds, or souls are they were referred to in the 17th century, claimed that animals were automata. Considering that Descartes was a religious man in the sixteen hundreds it is not surprising that he did not believe animals had souls. If a dog were to have a soul like a human it would have the same moral standing as a human, something Descartes would not allow. In modern times it seems absurd to think that animals are mere automata for when a dog is kicked it feels pain
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