Why should other minds be a problem? Well, though the problem has
many aspects it mainly concerns the difficulties that arise when
we consider the experiences of other people. I may say that I know
my own mind better than anyone else – or at least I am in
the best position to. I have what philosophers term “priveleged
access”. All this means it that I have a unique relationship
to the contents of my own mind and mental experience, a form of
access that no one else can have (unless, possibly, they are telepathic…).
This is fine, so far. But the problem arises when I try to imagine
what it is like to be someone else. The recent film, Being John
Malkovich, imagined that it was possible to enter the mind of another
person, to see through their eyes, feel their emotions, etc. However,
in real life, it is not possible to do this, so how can we really
know that other people experience the world in the same way?
radical aspect of the problem concerns the existence of minds in
other people at all. This sceptical problem argues that not only
is is impossible to know what another person is thinking/feeling,
but also that they actually think and feel. Although few people
actually intend this argument to be taken seriously – along
the lines of a Hollywood horror film – it does raise important
points: what do we base our knowledge of other people on? On what
basis do we interpret their actions? How can we claim knowledge
of what others think and feel?