Jump to content

Problem of other minds

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The problem of other minds is a philosophical problem traditionally stated as the following epistemological question: Given that I can only observe the behavior of others, how can I know that others have minds?[1] The problem is that knowledge of other minds is always indirect. The problem of other minds does not negatively impact social interactions due to people having a "theory of mind" – the ability to spontaneously infer the mental states of others – supported by innate mirror neurons,[2] a theory of mind mechanism,[3] or a tacit theory.[4] There has also been an increase in evidence that behavior results from cognition which in turn requires consciousness and the brain.

It is a problem of the philosophical idea known as solipsism: the notion that for any person only one's own mind is known to exist. The problem of other minds maintains that no matter how sophisticated someone's behavior is, that does not reasonably guarantee that someone has the presence of thought occurring within them as when oneself engages in behavior.[5] Phenomenology studies the subjective experience of human life resulting from consciousness. The specific subject within phenomenology studying other minds is intersubjectivity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hyslop, Alec (14 January 2014). Zalta, Edward N.; Nodelman, Uri (eds.). "Other minds". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University. ISSN 1095-5054. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  2. ^ Colle, Livia; Becchio, Cristina; Bara, Bruno (2008). "The Non-Problem of the Other Minds: A Neurodevelopmental Perspective on Shared Intentionality". Human Development. 51 (5/6): 336–348. doi:10.1159/000170896. JSTOR 26764876. S2CID 143370747. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  3. ^ Leslie, Alan; Friedman, Ori; German, Tim (2004). "Core mechanisms in 'theory of mind'". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 8 (12): 528–533. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2004.10.001. PMID 15556021. S2CID 17591514.
  4. ^ Gopnik, Alison; Wellman, Henry (2012). "Reconstructing constructivism: causal models, Bayesian learning mechanisms, and the theory theory". Psychological Bulletin. 138 (6): 1085–1108. doi:10.1037/a0028044. PMC 3422420. PMID 22582739.
  5. ^ Thornton, Stephen. "Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ISSN 2161-0002. Retrieved 2 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]