Rationalized Epistemology

Taking Solipsism Seriously

By Albert A. Johnstone

Subjects: Epistemology
Series: SUNY series in Logic and Language
Paperback : 9780791407882, 361 pages, October 1991
Hardcover : 9780791407875, 361 pages, November 1991

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Table of contents



Personae Argumenti

1. Cartesian Solipsism

The Challenge of Solipsism
Introducing Seven Cartesian Solipsists
Precursors in Antiquity
The Epistemological Task

2. The Claim to Know

The Charge of Absurdity
The Charge of Irrelevance
Appeals to Confirmational Autonomy and Nonclosure
The Hollowness of the Claim to Know

3. The Laconic Retort

Pragmatic Rejoinders
The Unreasonable Demand
The Self-Referential Manoeuvre

4. The Appeal to Perception

Skepticism and Foundationalism
Normal Perceptual Experience and Sense Data
Normal Perceptual Inquiry and Rational Foundationalism
Explanatory Coherence and Rationality

5. Epistemic Parasitism

Parasitism Arguments
Wittgenstein and the Background of Inquiry
Heidegger and Existential Commitment
Quine and Naturalized Epistemology
The Refutation of Sensa Solipsism

6. The Charge of Meaninglessness

The Disguised Tautology
Criteria Rejection and Illicit Coinage
The Verification Requirement
The Reference Requirement

7. Cartesian Semantics

Meaning as Personalized Associate
Referent as Posit
The Determination of Reference
The Semantic Contribution of Natural-Kind Terms
The Semantic Contribution of Proper Names

8. Conceptual and Linguistic Parasitism

On Conceptual Schemes and the Ontocentricity of Language
The Publicity of Language
The Presuppositions of Temporality and Identity
The Presuppositions of the Concept of Self
The Nature of the Cartesian Self
The Presuppositions of the Concept of Sense Data
The Presuppositions of Warrant Estimation

9. Thinking Outside Public Language

Private Language and Criteria
Psychological Nominalism and the Myth of the Given
Public Language and Rationality
Conceptual Schemes and Cultural Relativity
Nonlinguistic Thinking
Solipsism in Nonlinguistic Thought

10. The Given

The Need for Introspection
Structures of the Visual Field
Structures of the Tactile-Kinesthetic Field
Relations Among the Sense Fields

11. The Self

The Cartesian Self and the Self That Feels
The Corporeality of the Self That Wills
The Corporeality of the Thinking Self
The Invalidity of Cogito, Ergo Sum
Spontaneity and Free Choice

12. Unobserved Existence

The Problem of the Justification of Induction
The Irrationality of Ephemerata Solipsism
Optional Possibility and Rational Belief
Fleshing Out the Solipsistic World
The Refutation of Monopsyche Solipsism

13. The Reality of the World

The Problem of Reality
Unreality and Parsimony
Limitlessly Arbitrary Hypotheses
The Implausibility of Demoniac and Phantasmata Solipsism
The Implausibility of Oneirata and Non-Sensa Solipsism
The Permanent Possibility of Unreality




This book examines skeptical problems originally raised by Descartes and Hume and currently discussed in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, metaphysics, and epistemology. It answers the basic skeptical questions concerning the existence of what is now unperceived, the reality of what is perceived, and the existence of an external world.

Johnstone shows how the recently proposed solutions to these skeptical problems— pragmatic, coherentist, linguistic, and new-Kantian — do not and cannot work, and how only a return to foundational investigation on the terrain of the radical skeptic is adequate to the task. His analyses make for a valuable summary of every significant argument brought against skepticism. In the course of his investigation, Johnstone probes a number of topical issues: knowledge, rationality, the nature of meaning, nonverbal thinking, the bodily nature of the thinking self, parasitism, the role of the tactile-kinesthetic body in feeling and belief, and the necessary role of free will in epistemology.