The Issue of Solipsism in the early works of Sartre and Wittgenstein

Ucan, Timur (2016) The Issue of Solipsism in the early works of Sartre and Wittgenstein. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Solipsism was conceived as a preliminary to grounding knowledge in the seventeenth century. This doctrine suggested that, in order to achieve certainty, one had to temporarily admit the conceivability of doubt about the existence of other minds and the external world as a whole. The existence of the external world was then taken to be established by means of proofs of the existence of a unique creator, or assured by means of transcendental deduction. By comparison, nothing seems to prove the existence of others. On the one hand, nothing seems to count as proof a posteriori of the existence of others, for the doubt it would dispel cannot be grounded in experience. On the other hand, nor can a proof which would dispel such doubt be produced a priori, for the empirical and generalized absence of others is conceivable a posteriori. Thus, nothing seems to exclude the possibility of an a priori discovery of one’s unicity. This thesis endeavours to bring out the similarity of the treatment of this difficulty by Sartre and Wittgenstein. Each of these philosophers confronted the illusion of confinement that presupposes admitting the generalized absence of others. In Being and Nothingness, Sartre proposes a conceptual means to establish that the theoretical problem of the existence of other minds is a pseudo-problem. In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein proposes to dissolve the philosophical problems of the existence of the external world and the existence of other minds via reflexion on the intelligibility conditions of expression. Both cases involve dispelling the appearance that doubt about the world and other minds is possible and required. Not only that proof of the existence of other minds is impossible, it is also superfluous. To require such a proof therefore can lead to nothing but missing the obviousness of our commitments to others, and thereby to denying their existence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 15:32
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2020 01:38


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