Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 2 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Empathising with other minds

Philosophers are divided over whether you are able to tell whether something else has a mind. Watch Mark Solms describe a more common-sense approach.

If to know a mind requires that you are that mind, how can you know for certain whether other minds exist? This is a problem in philosophy known as the problem of other minds, and philosophers have rendered this problem insoluble.

But in science, and in everyday life, we don’t usually require absolute certainty, and are happy to rely on provisional truth. We formulate hypotheses, test them, and as long as we cannot falsify these hypotheses, we accept them to be true. In testing whether something has subjectivity or not, we use a systematic common sense approach which comes rather naturally to us. The technical term for this approach is called empathy.

This article is from the free online

What is a Mind?

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now