‘How do I know that any person is conscious?’

‘How do I know that any person is conscious?’

‘ How do I know that I was conscious before the present moment?’

– radical skeptic

Since the radical skeptic excludes, in principle, any empirical controls to allay his doubt, he overplays his hand.

It is impossible to doubt everything, for that entails doubting the meaning of the very words used to express radical doubt (reductio ad absurdum).


3 thoughts on “‘How do I know that any person is conscious?’

  1. As they say,

    “Every solipsist is the only solipsist.”

    Personally, I find the question of existence and consciousness to be moot. Regardless of the outcome, all that is left is what can be experienced with your ascribed tools. What is garnered from said experience becomes the only important point of discussion.

    Say a man’s memory is erased, and he believes he has just come into existence. Should the fact that he once existed affect his present state of living, though he will never know what and how he lived before? What is gained of worth?

  2. Hi there, thanks for dropping by. I hope life is in positive motion for you.

    Developmentally, one problem with your description is that it characterizes consciousness with capabilities of the adult (i.e., memory, knowledge) and with cortical maturity. However, is a human being with impaired cortical function (e.g., a dementia patient) or immature cortex (e.g., a foetus) capable of experiencing pain? Accumulating evidence suggests that consciousness requires subcortical organization.


    • I was personally referring to the part of consciousness that people normally refer to, as in, the parts of the brain that create personality and thought. Those generally refer to parts of the brain beyond the basic animal consciousness. However, I believe you are right that I far oversimplified things with my example.

      I merely was trying to point out that while discussions of consciousness and doubts and questions thereof (as you wrote about) are often intellectually stimulating and interesting, they have little bearing on how we should live, and thus should not be propelled to the grandeur our society holds them at (I do not presume your opinions on the issue).

      Perhaps in my tangent, I completely missed the point of what you were trying to say. If so, let me know, so in the future, I can look like less of a dunce.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.