An Introduction to Existentialism by Robert G. Olson

By Robert G. Olson

Integral advisor to 1 of the main influential inspiration structures of our century. Stressing the paintings of Heidegger and Sartre, it bargains a cautious and goal exam of the existentialist place and values — freedom of selection, person dignity, own love, inventive attempt — and solutions to the everlasting questions of the human .

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Just as the case for irreducible phenomenal knowledge is based on a thought experiment (the story of Mary), so the case for irreducible self-locating knowledge is based on examples, some fanciful and some more mundane. There are stories told by Hector-Neri Castaneda, John Perry, David Kaplan, David Lewis, among others to illustrate the fact that our knowledge of ourselves and our place in the world—knowledge about what is happening ¹⁰ Not everyone avoids this temptation. Kit Fine discusses a thesis that he calls ‘‘First-personal realism’’ that holds that ‘‘reality is not exhausted by the ‘objective’ or impersonal facts,’’ and Caspar Hare considers a view that he calls ‘‘egocentric presentism’’.

But on the centered worlds account, our respective beliefs and statements have the same content. Now there are different ways of classifying states of belief, and there is nothing wrong with categorizing belief states so that selfascriptions of the same property count as the same, in one sense. ) But if one thinks of this as classifying by content, the result is that the contents of belief are not true or false in themselves, but only true or false relative to a speaker or thinker and a time. It is natural to allow that sentence or utterance types might be true or false only relative to a situation in which they are used, but this is natural because it is natural to say that the content expressed by a sentence or utterance type may be different from context to context.

The diagonalization strategy begins by asking what (according to the story) the world is like, according to Joe. We try to describe, in our own terms, a world that fits Joe’s conception of the way the world might be, for all he knows. The answer to this question is pretty clear, up to a point: there is a world compatible with Joe’s knowledge in which the person who is the current President, and who is named ‘‘Bill Clinton’’ is a different person from the one that Joe knew as a child. In this world, the second of these people was born in Arkansas, but the first was not.

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