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Recognition of our epistemic position 



As minded creatures we face a certain image of the world: all the things we perceive and categorize are therefore presentations of reality (assuming there is any) - they are phenomena, as Kant put it; they are inside the cave that Plato talked about. To put it differently - they constitute the minded creature's cognitive niche.

However trivial this may sound at first, here comes a quite non-trivial - but, I'm afraid also hardly answerable - question of what status the image manifesting itself to us - minded creatures - has, especially given the fact that different minds may face different manifestations (remember Nagel's what it is like to be a bat or, going much deeper, von Uexküll's Umwelt?).  

Tim Crane captures this seemingly trivial thing in a very nice way, which I usually cite at such occasions:


The minded creature is one for which things are a certain way: the way they are from that creature’s perspective. A lump of rock has no such perspective (...). We might express this by saying that a minded creature is one which has a world: its world. Its having a perspective consists in its having a world. Having a world is something different from there simply being a world. (...). But to say that a creature with a perspective has a world is not to say that each creature with a perspective has a different world. Perspectives can be perspectives on one and the same world (Crane 2001: 4).

Now I argue in various places that being aware of this trivial “fact” is the very essence of philosophical competence. Becoming aware of it is referred to as the recognition of our epistemic position. I propose that it is impossible to understand philosophy as such without a proper understanding of this specific recognition. 

I argue for this claim first of all in my book The Embodied Philosopher. Living in Pursuit of Boundary Questions, Palgrave Macmillan 2022, but also in the following papers:

  • Philosophical Intuition Is the Capacity to Recognize one’s Epistemic Position. An Old-Fashion Approach Based on Russell, Carnap, Wittgenstein, and Husserl. Philosophia 48, 2020: 1725–1751 doi: 110.1007/s11406-020-00195-5

  • Pan Cogito wypełnia kwestionariusz. Filozofia eksperymentalna wobec pytania o naturę kompetencji filozoficznej. Filozofia Nauki 27, 2019: 87 – 114  [in Polish]

  • What is it like to be the metaphysical subject? An essay on early Wittgenstein, our epistemic position, and beyond, Philosophia 44, 2016: 921 – 946 DOI: 10.1007/s11406-016-9693-z

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