Epistemology,

An Epistemological Nightmare - #4

11/02/2012 DK 0 Comments

Source: MIT
Click here to read scene 3.

By Raymond M. Smullyan, 1982

Scene 4

(Later in the day at a psychiatrist's office.)
Frank:
    Doctor, I am terribly worried about a friend of mine. He calls himself an "experimental epistemologist."

Doctor:
    Oh, the experimental epistemologist. There is only one in the world. I know him well!

Frank:
    That is a relief. But do you realize that he has constructed a mind-reading device that he now directs to his own brain, and whenever one asks him what he thinks, believes, feels, is afraid of, and so on, he has to consult the machine first before answering? Don't you think this is pretty serious?

Doctor:
    Not as serious as it might seem. My prognosis for him is actually quite good.

Frank:
    Well, if you are a friend of his, couldn't you sort of keep an eye on him?

Doctor:
    I do see him quite frequently, and I do observe him much. However, I don't think he can be helped by so-called "psychiatric treatment." His problem is an unusual one, the sort that has to work itself out. And I believe it will.

Frank:
    Well, I hope your optimism is justified. At any rate I sure think I need some help at this point!

Doctor:
    How so?

Frank:
    My experiences with the epistemologist have been thoroughly unnerving! At this point I wonder if I may be going crazy; I can't even have confidence in how things appear to me. I think maybe you could be helpful here.

Doctor:
    I would be happy to but cannot for a while. For the next three months I am unbelievably overloaded with work. After that, unfortunately, I must go on a three-month vacation. So in six months come back and we can talk this over.

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