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Knowing What It Is Like and Learning from Others

Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 3:30 pm – 5:10 pm

It is often said that 'what it is like'-knowledge cannot be acquired by consulting testimony or reading books [Lewis 1998; Paul 2014; 2015]. However, people also routinely consult books like What It Is Like to Go to War [Marlantes 2014], and countless 'what it is like' articles, blogs, and youtube videos, in the apparent hope of gaining knowledge about what it is like to have experiences they have not had themselves. This paper examines this puzzle and tries to solve it by appealing to recent work in epistemology and the philosophy of mind on knowing-wh ascriptions. In closing, I indicate the wider significance of these ideas by showing how they can help us to evaluate Paul's [2014; 2015a] prominent arguments concerning transformative experiences.