Article/Publication Details

Mysterianism and the Division of Epistemic Labour

(Original title: Mysteriánství a dělba epistemické práce)
Filozofia, 2020, vol. 75, No 8, pp. 693 – 705.
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Mysterianism has become a popular stance in philosophy of consciousness and other philosophical subdisciplines. The aim of this paper is to show that mysterianism is not justified, mainly because its inclination to epistemic defeatism and the misunderstanding of the division of epistemic labour. In the first part, I will present the history of mysterianism in the 19th and 20th century philosophy. Then, in the second part, I will point out how epistemic defeatism is founded in the unwarranted philosophical futurology. The third part will deal with the division of labour in society, language and knowledge. Because of the division of epistemic labour, the understanding is distributed among numerous agents without possibility of individual comprehension. Finally, I will coin the term “ignorance illusion” that plays the central role in the mysterians’ worldview.


Colin McGinn, Distributed understanding, Division of cognitive labour, Epistemology, Knowledge illusion, Mysterianism, Noam Chomsky, Philosophy of science