The philosophical problem of other minds takes on two forms.
Firstly, there is the skeptical problem about other minds. This is a purely epistemological question of how we know about other minds, on a par with the question of how we know about the external world.
The second interest in the traditional philosophical problem about other minds lies in the question, whether, given what would seem a natural way we have of thinking of the meaning of mental terms, we can even make sense of the sentences we use to attribute mental states to others. Such a problem arises because there is a natural tendency to assume that our mental terms (i.e 'pain', 'belief', etc.) get their meaning from our relating them to our own experiences. Thus, if we only understand what it is to have a pain or a belief from our own case, a question arises as to whether such a perspective on them will even allow our talk of others having pains or beliefs to make sense. This is known as the conceptual problem of other minds.
What do you think? What would you define as a 'conscious being' and is it possible to know that other conscious beings exist? Or are we to be forever plagued by an inextricable and degenerative solipsism?
To be honest, i'd like to dodge the first question as much as possible. I'd like to counter the skeptical position with the holistic one, with the implication that a grasp of a single consciousness, i.e. mine, also includes an awareness of the consciousness of others. The main reason i would like to avoid Q1 is because i am very, very lazy, and i don't feel like defending that assertion ad infinitum (which is what the holistic vs the skeptical debate seems to inevitably become, esp. on this site.) If the assumption that we can be aware of other conscious beings might be forgiven as a given, then i have to admit that i am more interested in your second item of interest.
While i agree with you that we tend to learn the meaning of certain terms by connecting them with our unique experiences, we tend learn to speak intelligibly with other conscious beings by learning that language operates by generalizing, perhaps we could categorize this as second order linguistic processing, although it is obviously more sophisticated. From my perspective, sophisticated language operates by an "and/also", rather than an "either/or", "design" (all designs are generated by trial-and-error [is there any form of punctuation i haven't included in this paragraph yet?! Dammit, i need to get a colon in here somewhere. Oh well...]) In other words, our qualia are comprehensible because they are accessible to collective linguistic usage, rather than accommodating themselves to some otherwise exclusive usage.
When I see something blue, and tell someone that the thing is blue, they understand me not because their perception of blue is necessarily identical to mine, but because the meaning of word "blue" includes a finite range of acceptable perceptions/observational comments. This is obviously an overly simplistic example, but hopefully it is kind of illustrative of what i am getting at.
When i observe someone else in pain, i don't simply apply the word pain to her because she displays similar behavior to that which i enact when i feel pain, but rather our similar (but not identical by any stretch) behavior both fall under the pre-existing meaning of expressions of pain (or painful behavior, perhaps? eh, i seem to be undermining semantics already, why worry about the finesse of phrasing? ). In other words, when i am learning that my sensations/behavior is "pain", this learning process doesn't institute a 1-on-1 identification of meaning and signifier so much as reveal a variety of responses within a single denotative process.
Does any of that make sense? I can try harder if not...and keep in mind, this is more of a suggestion for a thought experiment than an argument.
PS: (colon!) I like this portion of Prothero's (the previous poster's) post: (second colon!...somehow less exciting...)
Personally I think reality is composed of events not objects and that all events have material and mental aspects. The term mental here is not meant to [refer to] only primitive mental [processes] like perception, memory and interiority along with some small degree of freedom or self determination.
Mind and matter cannot be separated in the manner that dualism or materialism suppose. The mental is as much a feature of the universe as the material and both are manifestations of “ultimate reality” a form of neutral monism, the truth behind the illusion
To doubt other minds, is to doubt mind in general and to doubt or deny your most direct experience and indeed your very existence.
The parentheses in the above quote indicate my rather suspicious nitpicking qualifications.