The Challenge of Scepticism

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Epistemology – The Theory of Knowledge

By the end of this unit you should be able to

Epistemology is also called the theory of knowledge.

You may have heard people say “I know what I know okay!” This suggests that there is something certain that they possess which they call knowledge.

What is knowledge?

The list of different knowledge statements on this page can be grouped according to three basic types. This can be seen in examples 1-3.

1 I know the earth is the third plant from the sun = Knowledge that…

2 I know how to ride a bike = Knowledge how…

3 I know North Berwick = Knowledge about…

Knowing that.. is called propositional knowledge. Knowing that the earth is the third planet is an example of “knowledge that…”. Propositional Knowledge.

Knowing how to ride a bike is “knowledge how..”. This is an ability or a skill not propositional knowledge.

Knowing about North Berwick is a third kind of knowledge often called knowledge by acquaintance. It comes from familiarity. Implicit in this claim is that the claimant has been to North Berwick.

What about the statement “I know the quickest way to the school lunch hall”? What kind of knowledge claim is being made here? Why?

Some would claim that knowing how is a special kind of knowing that.

Focus

Epistemology is sometimes called the theory of knowledge. Epistemology is mainly concerned with the kind of knowledge involved in truth-claims, that is, when the truth or falsity of something is proposed or claimed. In other words propositional knowledge. Propositional knowledge is knowledge that, not knowledge how or knowledge about.

We are dealing with knowledge that something is the case – facts.

Knowledge that = propositional knowledge.

Definition of Propositional Knowledge

Perhaps the most common simple definition of knowledge is justified true belief. This important definition is also known as the tripartite definition of knowledge.

Tripartite Definition – “I have knowledge if…”

1. I believe that something is true

2. I have a good reason to believe that it is true and

3. It is true.

• What this definition is claiming is that there are three necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge to take place.

So for the first statement on page 1 to be knowledge an individual..

1 would have to believe that the earth was the third planet from the sun.

2 would have to have justification for believing that the earth was the third planet from the sun.

3 it would have to be true that the earth was the third plant from the sun.

Assignment 1

1. What is epistemology?

2. What different kinds of knowledge are there?

3. Give examples of each.

4. With which kind of knowledge are we concerned?

5. How can this kind of knowledge be defined?

6. What does this definition claim?

7. Apply this definition to a propositional claim of your choice.

8. With what kind of knowledge are we not concerned? Give examples.

9. Into which of the three knowledge categories do each of the statements on page 1, examples 4-20 fall?

10. How would you respond to the claim “I know what I know”?

Obviously, the kind of knowledge involved in a straightforward historical claim like "I know that in fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue" is quite different from the kind of knowledge delivered through an introspective intuition, as in "I know that I exist." And both of these are quite different from the knowledge involved in the religious assertion, "I know that God loves me" and so on.

Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

Remember our working definition for knowledge is belief which is justified and true.

The question is - are these the only necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge?

Some do not think so!

The Greek philosopher Plato pointed out that we can be right about something but not really know about something. He used a story to illustrate his argument.

|A traveller asked a local which of the two roads ahead led to the town he wished to reach. The local, not knowing but wishing to be |

|helpful pointed to the one which subsequently proved to be the right choice. |

| |

|The traveller believed that it was the correct road, he was justified in his belief and his belief was true - it was the correct road|

|- but he did really know it was the correct road? |

About forty years ago a philosopher called Edmund Gettier

About forty years ago, a then very young philosopher called Edmund Gettier wrote a two-page article the content of which epistemologists are still discussing. The title of the article was “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” In his article, Gettier gave some examples of hypothetical situations in which it appeared that beliefs were justified and true but we were left with the feeling that knowledge had not been the result. These examples have the catchy title of Gettier Examples! Below is not a Gettier example but a Gettier-Type Example. It is a little less complex but still hits all the Gettier buttons – sort of Gettier-Lite.

Gettier-Type Example

The Cow in the Field

Farmer Jones is concerned about her prize cow, Daisy. In fact, she is so concerned that when her dairyman tells her that daisy is in the field happily grazing, she says that she needs to know for certain.

Farmer Jones goes out to the field and standing by the gate sees in the distance, behind some trees, a white and black shape that she perceives as her favourite cow. She goes back to the dairy and announces that she knows Daisy is in the field.

At this point, does Farmer Jones really know what she thinks she knows? (JTB?)

Some time later, the dairyman goes out into the field again. There he finds Daisy, having a nap in a hollow, behind a bush, well out of sight of the gate. In the distance, he also spots a large piece of black and white material caught in a bush directly in line with the gate. This is what Farmer Jones actually saw. Not Daisy.

What this Gettier-Type example seems to show is that the tripartite definition for knowledge maybe necessary but is not sufficient as a definition for knowledge.

We should be able to agree that belief is an essential part of the definition for knowledge and that what is believed has to be true to be knowledge. But what else?

I Just Don’t Believe It!

On the other hand, if you don’t believe something then it stands to reason that even if it is true, it is not knowledge.

Beyond Belief!

People can also believe very strongly that the earth is flat but this does not make it true so it can’t be knowledge.

Assignment 2

1. What is the main problem raised by the definition of knowledge as justified, true belief?

2. Why is Edmund Gettier important to this issue?

3. Choose a Gettier/Gettier-type example to illustrate the problem he raised

What we are left with then is the question of justification.

What justifies a true belief?

In philosophy, there have traditionally been three responses to the question – “how can knowledge be justified?”

There are two positive and one negative responses.

Firstly the two positives:

Empiricism – all real knowledge is based on sense experience – we do not know until we experience, we are born with our mind tabula rasa – a blank sheet. So knowledge is justified by true perceptions – what we learn from what our senses tell us about the world.

Rationalism - sense experience can be unreliable but at least some knowledge is independent of sense experience, mathematical knowledge is not based on sense experience, we do not have to experience murder to know that it is wrong. We are therefore born with some innate ideas. So knowledge is justified by intuitive reasoning – not flawed sense experience.

And now the negative:

Scepticism – Put simply, this is the view that knowledge claims cannot be justified. There is no such thing as certain knowledge. Justification is impossible.

The Challenge of Scepticism

The word "scepticism" comes from a Greek word which means to reflect on, consider, or examine, so it is not surprising that it is usually associated with doubting or suspending judgment. Sceptics come in many varieties. We, however, wish to distinguish just two main sceptical types or levels of scepticism, local and absolute scepticism.

|Scepticism is also part of philosophical enquiry. It is part of questioning and arguing. It is not to take things for granted. It |

|is not to accept “common sense”. That is the sceptical process. |

Those who take a sceptical position accept the tripartite definition for knowledge they just do not accept that it is possible! Sceptics claim that you cannot justify any knowledge.

Everyday Scepticism

In everyday terms, a sceptic is someone who, at one time or another has doubts or who suspends judgment about something. All of us are sceptics in this sense.

None of us can know everything although sometimes we pretend or think that we know more than we do. A dose of common sense scepticism is indeed probably healthy for us. For one thing, it is a corrective to gullibility, superstition, and prejudice. All of us should rightfully be sceptical of the claim that a vast herd of giraffes is at this moment roaming the school, or of certain promises made by politicians running for office.

The Sceptical Process – Philosophical Scepticism

By philosophical scepticism we do not mean any particular position or movement in philosophy, but the tendency of some philosophers to deny or doubt the more cherished philosophical claims. This is the philosophical process of scepticism.

Absolute Scepticism

Those who take the absolute sceptical position deny there is any possibility of knowing anything for certain. (Reasons later)

Local Scepticism

There are also philosophers who claim that we cannot really know anything about certain specific things for example God or morality, but accept mathematical or scientific knowledge. We can describe this position as Local Scepticism.

Assignment 3

1. What differing positions do empiricists, rationalists and sceptics take? Explain each carefully.

2. Explain the difference between, everyday, philosophical, local and absolute scepticism.

| So let’s recap |

| |

|Tripartite definition of knowledge is …. |

|Common sense or everyday scepticism is |

|The Philosophical Sceptical Method is |

|Local Sceptics are (e.g.) |

|Absolute Sceptics are |

| |

Why do sceptics take this view?

Optical Illusions

We have all had experiences when our senses have deceived us. We think we recognise some one in the street with embarrassing results. On a hot day the road ahead appears wet.

The problem is – if our senses can deceive us sometimes, how do we know that they are not deceiving us now? All knowledge could be based on an illusion!

Hallucinations

This is a similar argument. An hallucination is perceiving something which is not real. An illusion is misperceiving a real object or event. Hallucinations, under normal circumstances are less common. But they do occur. When they occur they seem real.

The problem again is – how do we know that all our knowledge is not based on an hallucination?

Appearance Not Reality

A bat’s view of the world is different from a bee’s view, a dog’s view and your view. Which is the real view? The temptation is to say the human way is the real way but isn’t that just speciesism? Would it not be more realistic to say that we all have virtual views of reality? The problem here is that we cannot justify the claim that the world is as we perceive it to be. All we can say is that “X appears to be the case.”

Perception and Interpretation

When you see someone trip and fall down or a red light change to green, the meaning is obvious to you. You know what these events mean. When you see the character represented here what does it mean to you? The chances are nothing. But to someone who understood the character, they would know the meaning. So there is a back-story to knowledge. It’s not just what you see is what you get. To every event party, the mind brings something.

The problem illustrated here is that there are unconscious events happening in our mind when knowledge is taking place.

Brain in Vat

This is the view that is explored in the film The Matrix. How do we know that our experience is not just created for us? How do we know that we are not just a brain in a vat being fed nutrients and experiences or merely a piece of periphery attached to a mega –computer?

The problem here is in demonstrating that this is not the case.

It’s All a Dream

This is similar to the Brain in Vat and Hallucination problem.

How do you think it would go?

The Problem of Infinite Regress

This is one of the main arguments used by sceptics to challenge justification of knowledge. The problem of the infinite regress means that you can never arrive at foundationally certain, demonstrable knowledge – justification is an illusion.

For example if I were to ask you if you knew the name of the highest mountain in Scotland, you might answer confidently “Ben Nevis”.

However a sceptic would challenge “But how do you know”? Again you might say “because I read it in my geography book”. – Sceptic -“But how do you know the book is accurate”? “Because the authors are well-respected geographers”. Sceptic - “But”.... and so on and so on ad infinitum.

The problem of the infinite regress is that it seems to demonstrate that there is no foundationally certain knowledge – no possible way of justifying any belief.

Assignment 4

1. In a column and in your own words, explain each of the arguments used to support the sceptical position.

Empiricism – Knowledge is Justified By Sense Experience

“Seeing is believing”, “I saw it with my own eyes” are two examples of statements which indicate the importance of our senses are to us in the quest for certain knowledge. We justify knowledge by our perceptions.

Remember, empiricists reject the rationalist claim that we are born with innate ideas. Empiricists believe that we are born with our mind a blank sheet - tabula rasa. This is the belief that all knowledge is the product of experience.

Only a posteriori knowledge is informative and a priori knowledge amount to no-brainer statements which are completely uninformative about the world – all bachelors are unmarried men – well duh!

Scientific knowledge is empirical knowledge – real knowledge! Maths might help to explain some relationships between facts but this is only of secondary importance.

David Hume pointed out that claims about innate knowledge were counter intuitive with three examples.

Imagine Adam seeing water for the first time. Would he innately know that sticking his head under it would make it difficult to breathe? No!

Imagine someone seeing one snooker ball strike another for the first time. Would they have been able to predict what was going to happen? No!

Could someone who is blind from birth conceive of green? No!

Hume and other empiricists claim that only from experience can such knowledge be gained.

With what kind of knowledge would Farmer Jones justify her true belief?

Assignment 5

1. How would an empiricist view the rationalist belief in innate ideas? Give a reason.

2. How would an empiricist judge a priori knowledge?

3. How might an empiricist illustrate their argument that all knowledge is a posteriori?

4. Which of the knowledge claims on page 1 are justified empirically – by sense experience?

5. If a tree falls in an unpopulated forest, does it make a sound?

Empiricists Response to the Sceptical Challenge

Much of sceptical and rational attack on empiricism relates to the problem with perception.

Empiricist Responses

Challenge - Illusions

Response – If we know they are illusions then we are not deceived. We have five senses so we can check any perceptual information a number of times. We have no reason to believe that we are being deceived much or all of the time.

Challenge - Hallucinations

Response - These are very rare occurrences which means most of the time this is not happening. Often we are aware that an hallucination is taking place.

Challenge - Appearance not Reality

Response - As a species we would not have survived if our perception did not fit with reality. If our perceptions were false, we would have been an unsuccessful organism.

Challenge - Perception and Interpretation

Response – This just demonstrates the empiricist view that we learn from experience – hopefully!

Challenge - Brain in Vat/It’s All a Dream

Response – Which makes more sense, to say this is happening or to say that this is not really happening? Most people would say that to say this was not happening is counter-intuitive.

Challenge - The Problem of Infinite Regress

Response – our perceptions accurately represent what is the case – experiences can be verified by other senses and other individuals’ sense experience. Sense experience is coherent.

However this is a recurrent problem and we are back to the principle of sufficient reason.

Some would claim that there are certain foundational truths – verified by science – foundationalism.

Assignment 6

1. In a column, list the empiricist responses to the challenge of scepticism. (see Assignment 4)

Is Absolute Scepticism a Coherent Position?

Actually, there have been relatively few absolute sceptics. It is not hard to see why.

As stated earlier, critics of this position have been quick to charge that it is impractical and self-contradictory.

• It is impractical because, from the purely practical standpoint of getting along in the world, no one in his or her right mind can actually live on such a premise. Our daily lives would not be possible if we did not accept that what appears common sense is real - that our ‘knowledge’ is Knowledge.

Why, for that matter, are you reading this, studying philosophy, or studying anything, if not because you think that something can be learned, understood, known? And where, from the sceptical view, is there any place for responsible actions or serious commitments or decision making?

• There is a glaring contradiction in claiming to know that nothing can be known!

Assignment 7

1. Why has scepticism been described as impractical?

2. Why has scepticism been described as self-contradictory?

Rationalism

Rationalism is the philosophical position that at least some knowledge comes to us independent of sense experience. They justify their claims to knowledge on reasoning and the view that some knowledge is innate.

One way of answering the ‘how do you know?’ question is by using reason. Think of the following statement:

Everybody who is a sister is female.

How do you know that everybody who is a sister is female? One way would be the empirical approach, to try to check all sisters – to see if any of them were male.

If every sister you had checked were female, you might come to the conclusion that all of them are female.

There are two things to notice about this:

1. The empirical approach is not absolutely guaranteed to be reliable (if you haven’t checked every single one of them, can you be certain that there are no non-female sisters?).

2. You don’t need to do this anyway. The truth of the claim that all sisters are female does not need to be checked by the empirical approach.

‘Everybody who is a sister is a female’ is an example of a truth which can be known independently of experience. This is an a priori truth.

A priori truths are known to be true prior to experience. Before doing any checking, we know that all sisters are female. This is true by definition.

However, if we take the statement:

“Everybody who is a sister is shorter than seven feet tall.”

We can’t check this for truth or falsity just by thinking about it. This statement is an a posteriori statement. A posteriori statements are known to be true (or false) only as a result of experience – in this case, as a result of checking to see whether there is evidence of anyone having been a sister, and having been 7 ft tall or more.

So a priori knowledge is knowledge which we gain just by thinking. The justification condition is met merely by reflecting mentally on the meanings of the words ‘all’, ‘sisters’, and ‘female’.

Here are some more examples of knowledge which are a priori:

• All bachelors are unmarried.

• If Dundee is south of Aberdeen, then Aberdeen is north of Dundee.

• If Dundee is south of Aberdeen, and Edinburgh is south of Dundee, then Edinburgh is south of Aberdeen.

• Anyone who is 7 ft tall is more than 6 ft tall.

We are concerned with the justification question – the ‘how do you know?’ question. In the case of the statement ‘all bachelors are unmarried’ we can answer this by doing some simple reasoning:

There are two necessary conditions for being a bachelor – these are..

a) being unmarried, and (b) being a man.

1. These two conditions are, therefore, necessary and sufficient, so that:

2. We can define a bachelor as an unmarried man – and substitute ‘unmarried man’ for bachelor.

3. The statement can therefore be rewritten as ‘all unmarried men are unmarried’ – and this just has to be true.

This is an example of what philosophers call ‘conceptual analysis’. To analyse is to break something down into its component parts. We break down a concept by finding its necessary and sufficient conditions.

It’s meaning guarantees its truth.

A statement where the meaning guarantees the truth in this way is called an analytic statement.

Any statement which is not analytic is synthetic.

Some philosophers have come to think of reason as the most reliable source of justification – as the best way of answering the ‘how do you know?’ question – because truths which are a priori discoverable are absolutely certain. Think of the following piece of knowledge:

“A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.”

This statement is true. You should believe it. If asked ‘how is this belief justified?’, the answer is that we only just need to think about the statement to grasp its truth. So it is justifiable a priori.

There is another point to make about the statement. It is not only true: it is true and could not possibly not be true. It is necessarily true.

Notice that we do not get the same certainty when we move from a priori to a posteriori truths. The statement:

“The edge of your desk is a straight line.”

is true – but it is not necessarily true (it is only contingently true). The edge of the desk could have been curved.

So a priori discovery of knowledge is the discovery of knowledge which is absolutely impossible to doubt. It is true in any possible world – necessarily true; true and not possibly not true.

So rationalists (whose name comes from the Latin word ratio, which means reason) see reason as the most reliable source of justification because rationally (ie. a priori) discoverable knowledge passes the ‘possible worlds’ test, and so is just impossible to doubt.

Assignment 8

1. What is rationalism?

2. Explain the rationalist position on knowledge. Give reasons, examples and use all the necessary technical language.

Problems of A Priori Justification

“Nothing can be bigger than itself.”

Clearly this is a priori and necessary. No mountain can be bigger than itself, no river deeper than itself, no elephant heavier than itself, and so on.

If we apply this to alien life forms on other planets, we get:

“No aliens are bigger than themselves.”

This is a true statement about aliens on other planets. Do you find this useful, or interesting, or informative? NO!

Reason is limited - it can tell us how the universe has to be – all straight lines have to be the shortest distance between two points, it always has to be either earlier or later than 6pm, all red roses have to be red, all sisters are female, and all aliens are no bigger than themselves.

But as for the really interesting and informative stuff - are there alien life forms on other planets? What mathematical knowledge do they have? What kind of vegetation does their planet sustain? Are there male and females aliens? – reasoning is useless.

• So empirical enquiry, inductive reasoning, a posteriori knowledge and synthetic statements are informative but uncertain.

• Rational analysis, deductive reasoning, a priori knowledge and analytical statements are certain but uninformative.

Isn’t philosophy great!!!!

Assignment 9

1. What is the term given to knowledge gained independent of sense experience?

2. Give some examples of such knowledge.

3. What are the qualities of such knowledge?

4. What are the limitations of such knowledge?

5. “One is certain but trivial and uninformative and the other is informative but uncertain.” What are being described here? Why?

The Sceptical Challenge to Rationalism

Rationalism is a trivial pursuit!

There are three specific attacks on the rationalist position the first two of which are used by empiricists and sceptics. The third is used by sceptics against rationalist and empiricists.

• Firstly, innate ideas are impossible to demonstrate

• Secondly, rationalist claims may be certain but are uninformative about the world so they are not real knowledge claims – all barking dogs bark when they bark – so what! So rationalism produces knowledge which is trivial.

• Thirdly, the infinite regress problem is also used against rationalism as well as empiricism. This claims that rationalist claims cannot be justified.

Rationalist Response

• Where do the ideas of cause and effect, time, God, morality come from? They can’t come from experience, they must be innate.

• Maths and geometry trivial? These are the relationships which allow the universe to exist in the first place! We must think about our perceptions to make sense of them.

• Our innate ideas provide a basis for everything – they are foundational knowledge and provide justification.

Assignment 10

1. How would sceptics and empiricists both challenge rationalists?

2. How are both rationalists and empiricists challenged by sceptics?

3. How do rationalists respond to sceptics and empiricists?

4. Which of the three epistemological positions do you support most? Give at least two reasons for your choice.

5. What is your view on the epistemological position of the International Flat Earth Society?

6. Does Charles K Johnson know that the earth is flat?

7. What does this demonstrate about beliefs?

8. How would a sceptic respond to Johnson’s claim that you just have to use you eyes to see that the earth is flat?

Summary

Assignment 11

1. What kind of philosopher was Descartes?

2. What was Descartes’ view of sense experience?

3. Why was Descartes impressed by maths?

4. Why did some regard science as a challenge to the Church?

5. What is the title of Descartes’ most famous text?

6. In which “two camps” did Descartes seem to have a “foot”?

Descartes’ Method of Doubt

In order to demonstrate the truth of his rationalist position, and as a way of countering both empiricism and scepticism, Descartes used a process which he called his Method of Doubt.

Sometimes this is called his sceptical method of doubt, radical method of doubt, hyperbolic method of doubt or even the exaggerated method of doubt.

The first thing to remember is that Descartes was not a sceptic. He believed that foundationally certain knowledge was possible and it was to be established by rationalism.

Descartes expressed his views in a title called “Meditations on First Philosophy”. In this book, Descartes seems to set up a statement only to deny the truth of this statement a few lines or pages later. This is how the Method of Doubt (MoD) operates. As well as being “the Father of Modern Philosophy”, Descartes was also a mathematician and scientist. His aim was to do for philosophy what Newton had done for physics. The old philosophical age was over, this one was new and radical!

Descartes was part of the new age of science and philosophy. Modern science used physical experiments to demonstrate physical truths. What Descartes did is set up a series of thought experiments to demonstrate philosophical truths.

Assignment 12

1. What is the name given to the process Descartes uses in the Meditations?

2. What other names does this process have?

3. In what way did Descartes’ philosophical methods copy science?

4. Why might some believe that Descartes was a sceptic?

5. Would they be correct? Give reasons.

Background to Meditation I

Firstly, Descartes starts with a critical analysis of his old knowledge.

Descartes - “What can I know for certain?”

If some one in the street were to be asked what they thought was real then we might get the following sort of reply:

“Well I know that I have a mind and sometimes I think I have a soul - other people also have minds and then there is the world of things like my body and tables, chairs, dogs and so on “out there”. This out there and my mind exist independently. I know that 2+2= 4, that murder is wrong and that every effect has a cause.”

Assignment 13

1 What different kinds of knowledge are being expressed in the passage above?

2 Do you agree that all these claims are certain? Give reasons for your answer.

Descartes started from the position of not accepting anything as true unless he could demonstrate that it was true. It may seem paradoxical but Descartes used a sceptical method to try to achieve certainty!

Descartes wrote six Meditations in all. They are structured to correspond with six successive days. This is therefore to be taken as a crucially creative process.

Scepticism starts with doubt and that is where Descartes began. Remember he was not a sceptic but began with that position to show them - the sceptics - where they had gone wrong as it were.

Descartes’ Aim

It may seem paradoxical but in order to achieve certainty, Descartes began his Meditations doubting everything. He hoped that by using his Method of Doubt he could reject all suspect beliefs and find foundational certainties to on which to build his “new philosophy” which would be as certain and well-founded as mathematics.

Out With The Old!

In an attempt to achieve foundationally certain knowledge, Descartes first cleared the decks of mediaeval muddledness by doubting everything. He did this by using what is now called his Sceptical Method or Method of Doubt.

Let’s take the parallel of the demolition of an old building and the construction of a new one in its place:

For Descartes the philosophy building was very old. Perhaps it did not serve the same purpose that it once did. Over the centuries, in attempts to modernise it, many extensions had been added to the original building. Some of these extensions may have been built without adequate planning and also did not seem to fit on to the old building very well. Now the whole structure was in danger of being condemned for possible defects in the supporting walls and having suspect foundations.

First Descartes cleared the site completely. He demolished the building and began to look for solid ground on which to build his new foundations.

His method was to only accept as true only things which could be demonstrated to be true. He wanted “clear and distinct ideas” based on “the light of reason”.

He would reject all false beliefs but he would also reject any beliefs which it was possible to doubt.

This was Descartes’ Method of Doubt. He says that he is no longer going to accept the beliefs of his early life - the things he had been taught to accept or the current views of authority.

Today many would say that the modern philosophy of individual autonomy began with Descartes. So the ultimate authority was to be found in reason, not in political strength nor religious dogmas. He was not trying to prove the sceptic point of view - in fact the opposite. He, like other philosophers, was trying to prove that we really do know what we think we know. He did this by applying his reason not by relying on experience. Remember he was a rationalist not an empiricist.

So why did Descartes torture himself with all this doubting? No matter what Descartes says in Meditations I, knowledge does come through the senses. Why did Descartes publish his books if he thought that in reading them people would not gain knowledge? Is he not just doing what philosophers do, playing with words and concepts. They should not play with the food of life but eat it!

Assignment 14

1. How many meditations did Descartes write?

2. In what way could Descartes’ approach seem paradoxical to his philosophical viewpoint? Explain why it was not paradoxical.

3. What were Descartes’ main aims?

4. What sort of things did you believe when you were younger which you no longer accept?

5. How many of the” realities” from page 25 do we usually accept without question?

6. From where would Descartes’ early beliefs have come?

7. Why could these beliefs now be doubted?

MEDITATION I

“OF THE THINGS OF WHICH WE MAY DOUBT”

Several years have now elapsed since I first became aware that I had accepted, even from my youth, many false opinions for true, and that consequently what I afterward based on such principles was highly doubtful; and from that time I was convinced of the necessity of undertaking once in my life to rid myself of all the opinions I had adopted, and of commencing anew the work of building from the foundation, if I desired to establish a firm and abiding superstructure in the sciences.

But as this enterprise appeared to me to be one of great magnitude, I waited until I had attained an age so mature as to leave me no hope that at any stage of life more advanced I should be better able to execute my design. On this account, I have delayed so long that I should henceforth consider I was doing wrong were I still to consume in deliberation any of the time that now remains for action. To-day then, since I have opportunely freed my mind from all cares [and am happily disturbed by no passions], and, since I am in the secure possession of leisure in a peaceable retirement, I will at length apply myself earnestly and freely to the general overthrow of all my former opinions.

But, to this end, it will not be necessary for me to show that the whole of these are false - a point, perhaps, which I shall never reach; but as even now my reason convinces me that I ought not the less carefully to withhold belief from what is not entirely certain and indubitable, than from what is manifestly false, it will be sufficient to justify the rejection of the whole if I shall find in each some ground for doubt. Nor for this purpose will it be necessary even to deal with each belief individually, which would be truly an endless labour; but, as the removal from below of the foundation necessarily involves the downfall of the whole edifice, I will at once approach the criticism of the principles on which all my former beliefs rested.

All that I have, up to this moment, accepted as possessed of the highest truth and certainty, I received either from or through the senses. I observed, however, that these sometimes misled us; and it is the part of prudence not to place absolute confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived. But it may be said, perhaps, that, although the senses occasionally mislead us respecting minute objects, and such as are so far removed from us as to be beyond the reach of close observation, there are yet many other of their informations (presentations), of the truth of which it is manifestly impossible to doubt; as for example, that I am in this place, seated by the fire, clothed in a winter dressing gown, that I hold in my hands this piece of paper, with other intimations of the same nature.

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapours as to cause them to assert that they are monarchs when they are in the greatest poverty; or clothed [in gold] and purple when destitute of any covering; or that their head is made of clay, their body of glass, or that they are gourds? I should certainly be not less insane than they, were I to regulate my procedure according to examples so extravagant.

Though this be true, I must nevertheless here consider that I am a man, and that, consequently, I am in the habit of sleeping, and representing to myself in dreams those same things, or even sometimes others less probable, which the insane think are presented to them in their waking moments. How often have I dreamt that I was in these familiar circumstances, that I was dressed, and occupied this place by the fire, when I was lying undressed in bed? At the present moment, however, I certainly look upon this paper with eyes wide awake; the head which I now move is not asleep; I extend this hand consciously and with express purpose, and I perceive it; the occurrences in sleep are not so distinct as all this. But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming.

Let us suppose, then, that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars - namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth-putting of the hands are merely illusions; and even that we really possess neither an entire body nor hands such as we see. Nevertheless it must be admitted at least that the objects which appear to us in sleep are, as it were, painted representations which could not have been formed unless in the likeness of realities; and, therefore, that those general objects, at all events, namely, eyes, a head, hands, and an entire body, are not simply imaginary, but really existent. For, in truth, painters themselves, even when they study to represent sirens and satyrs by forms the most fantastic and extraordinary, cannot bestow upon them natures absolutely new, but can only make a certain medley of the members of different animals; or if they chance to imagine something so novel that nothing at all similar has ever been seen before, and such as is, therefore, purely fictitious and absolutely false, it is at least certain that the colours of which this is composed are real.

And on the same principle, although these general objects, viz. [a body], eyes, a head, hands, and the like, be imaginary, we are nevertheless absolutely necessitated to admit the reality at least of some other objects still more simple and universal than these, of which, just as of certain real colours, all those images of things, whether true and real, or false and fantastic, that are found in our consciousness are formed.

To this class of objects seem to belong corporeal nature in general and its extension; the figure of extended things, their quantity or magnitude, and their number, as also the place in, and the time during, which they exist, and other things of the same sort. We will not, therefore, perhaps reason illegitimately if we conclude from this that Physics, Astronomy, Medicine, and all the other sciences that have for their end the consideration of composite objects, are indeed of a doubtful character; but that Arithmetic and Geometry is different because) whether I am awake or dreaming, it remains true that two and three make five, and that a square has but four sides; nor does it seem possible that truths so apparent can ever fall under a suspicion of falsity.

Nevertheless, the belief that there is a God who is all-powerful, and who created me, such as I am, has, for a long time, obtained steady possession of my mind. How, then, do I know that he has not arranged that there should be neither earth, nor sky, nor any extended thing, nor figure, nor magnitude, nor place, providing at the same time, however, for [the rise in me of the perceptions of all these objects, and] the persuasion that these do not exist otherwise than as I perceive them? And further, as I sometimes think that others are in error respecting matters of which they believe themselves to possess a perfect knowledge, how do I know that I am not also deceived each time I add together two and three, or number the sides of a square, or form some judgment still more simple, if more simple indeed can be imagined?

But perhaps Deity has not been willing that I should be thus deceived, for he is said to be supremely good. If, however, it were repugnant to the goodness of Deity to have created me subject to constant deception, it would seem likewise to be contrary to his goodness to allow me to be occasionally deceived; and yet it is clear that this is permitted.

Some, indeed, might perhaps be found who would be disposed rather to deny the existence of a Being so powerful than to believe that there is nothing certain. But let us for the present refrain from opposing this opinion, and grant that all which is here said of a Deity is fabulous: nevertheless, in whatever way it be supposed that I reach the state in which I exist, whether by fate, or chance, or by an endless series of antecedents and consequents, or by any other means, it is clear (since to be deceived and to err is a certain defect) that the probability of my being so imperfect as to be the constant victim of deception, will be increased exactly in proportion as the power possessed by the cause, to which they assign my origin, is lessened.

To these reasonings I have assuredly nothing to reply, but am constrained at last to avow that there is nothing of all that I formerly believed to be true of which it is impossible to doubt, and that not through thoughtlessness or levity, but from cogent and maturely considered reasons; so that hence forward, if I desire to discover anything certain, I ought not the less carefully to refrain from assenting to those same opinions than to what might be shown to be manifestly false.

But it is not sufficient to have made these observations; care must be taken likewise to keep them in remembrance. For those old and customary opinions perpetually recur - long and familiar usage giving them the right of occupying my mind, even almost against my will, and subduing my belief; nor will I lose the habit of deferring to them and confiding in them so long as I shall consider them to be what in truth they are, viz, opinions to some extent doubtful, as I have already shown, but still highly probable, and such as it is much more reasonable to believe than deny.

It is for this reason I am persuaded that I shall not be doing wrong, if, taking an opposite judgment of deliberate design, I become my own deceiver, by supposing, for a time, that all those opinions are entirely false and imaginary, until at length, having thus balanced my old by my new prejudices, my judgment shall no longer be turned aside by perverted usage from the path that may conduct to the perception of truth.

I will suppose, then, not that Deity, who is sovereignly good and the fountain of truth, but that some malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me; I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams, by means of which this being has laid snares for my credulity; I will consider myself as without hands, eyes, flesh, blood, or any of the senses, and as falsely believing that I am possessed of these.

Why’d He Say?

Descartes declares that he has believed many things without really justifying them.

Many of his beliefs had proved to be doubtful or even false.

Many of these false and doubtful beliefs were foundational so other beliefs were based on them and so these were false or at best doubtful.

There isn’t enough time and it is unnecessary to test all of his beliefs. So only his foundational beliefs will be subjected to the Method of Doubt.

The Dream Argument

Sense experience can be deceptive but at least one sense can be checked against another. Dreaming is a complete package there is no way to verify that our current experience is not a dream. Now you may be a bit dismissive at this point – of course this is not a dream – but Descartes is a smart guy and that is not his point – the point is, can this experience be doubted as real? And can this experience be demonstrated to be real? Well?

You might say that even in a dream 2+2 = 4 or a meter is 100 centimeters - a priori knowledge in other words, but..

Next is Descartes coup de grace – what if God wasn’t (as he has been taught) omniscient, omnipotent and all good, but just the first two plus all evil?

Wow! Then this evil deceitful Demon could be deceiving him completely – Matrix country again!

He is not saying there is such a creature – just what if….?

Well if this were the case then both a posteriori and a priori knowledge could be doubted. So what does that leave as certain foundational knowledge?

Emm nothing?

Yep! So this whole experience could be a dream/hallucination/VR/Matrix-type experience. But furthermore, there is the assumption that when we dream the contents of the dream are at least based on some reality – that there is a reality somewhere out there from which they are derived. Descartes’ Demon argument allows him to doubt the very existence of any such reality.

So, like any good soap opera or serial, we end on a cliffhanger. Descartes is alone senseless, possibly in a coma world with only an evil demon for company. Will our hero survive? Meditation I ends! Gasp!!!

Assignment 16

Label the following statement either A agrees with Descartes or X disagrees with Descartes. In paragraphs 1 & 2 of Meditations I

1 He must show each of his beliefs to be false.

2 It is not possible to achieve certainty about anything.

3 All his beliefs have a doubtful foundation.

4 He should treat beliefs that are slightly doubtful the same as

beliefs which are completely doubtful.

5 He will begin by attacking his foundational beliefs.

6. All knowledge seems to come through the senses.

7. He claims mathematics is more reliable than astronomy

8. Descartes believes there is an evil demon

9. Descartes was a sceptic.

10. At least Descartes knows that he is not alone.

Descartes Aims To:

• justify foundationally certain knowledge

• establish reason as the way to knowledge

• provide an error-free root to justify knowledge in the future

Descartes’ Method:

• he rejects all unjustifiable knowledge, not just things which were false but anything which could not be demonstrated to be certain.

In the previous episode of Descartes’ Meditations…

Meditations I ends with what seems to be an end with a defeat to all his aims.

He raises the question:

“How do I know that the world as I know it is not just the product of the mind of some evil deceitful demon.”

This seems pretty difficult to answer because. To demonstrate that this is not the case he would have to be able to step outside his own head. Has he painted himself into philosophical corner? Will our hero escape? Episode II… Descartes strikes back!

Meditation II

Of The Nature Of The Human Mind;

And That It Is More Easily Known Than The Body

The Meditation of yesterday has filled my mind with so many doubts, that it is no longer in my power to forget them. Nor do I see, meanwhile, any principle on which they can be resolved; and, just as if I had fallen all of a sudden into very deep water, I am so greatly disconcerted as to be unable either to plant my feet firmly on the bottom or sustain myself by swimming on the surface.

I will, nevertheless, make an effort, and try anew the same path on which I had entered yesterday, that is, proceed by casting aside all that admits of the slightest doubt, not less than if I had discovered it to be absolutely false; and I will continue always in this track until I shall find something that is certain, or at least, if I can do nothing more, until I shall know with certainty that there is nothing certain.

Archimedes, that he might transport the entire globe from the place it occupied to another, demanded only a point that was firm and immovable; so, also, I shall be entitled to entertain the highest expectations, if I am fortunate enough to discover only one thing that is certain and indubitable.

I suppose, accordingly, that all the things which I see are false; I believe that none of those objects which my fallacious memory represents ever existed; I suppose that I possess no senses; I believe that body, figure, extension, motion, and place are merely fictions of my mind. What is there, then, that can be true? Perhaps this only, that there is absolutely nothing certain.

But how do I know that there is not something different altogether from the objects I have now enumerated, of which it is impossible to entertain the slightest doubt? Is there not a God, or some being, by whatever name I may designate him, who causes these thoughts to arise in my mind? But why suppose such a being, for it may be I myself am capable of producing them?

Am I, then, at least not something? But I before denied that I possessed senses or a body; I hesitate, however, for what follows from that? Am I so dependent on the body and the senses that without these I cannot exist?

But I had the persuasion that there was absolutely nothing in the world, that there was no sky and no earth, neither minds nor bodies; was I not, therefore, at the same time, persuaded that I did not exist? Far from it; I assuredly existed, since I was persuaded. But there is I know not what being, who is possessed at once of the highest power and the deepest cunning, who is constantly employing all his ingenuity in deceiving me.

Doubtless, then, I exist, since I am deceived; and, let him deceive me as he may, he can never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I shall be conscious that I am something. So that it must, in fine, be maintained, all things being maturely and carefully considered, that this proposition -

Descartes was not aiming to find physical foundational certainty but foundational certainty of knowledge. This means all knowledge – the physical, the mental and the spiritual world.

In Meditation II he claims to have found the foundational certainty he was looking for.

His argument is, even if he is totally deceived by a Demon, he can be certain that he exists as a thinking thing – hence the Cogito.

I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time it is expressed by me, or conceived in my mind.

Formally Descartes’ argument would look like this.

This is known as the cogito from a Latin version of this argument.

“Cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am.”

Descartes claims,

• the cogito is an a priori argument,

• it is intuitively true.

• it is not just true, but necessarily true – it cannot not be true.

The argument is deductive, analytical and not based on sense experience demonstrating that it is by reason alone that knowledge is justified.

Assignment 17

1 In a sentence for each paragraph of Meditation II, explain Descartes’ points, one by one.

2 What certain belief does Descartes claim to have discovered?

3 How does he express this?

4 What would a formal version of the argument look like?

5 Why does he believe that it is certain?

6 What is this Cartesian argument often called?

7 Why does it have this title?

8 What qualities did Descartes believe this argument had?

Descartes’ Claims

• the Cogito establishes his foundational certainty.

• he has demonstrated that rational thought is the basis of real knowledge.

• the process of deduction is error-free

Rational thought is based on innate, God-given ideas. Examples of this are logic, cause and effect, time and the existence of God.

Rational thought is intuitive, a priori - not based on sense experience - it is self-evident knowledge – “I am a thinking thing” seems pretty self-evident!

Rational thought is also deductive - from self-evident principles to true conclusions. Commit

Cogito - Recap

According to Descartes, the Cogito is self-evidently true - a priori, and, from this principle, he tries to deduce, with the help of God, that the world is as he senses it to be.

Descartes’ aim was to find certain foundational belief. The test for this sort of belief, he said, is three-fold.

1. The belief must be clear and distinct, clear in itself and distinct from other beliefs.

2. It must be independent of all other beliefs.

3. It must be about something which exists.

The cogito does sound intuitively true - “I am a thinking thing” - but others disagree with Descartes.

General Criticisms

Cogito - Criticisms

Descartes – Where Are You?

• According to his critics, all Descartes has achieved so far is that thinking is going on

• This thinking could be Descartes but this is still capable of doubt. Maybe the Demon is doing all the thinking!

• There was thinking going on in “Train Spotting” and “Alice in Wonderland”.

How rational were they?

• Dreaming and other illusions are forms of thinking.

I dream therefore I am! How is that for foundational certainty?

Method of Doubt - Criticisms

• Does occasional perceptual deception mean that no perception can be trusted?

• Although Descartes claims to doubt everything, at least everything which is foundational, he does not doubt his memory. He does not doubt that he has dreamt in the past or that his senses have deceived him in the past.

Despite all these criticisms, we have to remember that most philosophers would date modern period from Descartes onwards. He is a pivotal figure.

The next problem is can he build from here or is he stuck in a subjective, solipsistic philosophical trap of his own creation? Is Descartes alone up Demon Creek without an epistemological paddle?

Descartes Aims

• To establish reason as the way to justify knowledge

• To establish a method which would avoid all further doubt

• To establish foundationally certain knowledge

Meditation II Revision

Copy and complete this exercise to produce a personal summary of Descartes’ aims, claims and achievements in Meditation II.

At the end of Meditation I, Descartes has cleared away all his foundational beliefs, A PRIORI, A POSTERIORI and GOD because he claims that each can be DECEPTIVE and so cannot provide him with FOUNDATIONAL certainty of KNOWLEDGE which what he is aiming for. At the beginning of Meditation II, he resolves to continue with his METHOD of DOUBT and eventually decides that, even if all his thoughts are the product of a DECEITFUL DEMON, he can still be certain that he, Descartes, exist as a THINKING THING . He produces an argument that we now call the COGITO. Which reads “I AM, I EXIST, IS……..

Descartes believes that this argument has certain qualities which means he has achieved his aims of FOUNDATIONALLY CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, REASON AS THE ONLY SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE AND AN ERROR-FREE ROUTE TO KNOWLEDGE IN THE FUTURE.

He believes that the Cogito has the following qualities - a priori, (GAINED INDEPENDENT OF SENSE EX) intuitive (BY REASON ALONE) and necessarily true, (CANNOT NOT BE TRUE) deductive and analytical (NOT INDUCTIVE FRON SENSE EX)

As a RATIONAL philosopher, Descartes believes that knowledge is REACHED/ESTABLISHED/DEMONSTRATED by reason alone.

Assignment 18 (home work check!)

1. What does Descartes claim to have achieved with the cogito?

2. For Descartes, what is the source of human reason?

3. What are the qualities of rational conclusions?

4. How did Gassendi respond to Descartes’ claim the cogito was intuitively true?

5. Why do some think that the cogito is purely subjective?

6. Why is solipsism a criticism leveled at the cogito?

7. Why are Descartes’ methods criticised?

8. Review Descartes’ original aims. How successful do you think he has been in achieving them? Remember to include details and examples.

9. Which feature films are based on interpretations of Descartes’ thought experiments? Explain the connection.

10. Why is memory so important to human identity?

MEDITATION THREE

Of God: that He Exists.

I shall now close my eyes and my ears, and put away all thought of physical things, to try to better understand my own self. So far, my only assurance is to accept those things which I perceive very clearly and very distinctly as true, yet I know that I have often been mistaken. It remains possible that God might deceive me, though I cannot imagine how he might persuade me that I don't exist, or that two plus are not five. To remove such doubt, I must enquire as to whether God exists, and whether he is a deceiver.

If I hear sound, or see the sun, or feel heat, I judge that these sensations come from things outside of me. Just now, for instance, whether I will it or not, I feel heat, and it seems obvious that this feeling is produced by something different from me, ie. the fire. But I must doubt that it is nature which impels me to believe in material things, for, given a choice between virtue and vice, nature has often led me to the worse part. But I do not find it any more convincing that ideas proceed from objects outside me, for there is often a great difference between knowledge and appearance. The sun, for instance, seems very small, yet we know from astronomical calculation that it is very great. It seems that blind impulse, not judgement, has given me my knowledge of the world.

Those ideas which represent substances all seem more solid than those that represent modes or accidents; and that idea of a supreme God, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, seems to have even more objective reality.

Now it is manifest that effects derive their reality from their causes, that something cannot proceed from nothing and that the perfect cannot proceed from something imperfect. For example, the idea of stone can only be produced by something which possesses, either formally or eminently, all that constitutes stone. Likewise heat must come from a cause at least as perfect as heat, and so on.

But further, the idea of heat, or stone, cannot exist in me unless it has been placed there by some cause at least as real as that which I conceive exists in the heat or stone. Thus the light of nature causes me to know clearly that my ideas may fall short of the perfection of the objects from which they derive, but they can never be greater or more perfect. What I can conclude from all this is that I cannot myself be the cause of an idea, the cause must be outside me and greater than my idea. But I seem to know so little about corporeal objects, as we found with the wax yesterday, that such ideas may well proceed from myself. Moreover, things such as light, colours, tastes, heat or cold are so obscure and confused that I do not even know if they are true or false. It seems that I have no ideas that might not originate solely in my own mind.

There remains only the idea of God, whose attributes of infinity, independence, all-knowledge and all-power seem so exceptional that no idea of them could have come from within me; hence we must conclude that God exists.

The idea of substance could be from within me, as I am a substance, but, since I am finite, the idea of an infinite substance must proceed from elsewhere. I could not have gained the idea of infinite substance just by negating the finite, as I perceive darkness as negation of light; for there is manifestly more reality in infinite substance than in finite. Indeed, how could I have the notion that I am finite and imperfect, unless I had some idea of a Being more perfect, by which to recognise my deficiencies?

We must say that the idea of God is very clear and distinct and more objectively real than others. Even if we can imagine that God does not exist, we cannot imagine that the idea of him means nothing.

Possibly all those perfections of God are in some way potentially in me, for I am sensible that my knowledge increases little by little, and I see nothing which can prevent it from increasing to the perfection of the Divine. At the same time, I recognise that this cannot be, since it can never reach a point so high that it could not attain to yet greater increase. But I do not easily see why the idea of perfection must have been placed in me, so I ask, do I derive my existence from myself, or my parents, or some other source than God? But if I myself were the author of my being, I should doubt nothing, desire nothing, lack no perfection and be unable to ever find myself discovering new things.

It is perfectly clear and evident to all who consider the nature of time, that, in order to have existence at a particular moment, a substance must have the power to create itself anew in the next moment. But I am conscious of no such power in myself, and by this, I know clearly that I depend on some being different from myself. Possibly, this being is not God, perhaps it is my parents or some other imperfect cause?

This cannot be, because, as I have said, there must be at least as much reality in the cause as in the effect; and since I am a thinking thing, it must be that the cause is likewise a thinking thing. But from what cause does God derive? If it derives from another cause, we must ask whether this second cause has a cause. But it is perfectly manifest that there can be no regression into infinity.

Finally, it is not my parents who conserve me, they are only the authors of that body in which the self, ie. the mind, is implanted. Thus we must necessarily conclude from the simple fact that I exist, and that I have the idea of a perfect Being, that the proof of God's existence is grounded on the highest evidence.

It only remains to ask how I have acquired this idea of God. Not through the senses, nor as a fiction of my mind, for I cannot take from or add anything to it. The only alternative is that God, in creating me, placed this idea within me, like the mark of the workman on his work. The whole strength of the argument is in recognising that it is not possible that my nature should be what it is, and that I should have the idea of God, if God did not veritably exist. From this, it is manifest that He cannot be a deceiver, since the light of nature teaches us that deception necessarily proceeds from some defect.

But before I go on, it seems right to pause to think on His majesty; at least as far as my dazzled mind will allow. For faith teaches us that the glory of this, and the other, life is contemplation of the Divine.

Commentary

In Meditation II, Descartes is convinced that he has established the certainty of his own thinking. This is his foundational certainty – his fulcrum.

He has not yet established that he is any more than this (a body) nor that there is a physical world which provides the sensations he feels. So how does he go about doing this?

He continues to use his Method of Doubt and reason as a way to achieve his aims – this is his lever.

Reasoning about his sensations, in Meditation III, Descartes outlines his Thumbprint Argument for the existence of God. According to Descartes, all ideas have a cause. Newton has shown that all events are the result of forces. Logically the cause of these ideas must either be inside him, or outside him. But even if he has experiences he would rather not have – sensations that are against his will, he still cannot be sure that they come from a world outside himself.

But the ideas of infinity and perfection cannot be within him because he is finite and imperfect, so the idea of an infinite and perfect God must have come from something outside himself. Not from nothing as nothing results in nothing. So the only rational explanation is that God has produced in Descartes the idea of God. Furthermore, as Perfection is a quality of God and deception is a quality of imperfection, God cannot be a deceiver therefore a Good God must exist!

Only a perfectly good God would makes sure that His creatures were born with the innate idea of their creator.

Meditation III – Quickie!

Descartes knows that he is..

This means that …… is the way to knowledge.

Descartes does not know……. or if God..

Descartes has…

These sensations could come from… or….. or…

They cannot come from nothing because…

Effects resemble their….

The idea of …. must resemble the nature of …….

God is ……. and ……. So the idea of God cannot come from Descartes because….

The idea of God cannot come from his ………. Nor his …….. because …..

The idea of God must come from……

This is like…..

God cannot be a deceiver because…

Therefore…….

Assignment 19

1. At the beginning of Meditation III, what does Descartes claim to know?

2. What has he yet to establish?

3. Why is this important?

4. How is he going to proceed?

5. With what sort of thinking does Descartes begin?

6. What does he say are the possible sources of these thoughts?

7. Why does he claim that the source cannot be him?

8. How does he establish that he cannot be in a state of permanent deception?

9. What name is given to this Cartesian argument?

10. Why has it been given this name?

11. What does Descartes claim to have established by the end of Meditation III?

Criticisms

One of the major criticisms of Descartes’ Thumbprint/Trademark argument is known as the Cartesian Circle. This criticism points out that by claiming that only God could have supplied Descartes with the idea of God, Descartes has created a fallaciously circular argument – God exist because he has caused the thought that he exists!

Criticisms

So Descartes claims that his “clear and distinct” idea of God is an innate gift from God Himself. But this “trademark” or “thumbprint” argument is countered by the “Cartesian Circle” criticism - the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God, but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule!

His argument that this trademark is innate is further countered by evidence that not everyone has an innate idea of God. Atheists would certainly challenge the view that the idea of God is innate.

Innate ideas cannot be demonstrated to exist.

The premise that there must be as much reality in the cause as in the effect is also questionable. An idea of anything is nothing like the thing itself. (Berkeley)

The problem of evil questions God’s goodness/perfection.

By definition, we cannot have an idea of God. God is beyond our understanding.

Assignment 20

1. In two columns – Claims V’s Criticisms, list Descartes’ claims and arguments in Meditation III with the criticisms of these.

2. To what extent are you convinced by Descartes’ arguments in this section?

Meditations I-III Recap

Up to this point Descartes believes that he has :

• established foundational certainty of knowledge

• demonstrated that it is by reason alone that knowledge is to be justified

• his rational method of doubt is an error-free path to knowledge

• that God is no deceiver

His next, and last aim, is to establish that physical objects like his body and other material objects are as he perceives them to be.

Assignment 21

1. What is meant by the “tripartite theory of knowledge”?

2. Give two example which illustrate this.

3. What is the skeptical attitude to this definition?

4. What reasons might a sceptic give for her position?

5. What is Gettier’s attitude to the tripartite definition for knowledge?

6. What differing positions do empiricists and rationalists take on the tripartite definition of knowledge?

7. How does Descartes justify his belief in the existence of God?

8. To what extent do you consider Descartes’ justification convincing?

MEDITATION VI

“On the Existence of Material Objects and the Real Distinction Of Mind from Body.”

Introduction

Descartes continues to explore his ideas of physical objects. In his understanding or knowledge of physical objects he distinguishes between having a mental image and having a pure understanding. He deduces that some of his mental images "probably" come from actual physical objects. To become more certain, he makes a three-part examination of his senses.

First, he reviews what he previously believed his senses told him.

Second, he re-examines his grounds for doubting his senses.

Third, he investigates his senses and concludes that, because God is no deceiver, Descartes must believe that his senses do not deceive him about the existence and nature of physical objects.

To further clear God of any charge of deception, Descartes considers the special occasions when our God-given "natural impulses" guide us toward what is harmful. He decides that this deception is down to us not using our ability to reason. He concludes his Meditations by describing a technique for avoiding all sense error and explains how dreaming can be distinguished from waking.

By the end of Meditations VI, Descartes believes that he has demonstrated clearly and distinctly that he has conquered all his doubts and established that he is justified in claiming that he knows what he believes he knows.

Meditation VI

It remains for me to examine whether material objects exist. Insofar as they are the subject of pure mathematics, I now know at least that they can exist, because I grasp them clearly and distinctly. For God can undoubtedly make whatever I can grasp in this way, and I never judge that something is impossible for Him to make unless there would be a contradiction in my grasping the thing distinctly. Also, the fact that I find myself having mental images when I turn my attention to physical objects seems to imply that these objects really do exist. For, when I pay careful attention to what it is to have a mental image, it seems to me that it's just the application of my power of thought to a certain body which is immediately present to it and which must therefore exist.

To clarify this, I'll examine the difference between having a mental image and having a pure understanding. When I have a mental image of a triangle, for example, I don't just understand that it is a figure bounded by three lines; I also "look at" the lines as though they were present to my mind's eye. And this is what I call having a mental image.

When I want to think of a chiliagon, I understand that it is a figure with a thousand sides as well as I understand that a triangle is a figure with three, but I can't imagine its sides or "look" at them as though they were present. Being accustomed to using images when I think about physical objects, I may confusedly picture some figure to myself, but this figure obviously is not a chiliagon - for it in no way differs from what I present to myself when thinking about a myriagon or any other many sided figure, and it doesn't help me to discern the properties that distinguish chiliagons from other polygons. If it's a pentagon that is in question, I can understand its shape, as I can that of the chiliagon, without the aid of mental images. But I can also get a mental image of the pentagon by directing my mind's eye to its five lines and to the area that they bound. And it's obvious to me that getting this mental image requires a special mental effort different from that needed for understanding - a special effort which clearly reveals the difference between having a mental image and having a pure understanding.

It also seems to me that my power of having mental images, being distinct from my power of understanding, is not essential to my self or, in other words, to my mind for, if I were to lose this ability, I would surely remain the same thing that I now am.

To begin with, I sensed that I had a head, hands, feet, and the other members that make up a human body. I viewed this body as part, or maybe even as all, of me. I sensed that it was influenced by other physical objects whose effects could be either beneficial or harmful. I judged these effects to be beneficial to the extent that I felt pleasant sensations and harmful to the extent that I felt pain. And, in addition to sensations of pain and pleasure, I sensed hunger, thirst, and other such desires and also bodily inclinations towards cheerfulness, sadness, and other emotions. Outside me, I sensed, not just extension, shape, and motion, but also hardness, hotness, and other qualities detected by touch. I also sensed light, colour, odour, taste, and sound-qualities by whose variation I distinguished such things as the sky, earth, and sea from one another. It seemed that these ideas could not have come from me and thus that they came from something else.

I also had some reason for supporting that a certain physical object, which I viewed as belonging to me in a special way, was related to me more closely than any other. I couldn't be separated from it as I could from other physical objects; I felt all of my emotions and desires in it and because of it; and I was aware of pains and pleasant feelings in it but in nothing else. I didn't know why sadness goes with the sensation of pain or why joy goes with sensory stimulation. I didn't know why the stomach twitching that I call hunger warn me that I need to eat or why dryness in my throat warns me that I need to drink. Seeing no connection between stomach twitching and the desire to eat or between the sensation of a pain-producing thing and the consequent awareness of sadness, I could only say that I had been taught the connection by nature.

But, since then, many experiences have shaken my faith in the senses. Towers that seemed round from a distance sometimes looked square from close up, and huge statues on pediments sometimes didn't look big when seen from the ground. In innumerable such cases, I found the judgments of the external senses to be wrong. And the same holds for the internal senses. What is felt more inwardly than pain? Yet I had heard that people with amputated arms and legs sometimes seem to feel pain in the missing limb, and it therefore didn't seem perfectly certain to me that the limb in which I feel a pain is always the one that hurts.

And, to these grounds for doubt, I've recently added two that are very general: First, since I didn't believe myself to sense anything while awake that I couldn't also take myself to sense in a dream, and since I didn't believe that what I sense in sleep comes from objects outside me, I didn't see why I should believe what I sense while awake comes from such objects.

Second, since I didn't yet know my creator I saw nothing to rule out my having been so designed by nature that I'm deceived even in what seems most obviously true to me. And I could easily refute the reasoning by which I convinced myself of the reality of sensible things.

Now that I've begun to know myself and my creator better, I still believe that I oughtn't blindly to accept everything that I seem to get from the senses. Yet I no longer believe that I ought to call it all into doubt. In the first place, I know that everything that I clearly and distinctly understand can be made by God to be exactly as I understand it. It's possible (or, as I will say later, it's certain) that I have a body which is very tightly bound to me. But, on the one hand, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself insofar as I am just a thinking and unextended thing, and, on the other hand, I have a distinct idea of my body insofar as it is just an extended and unthinking thing. It's certain, then, that I am really distinct from my body and can exist without it.

There is also in me, however, a passive ability to sense to receive and recognise ideas of sensible things. But, I wouldn't be able to put this ability to use if there weren't, either in me or in something else, an active power to produce or make sensory ideas. Since this active power doesn't presuppose understanding, and since it often produces ideas in me without my cooperation and even against my will, it cannot exist in me. Therefore, this power must exist in a substance distinct from me. And, for reasons that I've noted, this substance must contain, either formally or eminently, all the reality that is contained subjectively in the ideas that the power produces. Either this substance is a physical object (a thing of bodily nature that contains formally the reality that the idea contains subjectively), or it is God or one of His creations that is higher than a physical object (something that contains this reality eminently). But, since God isn't a deceiver, it's completely obvious that He doesn't send these ideas to me directly or by means of a creation that contains their reality eminently rather than formally. For, since He has not given me any ability to recognise that these ideas are sent by Him or by creations other than physical objects, and since He has given me a strong inclination to believe that the ideas come from physical objects, I see no way to avoid the conclusion that He deceives me if the ideas are sent to me by anything other than physical objects. It follows that physical objects exist.

Through sensations like pain, hunger, and thirst, nature also teaches me that I am not present in my body in the way that a sailor is present in his ship. Rather, I am very tightly bound to my body and so "mixed up" with it that we form a single thing. Nature teaches me that there are other physical objects around my body - some that I ought to seek and others that I ought to avoid. From this fact I correctly infer that sense perceptions come from physical objects I infer with certainty that my body or, rather, my whole self which consists of a body and a mind-can be benefited and harmed by the physical objects around it.

There are many other things that I seem to have been taught by nature but that I have really accepted out of a habit of thoughtless judgment. These things may well be false. Among them are the judgments that a space is empty if nothing in it happens to affect my senses; that a hot physical object has something in it resembling my idea of heat; that a white or green thing has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I sense; that a bitter or sweet thing has in it the same flavour that I taste; that stars, towers, and other physical objects have the same size and shape that they present to my senses; and so on.

Still, we often err in cases in which nature does impel us. This happens, for example, when sick people want food or drink that would quickly harm them. To say that these people err as a result of the corruption of their nature does not solve the problem for a sick man is no less a creation of God than a well one, and it seems as absurd to suppose that God has given him a deceptive nature.

There is a real fault in the composite's nature, for it is thirsty when drinking would be harmful. It therefore remains to be asked why God's goodness doesn't prevent this nature's being deceptive.

Despite God's immense goodness, the nature of man (whom we now view as a composite of mind and body) cannot fail to be deceptive ….it much better that we are deceived on these (few) occasions than that we are generally deceived when our bodies are sound. And the same holds for other cases.

Of course, God could have so designed man's nature that the same motion of the brain presented something else to the mind, like the motion in the brain, or the motion in the foot, or a motion somewhere between the brain and foot. But no alternative to the way things are would be as conducive to the maintenance of the body. Similarly, when we need drink, the throat becomes dry, the dryness moves the nerves of the throat thereby moving the centre of the brain, and the brain's movements cause the sensation of thirst in the mind. It's the sensation of thirst that is produced, because no information about our condition is more useful to us than that we need to get something to drink in order to remain healthy. And the same is true in other cases.

I know that sensory indications of what is good for my body are more often true than false; I can almost always examine a given thing with several senses; and I can also use my memory (which connects the present to the past) and my understanding (which has now examined all the causes of error).

Hence, I need no longer fear that what the senses daily show me is unreal. I should reject the exaggerated doubts of the past few days as ridiculous. This is especially true of the chief ground for these doubts - namely, my inability to distinguish dreaming from being awake. For I now notice that dreaming and being awake are importantly different: the events in dreams are not linked by memory to the rest of my life like those that happen while I am awake. If, while I'm awake, someone were suddenly to appear and then immediately to disappear without my seeing where he came from or went to (as happens in dreams), I would justifiably judge that he was not a real man but a ghost or, better, an apparition created in my brain.

But, if I distinctly observe something's source, its place, and the time at which I learn about it, and if I grasp an unbroken connection between it and the rest of my life, I'm quite sure that it is something in my waking life rather than in a dream. And I ought not to have the slightest doubt about the reality of such things if I have examined them with all my senses, my memory, and my understanding without finding any conflicting evidence.

For, from the fact that God is not a deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in any case of this sort. Since the need to act does not always allow time for such a careful examination, however, we must admit the likelihood of men's erring about particular things and acknowledge the weakness of our nature.

Overall review

In Meditations VI Descartes believes that he has achieved all the aims he set out Meditation I. He believes that his Rational approach and Method of Doubt have achieved Justifed, True, Belief.

In some ways it is a circular journey. He started certain, doubted and ends up certain again! So what is the point of that? Well he would answer that he now has foundational certainty for all his beliefs and he has developed a method to avoid error in the future.

From Meditations II, he believes that he is justified in claiming that he is a “thinking thing”. In Meditation III he believes he is justified in claiming that God is not a deceiver. Now in Meditation VI, he believes that he has demonstrated that he really can distinguish dreams from reality because they do have distinct qualitative differences. For example dreams are often confused and they do not conform to the rules of time and space. The waking state is predictable - people and events do not leap through time and space.

His last major doubt, the existence and appearance of the physical world, is resolved by Descartes’ claim that God has given him a “strong inclination” to believe that the material world exists. Descartes points out that he can use his God-given reason to avoid perceptual error.

Therefore the material world exists as Descartes perceives it.

When we are deceived it is through a fault of our own reasoning, not God’s fault. For example, when we are ill we sometimes want food or liquid when to eat or drink would do us harm. Descartes position on this was that it was better we were deceived when we were sick than when we were healthy!

“Error is the result of imbalance between my understanding and my will. My understanding allows me to have clear and distinct ideas only about a very limited number of things. But my will ventures more. The will needs restrained.”

Descartes’ Final Claims

In Meditation 6, Descartes claims to justify all the knowledge doubted, or rejected, in Meditation 1 – so he now believes he has demonstrated justified true belief.

To achieve this he uses the

• clear and distinct rule

• existence of a God who does not deceive

Doubts & false beliefs to JTB

• Meditation I:– illusion; Phantom limbs; Dreaming argument: Reason & God

• Dreaming is different from waking

• Meditation II:- Cogito Foundational Knowledge

• Meditation III:- God is not a deceiver

• Meditation IV:- Mental image & pure understanding, primary and secondary qualities

• Deception the result of a misjudgment of reason.

• Reasoning can correct the errors of the senses.

• the external world must exist as it is perceived.

Meditations VI - Criticisms

• Clear and distinct rule - What might seem clear might not be true at all.

• Cartesian circle: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule.

• Arguments rely on the existence of a non-deceiving God.

• Primary and secondary quality differences not sustainable

• Dream argument not resolved

• Plus all the problems from Meditation I-III – cogito etc

In Meditation 6 Descartes rebuilds knowledge undermined in Meditation 1

• His strategy relies heavily on the clear and distinct rule

– the existence of a benevolent God previously 'demonstrated' in Meditations 3 and 5.

The Outside World

• Ref to Meditation 1:– illusion; Phantom limbs; Dreaming argument:

• But must we resort to scepticism? Although we shouldn't heedlessly accept sense reports, the ideas we receive which can only be External objects or God or The Demon.

• But we now know God is not a deceiver so the external world must exist as it is perceived.

The role of primary and secondary qualities

• There is an outside world but is it like that reported by my senses?

• Our perception of secondary qualities (colour, smell, taste) is more prone to error that our perception of primary qualities (size, shape, texture etc) which is

revealed clearly by the intellect.

• I now see it is '…impossible that there could be any falsity in my opinions which couldn't be corrected by some faculty supplied by God'.

• Some things which my senses appear to be telling me are in fact a misjudgement of reason.

• So, with the judicious use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses.

Relevant examples:

• 'Grass is green' – we should say 'Grass stimulates sensations of green in us'.

• 'The tower is small' – we should say 'the tower simply appears small and my memory and other senses can confirm its true size'.

• 'My amputated foot causes pain' – we should say 'Feelings of pain from a distant body part could equally be caused by stimulating parts in between'.

Critical evaluation of Descartes' arguments

• Descartes appeals to the clear and distinct rule in his rehabilitation of sense experience.

– What's might seem clear might not be true at all.

– Cartesian circle: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule.

• Many of these arguments rely on the existence of a benevolent God.

• How should we interpret Descartes' distinction between Primary and Secondary qualities? Is it a 'Sensationalist' one or a 'Physicalist' one?

– Sensationalism – secondary qualities exist exclusively and innately in the mind and not in any way in bodies.

– Physicalism – secondary qualities exist both in bodies and the mind, but in different ways. Surface textures are what cause colour sensations to be present in the mind. Like sharpness causes pain.

How effectively does Descartes’ reliance on God help him resolve his sceptical doubts in Meditation 6?

:

• Descartes’ approach relies heavily on the clear and distinct rule and the existence of a benevolent God

• previous doubts: Objects at a distance; dreaming argument; evil demon/genius

• there must be an external cause to the ideas we receive which can only be external objects or God or the demon

• but we now know God is not a deceiver so He wouldn’t allow us to think that these ideas were caused by external objects when they weren’t

• God has given Reason, The Senses, Memory

• some things which my senses appear to be telling me are in fact a misjudgement of reason

• so, with the judicious use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses

• appropriate examples: ‘Grass is green’, we should say ‘Grass stimulates sensations of green in us’; ‘The tower is small’, we should say ‘the tower simply appears small and my memory and other senses can confirm its true size’.

Critical Evaluation of Descartes’ reliance on God may include:

Cartesian circle implicit in the trademark argument:

we all have an innate idea of God?

problems with innate ideas; problems with the empirical accuracy of this claim;

problem of atheists

as much reality in the cause as in the effect?

problem of evil questions God’s benevolence

God allow us to be fooled for His own mysterious purposes?

Ontological argument in Meditation 5; Issue of whether this breaks the Cartesian circle; Issue of whether the Ontological argument is any better at securing God’s existence (defines God into existence?)

• all the faculties are all prone to error so without God as guarantor we are back where we started

.

Explain the role that the evil genius argument plays in

Descartes’ Meditation I.

• The ultimate in scepticism; follows the earlier skeptical arguments in his method of doubt.

• Having established that all knowledge may be unreliable he fears slipping back into old habits.

• He resolves to ‘turn his will in the opposite direction’ and assume that everything is false until it can be proved innocent (or certain), rather than assume everything is innocent until proven guilty (or false).

• He imagines that an evil demon/genius fools him in everything he thinks.

• Descartes does not believe there is such a genius/demon: its existence is merely hypothetical.

• Works as a more effective argument against a priori knowledge than the dreaming argument, which leaves a priori truths unquestioned.

• Also serves as a test or hypothesis by which he can locate suitable candidates for certainty; if anything survives this extreme context, then it must be certain.

• Helps him hit upon the cogito as that which passes the test.

• Raises the possibility of solipsism being true.

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Revision Section

Put these statements into the order from Meditations I (Revision)

1 He would be a madman if he denied present experience to be true.

2 He needs to attack foundational beliefs.

3 Could what he thinks is true be just a dream?

4 All that he has learned has come through the senses.

5 He imagines an evil and deceitful demon controlling his experiences

6 He cannot determine a clear difference between waking experiences and dreaming.

7 His senses do occasionally deceive him.

8 He notes that even certainties like mathematical truths could be a deception

9 Whether waking or sleeping maths truths are true.

10 Dreams must at least be copies of some truth.

Meditation II - The Wax Example Illustration (Revision)

Put these in their correct order

1He examines the wax with his senses

2He knows for certain that he exists

3He notes that his reason not his senses understands the wax clearly

4He assumes he knows nothing for certain

5He realises that he cannot imagine all the possible shapes that the wax can take

6Sense experience is thinking.

7He heats the wax and his sense experience of it changes completely.

8He notes the primary qualities of material objects are, extension, shape and movement.

9He can be certain that he has these experiences,

10The mind is easier to know than the body

For Descartes, what important points are demonstrated by the wax example?

Activity 1

Label each of the following statements Y or N if Descartes would agree or disagree relating to the section of Meditation II before the Cogito.

1. There is a way to defeat the evil demon.

2. The doubts from Meditation I remain.

3. The only certainty may be that there is no certainty.

4. Concepts that can be partially doubted should be treated differently from concepts that can be entirely doubted.

5. Descartes, unlike Archimedes, will need to find more than one indubitable truth.

Activity 2

Label each of the following statements Y or N if Descartes would agree or disagree relating to the section of Meditation II including the Cogito.

1. If Descartes denies that he has senses and a body, then he can't prove that he exists.

2. Descartes proves that God exists.

3. The deceiver could not deceive Descartes into believing he, Descartes, does not exist.

4. Even if there is no physical world, it does not follow that Descartes' mind does not exist.

5. Descartes proves that he exists.

Activity

One benefit of studying Descartes is learning how to reason more effectively. He often uses examples to make a point. Briefly answer the questions that follow each of Descartes' examples.

1. "Archimedes required only one fixed and immovable point to move the whole earth from its place, and I too can hope for great things if I can find even one small thing that is certain and unshakable."

a. Archimedes is being compared to?

b. "One fixed and immovable point" is being compared to?

c. Moving "the whole earth from its place" is being compared to?

d. The point of this analogy is?

e. From you study of logic would you say that the analogy is valid?

Give reasons for your answer.

2. "Let's consider the things commonly taken to be the most distinctly comprehended: physical objects that we see and touch. Let's not consider physical objects in general, since general conceptions are very often confused. Rather, let's consider one particular object. Take, for example, this piece of wax."

a. "Distinctly comprehended" means?

b. An example of a "general conception" might be?

c. The goal in examining the wax is to find out about what?

d. The wax is an example of what?

3. "But, if I happen to look out my window and see men walking in the street, I naturally say that I see the men just as I say that I see the wax. What do I really see, however, but hats and coats that could be covering robots? I judge that there are men. Thus I comprehend with my judgment, which is in my mind, objects that I once believed myself to see with my eyes."

a. The error Descartes believes he makes when he says he "sees" the men and the wax is?

b. What is the purpose of mentioning "robots"?

c. What general point is Descartes making about his senses?

d. What general point is Descartes making about judgment?

e. Errors of the type described in this example are caused by what?

f. What does the last sentence conclude?

g. What evidence is offered for the conclusion in the last sentence?

Activity

Analysis Exercise

All arguments can be divided into two parts: evidence and conclusion. For example:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.

Sentences 1 and 2 are evidence that supports the conclusion

in sentence 3. Think back over Meditations I and II. What evidence, if any, does Descartes offer for each of the following conclusions?

Meditation I

1. The senses cannot be trusted.

2. He cannot be certain that he is sitting beside the fire in his dressing gown.

3. He is not a madman.

4. His dreams must be copies of something real.

5. He can be certain of simple mathematical truths.

6. He cannot be certain of simple mathematical truths.

7. He cannot be certain that God is not a deceiver.

Meditation II

8. The evil demon cannot deceive him about everything.

9. He exists.

10. He is a thinking thing.

11. He can know his essence as a thinking thing more clearly than he can know a piece of wax.

Activity

Evaluation Exercise

Now grade Descartes' evidence for 1-11. Use the following scale -

A: An excellent argument, strong, sensible, would certainly convince any thoughtful person.

B: A good argument, certainly more convincing than non-convincing, but some areas need more development and/or might be open to doubt.

C: A flawed argument, certainly not worthy of a great philosopher. Would need significant improvement to convince a thoughtful person.

D: Any thoughtful person would find it a weak, easy-to-attack argument.

F: A terrible argument that would not convince even someone who desperately wanted to be convinced.

1. Grade each argument.

2. Briefly explain your grade.

3. For each argument you graded "C" or lower, offer evidence that shows why Descartes' argument is weak.

Descartes - in a few sentences explain ...

1 In the battle between Descartes and the evil demon, who wins and how?

2 What is the point of the Archimedes analogy?

3 What does Descartes mean by “I”?

4 What is Descartes’ attitude to sense experience?

Meditations I & II - Problems with Descartes

“Between false belief and knowledge of reality there are many opinions and appearances which may be very different from reality itself.”

Parmenides

Revision Task

1 Is there anything Descartes has not tested with his “Method of Doubt”?

2 What is the problem which arises as a result of this omission?

3 How would Descartes probably answer this criticism?

4 Put his statement - the Cogito - “I think therefore I am”, into the form of a formal argument.

5 Are there any problems as a result of this?

6 Is there a solution?

Descartes and Reality

Usually we take as a given that the world “out there” brought to us by our senses exists pretty much as we sense it. Sure we are deceived by our senses, sometimes, and while we are dreaming we believe what is happening is real, even when it gets pretty weird and embarrassing. So what is Descartes doing? Isn’t he being just a little bit well, silly?

To use an analogy, he is viewing his senses rather like a trusted and loyal bestest, best friend. This bestest best friend has knowingly gone out and deceived him. How can he ever trust him again? This relationship will never be the same again!

This certainty and trust we all seek in our personal relationships, Descartes seeks in the material world. “It’s no use living a lie!” But is this kind of certainty possible?

Cartesian Dualism

Descartes was a dualist. If we forget about God for a moment, according to Descartes, everything in the universe is either mind or matter. Humans are mind and body. Different substances. This raises the question ‘if they are different how do they interact?’ What is the connection?

Descartes said that the pineal gland, situated in the brain, was the bridge between the mind and body but that still leaves the same problem. If there are only two substances, which one of them makes up the pineal gland? And then we are back again where we started.

Meditations II and Beyond

After the Cogito, Descartes continues to use his Method of Doubt. “I cannot infer that the desk in front of me exists.” This certainty was removed by the doubt over the possibility of distinguishing between dreaming and consciousness. So how does Descartes put the world back together?

Descartes was reacting to the sceptics and the empiricists. It was thought by some that the advance of science could result in humans being thought of as merely physical objects - machines.

He wanted to demonstrate foundational certainty and to define substance as other philosophers had tried to.

In Meditation II Descartes established to his own satisfaction that he could

1 intuit that he was, at least, a thinking thing - mind,

2 demonstrate that sense experience was some kind of knowledge

and

3 that matter was deduced and understood by reason.

In Meditations VI, Descartes continues to explore his ideas of physical objects “having a mental image” and a “pure understanding” and deduces that some of his mental images probably come from the actual physical objects.

Descartes continues to explore ideas of physical objects with the aim of differentiating what images come from the objects themselves.

Pure understanding = the knowledge that a triangle has 3 sides.

Mental image = the 3-sided figure imagined in the “mind’s eye” - “visualised”.

He is trying to demonstrate that knowledge is based on reason and reason reflects reality so that he can demonstrate that he does know what he thinks he knows.

Mental images and understanding are distinct. Mental images are not essential to “I”. So this ability depends on something distinct from “Me.”

Material objects probably do exist. But since God is good and therefore not a deceiver, this probability becomes a certainty.

“God would not deceive me into thinking that something exists when it doesn’t.”

So both Descartes, and the world exist as he believes them to exist.

Student Activity

Put Descartes’ argument so far in your own words.

Descartes Meditations I & II - Point-By-Point Summary

Aims - To defeat the sceptics and demonstrate foundational certainty and that rational thought is the basis for this.

Method - Method of Doubt - A thought experiment

Situation - Philosophy, a suspect structure of Classical with Mediaeval additions.

He, like other people, had accepted as true things which have since proved false or at least doubtful.

Doubts can become falsities like apples with slight blemishes can go bad.

Just like the apples in a barrel one bad one can affect the rest so doubtful, not just false ideas must be rejected in case undermine whole arguments. Sound foundations necessary.

Common Sense Method of Doubt

My senses reflect the real world Sense can deceive e.g.

I am awake when I believe that I am Can’t demonstrate that all is not a dream

It is obvious that I have a body Can’t demonstrate that I have a body

God is good All my experience could be caused by an evil deceitful Demon

Why does Descartes initially reject sense experience as a

possible source of certainty in Meditation 1?

• Methodology forbids accepting anything which admits of the slightest doubt.

• Looking for a certain foundation and sense experience does not appear to satisfy this requirement.

• Perceptual illusions: objects at a distance; very small objects.

• Any other relevant examples or illustrations.

• Dreaming argument.

• Demon Hypothesis: intended as an attack on a priori knowledge but is equally effective in guarding against unreliable a posteriori knowledge.

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(b)

Why does Descartes think the Cogito or 'I am, I exist' is a

certain truth?

• Defeats the dreaming argument – even as we are dreaming we must exist.

• Defeats the demon hypothesis – even as we are being fooled we must exist to be fooled.

• Is true every time it is conceived by the mind – it is a self-authenticating statement.

• It is self contradictory to say 'I don't exist'.

• It is true even if he has no body.

• Tied to his belief in mind/body dualism.

• It is the one indubitable certainty that can act as a foundation for all others.

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(c) How successfully does Descartes deal with the issue of

perceptual errors in Meditation 6?

Outline of Descartes' approach

• In Meditation 6 Descartes rebuilds knowledge undermined in Meditation 1.

• His strategy relies heavily on:

– the clear and distinct rule

– the existence of a benevolent God previously

'demonstrated' in Meditations 3 and 5.

The Outside World

• Reference to arguments from Meditation 1:

– objects at a distance; Phantom limbs; Dreaming argument: How do we know the objects reported by the senses exist outside of us?

• But must we resort to scepticism? Although we shouldn't heedlessly accept sense reports, neither should we heedlessly reject them.

• We passively receive ideas of outside objects so there must be an external cause to the ideas we receive which can only be External objects or God or The Demon.

• But we now know God is not a deceiver so He wouldn't allow us to think that these ideas were caused by external objects when they weren't. The role of primary and secondary qualities

• There is an outside world but is it like that reported by my senses?

• Our perception of secondary qualities (colour, smell, taste) is more prone to error that our perception of primary qualities (size, shape, texture etc) which is

revealed clearly by the intellect.

• We don't assume that because we feel pain in approaching a flame that the pain resides in the flame itself. The pain is in us.

• So our perception of secondary qualities may be obscure while our perception of primary qualities is more distinct.

• God equips us with various faculties: Reason, The Senses, Memory.

• I now see it is '…impossible that there could be any falsity in my opinions which couldn't be corrected by some faculty supplied by God'.

• Some things which my senses appear to be telling me are in fact a misjudgement of reason.

• So, with the judicious use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses.

Relevant examples:

• 'Grass is green' – we should say 'Grass stimulates sensations of green in us'.

• 'The tower is small' – we should say 'the tower simply appears small and my memory and other senses can confirm its true size'.

• 'My amputated foot causes pain' – we should say 'Feelings of pain from a distant body part could equally be caused by stimulating parts in between'.

Critical evaluation of Descartes' arguments

• Descartes appeals to the clear and distinct rule in his rehabilitation of sense experience.

– What's might seem clear might not be true at all.

– Cartesian circle: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule.

• Many of these arguments rely on the existence of a benevolent God.

– Descartes gives us two arguments for God.

– The Ontological argument attempts to define god into existence.

– Trademark argument relies on the shaky belief that we all have an innate idea of God. But do we?

• How should we interpret Descartes' distinction between Primary and Secondary qualities? Is it a 'Sensationalist' one or a 'Physicalist' one?

– Sensationalism – secondary qualities exist exclusively and innately in the mind and not in any way in bodies.

– Physicalism – secondary qualities exist both in bodies and the mind, but in different ways. Surface textures are what cause colour sensations to be present in the mind. Like sharpness causes pain.

– Both these views have difficulties.

• All the faculties we cross reference with one another are all prone to error so without God we are back where we started.

How effectively does Descartes’ reliance on God help him

resolve his sceptical doubts in Meditation 6?

Relevant knowledge and understanding may include:

• Descartes’ approach relies heavily on the clear and distinct rule and the existence of a benevolent God

• reference to previous doubts: Objects at a distance; dreaming argument; evil demon/genius

• there must be an external cause to the ideas we receive which can only be external objects or God or the demon

• but we now know God is not a deceiver so He wouldn’t allow us to think that these ideas were caused by external objects when they weren’t

• God equips us with various faculties: Reason, The Senses, Memory

• some things which my senses appear to be telling me are in fact a misjudgement of reason

• so, with the judicious use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses

• appropriate examples: ‘Grass is green’, we should say ‘Grass stimulates sensations of green in us’; ‘The tower is small’, we should say ‘the tower simply appears small and my memory and other senses can confirm its true size’.

Critical Evaluation of Descartes’ reliance on God may include:

• Cartesian circle implicit in the trademark argument: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct

rule

• trademark argument relies on the premise that we all have an innate idea of God; problems with innate ideas; problems with the empirical accuracy of this claim;

problem of atheists

• the premise that there must be as much reality in the cause as in the effect is also questionable; evolution describes how conscious entities can evolve from nonconscious

ones

• problem of evil questions God’s benevolence

• might even a benevolent God allow us to be fooled for His own mysterious purposes?

• Descartes also provides us with the Ontological argument in Meditation 5; Issue of whether this breaks the Cartesian circle; Issue of whether the Ontological argument is any better at securing God’s existence (defines God into existence?)

• all the faculties we cross-reference with one another are all prone to error so without God as guarantor we are back where we started

• any appropriate examples or illustrations

• statement of personal conclusion.

Explain the role that the evil genius argument plays in

Descartes’ Meditation I.

• The ultimate in scepticism; follows the earlier skeptical arguments in his method of doubt.

• Having established that all knowledge may be unreliable he fears slipping back into old habits.

• He resolves to ‘turn his will in the opposite direction’ and assume that everything is false until it can be proved innocent (or certain), rather than assume everything is innocent until proven guilty (or false).

• He imagines that an evil demon/genius fools him in everything he thinks.

• Descartes does not believe there is such a genius/demon: its existence is merely hypothetical.

• Works as a more effective argument against a priori knowledge than the dreaming argument, which leaves a priori truths unquestioned.

• Also serves as a test or hypothesis by which he can locate suitable candidates for certainty; if anything survives this extreme context, then it must be certain.

• Helps him hit upon the cogito as that which passes the test.

• Raises the possibility of solipsism being true.

6

(b)

Do any of Descartes’ arguments successfully overcome the

evil genius hypothesis?

Knowledge and Understanding may include:

• Descartes’ cogito is intended to show that the evil genius/demon hypothesis is not all conquering.

• Outline of the cogito: ‘I am, I exist’ is necessarily true whenever it is conceived in the mind; a self-authenticating truth; cannot be denied without contradiction; even if the genius/demon is fooling me then I still must exist when entertaining false thoughts.

• Candidates might also mention arguments for the existence of a benevolent God as a further blow to the evil genius.

• Appeal to divine benevolence resolves the issue of whether solipsism is true.

• Outline of Trademark argument: we have an (innate) idea of God in our mind; this idea must have a cause; there must be as much reality in an effect as in its cause; the idea is like a trademark left in our minds by God; the idea of God includes the notion that he is benevolent; hence God is no deceiver; if God is benevolent he would not allow us to be fooled in a systematic way by the genius/demon.

8

Analysis and Evaluation may include:

• cogito assumes the truth of the premise that all thoughts have thinkers; the only evidence for this is experiential; Descartes has ruled out experiential knowledge

• cogito arguably assumes the reliability of logic and language, which could be subject to the genius/demon’s interference; depends on how we interpret the cogito as

a logical argument or as an appeal for the necessary connection between a consciousness and a self

• it is possible to be conscious without being self-conscious (eg when engrossed in a film). Hence, consciousness does not imply the existence of an I

• the cogito only guarantees intermittent existence not the

continued experience necessary for the establishment of a self (Ayer). The only evidence we have for continued existence is memory, which could also be subject to the demon’s interference

• all we have access to are impressions and we have no impression of an internal I (Hume). Critical evaluation of his arguments for God:

• cartesian circle implicit in the trademark argument: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct

rule

• trademark argument appears to rely on the premise that we all have an innate idea of God; problems with innate ideas; problems with the empirical accuracy of this

claim; problem of atheists

• the premise that there must be as much reality in the cause as in the effect is also questionable; evolution describes how conscious entities can evolve from nonconscious

ones

• problem of evil questions God’s benevolence

• might even a benevolent God allow us to be fooled for His own mysterious purposes?

• Descartes also provides us with the Ontological argument in Meditation 5; issue of whether this breaks the Cartesian circle; issue of whether the Ontological argument is any better at securing God’s existence (defines God into existence?)

• statement of personal conclusion.

16

Meditations II

Recap of the above but ...

Even if deceit is taking place, there must be something which is being deceived.

Demonstrated that thinking is going on. This thinking is the essence of Me - the Cogito “I think therefore I am”

The Wax Example

A ball of wax can be grasped by the senses - taste, touch etc

But if it is heated all of these sense properties change but we still understand the substance to be wax.

Therefore we do not understand the wax through our senses.

We cannot understand the wax by our imagination because it cannot grasp all the possible forms the wax can take - it is by our reason the wax is grasped distinctly.

Descartes Class Exercise 8/10/99

1 What is Descartes position at the end of Meditations I? 2

2 How did he arrive at that position? 6

3 Is Descartes a sceptic? Give reasons for your answer. 2

4 “Descartes methods and his subject matter are no use in

every-day life.”

How far do you agree with this statement?

5

Total 15

Descartes Class Exercise 8/10/99

1 What is Descartes position at the end of Meditations I? 2

2 How did he arrive at that position? 6

3 Is Descartes a sceptic? Give reasons for your answer. 2

4 “Descartes methods and his subject matter are no use in

every-day life.”

How far do you agree with this statement?

5

Total 15

Philosophical Studies

In any assessment question there are three elements for which marks are awarded.

Knowledge & Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation.

Knowledge & Understanding means to put into your own words the,

facts and definitions

explaining what a concept means

the main features of an issue,

what the philosophical challenges are

e.g. what Plato said, what Descartes said ,what the problem is and so on

Analysis can involve -

explaining the different interpretations of concepts

relating sources to themes and arguments

illustrating the differing viewpoints on an issue or problem

explaining viewpoints and challenges

e.g. what Descartes meant, what was his methodology, what are the various arguments and viewpoints, how does his work develop what others had done, what problems arise or remain?

Evaluation can involve -

assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments

discussing both sides, expanding on their consequences

presenting conclusions

providing supporting reasons

Typically questions will invite you to evaluate by one of the following phrases

How far..

To what extent..

Discuss...

Is it...

Should...

How important..

How central..

How accurate...

How acceptable

How effective...

How successful..

How valid...

The evaluation is the most difficult because it assesses how you can handle all the above information by identifying, what was claimed, what was actually achieved the quality of the arguments and the questions and problems which remain despite these developments. In the last part, the Evaluation, you will also be expected to supply your conclusion and to support this with reasons/references to the rest of what you have written. Notice this is not your opinion.

TASK

Let’s list the the sort of points which might be made in an evaluation of Descartes’ Meditations I & II. Remember not all of these would be relevant for every question and more points will be required when we come to evaluate the arguments in Meditation VI.

MEDITATION SIX

Of the Existence of Material Things, and of the Real Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man

It now remains to inquire whether material things exist. I clearly and distinctly know of objects, inasmuch as they are represented by pure mathematics, and I know that my imagination is capable of persuading me of physical existence, perhaps by the application of knowledge to the body, which is immediately present to it and which therefore, exists.

This is the more clear when we see the difference between imagination and pure intellection. For example, when I imagine a triangle, I conceive it, not only as a figure of three lines, but also by an inward vision, which I call imagining.

But if I think of a chiliagon, a thousand-sided figure, I cannot in any way imagine or visualise it, as the imagination is a different power from understanding. It may be that I can imagine corporeal objects by turning the mind towards the body. This differs from pure intellection, where the mind turns on itself. Because I can discover no other explanation, I think it likely that the body does exist.

First I shall consider those matters perceived through the senses which I hitherto held to be true.

I perceived that I had all the members of this body - which I considered part, or possibly the whole, of myself. Further, I sensed that this body was amidst others, from which it could be affected with pain or pleasure. I also experienced appetites like hunger, thirst, and also passions like joy, tittilation, sadness and anger. Outside myself, in addition to extension, figure and motions of bodies, I beheld in them hardness, heat, light and colour, and scents and sounds, so that I could distinguish the sky, the earth, the sea and other bodies. And because I remembered that I had made use of the senses rather than reason, I came to believe that all the ideas in my mind that had come to me through the senses.

But when I inquired, why painful sensation leads to sadness, and pleasurable sensation to joy, or a mysterious pinching of the stomach called hunger leads to desire to eat, and so on, I could only reason that nature taught me so. There is certainly no affinity (that I at least can understand) between the craving of the stomach and the desire to eat, any more than between pain and sadness.

But experience has gradually destroyed my faith in my senses. I have seen round towers from afar, which closely observed seemed square, and colossal statues, which appeared tiny when closely viewed. I found error in the external senses, and in the internal; for is there anything more internal than pain? And yet I learn that some persons seem to feel pain in an amputated part, which makes me doubt the sources of my own pain. I have experienced sensations when I sleep, yet I do not think they proceed from objects outside of me, so I do not see any reason why I should believe those I have while awake. Furthermore, nature persuaded me of many things which reason found repellant, so that I did not believe that I should trust nature. I knew that my will did not control the ideas I received from the senses, but did not think that reason to conclude that they proceeded from outside myself, since possibly some hidden faculty in me might produce them.

Now that I begin to know myself better, I do not so rashly accept all which the senses seem to teach, but nor do I think I should doubt them all.

I know that God may may have placed in me the things which I comprehend, but I can only explain my ability to make distinctions between one thing and another by concluding that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing. And although possibly I possess a body, because I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as only a thinking and unextended thing, and it is thereby that I possess an idea of body as an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this soul, by which I am what I am, is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.

I further find that faculties of imagination and feeling cannot be conceived apart from me, that is without an intelligent substance in which they reside. I also observe in me faculties like change of position, which can only be conceived as being attached to corporeal substance. There is also in me a faculty of perceiving sensible things which is entirely passive, but this would be useless if there were not an active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. But this active faculty does not presuppose thought, and, as I am a thinking thing, it is necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me. Either this substance is a body, that is, a corporeal nature, or it is God, or some other noble creature. But He would be a deceiver if these ideas were produced other than by corporeal objects. Hence we must allow that corporeal things exist. They may not be exactly as we perceive them, but we must at least admit that such part of them as is clear and distinct (such as that described by mathematics) are truly to be recognised as external objects.

Nature teaches me by the sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, etc. that I am not merely lodged in my body as a pilot in a ship, but that I am so closely united to it that I seem to compose with it one whole. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, the thinking thing, should not feel pain, but would perceive the wound just as the sailor perceives something damaged in his vessel. For all these sensations of hunger, thirst, pain, etc. are in truth just confused modes of thought produced by the apparent intermingling of mind and body.

But there are many other things which nature seems to have taught me. For example; I hold the opinion that all space in which there is nothing that affects my senses is void. That a warm body contains something similar to my idea of heat. That a white or green body has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I perceive. Or that bitter or sweet taste exists in bitter or sweet things. Or that the stars, towers, and other distant bodies are of the same figure as they appear to our eyes. Nature teaches me to flee from things that cause the sensation of pain, and seek things that communicate to me the sentiment of pleasure. But I do not see that this teaches me that from those sense-perceptions we should ever form any conclusion regarding things outside of us, without having carefully mentally examined them. For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to knowledge of the truth about such things. Thus, although a star makes no bigger impression on my eye than a tiny candle flame, yet I have always judged it larger.

Approaching fire I feel heat, and approaching too near I feel pain, but there is no reason to accept that there is something resembling my notion of heat in fire, or than it contains something resembling pain. All that I have any reason to believe is that there is something in it that excites in me these sensations of heat or of pain. Nature has provided me with this sense merely to signify to my mind what things are beneficial or hurtful. Yet, I interpret them as the essence of bodies outside me, as to which, in fact, they can teach me nothing but what is most obscure and confused.

This pursuit or avoidance things, taught me by nature, sometimes leads to error; as when the agreeable taste of some poisoned food may induce me to partake of the poison. Though here nature may be excused, for it only induces me to desire pleasant food, not poison. Thus, I can infer that I am not omniscient, which should not be astonishing, since man is finite in nature.

But we frequently deceive ourselves even in those things to which we are directly impelled by nature, as happens with those who when they are sick desire things hurtful to them. It might be said that sickness corrupts nature, but a sick man is as much God's creature as he who is in health. Just as a badly-made clock still follows the laws of nature, so the body of a man with no mind in it, would have the same motions as at present, excepting those movements due to the direction of the will. It would be natural for such a body, if it suffered the dropsy, to move the nerves and other parts to obtain drink, which is the feature of this disease although it is harmful to the sufferer. This comparison of a sick man to a faulty clock may be a mere verbal quibble, but it remains to inquire how the goodness of God does not prevent the nature of man from being fallacious.

There is a great difference between mind and body, as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is indivisible. When considering the mind, I cannot distinguish in it any different parts. And although the whole mind seems united to the whole body, yet if a foot or an arm is separated from my body, nothing has been taken away from my mind. Those faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding. But I know that corporeal objects can readily be divided into parts, which alone would teach me that the mind or soul is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.

I further notice that the mind does not receive impressions from the body directly, but only from the brain, or perhaps even from the small part of the brain where common sense resides. But because the nerves must pass through a long route, it may happen that some intervening part is excited, which may excite a mistaken movement in the brain. More usually, when, say nerves in the feet are violently moved, their movement, passing through the medulla of the spine to the inmost parts of the brain, gives a sign to the mind which makes it feel pain, as though in the foot. By this, the mind is excited to do its utmost to remove the cause of the evil as dangerous to the foot. It is true that God could have constituted the nature of man such that this movement would have conveyed something quite different to the mind, but nothing would have contributed so well to the conservation of the body.

Notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, composed of mind and body, can sometimes be a source of deception.

This consideration helps me to recognise the errors to which my nature is subject, so as to avoid them, or correct them more easily. Knowing that my senses usually indicate to me truth respecting what is beneficial to the body, and being able almost always to avail myself of many of those senses in order to examine things, together with my memory to connect the present with the past, and my understanding of the causes errors, I ought no longer to fear the falsity of my everyday senses. So, I ought to set aside all the doubts of these past days as hyperbolical and ridiculous, particularly that very common uncertainty respecting dreams, for I now see that memory never connects dreams together as it unites waking events. I ought in never to doubt the truth of such matters, if having called up my senses, memory, and understanding to examine them, nothing is perceived by any one of them which is repugnant to that set forth by the others. For because God is no deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in this.

But because the exigencies of action often oblige us to make up our minds before having leisure to examine matters carefully, we must confess that the life of man is frequently subject to error. We must in the end acknowledge the infirmity of our nature.

There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.

OBJECTION:

Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves. Yet the ideas we have of God may come from external objects.

If God is 'infinite' then we cannot conceive any limits to Him. But no idea could lack any coming into being or limits

How does Descartes know that God is supremely intelligent?

Again, by what means does he know that God has supreme understanding?

Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.

One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there.

REPLY:

Anyone who understands the concept of 'God' must know that they know this. So they must have a form, or idea, of intellectual understanding. By extending this idea indefinitely, they can form an idea of the divine understanding. The same goes for the other attributes of God. So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. All I mean is that we have within ourselves the capacity of summoning it up.

OBJECTION:

Christianity requires us to believe that no idea can be had of God. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe.

REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. As for how we obtain an idea of God, I have repeated this ad nauseam.

INTRODUCTION TO The Meditations

His leading work in physics, mathematics, optics, physiology, geometry and astronomy would have been quite enough to mark out Descartes as one of the founders of the Western way of thinking. But this petit bourgeois former soldier from La Haye in central France determined to round-off his career in the sciences by presenting to the world his thoughts on how it is, and why, we construct truth.

These Meditations begin by attempting to doubt everything, and to build up from that to those few things which we can know with certainty. The result is an idea of the human as essentially spiritual, but temporarily connected to a material body, which knows that its perceptions are valid because God is no deceiver. And how do we know about God? Because we couldn't have even the concept of so perfect a being unless God had put it into us, like the mark of the craftsman on his work.

But isn't this no more than saying that "I know what I know", and justifying this by saying "one of the things I know is a benevolent God" in a pointlessly circular process of introspection? Possibly so, but the Meditations may still be seen as a foundation of modern philosophy inasmuch as it, as with all the best philosophy, properly asks the right questions for its time, questions which we are only now discovering how to answer.

Descartes was extraordinarily honest, at least by the standards of his time, in circulating the manuscript of The Meditations for comment and publishing these "Objections and Replies" alongside the text. These are actually larger than the original book and are rarely reproduced today, but we include a precis of the dialog with Thomas Hobbes to give a feel of the whole.

The Quickie Meditations

I: Many of the things I used to be certain of, I now know to be doubtful or nonsense. To find some firm foundation for knowledge, I must try to establish what is absolutely true. Senses deceive but can be checked. Waking could be dreaming but there must be some reality and anyway 2 + 3 always = 5. But what if I imagine that some evil genie is deceiving me about absolutely everything. What can I be certain of now?

II: I can't be sure of the things I know, but I can be sure that I know things but even if I am being deceived, I know I must be thinking. Sucker!!

III: All ideas have a cause. Logically the cause must either be inside me, or outside me. Infinity and perfection cannot be within me, so the idea of an infinite and perfect God must have come from something outside me, so God must exist!

VI: I imagine that I have a body and that my knowledge comes from my senses. Dreaming is different from waking. . Using several senses together I can determine what is true. But we don't always have time for this, so we often make mistakes. But, because God exists and is not a deceiver, these deceptions are only occasional and are my fault for not applying my reason enough. Therefore, by reason, I can establish that I know what I know for certain and that I will know what I will know for certain.

GLOSSARY

Ideas: Mental images we create of things which appear to be outside of ourselves.

Cartesian: A word used to mean 'from Descartes'

The Cartesian Circle: Descartes concept that we know that which is clear and distinct because it is assured in us by God, and that we know God because He is a clear and distinct idea.

Cartesian dualism: Descartes concept of mind and body being two entirely separate things.

The Cogito: Shorthand for Descartes principle that 'I think, therefore I am' (Latin: Cogito Ergo sum)

MEDITATIONS

on First Philosophy in which the Existence of God and the Distinction Between Mind and Body are Demonstrated.

By René Descartes, 1641

MEDITATION ONE

Of the things which may be brought within the sphere of the doubtful.

So many of the opinions I held so firmly in my youth were false, that I must admit how doubtful is everything I have since constructed. Thus, I have become convinced that, if I ever want to establish firm structure for the sciences, I must build anew from the foundation. Today, since I have a leisurely retirement, I shall at last seriously address myself to this problem. To examine each opinion would take forever; so I shall begin by attacking those principles upon which all others rest.

I have formerly accepted as true and certain those things I learn through the senses. Like the fact that I am seated by this fire, in a dressing gown, with this paper in my hands. And how could I deny that this body is mine, unless I was as mad as those whose cerebella are so clouded by black bile that they believe they have an earthenware head or a glass body? Yet, I must remember that I have dreams, which are almost as insane. Often I have dreamt that I was dressed and seated near this fire, whilst I was lying undressed in bed! It seems to me that I am now awake, but I remind myself that I have dreamt that too. Yet even dreams are formed out of things real and true. Just as a painter represents sirens or satyrs from a medley of different animals; even quite novel images are still composed of real colours.

For the same reason, although general things may be imaginary, we are bound to confess that there are simpler objects which are real and true; such as colours, quantity or magnitude and number. That is why Physics, Astronomy, Medicine and those sciences which consider composite things, are dubious; but Arithmetic, Geometry and sciences which treat of things very simple and general contain some certainty. For whether I am awake or asleep, two and three always form five, and a square has four sides. It does not seem possible that truths so clear and apparent can be uncertain.

Now, I have long believed in an all-powerful God who made me. I can imagine that other people deceive themselves, but how do I know that I am not deceived when I add two and three, or count the sides of a square? If God is good, how can it be that he sometimes permits me to be deceived?

Let us, for the present, imagine that God is a fable. Whether I have come about by fate or accident or by a continual succession of antecedents - since to deceive oneself is a defect, it is clear that the author of my skills must be a greater deceiver still.

I confess that there is nothing in all that I formerly believed, which I cannot doubt in some measure. We must be careful to keep this in mind, and fear not that there is peril or error in yielding to distrust, since I am not considering questions of action, but only of knowledge.

So, I intend to attach myself to the idea that some evil genie is deceiving me; that the heavens, the earth, colours, figures, sound, even my body and senses are nought but illusions and dreams. This task is a difficult one, for just as a prisoner who dreams of liberty, when he begins to suspect that it is but a dream, fears to awaken, so I may fall back into my former opinions.

MEDITATION TWO

Of the Nature of the Human Mind; and that it is more easily Known than the Body.

Yesterday's meditation left me all but drowning in doubts. Nonetheless, I will continue the journey in hope of finding, like Archimedes moving the earth, some fixed point of certainty.

It is not even necessary that God puts ideas into my mind, for it is possible that I am producing them myself. But am I myself something? I have chosen to deny that I have senses and body, but the deceiver can never cause me to be nothing so long as I think that I am something. So, we must definitely conclude that; I think therefore I am, is necessarily true each time I mentally conceive it.

But I do not yet know clearly what I am. I believed myself to be a man, but what is a man? To say 'man is a reasoning animal' means that I should have to inquire into the subtleties of what an animal is, and what reasonable. But I know that I considered myself as having bones and flesh, that I was nourished, that I walked, that I felt, and that I thought, and I referred all these actions to the soul: but I did not stop to consider what the soul was, or if I did, I imagined that it was something extremely subtle like a wind or flame within my grosser parts.

I have determined to imagine that that evil genie is deceiving me even about my knowledge of my own self. So what are those attributes of my own self?

I knew that I could eat and walk, but that would be impossible if my body were a deceit. I knew that I had sensations. But one cannot feel without body, and besides, I have dreamt of having sensations. What of thinking? This surely is an attribute that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from me. Could it be the case that if I ceased to think, then I would cease to exist?

Putting aside all which is not necessarily true: then I can accurately state that I am no more than a thing which thinks, that is to say a mind or a soul, or an understanding, or a reason.

I am, however, a real thing; but what thing? I have answered: a thing which thinks. I exist, but what am I? I am the I whom I know exists. The very knowledge of my existence does not depend on uncertain things, nor could I feign it; for there would still be the I that feigns things. I am a thinking thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, imagines and feels.

Finally, I am the same who perceives things like noise and heat by the organs of sense. But could these be naught but dreams and chimera? I seem to comprehend corporeal things in the world, and even to know them better than I know the contents of my mind, but could they still be false?

Let us consider one simple corporeal thing- this piece of wax: freshly taken from the hive, with the sweetness of its honey and the aroma of flowers. It has its colour, its figure, its size. It appears hard, cold, and if you strike it with the finger, it will emit a sound. But while I speak, I take it near to the fire; the smell, colour, shape is all destroyed. It becomes liquid, it heats so that scarcely can one handle it, and when one strikes it, no sound is made. All sensation is changed, yet we confess that it is the same wax

I can imagine that this wax might be made into a square or a triangle and still be the same wax. No! More! I imagine that it, or any piece of wax, could be formed to any shape, even though my mind cannot encompass such an infinitude of forms. I seems that I could not even understand through the imagination what this piece of wax is. So, must I conclude that the wax is properly known through vision rather than from intuition of mind? But if we grant this, may we not also grant that the men I see outside my window are just automatic machines wearing hats and coats?

It is now manifest to me that bodies are not properly known by the senses or by the imagination, but by the understanding only. Things are not known from the fact that they are seen or touched, but because they are understood. I now see clearly that there is nothing which is easier for me to know than my mind.

But it is difficult to rid oneself of a long-held view, so it will be well that I should rest at this point, to meditate on this new knowledge.

OBJECTIONS AND REPLIES

The squashed version of Thomas Hobbes objections to the Meditations, and Descartes replies.

Against Meditation I

1st OBJECTION: Even from Plato we have the notion of wondering whether anything exists or not. It is a pity that such a distinguished thinker should come out with this old stuff.

1st REPLY: I did not claim any originality. I reviewed these ideas as a medical writer gives a description of a disease he will explain how to cure.

Against Meditation II

2nd OBJECTION: Knowledge of the proposition 'I exist' depends on knowledge of the proposition 'I think'; and knowledge of the latter on the fact that we cannot separate thought from thinking matter. M Descartes assumes the soul is not physical without any proof.

2nd REPLY: When I used the terms like 'mind', 'soul', 'understanding' and 'reason', I meant things endowed with the capacity of thinking. I did not say that thinking is not corporeal. I left if undecided up to the sixth Meditation, where it is proved.

3rd OBJECTION: While not separate from me, my thinking is different from me, in the same sense as dancing is distinct from the dancer. If Descartes has shown that understanding is identical with the person who understands, we shall be back with the jargon of university philosophers: understanding understands, seeing sees, or even walking, or at least the capacity to walk, will walk. This is obscure misuse of language, quite unworthy of Mr. Descartes'.

3rd REPLY: I merely meant that all those modes of thinking are in me; and I cannot see what doubt or obscurity can be imagined here.

4th OBJECTION: It is old Aristotle's reasoning that there is some difference between imagining and conceiving, as with the wax. But Descartes has not explained how they are different. If reasoning is nothing other than using the word 'is' to join names, then reasoning depends on names; names depend on images; then it follows that mind is just motions in the body.

4th REPLY: I did explain the difference between an image, and a concept belonging to the mind - as with what we know of the wax through images, and what we conceive with the mind. In reasoning, it is not names that are joined, but the things signified by the names. If the Philosopher holds that things are signified by words, then he must accept that our reasonings are about things, rather than about the words alone. Cannot a Frenchman or a German reason about the same things, even though they have different words? I am amazed that the opposite could ever have entered anyone's head. If he concludes that mind is motion, he could with equally conclude that earth is sky, or anything else he fancied.

Against Meditation III

5th OBJECTION: Such ideas as we have are based on real things. Even our idea of an angel as a pretty boy with wings is based on real observations. But we have no knowledge of God, so it would be foolish idolatry to have an 'idea' of him in this sense.

5th REPLY: No more suitable word than 'idea' was available. I could never satisfy people who prefer to give my words meanings different from the ones I give them.

6th OBJECTION: Even if fear, for instance, is a thought, I fail to see how it can be anything other than the thought of the thing you are afraid of.

6th REPLY: It goes without saying that seeing a lion and being frightened of it at the same time, is different from merely seeing it.- and this happens without language. I cannot find anything here which requires a reply.

7th OBJECTION: This whole inquiry collapses if there is no idea of God. It has not been proved that there is any such idea. The idea of my own self, I get it from looking at my body; and of the soul by reasoning.

7th REPLY: It is obvious that there is an idea of God. When he says there is no idea of the soul, he means only that there is no image.

8th OBJECTION: There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.

8th REPLY: What he says is not an idea of the sun is precisely what I myself call an 'idea'.

9th OBJECTION: Does it make sense to talk of reality being 'more' or 'less'?

9th REPLY: Substances are more real than modes or incomplete things. All this is absolutely self-evident.

10th OBJECTION: Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves. Yet the ideas we have of God may come from external objects.

If God is 'infinite' then we cannot conceive any limits to Him. But no idea could lack any coming into being or limits

How does Descartes know that God is supremely intelligent?

Again, by what means does he know that God has supreme understanding?

Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.

One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there.

10th REPLY: Anyone who understands the concept of 'God' must know that they know this. So they must have a form, or idea, of intellectual understanding. By extending this idea indefinitely, they can form an idea of the divine understanding. The same goes for the other attributes of God. So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. All I mean is that we have within ourselves the capacity of summoning it up.

11th OBJECTION: Christianity requires us to believe that no idea can be had of God. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe.

11th REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. As for how we obtain an idea of God, I have repeated this ad nauseam.

Against Meditation IV

12th OBJECTION: Descartes is wrong to think that ability to make mistakes requires some special faculty, it needs nothing more than the possession of reasoning ability- this is why stones cannot make mistakes. It should also be noted that the freedom of the will is assumed without proof.

12th REPLY: Making of mistakes is lack of ability, but it does not follow that the lack has any positive being. Analogously, stones do not have a sense of sight; but that alone is not enough for them to be described as blind.

I am amazed that I have not yet come across a single valid argument among all these objections. In this passage I made no assumptions about the freedom of the will, beyond what we all experience in ourselves. It is perfectly evident by the light of nature- on introspecting, no-one will fail to experience in themselves the essential identity of willing and being free.

13th OBJECTION: The expression 'a great illumination in my understanding' is metaphorical, and is inappropriate for logical reasoning. Those lacking in self-criticism claim illumination of this sort.

13th REPLY: It is irrelevant whether the expression 'a great illumination' is appropriate for logical reasoning or not, provided it is appropriate for explaining what is meant - as indeed it is.

Against Meditation V

14th OBJECTION: If the triangle exists nowhere in the world, I fail to understand how it can have any sort of nature. That which is nowhere has no being. Similarly, the proposition: 'Humans are animals' will be true to eternity, because names are eternal; but once the human race has died out there will no longer be any human nature.

14th REPLY: Everybody is familiar with the distinction between essential being and actual existence; and I have already demolished what he says here about eternal names, when he should be talking about concepts or ideas of eternal truth.

Against Meditation VI

15th OBJECTION: It is no sin for doctors to deceive their patients for the sake of their health; or parents deceive their children for their own good; the wrongness of deception does not consist in the falsity of what is said, but in the harm caused by the deception. Descartes should have considered whether the proposition that 'there are no circumstances in which God can deceive us' is true, if taken in a universal sense. If this proposition is not universally true, then the conclusion 'therefore corporeal things exist' does not follow.

15th REPLY: My conclusion does not require that there are no circumstances under which we can make mistakes (I have already admitted that we often make mistakes). What it requires is that we are not mistaken in circumstances where our error would imply that God had deliberately decided to deceive us, since that would be inconsistent with his nature. Again, the inference is invalid here.

LAST OBJECTION: If the dreamer dreams whether he is dreaming or not, he cannot dream that his dream coheres with ideas of past events succeeding each other in a long chain. Besides, according to Descartes, all certainty depends on a single item of knowledge, namely that there is an undeceiving God. But it follows, either that atheists cannot infer that they are awake from their memories of their past lives, or that someone can know that they are awake, despite not recognising the existence of the undeceiving God.

LAST REPLY: A dreamer cannot really connect the contents of their dream with the ideas of past events, although they can dream that they are making the connection. Does anybody deny that people can make mistakes in their sleep? But later, on waking up, they will readily see that they had been wrong.

Atheists can infer that they are awake from their memories of previous events in their lives; but they cannot know scientifically that this is a sufficient indication for them to be certain that they are not mistaken, unless they know that they were created by an undeceiving God

MEDITATION SIX

Of the Existence of Material Things, and of the Real Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man

It now remains to inquire whether material things exist. I clearly and distinctly know of objects, inasmuch as they are represented by pure mathematics, and I know that my imagination is capable of persuading me of physical existence, perhaps by the application of knowledge to the body, which is immediately present to it and which therefore, exists.

This is the more clear when we see the difference between imagination and pure intellection. For example, when I imagine a triangle, I conceive it, not only as a figure of three lines, but also by an inward vision, which I call imagining.

But if I think of a chiliagon, a thousand-sided figure, I cannot in any way imagine or visualise it, as the imagination is a different power from understanding. It may be that I can imagine corporeal objects by turning the mind towards the body. This differs from pure intellection, where the mind turns on itself. Because I can discover no other explanation, I think it likely that the body does exist.

First I shall consider those matters perceived through the senses which I hitherto held to be true.

I perceived that I had all the members of this body - which I considered part, or possibly the whole, of myself. Further, I sensed that this body was amidst others, from which it could be affected with pain or pleasure. I also experienced appetites like hunger, thirst, and also passions like joy, tittilation, sadness and anger. Outside myself, in addition to extension, figure and motions of bodies, I beheld in them hardness, heat, light and colour, and scents and sounds, so that I could distinguish the sky, the earth, the sea and other bodies. And because I remembered that I had made use of the senses rather than reason, I came to believe that all the ideas in my mind that had come to me through the senses.

But when I inquired, why painful sensation leads to sadness, and pleasurable sensation to joy, or a mysterious pinching of the stomach called hunger leads to desire to eat, and so on, I could only reason that nature taught me so. There is certainly no affinity (that I at least can understand) between the craving of the stomach and the desire to eat, any more than between pain and sadness.

But experience has gradually destroyed my faith in my senses. I have seen round towers from afar, which closely observed seemed square, and colossal statues, which appeared tiny when closely viewed. I found error in the external senses, and in the internal; for is there anything more internal than pain? And yet I learn that some persons seem to feel pain in an amputated part, which makes me doubt the sources of my own pain. I have experienced sensations when I sleep, yet I do not think they proceed from objects outside of me, so I do not see any reason why I should believe those I have while awake. Furthermore, nature persuaded me of many things which reason found repellant, so that I did not believe that I should trust nature. I knew that my will did not control the ideas I received from the senses, but did not think that reason to conclude that they proceeded from outside myself, since possibly some hidden faculty in me might produce them.

Now that I begin to know myself better, I do not so rashly accept all which the senses seem to teach, but nor do I think I should doubt them all.

I know that God may may have placed in me the things which I comprehend, but I can only explain my ability to make distinctions between one thing and another by concluding that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing. And although possibly I possess a body, because I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as only a thinking and unextended thing, and it is thereby that I possess an idea of body as an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this soul, by which I am what I am, is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.

I further find that faculties of imagination and feeling cannot be conceived apart from me, that is without an intelligent substance in which they reside. I also observe in me faculties like change of position, which can only be conceived as being attached to corporeal substance. There is also in me a faculty of perceiving sensible things which is entirely passive, but this would be useless if there were not an active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. But this active faculty does not presuppose thought, and, as I am a thinking thing, it is necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me. Either this substance is a body, that is, a corporeal nature, or it is God, or some other noble creature. But He would be a deceiver if these ideas were produced other than by corporeal objects. Hence we must allow that corporeal things exist. They may not be exactly as we perceive them, but we must at least admit that such part of them as is clear and distinct (such as that described by mathematics) are truly to be recognised as external objects.

Nature teaches me by the sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, etc. that I am not merely lodged in my body as a pilot in a ship, but that I am so closely united to it that I seem to compose with it one whole. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, the thinking thing, should not feel pain, but would perceive the wound just as the sailor perceives something damaged in his vessel. For all these sensations of hunger, thirst, pain, etc. are in truth just confused modes of thought produced by the apparent intermingling of mind and body.

But there are many other things which nature seems to have taught me. For example; I hold the opinion that all space in which there is nothing that affects my senses is void. That a warm body contains something similar to my idea of heat. That a white or green body has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I perceive. Or that bitter or sweet taste exists in bitter or sweet things. Or that the stars, towers, and other distant bodies are of the same figure as they appear to our eyes. Nature teaches me to flee from things that cause the sensation of pain, and seek things that communicate to me the sentiment of pleasure. But I do not see that this teaches me that from those sense-perceptions we should ever form any conclusion regarding things outside of us, without having carefully mentally examined them. For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to knowledge of the truth about such things. Thus, although a star makes no bigger impression on my eye than a tiny candle flame, yet I have always judged it larger.

Approaching fire I feel heat, and approaching too near I feel pain, but there is no reason to accept that there is something resembling my notion of heat in fire, or than it contains something resembling pain. All that I have any reason to believe is that there is something in it that excites in me these sensations of heat or of pain. Nature has provided me with this sense merely to signify to my mind what things are beneficial or hurtful. Yet, I interpret them as the essence of bodies outside me, as to which, in fact, they can teach me nothing but what is most obscure and confused.

This pursuit or avoidance things, taught me by nature, sometimes leads to error; as when the agreeable taste of some poisoned food may induce me to partake of the poison. Though here nature may be excused, for it only induces me to desire pleasant food, not poison. Thus, I can infer that I am not omniscient, which should not be astonishing, since man is finite in nature.

But we frequently deceive ourselves even in those things to which we are directly impelled by nature, as happens with those who when they are sick desire things hurtful to them. It might be said that sickness corrupts nature, but a sick man is as much God's creature as he who is in health. Just as a badly-made clock still follows the laws of nature, so the body of a man with no mind in it, would have the same motions as at present, excepting those movements due to the direction of the will. It would be natural for such a body, if it suffered the dropsy, to move the nerves and other parts to obtain drink, which is the feature of this disease although it is harmful to the sufferer. This comparison of a sick man to a faulty clock may be a mere verbal quibble, but it remains to inquire how the goodness of God does not prevent the nature of man from being fallacious.

There is a great difference between mind and body, as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is indivisible. When considering the mind, I cannot distinguish in it any different parts. And although the whole mind seems united to the whole body, yet if a foot or an arm is separated from my body, nothing has been taken away from my mind. Those faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding. But I know that corporeal objects can readily be divided into parts, which alone would teach me that the mind or soul is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.

I further notice that the mind does not receive impressions from the body directly, but only from the brain, or perhaps even from the small part of the brain where common sense resides. But because the nerves must pass through a long route, it may happen that some intervening part is excited, which may excite a mistaken movement in the brain. More usually, when, say nerves in the feet are violently moved, their movement, passing through the medulla of the spine to the inmost parts of the brain, gives a sign to the mind which makes it feel pain, as though in the foot. By this, the mind is excited to do its utmost to remove the cause of the evil as dangerous to the foot. It is true that God could have constituted the nature of man such that this movement would have conveyed something quite different to the mind, but nothing would have contributed so well to the conservation of the body.

Notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, composed of mind and body, can sometimes be a source of deception.

This consideration helps me to recognise the errors to which my nature is subject, so as to avoid them, or correct them more easily. Knowing that my senses usually indicate to me truth respecting what is beneficial to the body, and being able almost always to avail myself of many of those senses in order to examine things, together with my memory to connect the present with the past, and my understanding of the causes errors, I ought no longer to fear the falsity of my everyday senses. So, I ought to set aside all the doubts of these past days as hyperbolical and ridiculous, particularly that very common uncertainty respecting dreams, for I now see that memory never connects dreams together as it unites waking events. I ought in never to doubt the truth of such matters, if having called up my senses, memory, and understanding to examine them, nothing is perceived by any one of them which is repugnant to that set forth by the others. For because God is no deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in this.

But because the exigencies of action often oblige us to make up our minds before having leisure to examine matters carefully, we must confess that the life of man is frequently subject to error. We must in the end acknowledge the infirmity of our nature.

OBJECTIONS AND REPLIES

The squashed version of Thomas Hobbes objections to the Meditations, and Descartes replies.

Against Meditation I

1st OBJECTION: Even from Plato we have the notion of wondering whether anything exists or not. It is a pity that such a distinguished thinker should come out with this old stuff.

1st REPLY: I did not claim any originality. I reviewed these ideas as a medical writer gives a description of a disease he will explain how to cure.

Against Meditation II

2nd OBJECTION: Knowledge of the proposition 'I exist' depends on knowledge of the proposition 'I think'; and knowledge of the latter on the fact that we cannot separate thought from thinking matter. M Descartes assumes the soul is not physical without any proof.

2nd REPLY: When I used the terms like 'mind', 'soul', 'understanding' and 'reason', I meant things endowed with the capacity of thinking. I did not say that thinking is not corporeal. I left if undecided up to the sixth Meditation, where it is proved.

3rd OBJECTION: While not separate from me, my thinking is different from me, in the same sense as dancing is distinct from the dancer. If Descartes has shown that understanding is identical with the person who understands, we shall be back with the jargon of university philosophers: understanding understands, seeing sees, or even walking, or at least the capacity to walk, will walk. This is obscure misuse of language, quite unworthy of Mr. Descartes'.

3rd REPLY: I merely meant that all those modes of thinking are in me; and I cannot see what doubt or obscurity can be imagined here.

4th OBJECTION: It is old Aristotle's reasoning that there is some difference between imagining and conceiving, as with the wax. But Descartes has not explained how they are different. If reasoning is nothing other than using the word 'is' to join names, then reasoning depends on names; names depend on images; then it follows that mind is just motions in the body.

4th REPLY: I did explain the difference between an image, and a concept belonging to the mind - as with what we know of the wax through images, and what we conceive with the mind. In reasoning, it is not names that are joined, but the things signified by the names. If the Philosopher holds that things are signified by words, then he must accept that our reasonings are about things, rather than about the words alone. Cannot a Frenchman or a German reason about the same things, even though they have different words? I am amazed that the opposite could ever have entered anyone's head. If he concludes that mind is motion, he could with equally conclude that earth is sky, or anything else he fancied.

Against Meditation III

5th OBJECTION: Such ideas as we have are based on real things. Even our idea of an angel as a pretty boy with wings is based on real observations. But we have no knowledge of God, so it would be foolish idolatry to have an 'idea' of him in this sense.

5th REPLY: No more suitable word than 'idea' was available. I could never satisfy people who prefer to give my words meanings different from the ones I give them.

6th OBJECTION: Even if fear, for instance, is a thought, I fail to see how it can be anything other than the thought of the thing you are afraid of.

6th REPLY: It goes without saying that seeing a lion and being frightened of it at the same time, is different from merely seeing it.- and this happens without language. I cannot find anything here which requires a reply.

7th OBJECTION: This whole inquiry collapses if there is no idea of God. It has not been proved that there is any such idea. The idea of my own self, I get it from looking at my body; and of the soul by reasoning.

7th REPLY: It is obvious that there is an idea of God. When he says there is no idea of the soul, he means only that there is no image.

8th OBJECTION: There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.

8th REPLY: What he says is not an idea of the sun is precisely what I myself call an 'idea'.

9th OBJECTION: Does it make sense to talk of reality being 'more' or 'less'?

9th REPLY: Substances are more real than modes or incomplete things. All this is absolutely self-evident.

10th OBJECTION: Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves. Yet the ideas we have of God may come from external objects.

If God is 'infinite' then we cannot conceive any limits to Him. But no idea could lack any coming into being or limits

How does Descartes know that God is supremely intelligent?

Again, by what means does he know that God has supreme understanding?

Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.

One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there.

10th REPLY: Anyone who understands the concept of 'God' must know that they know this. So they must have a form, or idea, of intellectual understanding. By extending this idea indefinitely, they can form an idea of the divine understanding. The same goes for the other attributes of God. So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. All I mean is that we have within ourselves the capacity of summoning it up.

11th OBJECTION: Christianity requires us to believe that no idea can be had of God. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe.

11th REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. As for how we obtain an idea of God, I have repeated this ad nauseam.

Against Meditation IV

12th OBJECTION: Descartes is wrong to think that ability to make mistakes requires some special faculty, it needs nothing more than the possession of reasoning ability- this is why stones cannot make mistakes. It should also be noted that the freedom of the will is assumed without proof.

12th REPLY: Making of mistakes is lack of ability, but it does not follow that the lack has any positive being. Analogously, stones do not have a sense of sight; but that alone is not enough for them to be described as blind.

I am amazed that I have not yet come across a single valid argument among all these objections. In this passage I made no assumptions about the freedom of the will, beyond what we all experience in ourselves. It is perfectly evident by the light of nature- on introspecting, no-one will fail to experience in themselves the essential identity of willing and being free.

13th OBJECTION: The expression 'a great illumination in my understanding' is metaphorical, and is inappropriate for logical reasoning. Those lacking in self-criticism claim illumination of this sort.

13th REPLY: It is irrelevant whether the expression 'a great illumination' is appropriate for logical reasoning or not, provided it is appropriate for explaining what is meant - as indeed it is.

Against Meditation V

14th OBJECTION: If the triangle exists nowhere in the world, I fail to understand how it can have any sort of nature. That which is nowhere has no being. Similarly, the proposition: 'Humans are animals' will be true to eternity, because names are eternal; but once the human race has died out there will no longer be any human nature.

14th REPLY: Everybody is familiar with the distinction between essential being and actual existence; and I have already demolished what he says here about eternal names, when he should be talking about concepts or ideas of eternal truth.

Against Meditation VI

15th OBJECTION: It is no sin for doctors to deceive their patients for the sake of their health; or parents deceive their children for their own good; the wrongness of deception does not consist in the falsity of what is said, but in the harm caused by the deception. Descartes should have considered whether the proposition that 'there are no circumstances in which God can deceive us' is true, if taken in a universal sense. If this proposition is not universally true, then the conclusion 'therefore corporeal things exist' does not follow.

15th REPLY: My conclusion does not require that there are no circumstances under which we can make mistakes (I have already admitted that we often make mistakes). What it requires is that we are not mistaken in circumstances where our error would imply that God had deliberately decided to deceive us, since that would be inconsistent with his nature. Again, the inference is invalid here.

LAST OBJECTION: If the dreamer dreams whether he is dreaming or not, he cannot dream that his dream coheres with ideas of past events succeeding each other in a long chain. Besides, according to Descartes, all certainty depends on a single item of knowledge, namely that there is an undeceiving God. But it follows, either that atheists cannot infer that they are awake from their memories of their past lives, or that someone can know that they are awake, despite not recognising the existence of the undeceiving God.

LAST REPLY: A dreamer cannot really connect the contents of their dream with the ideas of past events, although they can dream that they are making the connection. Does anybody deny that people can make mistakes in their sleep? But later, on waking up, they will readily see that they had been wrong.

Atheists can infer that they are awake from their memories of previous events in their lives; but they cannot know scientifically that this is a sufficient indication for them to be certain that they are not mistaken, unless they know that they were created by an undeceiving God

MEDITATION SIX

Of the Existence of Material Things, and of the Real Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man

It now remains to inquire whether material things exist. I clearly and distinctly know of objects, inasmuch as they are represented by pure mathematics, and I know that my imagination is capable of persuading me of physical existence, perhaps by the application of knowledge to the body, which is immediately present to it and which therefore, exists.

This is the more clear when we see the difference between imagination and pure intellection. For example, when I imagine a triangle, I conceive it, not only as a figure of three lines, but also by an inward vision, which I call imagining.

But if I think of a chiliagon, a thousand-sided figure, I cannot in any way imagine or visualise it, as the imagination is a different power from understanding. It may be that I can imagine corporeal objects by turning the mind towards the body. This differs from pure intellection, where the mind turns on itself. Because I can discover no other explanation, I think it likely that the body does exist.

First I shall consider those matters perceived through the senses which I hitherto held to be true.

I perceived that I had all the members of this body - which I considered part, or possibly the whole, of myself. Further, I sensed that this body was amidst others, from which it could be affected with pain or pleasure. I also experienced appetites like hunger, thirst, and also passions like joy, tittilation, sadness and anger. Outside myself, in addition to extension, figure and motions of bodies, I beheld in them hardness, heat, light and colour, and scents and sounds, so that I could distinguish the sky, the earth, the sea and other bodies. And because I remembered that I had made use of the senses rather than reason, I came to believe that all the ideas in my mind that had come to me through the senses.

But when I inquired, why painful sensation leads to sadness, and pleasurable sensation to joy, or a mysterious pinching of the stomach called hunger leads to desire to eat, and so on, I could only reason that nature taught me so. There is certainly no affinity (that I at least can understand) between the craving of the stomach and the desire to eat, any more than between pain and sadness.

But experience has gradually destroyed my faith in my senses. I have seen round towers from afar, which closely observed seemed square, and colossal statues, which appeared tiny when closely viewed. I found error in the external senses, and in the internal; for is there anything more internal than pain? And yet I learn that some persons seem to feel pain in an amputated part, which makes me doubt the sources of my own pain. I have experienced sensations when I sleep, yet I do not think they proceed from objects outside of me, so I do not see any reason why I should believe those I have while awake. Furthermore, nature persuaded me of many things which reason found repellant, so that I did not believe that I should trust nature. I knew that my will did not control the ideas I received from the senses, but did not think that reason to conclude that they proceeded from outside myself, since possibly some hidden faculty in me might produce them.

Now that I begin to know myself better, I do not so rashly accept all which the senses seem to teach, but nor do I think I should doubt them all.

I know that God may may have placed in me the things which I comprehend, but I can only explain my ability to make distinctions between one thing and another by concluding that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing. And although possibly I possess a body, because I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as only a thinking and unextended thing, and it is thereby that I possess an idea of body as an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this soul, by which I am what I am, is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.

I further find that faculties of imagination and feeling cannot be conceived apart from me, that is without an intelligent substance in which they reside. I also observe in me faculties like change of position, which can only be conceived as being attached to corporeal substance. There is also in me a faculty of perceiving sensible things which is entirely passive, but this would be useless if there were not an active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. But this active faculty does not presuppose thought, and, as I am a thinking thing, it is necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me. Either this substance is a body, that is, a corporeal nature, or it is God, or some other noble creature. But He would be a deceiver if these ideas were produced other than by corporeal objects. Hence we must allow that corporeal things exist. They may not be exactly as we perceive them, but we must at least admit that such part of them as is clear and distinct (such as that described by mathematics) are truly to be recognised as external objects.

Nature teaches me by the sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, etc. that I am not merely lodged in my body as a pilot in a ship, but that I am so closely united to it that I seem to compose with it one whole. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, the thinking thing, should not feel pain, but would perceive the wound just as the sailor perceives something damaged in his vessel. For all these sensations of hunger, thirst, pain, etc. are in truth just confused modes of thought produced by the apparent intermingling of mind and body.

But there are many other things which nature seems to have taught me. For example; I hold the opinion that all space in which there is nothing that affects my senses is void. That a warm body contains something similar to my idea of heat. That a white or green body has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I perceive. Or that bitter or sweet taste exists in bitter or sweet things. Or that the stars, towers, and other distant bodies are of the same figure as they appear to our eyes. Nature teaches me to flee from things that cause the sensation of pain, and seek things that communicate to me the sentiment of pleasure. But I do not see that this teaches me that from those sense-perceptions we should ever form any conclusion regarding things outside of us, without having carefully mentally examined them. For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to knowledge of the truth about such things. Thus, although a star makes no bigger impression on my eye than a tiny candle flame, yet I have always judged it larger.

Approaching fire I feel heat, and approaching too near I feel pain, but there is no reason to accept that there is something resembling my notion of heat in fire, or than it contains something resembling pain. All that I have any reason to believe is that there is something in it that excites in me these sensations of heat or of pain. Nature has provided me with this sense merely to signify to my mind what things are beneficial or hurtful. Yet, I interpret them as the essence of bodies outside me, as to which, in fact, they can teach me nothing but what is most obscure and confused.

This pursuit or avoidance things, taught me by nature, sometimes leads to error; as when the agreeable taste of some poisoned food may induce me to partake of the poison. Though here nature may be excused, for it only induces me to desire pleasant food, not poison. Thus, I can infer that I am not omniscient, which should not be astonishing, since man is finite in nature.

But we frequently deceive ourselves even in those things to which we are directly impelled by nature, as happens with those who when they are sick desire things hurtful to them. It might be said that sickness corrupts nature, but a sick man is as much God's creature as he who is in health. Just as a badly-made clock still follows the laws of nature, so the body of a man with no mind in it, would have the same motions as at present, excepting those movements due to the direction of the will. It would be natural for such a body, if it suffered the dropsy, to move the nerves and other parts to obtain drink, which is the feature of this disease although it is harmful to the sufferer. This comparison of a sick man to a faulty clock may be a mere verbal quibble, but it remains to inquire how the goodness of God does not prevent the nature of man from being fallacious.

There is a great difference between mind and body, as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is indivisible. When considering the mind, I cannot distinguish in it any different parts. And although the whole mind seems united to the whole body, yet if a foot or an arm is separated from my body, nothing has been taken away from my mind. Those faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding. But I know that corporeal objects can readily be divided into parts, which alone would teach me that the mind or soul is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.

I further notice that the mind does not receive impressions from the body directly, but only from the brain, or perhaps even from the small part of the brain where common sense resides. But because the nerves must pass through a long route, it may happen that some intervening part is excited, which may excite a mistaken movement in the brain. More usually, when, say nerves in the feet are violently moved, their movement, passing through the medulla of the spine to the inmost parts of the brain, gives a sign to the mind which makes it feel pain, as though in the foot. By this, the mind is excited to do its utmost to remove the cause of the evil as dangerous to the foot. It is true that God could have constituted the nature of man such that this movement would have conveyed something quite different to the mind, but nothing would have contributed so well to the conservation of the body.

Notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, composed of mind and body, can sometimes be a source of deception.

This consideration helps me to recognise the errors to which my nature is subject, so as to avoid them, or correct them more easily. Knowing that my senses usually indicate to me truth respecting what is beneficial to the body, and being able almost always to avail myself of many of those senses in order to examine things, together with my memory to connect the present with the past, and my understanding of the causes errors, I ought no longer to fear the falsity of my everyday senses. So, I ought to set aside all the doubts of these past days as hyperbolical and ridiculous, particularly that very common uncertainty respecting dreams, for I now see that memory never connects dreams together as it unites waking events. I ought in never to doubt the truth of such matters, if having called up my senses, memory, and understanding to examine them, nothing is perceived by any one of them which is repugnant to that set forth by the others. For because God is no deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in this.

But because the exigencies of action often oblige us to make up our minds before having leisure to examine matters carefully, we must confess that the life of man is frequently subject to error. We must in the end acknowledge the infirmity of our nature.

OBJECTIONS AND REPLIES

The squashed version of Thomas Hobbes objections to the Meditations, and Descartes replies.

Against Meditation I

1st OBJECTION: Even from Plato we have the notion of wondering whether anything exists or not. It is a pity that such a distinguished thinker should come out with this old stuff.

1st REPLY: I did not claim any originality. I reviewed these ideas as a medical writer gives a description of a disease he will explain how to cure.

Against Meditation II

2nd OBJECTION: Knowledge of the proposition 'I exist' depends on knowledge of the proposition 'I think'; and knowledge of the latter on the fact that we cannot separate thought from thinking matter. M Descartes assumes the soul is not physical without any proof.

2nd REPLY: When I used the terms like 'mind', 'soul', 'understanding' and 'reason', I meant things endowed with the capacity of thinking. I did not say that thinking is not corporeal. I left if undecided up to the sixth Meditation, where it is proved.

3rd OBJECTION: While not separate from me, my thinking is different from me, in the same sense as dancing is distinct from the dancer. If Descartes has shown that understanding is identical with the person who understands, we shall be back with the jargon of university philosophers: understanding understands, seeing sees, or even walking, or at least the capacity to walk, will walk. This is obscure misuse of language, quite unworthy of Mr. Descartes'.

3rd REPLY: I merely meant that all those modes of thinking are in me; and I cannot see what doubt or obscurity can be imagined here.

4th OBJECTION: It is old Aristotle's reasoning that there is some difference between imagining and conceiving, as with the wax. But Descartes has not explained how they are different. If reasoning is nothing other than using the word 'is' to join names, then reasoning depends on names; names depend on images; then it follows that mind is just motions in the body.

4th REPLY: I did explain the difference between an image, and a concept belonging to the mind - as with what we know of the wax through images, and what we conceive with the mind. In reasoning, it is not names that are joined, but the things signified by the names. If the Philosopher holds that things are signified by words, then he must accept that our reasonings are about things, rather than about the words alone. Cannot a Frenchman or a German reason about the same things, even though they have different words? I am amazed that the opposite could ever have entered anyone's head. If he concludes that mind is motion, he could with equally conclude that earth is sky, or anything else he fancied.

Against Meditation III

5th OBJECTION: Such ideas as we have are based on real things. Even our idea of an angel as a pretty boy with wings is based on real observations. But we have no knowledge of God, so it would be foolish idolatry to have an 'idea' of him in this sense.

5th REPLY: No more suitable word than 'idea' was available. I could never satisfy people who prefer to give my words meanings different from the ones I give them.

6th OBJECTION: Even if fear, for instance, is a thought, I fail to see how it can be anything other than the thought of the thing you are afraid of.

6th REPLY: It goes without saying that seeing a lion and being frightened of it at the same time, is different from merely seeing it.- and this happens without language. I cannot find anything here which requires a reply.

7th OBJECTION: This whole inquiry collapses if there is no idea of God. It has not been proved that there is any such idea. The idea of my own self, I get it from looking at my body; and of the soul by reasoning.

7th REPLY: It is obvious that there is an idea of God. When he says there is no idea of the soul, he means only that there is no image.

8th OBJECTION: There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.

8th REPLY: What he says is not an idea of the sun is precisely what I myself call an 'idea'.

9th OBJECTION: Does it make sense to talk of reality being 'more' or 'less'?

9th REPLY: Substances are more real than modes or incomplete things. All this is absolutely self-evident.

10th OBJECTION: Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves. Yet the ideas we have of God may come from external objects.

If God is 'infinite' then we cannot conceive any limits to Him. But no idea could lack any coming into being or limits

How does Descartes know that God is supremely intelligent?

Again, by what means does he know that God has supreme understanding?

Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.

One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there.

10th REPLY: Anyone who understands the concept of 'God' must know that they know this. So they must have a form, or idea, of intellectual understanding. By extending this idea indefinitely, they can form an idea of the divine understanding. The same goes for the other attributes of God. So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. All I mean is that we have within ourselves the capacity of summoning it up.

11th OBJECTION: Christianity requires us to believe that no idea can be had of God. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe.

11th REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. As for how we obtain an idea of God, I have repeated this ad nauseam.

Against Meditation IV

12th OBJECTION: Descartes is wrong to think that ability to make mistakes requires some special faculty, it needs nothing more than the possession of reasoning ability- this is why stones cannot make mistakes. It should also be noted that the freedom of the will is assumed without proof.

12th REPLY: Making of mistakes is lack of ability, but it does not follow that the lack has any positive being. Analogously, stones do not have a sense of sight; but that alone is not enough for them to be described as blind.

I am amazed that I have not yet come across a single valid argument among all these objections. In this passage I made no assumptions about the freedom of the will, beyond what we all experience in ourselves. It is perfectly evident by the light of nature- on introspecting, no-one will fail to experience in themselves the essential identity of willing and being free.

13th OBJECTION: The expression 'a great illumination in my understanding' is metaphorical, and is inappropriate for logical reasoning. Those lacking in self-criticism claim illumination of this sort.

13th REPLY: It is irrelevant whether the expression 'a great illumination' is appropriate for logical reasoning or not, provided it is appropriate for explaining what is meant - as indeed it is.

Against Meditation V

14th OBJECTION: If the triangle exists nowhere in the world, I fail to understand how it can have any sort of nature. That which is nowhere has no being. Similarly, the proposition: 'Humans are animals' will be true to eternity, because names are eternal; but once the human race has died out there will no longer be any human nature.

14th REPLY: Everybody is familiar with the distinction between essential being and actual existence; and I have already demolished what he says here about eternal names, when he should be talking about concepts or ideas of eternal truth.

Against Meditation VI

15th OBJECTION: It is no sin for doctors to deceive their patients for the sake of their health; or parents deceive their children for their own good; the wrongness of deception does not consist in the falsity of what is said, but in the harm caused by the deception. Descartes should have considered whether the proposition that 'there are no circumstances in which God can deceive us' is true, if taken in a universal sense. If this proposition is not universally true, then the conclusion 'therefore corporeal things exist' does not follow.

15th REPLY: My conclusion does not require that there are no circumstances under which we can make mistakes (I have already admitted that we often make mistakes). What it requires is that we are not mistaken in circumstances where our error would imply that God had deliberately decided to deceive us, since that would be inconsistent with his nature. Again, the inference is invalid here.

LAST OBJECTION: If the dreamer dreams whether he is dreaming or not, he cannot dream that his dream coheres with ideas of past events succeeding each other in a long chain. Besides, according to Descartes, all certainty depends on a single item of knowledge, namely that there is an undeceiving God. But it follows, either that atheists cannot infer that they are awake from their memories of their past lives, or that someone can know that they are awake, despite not recognising the existence of the undeceiving God.

LAST REPLY: A dreamer cannot really connect the contents of their dream with the ideas of past events, although they can dream that they are making the connection. Does anybody deny that people can make mistakes in their sleep? But later, on waking up, they will readily see that they had been wrong.

Atheists can infer that they are awake from their memories of previous events in their lives; but they cannot know scientifically that this is a sufficient indication for them to be certain that they are not mistaken, unless they know that they were created by an undeceiving God

MEDITATION SIX

Of the Existence of Material Things, and of the Real Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man

It now remains to inquire whether material things exist. I clearly and distinctly know of objects, inasmuch as they are represented by pure mathematics, and I know that my imagination is capable of persuading me of physical existence, perhaps by the application of knowledge to the body, which is immediately present to it and which therefore, exists.

This is the more clear when we see the difference between imagination and pure intellection. For example, when I imagine a triangle, I conceive it, not only as a figure of three lines, but also by an inward vision, which I call imagining.

But if I think of a chiliagon, a thousand-sided figure, I cannot in any way imagine or visualise it, as the imagination is a different power from understanding. It may be that I can imagine corporeal objects by turning the mind towards the body. This differs from pure intellection, where the mind turns on itself. Because I can discover no other explanation, I think it likely that the body does exist.

First I shall consider those matters perceived through the senses which I hitherto held to be true.

I perceived that I had all the members of this body - which I considered part, or possibly the whole, of myself. Further, I sensed that this body was amidst others, from which it could be affected with pain or pleasure. I also experienced appetites like hunger, thirst, and also passions like joy, tittilation, sadness and anger. Outside myself, in addition to extension, figure and motions of bodies, I beheld in them hardness, heat, light and colour, and scents and sounds, so that I could distinguish the sky, the earth, the sea and other bodies. And because I remembered that I had made use of the senses rather than reason, I came to believe that all the ideas in my mind that had come to me through the senses.

But when I inquired, why painful sensation leads to sadness, and pleasurable sensation to joy, or a mysterious pinching of the stomach called hunger leads to desire to eat, and so on, I could only reason that nature taught me so. There is certainly no affinity (that I at least can understand) between the craving of the stomach and the desire to eat, any more than between pain and sadness.

But experience has gradually destroyed my faith in my senses. I have seen round towers from afar, which closely observed seemed square, and colossal statues, which appeared tiny when closely viewed. I found error in the external senses, and in the internal; for is there anything more internal than pain? And yet I learn that some persons seem to feel pain in an amputated part, which makes me doubt the sources of my own pain. I have experienced sensations when I sleep, yet I do not think they proceed from objects outside of me, so I do not see any reason why I should believe those I have while awake. Furthermore, nature persuaded me of many things which reason found repellant, so that I did not believe that I should trust nature. I knew that my will did not control the ideas I received from the senses, but did not think that reason to conclude that they proceeded from outside myself, since possibly some hidden faculty in me might produce them.

Now that I begin to know myself better, I do not so rashly accept all which the senses seem to teach, but nor do I think I should doubt them all.

I know that God may may have placed in me the things which I comprehend, but I can only explain my ability to make distinctions between one thing and another by concluding that my essence consists solely in the fact that I am a thinking thing. And although possibly I possess a body, because I have a clear and distinct idea of myself as only a thinking and unextended thing, and it is thereby that I possess an idea of body as an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that this soul, by which I am what I am, is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.

I further find that faculties of imagination and feeling cannot be conceived apart from me, that is without an intelligent substance in which they reside. I also observe in me faculties like change of position, which can only be conceived as being attached to corporeal substance. There is also in me a faculty of perceiving sensible things which is entirely passive, but this would be useless if there were not an active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. But this active faculty does not presuppose thought, and, as I am a thinking thing, it is necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me. Either this substance is a body, that is, a corporeal nature, or it is God, or some other noble creature. But He would be a deceiver if these ideas were produced other than by corporeal objects. Hence we must allow that corporeal things exist. They may not be exactly as we perceive them, but we must at least admit that such part of them as is clear and distinct (such as that described by mathematics) are truly to be recognised as external objects.

Nature teaches me by the sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, etc. that I am not merely lodged in my body as a pilot in a ship, but that I am so closely united to it that I seem to compose with it one whole. For if that were not the case, when my body is hurt, I, the thinking thing, should not feel pain, but would perceive the wound just as the sailor perceives something damaged in his vessel. For all these sensations of hunger, thirst, pain, etc. are in truth just confused modes of thought produced by the apparent intermingling of mind and body.

But there are many other things which nature seems to have taught me. For example; I hold the opinion that all space in which there is nothing that affects my senses is void. That a warm body contains something similar to my idea of heat. That a white or green body has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I perceive. Or that bitter or sweet taste exists in bitter or sweet things. Or that the stars, towers, and other distant bodies are of the same figure as they appear to our eyes. Nature teaches me to flee from things that cause the sensation of pain, and seek things that communicate to me the sentiment of pleasure. But I do not see that this teaches me that from those sense-perceptions we should ever form any conclusion regarding things outside of us, without having carefully mentally examined them. For it seems to me that it is mind alone, and not mind and body in conjunction, that is requisite to knowledge of the truth about such things. Thus, although a star makes no bigger impression on my eye than a tiny candle flame, yet I have always judged it larger.

Approaching fire I feel heat, and approaching too near I feel pain, but there is no reason to accept that there is something resembling my notion of heat in fire, or than it contains something resembling pain. All that I have any reason to believe is that there is something in it that excites in me these sensations of heat or of pain. Nature has provided me with this sense merely to signify to my mind what things are beneficial or hurtful. Yet, I interpret them as the essence of bodies outside me, as to which, in fact, they can teach me nothing but what is most obscure and confused.

This pursuit or avoidance things, taught me by nature, sometimes leads to error; as when the agreeable taste of some poisoned food may induce me to partake of the poison. Though here nature may be excused, for it only induces me to desire pleasant food, not poison. Thus, I can infer that I am not omniscient, which should not be astonishing, since man is finite in nature.

But we frequently deceive ourselves even in those things to which we are directly impelled by nature, as happens with those who when they are sick desire things hurtful to them. It might be said that sickness corrupts nature, but a sick man is as much God's creature as he who is in health. Just as a badly-made clock still follows the laws of nature, so the body of a man with no mind in it, would have the same motions as at present, excepting those movements due to the direction of the will. It would be natural for such a body, if it suffered the dropsy, to move the nerves and other parts to obtain drink, which is the feature of this disease although it is harmful to the sufferer. This comparison of a sick man to a faulty clock may be a mere verbal quibble, but it remains to inquire how the goodness of God does not prevent the nature of man from being fallacious.

There is a great difference between mind and body, as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is indivisible. When considering the mind, I cannot distinguish in it any different parts. And although the whole mind seems united to the whole body, yet if a foot or an arm is separated from my body, nothing has been taken away from my mind. Those faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding. But I know that corporeal objects can readily be divided into parts, which alone would teach me that the mind or soul is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.

I further notice that the mind does not receive impressions from the body directly, but only from the brain, or perhaps even from the small part of the brain where common sense resides. But because the nerves must pass through a long route, it may happen that some intervening part is excited, which may excite a mistaken movement in the brain. More usually, when, say nerves in the feet are violently moved, their movement, passing through the medulla of the spine to the inmost parts of the brain, gives a sign to the mind which makes it feel pain, as though in the foot. By this, the mind is excited to do its utmost to remove the cause of the evil as dangerous to the foot. It is true that God could have constituted the nature of man such that this movement would have conveyed something quite different to the mind, but nothing would have contributed so well to the conservation of the body.

Notwithstanding the supreme goodness of God, the nature of man, composed of mind and body, can sometimes be a source of deception.

This consideration helps me to recognise the errors to which my nature is subject, so as to avoid them, or correct them more easily. Knowing that my senses usually indicate to me truth respecting what is beneficial to the body, and being able almost always to avail myself of many of those senses in order to examine things, together with my memory to connect the present with the past, and my understanding of the causes errors, I ought no longer to fear the falsity of my everyday senses. So, I ought to set aside all the doubts of these past days as hyperbolical and ridiculous, particularly that very common uncertainty respecting dreams, for I now see that memory never connects dreams together as it unites waking events. I ought in never to doubt the truth of such matters, if having called up my senses, memory, and understanding to examine them, nothing is perceived by any one of them which is repugnant to that set forth by the others. For because God is no deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in this.

But because the exigencies of action often oblige us to make up our minds before having leisure to examine matters carefully, we must confess that the life of man is frequently subject to error. We must in the end acknowledge the infirmity of our nature.

OBJECTIONS AND REPLIES

The squashed version of Thomas Hobbes objections to the Meditations, and Descartes replies.

Against Meditation I

1st OBJECTION: Even from Plato we have the notion of wondering whether anything exists or not. It is a pity that such a distinguished thinker should come out with this old stuff.

1st REPLY: I did not claim any originality. I reviewed these ideas as a medical writer gives a description of a disease he will explain how to cure.

Against Meditation II

2nd OBJECTION: Knowledge of the proposition 'I exist' depends on knowledge of the proposition 'I think'; and knowledge of the latter on the fact that we cannot separate thought from thinking matter. M Descartes assumes the soul is not physical without any proof.

2nd REPLY: When I used the terms like 'mind', 'soul', 'understanding' and 'reason', I meant things endowed with the capacity of thinking. I did not say that thinking is not corporeal. I left if undecided up to the sixth Meditation, where it is proved.

3rd OBJECTION: While not separate from me, my thinking is different from me, in the same sense as dancing is distinct from the dancer. If Descartes has shown that understanding is identical with the person who understands, we shall be back with the jargon of university philosophers: understanding understands, seeing sees, or even walking, or at least the capacity to walk, will walk. This is obscure misuse of language, quite unworthy of Mr. Descartes'.

3rd REPLY: I merely meant that all those modes of thinking are in me; and I cannot see what doubt or obscurity can be imagined here.

4th OBJECTION: It is old Aristotle's reasoning that there is some difference between imagining and conceiving, as with the wax. But Descartes has not explained how they are different. If reasoning is nothing other than using the word 'is' to join names, then reasoning depends on names; names depend on images; then it follows that mind is just motions in the body.

4th REPLY: I did explain the difference between an image, and a concept belonging to the mind - as with what we know of the wax through images, and what we conceive with the mind. In reasoning, it is not names that are joined, but the things signified by the names. If the Philosopher holds that things are signified by words, then he must accept that our reasonings are about things, rather than about the words alone. Cannot a Frenchman or a German reason about the same things, even though they have different words? I am amazed that the opposite could ever have entered anyone's head. If he concludes that mind is motion, he could with equally conclude that earth is sky, or anything else he fancied.

Against Meditation III

5th OBJECTION: Such ideas as we have are based on real things. Even our idea of an angel as a pretty boy with wings is based on real observations. But we have no knowledge of God, so it would be foolish idolatry to have an 'idea' of him in this sense.

5th REPLY: No more suitable word than 'idea' was available. I could never satisfy people who prefer to give my words meanings different from the ones I give them.

6th OBJECTION: Even if fear, for instance, is a thought, I fail to see how it can be anything other than the thought of the thing you are afraid of.

6th REPLY: It goes without saying that seeing a lion and being frightened of it at the same time, is different from merely seeing it.- and this happens without language. I cannot find anything here which requires a reply.

7th OBJECTION: This whole inquiry collapses if there is no idea of God. It has not been proved that there is any such idea. The idea of my own self, I get it from looking at my body; and of the soul by reasoning.

7th REPLY: It is obvious that there is an idea of God. When he says there is no idea of the soul, he means only that there is no image.

8th OBJECTION: There is no differentiating between the idea of the sun seen with the eyes, and of the notion of the sun reached through astronomical reasoning.

8th REPLY: What he says is not an idea of the sun is precisely what I myself call an 'idea'.

9th OBJECTION: Does it make sense to talk of reality being 'more' or 'less'?

9th REPLY: Substances are more real than modes or incomplete things. All this is absolutely self-evident.

10th OBJECTION: Descartes says that we can get the idea of God from considering his attributes, and that we should see whether this could not have originated from within ourselves. Yet the ideas we have of God may come from external objects.

If God is 'infinite' then we cannot conceive any limits to Him. But no idea could lack any coming into being or limits

How does Descartes know that God is supremely intelligent?

Again, by what means does he know that God has supreme understanding?

Even if there exists something 'infinite, independent, supremely powerful,' etc., it does not follow that it is a creator.

One final point: when Descartes says that the ideas of God and of our souls are innate in us, what of people in deep and dreamless sleep? If they have no ideas at all during that period; then it follows that no idea is innate, since anything innate must always be there.

10th REPLY: Anyone who understands the concept of 'God' must know that they know this. So they must have a form, or idea, of intellectual understanding. By extending this idea indefinitely, they can form an idea of the divine understanding. The same goes for the other attributes of God. So it obviously follows from the fact that his existence has been demonstrated, that it has also been demonstrated that the whole universe, or absolutely all things in existence which are distinct from God, were created by him. Finally, when I say that a given idea is innate in us, I do not mean that we are always aware of it - if that was what I meant, then of course no idea would be innate. All I mean is that we have within ourselves the capacity of summoning it up.

11th OBJECTION: Christianity requires us to believe that no idea can be had of God. So it follows that the existence of God has not been demonstrated, still less his creation of the universe.

11th REPLY: When it is said that God is inconceivable, this refers to the possibility of a concept that would completely embrace him. As for how we obtain an idea of God, I have repeated this ad nauseam.

Against Meditation IV

12th OBJECTION: Descartes is wrong to think that ability to make mistakes requires some special faculty, it needs nothing more than the possession of reasoning ability- this is why stones cannot make mistakes. It should also be noted that the freedom of the will is assumed without proof.

12th REPLY: Making of mistakes is lack of ability, but it does not follow that the lack has any positive being. Analogously, stones do not have a sense of sight; but that alone is not enough for them to be described as blind.

I am amazed that I have not yet come across a single valid argument among all these objections. In this passage I made no assumptions about the freedom of the will, beyond what we all experience in ourselves. It is perfectly evident by the light of nature- on introspecting, no-one will fail to experience in themselves the essential identity of willing and being free.

13th OBJECTION: The expression 'a great illumination in my understanding' is metaphorical, and is inappropriate for logical reasoning. Those lacking in self-criticism claim illumination of this sort.

13th REPLY: It is irrelevant whether the expression 'a great illumination' is appropriate for logical reasoning or not, provided it is appropriate for explaining what is meant - as indeed it is.

Against Meditation V

14th OBJECTION: If the triangle exists nowhere in the world, I fail to understand how it can have any sort of nature. That which is nowhere has no being. Similarly, the proposition: 'Humans are animals' will be true to eternity, because names are eternal; but once the human race has died out there will no longer be any human nature.

14th REPLY: Everybody is familiar with the distinction between essential being and actual existence; and I have already demolished what he says here about eternal names, when he should be talking about concepts or ideas of eternal truth.

Against Meditation VI

15th OBJECTION: It is no sin for doctors to deceive their patients for the sake of their health; or parents deceive their children for their own good; the wrongness of deception does not consist in the falsity of what is said, but in the harm caused by the deception. Descartes should have considered whether the proposition that 'there are no circumstances in which God can deceive us' is true, if taken in a universal sense. If this proposition is not universally true, then the conclusion 'therefore corporeal things exist' does not follow.

15th REPLY: My conclusion does not require that there are no circumstances under which we can make mistakes (I have already admitted that we often make mistakes). What it requires is that we are not mistaken in circumstances where our error would imply that God had deliberately decided to deceive us, since that would be inconsistent with his nature. Again, the inference is invalid here.

LAST OBJECTION: If the dreamer dreams whether he is dreaming or not, he cannot dream that his dream coheres with ideas of past events succeeding each other in a long chain. Besides, according to Descartes, all certainty depends on a single item of knowledge, namely that there is an undeceiving God. But it follows, either that atheists cannot infer that they are awake from their memories of their past lives, or that someone can know that they are awake, despite not recognising the existence of the undeceiving God.

LAST REPLY: A dreamer cannot really connect the contents of their dream with the ideas of past events, although they can dream that they are making the connection. Does anybody deny that people can make mistakes in their sleep? But later, on waking up, they will readily see that they had been wrong.

Atheists can infer that they are awake from their memories of previous events in their lives; but they cannot know scientifically that this is a sufficient indication for them to be certain that they are not mistaken, unless they know that they were created by an undeceiving God

Thinking back to the Metaphysics unit and the Cosmological and Design arguments for the existence of God that we explored, can you recall the nature of both of these arguments? What kind of evidence did both use?

They both use arguments based on empirical data – both arguments are a posteriori. Descartes believed that belief in God could be justified. Would Descartes attempt to justify belief in God based on an a posteriori argument?

Unlikely as he was a rationalist.

Descartes used a very traditional rationalist argument for the existence of God known as the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

The trick of this argument is that it links the concept of God to existence so that, once we understand the concept, we see that existence is a necessary part of that concept. So ‘God exists’ will be true by definition. Pretty neat! But will we be convinced?

You have already met some examples of a priori arguments.

All bachelors are single. All barking dogs bark. 2+2=4.

Descartes was very fond of this form of argumentation – why?

They are true by definition - so long as we understand the individual concepts in the statement - bachelors are unmarried men, what 2 is, and the same for + and 4. We could also use the example that triangles are three sided figures whose internal angles add up to 180 degrees.

“I am - I exist”: this is certain but how often?

As often as I think; for perhaps it would even happen, if I should wholly cease to think that I should at the same time cease to be. I now admit nothing that is not necessarily true.

I am therefore, precisely speaking, only a thinking thing, that is, a mind, understanding, or reason, terms whose signification was before unknown to me. I am, however, a real thing, and really existent; but what thing? The answer was, “a thinking thing”. The question now arises, am I aught besides?

I will stimulate my imagination with a view to discover whether I am not still something more than a thinking being. Now it is plain I am not the assemblage of members called the human body; I am not a thin and penetrating air diffused through all these members, or wind, or flame, or vapour, or breath, or any of all the things I can imagine; for I supposed that all these were not, and, without changing the supposition, I find that I still feel assured of my existence.

It was by reason that Copernicus and Galileo established the truth of the heliocentric world. Sure they had used sense experience but their observations were demonstrated to be true by maths.

Descartes was going to use reason in the same way. To confirm that things, sense experience, waking, his body and God were as he thought them to be. Reason after all is a gift from God so he should be able to avoid the terrors of the Inquisition.

His Method of Doubt is like an open-minded enquiry but has often been described as using scepticism to achieve certainty. The Cogito proves only a “Thinking Thing” - no body yet, never mind an external world.

Meditations II (Cont)

I can only judge of things that are known to me: I am conscious that I exist, and I who know that I exist inquire into what I am. But I already know that I exist, and that it is possible at the same time that all those images, and in general all that relates to the nature of body, are merely dreams.

Is it possible that I am also body but do not know this? I as a thinking thing cannot be product of external things - physical things such as the body. I am independent of these. I could imagine myself to be more - imagination is also thinking but it does not lead to certainty only illusion. Imagination is like dreaming it does not reflect reality. I must be careful with the kind of thinking I use. But what, then, am I?

A thinking thing, it has been said. But what is a thinking thing? It is a thing that doubts, understands, [conceives], affirms, denies, wills, refuses; that imagines also, and perceives. Assuredly it is not little, if all these properties belong to my nature. But why should they not belong to it? Am I not that very being who now doubts of almost everything; who, for all that, understands and conceives certain things; who affirms one alone as true, and denies the others; who desires to know more of them, and does not wish to be deceived; who imagines many things, sometimes even despite his will; and is likewise percipient of many, as if through the medium of the senses. Thinking is doubting, understanding, and perceiving. So I am that which doubts, understands and perceives.

Is there nothing of all this as true as that I am, even although I should be always dreaming, and although he who gave me being employed all his ingenuity to deceive me? So I am a “Thinking Thing” or a thing which dreams that it is a “Thinking Thing” or imagines that it is a Thinking Thing.

Truly I am the same being who perceives, that is, who apprehends certain objects as by the organs of sense, since, in truth, I see light, hear a noise, and feel heat. But it will be said that these presentations are false, and that I am dreaming. Let it be so. At all events it is certain that I seem to see light, hear a noise, and feel heat; this cannot be false, and this is what in me is properly called perceiving, which is nothing else than thinking. This “I” also perceives, has sense experience. Now these experiences could be false it is true but it is still thinking it is still “me”.

Although, in truth, it may seem strange to say that I know and comprehend with greater distinctness things whose existence appears to me doubtful, that are unknown, and do not belong to me, than others of whose reality I am persuaded, that are known to me, and appertain to my proper nature; in a word, than myself.

Let us now accordingly consider the objects that are commonly thought to be [the most easily, and likewise] the most distinctly known, viz, the bodies we touch and see; not, indeed, bodies in general, for these general notions are usually somewhat more confused, but one body in particular.

The Wax Example

Take, for example, this piece of wax; it is quite fresh, having been but recently taken from the beehive; it has not yet lost the sweetness of the honey it contained; it still retains somewhat of the odour of the flowers from which it was gathered; its colour, figure, size, are apparent (to the sight); it is hard, cold, easily handled; and sounds when struck upon with the finger. In fine, all that contributes to make a body as distinctly known as possible, is found in the one before us.

It has a distinct smell, colour, size and shape, it feels cold and hard and makes a sound when struck against another solid object.

But, while I am speaking, let it be placed near the fire - what remained of the taste exhales, the smell evaporates, the colour changes, its figure is destroyed, its size increases, it becomes liquid, it grows hot, it can hardly be handled, and, although struck upon, it emits no sound.

Does the same wax still remain after this change? What happens to these qualities if it is heated? They disappear or are all changed. So the qualities by which he thought he understood have gone. Is it still wax?

It must be admitted that it does remain; no one doubts it, or judges otherwise. What, then, was it I knew with so much distinctness in the piece of wax? Assuredly, it could be nothing of all that I observed by means of the senses, since all the things that fell under taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing are changed, and yet the same wax remains. It was perhaps what I now think, viz, that this wax was neither the sweetness of honey, the pleasant odour of flowers, the whiteness, the figure, nor the sound, but only a body that a little before appeared to me conspicuous under these forms, and which is now perceived under others.

But, to speak precisely, what is it that I imagine when I think of it in this way? Let it be attentively considered, and, retrenching all that does not belong to the wax, let us see what remains. There certainly remains nothing, except something extended, flexible, and movable. But what is meant by flexible and movable? So what does that mean that the wax is a material substance? What are the essential qualities of a material substance? They are extension, flexibility and the capacity of movement.

Is it not that I imagine that the piece of wax, being round, is capable of becoming square, or of passing from a square into a triangular figure? Assuredly such is not the case, because I conceive that it admits of an infinity of similar changes; and I am, moreover, unable to compass this infinity by imagination, and consequently this conception which I have of the wax is not the product of the faculty of imagination.

But what now is this extension? Is it not also unknown? It becomes greater when the wax is melted, greater when it is boiled, and greater still when the heat increases; and I should not conceive [clearly and] according to truth, the wax as it is, if I did not suppose that the piece we are considering admitted even of a wider variety of extension than I ever imagined, I must, therefore, admit that I cannot even comprehend by imagination what the piece of wax is, and that it is the mind alone which perceives it.

I speak of one piece in particular for as to wax in general this is still more evident. But what is the piece of wax that can be perceived only by the [understanding or] mind? It is certainly the same which I see, touch, imagine; and, it is the same which, from the beginning, I believed it to be. But the perception of it is neither an act of sight, of touch, nor of imagination, and never was either of these, though it might formerly seem so, but is simply an intuition of the mind, which may be imperfect and confused, as it formerly was, or very clear and distinct, as it is at present, according as the attention is more or less directed to the elements which it contains, and of which it is composed.

We say, for example, that we see the same wax when it is before us, and not that we judge it to be the same from its retaining the same colour and figure: whence I should forthwith be disposed to conclude that the wax is known by the act of sight, and not by the intuition of the mind alone, were it not for the analogous instance of human beings passing on in the street below, as observed from a window. In this case I do not fail to say that I see the men themselves, just as I say that I see the wax; and yet what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks that might cover artificial machines, whose motions might be determined by springs ? But I judge that there are human beings from these appearances, and thus I comprehend, by the faculty of judgment alone which is in the mind, what I believed I saw with my eyes.

So I know the wax but do I know me? If the wax exists do I not also? I may not have eyes nor a body but I am not nothing. If I determine that the wax exists when I touch it surely then the thing which does the touching must also exist. It is reason which provides clearness and distinctness of understanding.

But, in conclusion, I find I have insensibly reverted to the point I desired; for, since it is now manifest to me that bodies themselves are not properly perceived by the senses nor by the faculty of imagination, but by the intellect alone; and since they are not perceived because they are seen and touched, but only because they are understood I readily discover that there is nothing more easily or clearly apprehended than my own mind.

Because it is not by sense experience nor imagination but by reason that real knowledge and understanding are gained, “there is nothing more clearly and distinctly apprehended than my own mind.”

The Wax Example

Assignment 12 Copy out and complete the paragraph below.

In Meditations I, Descartes believes that he has established F__________ C________ by demonstrating that he is a T________ T___________ . He then goes on to try to establish that M_________ S_________ also exist. So how does he k______ this? Instead of looking at material substance in general he chooses O____ example - a piece of B____ W____.

The Wax Example appears in Meditation ____ . Before outlining his thought with this illustration, Descartes again begins from a position of D _________. Earlier in this Meditation he established that he can be C _________ that he E_______. He demonstrated this with the statement _____________________

Which is called the C________.

To demonstrate the truth of the other part of his D _______M Descartes turns to P___________ S _______s . Descartes attempts to D ____________ that it is not by the senses that this world is understood but by the R ________. He says it is this and not the S ____________ that he understands the the wax because when he heats the wax __________________________________________ .

He also says that it is not by the I __________ that the wax is known because _ _ _ _ _ _ _________________________ . So he understands the wax by his

R ____________ . The wax example also demonstrates that he exists because ________________________ .

Assignment 13

1 Write out the sections between Descartes words. Check that it makes sense! Complete this exercise in your own words.

Assignment 14

1 Why does Descartes choose only one physical object to discuss?

2 What epistemological standpoints does he reject? Why?

3 According to Descartes what is the only way to understand the wax? Why?

4 What are the true qualities of physical objects? Why only these?

5 In what way would Galileo agree with Descartes?

6 What part do intuition and deduction play in Descartes’ sceptical method of doubt?

7 What are the primary and secondary qualities of matter? Why are they called primary and secondary?

5. Where does motion come from?

6. After the wax, what does Descartes turn back to?

7. What point does he re-establish with the wax example?

The Wax Example – Rationalism and Substance Dualism (Summary)

What Does Descartes Believe He Has Achieved?

In this illustration, Descartes tries to show that our knowledge of something in its essence does not come from our senses. A piece of wax can be recognised by the senses as something which has a certain smell, taste, texture, colour. However on heating the wax, all these disappear but we still understand it as wax.

If the essence of wax cannot be understood by the senses maybe it is the imagination.

Nah! can’t be the imagination because there is an infinite variation to what the wax can appear to be and the imagination is finite. So the imagination has not the capacity for this task. Descartes says that it must be by reason that understanding of the wax and the the rest of the material world is achieved. As well as demonstrating how he understands, Descartes also believes that he has again demonstrated that there must be an individual who understands. The Cogito again. He understands his mind directly.

According to Descartes, he has shown that understanding the essence of wax involves a judgment which goes beyond sensory experience. This thinking process again demonstrates to Descartes the certainty he has about his own existence as a thinking thing.

This is an example of Descartes’ Rationalism - we can gain real knowledge of the nature of the world by reason alone. This position is in complete opposition to the empiricists who argue that all that can be known about the world is by way of the senses.

In his thought experiment of Meditations I and II, Descartes believes that he has established that he is a thinking thing – Mind. The essential quality of mind is thought.

Through his illustration of the Wax Example Descartes believes that he has demonstrated the existence of the physical world – matter. The essential qualities of material substances are shape, size and movement.

Descartes believes that he has established that the sense qualities of physical objects are in us not in the objects themselves. They are not essential to the objects - they are not clear and distinct.

The primary qualities of material objects are extension, shape and movement - they are known by reason - they are innate. Sense qualities, smell, taste colour etc. are only secondary qualities – they are qualities we ascribe to physical objects not essential to the objects themselves.

Descartes points out that although he knows now how he knows, he is drawn to his previous way of thinking partly because of his use of language and expressions. He talks about his habit of seeing the wax when it is more accurate to say that we judge it to be the same wax. He “sees” human beings from his window but this also a judgment. He speculates that they could be robots with clothes!

So according to Descartes the real qualities of material substances are also the qualities identified by Galileo and science extension, shape and motion. Motion being provided by God. These are also measurable qualities. So Descartes confirms the mechanistic view of the physical world - the clockwork universe. Animals are classed as machines in this.

Descartes is a rationalist - he is trying to counter empiricism and scepticism. He does not deny sense experience but says that this is not the basis for real knowledge.

In the Wax Example, Descartes tries to achieve two aims:

To establish reason as the basis for knowledge and

To establish the truth of his substance dualism - the difference between mind and matter.

Cartesian Dualism

Assignment 15

1 What are Descartes aims for this section?

2 According to Descartes, what are the essential properties of mind?

3 What are the essential properties of matter?

4 What are the inessential properties of matter?

5 Explain why the terms clear and distinct are important to Descartes.

6 Why does Descartes write that he should take more care with his use of language?

7 What is the difference between Descartes understanding of his mind and his understanding of his body?

Does Descartes Achieve His Aims? Problems?

If you think, as many do, that Descartes cogito is a philosophical cul-de-sac, then the wax example is a waste of time. Some would argue that with the Cogito, he is stuck in solipsism having done the sceptics work for them.

His use of wax is interesting. Would another material have given a similar result? Paper, Gasoline, an ice cube?

He presents us with three possible ways to know the wax, says no to sense experience and imagination and says therefore it must be reason. Are these the only choices?

Sense experience is also needed to judge primary as well as secondary qualities so why are primary more reliable? Surely there is something about a green object which allows us to see green! How could a substance have a shape but no colour?

His view of mind is negative – “no shape, no mass, no velocity”. But what is it?

Is Descartes dualism realty, strategy or both?

Some have argued that his Dualism is just an attempt to support the new science and at the same time not upset the church.

If mind and body are distinct how can the gap between them be bridged? Descartes said it was the pineal gland which did this.

But that does not really solve the problem because the question then is “what kind of substance is the pineal gland?”

Why does this explanation not solve the mind body problem?

The pineal gland would have to be either matter or mind and then we are back to the same problem.

What is the relationship of mind to body?

• Descartes talked about the “pilot on the ship”.

• Antoine Arnaud said that Descartes only established mind and that was a circular argument.

• Gilbert Ryle said that Descartes idea amounted to a “ghost in a machine”.

Mind and body were different and separate so there could be no interaction. “How could mind cause movement?”

So according to this the mind and body cannot interact so the model is Counter-intuitive - but mind and body do interact just think about the effects drugs and alcohol! So Descartes gives us a model which does not work.

Assignment 16

1. Why might some argue that the Wax example is a waste of time?

2. What could be said about his choice of the wax as an example of a physical substance?

3. What point could be made about the choices he gives us?

4. What is the problem with Descartes’ substance dualism?

5. How does he attempt to solve this problem?

6. Why does his solution fail?

7. What is Ryle’s point?

Essay Question (Higher)

What rational point of view does Descartes attempt to demonstrates by his use of the Wax Example? To what extent would you consider his attempt successful?

25 Marks

How successful was Descartes in establishing his Dualist philosophy?

25 Marks

MEDITATION VI

“On the Existence of Material Objects and the Real Distinction Of Mind from Body.”

Introduction

Descartes continues to explore his ideas of Physical objects. Distinguishing between "having a mental image and having a pure understanding," he deduces that some of his mental images "probably" come from actual physical objects.

To become more certain, he makes a three-part examination of his senses.

First, he reviews what, before his Meditations, he believed his senses told him.

Second, he re-examines his grounds for doubting his senses.

Third, he investigates his senses and concludes that because God is no deceiver, Descartes must believe that his senses do not deceive him about the existence of physical objects.

To further clear God of any charge of deception, Descartes considers the special occasions when our God-given "natural impulses" guide us toward what is harmful. He concludes his Meditations by describing a technique for avoiding all sense error and distinguishing dreaming from waking.

By the end of this section Descartes believes that he has demonstrated clearly and distinctly that he has conquered all his doubts and established the certainty that he knows what he believes to he knows.

Meditation VI

It remains for me to examine whether material objects exist. Insofar as they are the subject of pure mathematics, I now know at least that they can exist, because I grasp them clearly and distinctly. For God can undoubtedly make whatever I can grasp in this way, and I never judge that something is impossible for Him to make unless there would be a contradiction in my grasping the thing distinctly. Also, the fact that I find myself having mental images when I turn my attention to physical objects seems to imply that these objects really do exist. For, when I pay careful attention to what it is to have a mental image, it seems to me that it's just the application of my power of thought to a certain body which is immediately present to it and which must therefore exist.

To clarify this, I'll examine the difference between having a mental image and having a pure understanding. When I have a mental image of a triangle, for example, I don't just understand that it is a figure bounded by three lines; I also "look at" the lines as though they were present to my mind's eye. And this is what I call having a mental image.

When I want to think of a chiliagon, I understand that it is a figure with a thousand sides as well as I understand that a triangle is a figure with three, but I can't imagine its sides or "look" at them as though they were present. Being accustomed to using images when I think about physical objects, I may confusedly picture some figure to myself, but this figure obviously is not a chiliagon - for it in no way differs from what I present to myself when thinking about a myriagon or any other many sided figure, and it doesn't help me to discern the properties that distinguish chiliagons from other polygons. If it's a pentagon that is in question, I can understand its shape, as I can that of the chiliagon, without the aid of mental images. But I can also get a mental image of the pentagon by directing my mind's eye to its five lines and to the area that they bound. And it's obvious to me that getting this mental image requires a special mental effort different from that needed for understanding - a special effort which clearly reveals the difference between having a mental image and having a pure understanding.

It also seems to me that my power of having mental images, being distinct from my power of understanding, is not essential to my self or, in other words, to my mind for, if I were to lose this ability, I would surely remain the same thing that I now am.

To begin with, I sensed that I had a head, hands, feet, and the other members that make up a human body. I viewed this body as part, or maybe even as all, of me. I sensed that it was influenced by other physical objects whose effects could be either beneficial or harmful. I judged these effects to be beneficial to the extent that I felt pleasant sensations and harmful to the extent that I felt pain. And, in addition to sensations of pain and pleasure, I sensed hunger, thirst, and other such desires and also bodily inclinations towards cheerfulness, sadness, and other emotions. Outside me, I sensed, not just extension, shape, and motion, but also hardness, hotness, and other qualities detected by touch. I also sensed light, colour, odour, taste, and sound-qualities by whose variation I distinguished such things as the sky, earth, and sea from one another. It seemed that these ideas could not have come from me and thus that they came from something else.

I also had some reason for supporting that a certain physical object, which I viewed as belonging to me in a special way, was related to me more closely than any other. I couldn't be separated from it as I could from other physical objects; I felt all of my emotions and desires in it and because of it; and I was aware of pains and pleasant feelings in it but in nothing else. I didn't know why sadness goes with the sensation of pain or why joy goes with sensory stimulation. I didn't know why the stomach twitching that I call hunger warn me that I need to eat or why dryness in my throat warns me that I need to drink. Seeing no connection between stomach twitching and the desire to eat or between the sensation of a pain-producing thing and the consequent awareness of sadness, I could only say that I had been taught the connection by nature.

But, since then, many experiences have shaken my faith in the senses. Towers that seemed round from a distance sometimes looked square from close up, and huge statues on pediments sometimes didn't look big when seen from the ground. In innumerable such cases, I found the judgments of the external senses to be wrong. And the same holds for the internal senses. What is felt more inwardly than pain? Yet I had heard that people with amputated arms and legs sometimes seem to feel pain in the missing limb, and it therefore didn't seem perfectly certain to me that the limb in which I feel a pain is always the one that hurts.

And, to these grounds for doubt, I've recently added two that are very general: First, since I didn't believe myself to sense anything while awake that I couldn't also take myself to sense in a dream, and since I didn't believe that what I sense in sleep comes from objects outside me, I didn't see why I should believe what I sense while awake comes from such objects.

Second, since I didn't yet know my creator I saw nothing to rule out my having been so designed by nature that I'm deceived even in what seems most obviously true to me. And I could easily refute the reasoning by which I convinced myself of the reality of sensible things.

Now that I've begun to know myself and my creator better, I still believe that I oughtn't blindly to accept everything that I seem to get from the senses. Yet I no longer believe that I ought to call it all into doubt. In the first place, I know that everything that I clearly and distinctly understand can be made by God to be exactly as I understand it. It's possible (or, as I will say later, it's certain) that I have a body which is very tightly bound to me. But, on the one hand, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself insofar as I am just a thinking and unextended thing, and, on the other hand, I have a distinct idea of my body insofar as it is just an extended and unthinking thing. It's certain, then, that I am really distinct from my body and can exist without it.

There is also in me, however, a passive ability to sense to receive and recognise ideas of sensible things. But, I wouldn't be able to put this ability to use if there weren't, either in me or in something else, an active power to produce or make sensory ideas. Since this active power doesn't presuppose understanding, and since it often produces ideas in me without my cooperation and even against my will, it cannot exist in me. Therefore, this power must exist in a substance distinct from me. And, for reasons that I've noted, this substance must contain, either formally or eminently, all the reality that is contained subjectively in the ideas that the power produces. Either this substance is a physical object (a thing of bodily nature that contains formally the reality that the idea contains subjectively), or it is God or one of His creations that is higher than a physical object (something that contains this reality eminently). But, since God isn't a deceiver, it's completely obvious that He doesn't send these ideas to me directly or by means of a creation that contains their reality eminently rather than formally. For, since He has not given me any ability to recognise that these ideas are sent by Him or by creations other than physical objects, and since He has given me a strong inclination to believe that the ideas come from physical objects, I see no way to avoid the conclusion that He deceives me if the ideas are sent to me by anything other than physical objects. It follows that physical objects exist.

Through sensations like pain, hunger, and thirst, nature also teaches me that I am not present in my body in the way that a sailor is present in his ship. Rather, I am very tightly bound to my body and so "mixed up" with it that we form a single thing. Nature teaches me that there are other physical objects around my body - some that I ought to seek and others that I ought to avoid. From this fact I correctly infer that sense perceptions come from physical objects I infer with certainty that my body or, rather, my whole self which consists of a body and a mind-can be benefited and harmed by the physical objects around it.

There are many other things that I seem to have been taught by nature but that I have really accepted out of a habit of thoughtless judgment. These things may well be false. Among them are the judgments that a space is empty if nothing in it happens to affect my senses; that a hot physical object has something in it resembling my idea of heat; that a white or green thing has in it the same whiteness or greenness that I sense; that a bitter or sweet thing has in it the same flavour that I taste; that stars, towers, and other physical objects have the same size and shape that they present to my senses; and so on.

Still, we often err in cases in which nature does impel us. This happens, for example, when sick people want food or drink that would quickly harm them. To say that these people err as a result of the corruption of their nature does not solve the problem for a sick man is no less a creation of God than a well one, and it seems as absurd to suppose that God has given him a deceptive nature.

There is a real fault in the composite's nature, for it is thirsty when drinking would be harmful. It therefore remains to be asked why God's goodness doesn't prevent this nature's being deceptive.

Despite God's immense goodness, the nature of man (whom we now view as a composite of mind and body) cannot fail to be deceptive ….it much better that we are deceived on these (few) occasions than that we are generally deceived when our bodies are sound. And the same holds for other cases.

Of course, God could have so designed man's nature that the same motion of the brain presented something else to the mind, like the motion in the brain, or the motion in the foot, or a motion somewhere between the brain and foot. But no alternative to the way things are would be as conducive to the maintenance of the body. Similarly, when we need drink, the throat becomes dry, the dryness moves the nerves of the throat thereby moving the centre of the brain, and the brain's movements cause the sensation of thirst in the mind. It's the sensation of thirst that is produced, because no information about our condition is more useful to us than that we need to get something to drink in order to remain healthy. And the same is true in other cases.

I know that sensory indications of what is good for my body are more often true than false; I can almost always examine a given thing with several senses; and I can also use my memory (which connects the present to the past) and my understanding (which has now examined all the causes of error).

Hence, I need no longer fear that what the senses daily show me is unreal. I should reject the exaggerated doubts of the past few days as ridiculous. This is especially true of the chief ground for these doubts - namely, my inability to distinguish dreaming from being awake. For I now notice that dreaming and being awake are importantly different: the events in dreams are not linked by memory to the rest of my life like those that happen while I am awake. If, while I'm awake, someone were suddenly to appear and then immediately to disappear without my seeing where he came from or went to (as happens in dreams), I would justifiably judge that he was not a real man but a ghost or, better, an apparition created in my brain.

But, if I distinctly observe something's source, its place, and the time at which I learn about it, and if I grasp an unbroken connection between it and the rest of my life, I'm quite sure that it is something in my waking life rather than in a dream. And I ought not to have the slightest doubt about the reality of such things if I have examined them with all my senses, my memory, and my understanding without finding any conflicting evidence.

For, from the fact that God is not a deceiver, it follows that I am not deceived in any case of this sort. Since the need to act does not always allow time for such a careful examination, however, we must admit the likelihood of men's erring about particular things and acknowledge the weakness of our nature.

Overall review

In Meditations VI Descartes believes that he has found his certainty. In some ways it is a circular journey. He started certain, doubted and ends up certain again! So what is the point of that? Well he would answer that he now has foundational certainty for all his beliefs and he has developed a method to avoid error in the future.

From his previous Meditations he already knows that he is a “thinking thing” and that God is not a deceiver. In Meditation VI he believes that he has demonstrated that he really can distinguish dreams from reality because they have distinct qualitative difference. For example dreams are often confused and they do not conform to the rules of time and space. The waking state is predictable - people and events do not leap through time and space.

God has given him a “strong inclination” to believe that the material world exists. Descartes is “taught by nature” to believe that the material world exists. God has given Descartes this nature. God does not deceive. Ergo the material world exists.

But is it not also “in our nature” to deceive ourselves? For example, when we are ill we sometimes want food or liquid when to eat or drink would do us harm. Descartes position on this was that it was better we were deceived when we were sick than when we were healthy.

“Error is the result of imbalance between my understanding and my will. My understanding allows me to have clear and distinct ideas only about a very limited number of things. But my will ventures more. The will needs restrained.”

Evaluation

So what about Descartes’ claims that his new philosophy is based on a radical method of doubt has achieved certainty and will avoid error.

• He misses out memory from his doubts.

• Are his “dream versus reality” distinctions convincing?

• Is it convincing that deception is occasional and our own fault?

• He relies on the flawed ontological argument for his metaphysical foundation.

• Some of his arguments are based on medieval philosophy – so hardly “new”.

Descartes would claim that an addition drugs, drink, eating the wrong sort of food and watching soaps was just occasional deception and our fault.

This broadens out to the old metaphysical question - “How could a good and perfect God create such bad and imperfect creatures?”

Revision Section

Put these statements into the order from Meditations I (Revision)

1 He would be a madman if he denied present experience to be true.

2 He needs to attack foundational beliefs.

3 Could what he thinks is true be just a dream?

4 All that he has learned has come through the senses.

5 He imagines an evil and deceitful demon controlling his experiences

6 He cannot determine a clear difference between waking experiences and dreaming.

7 His senses do occasionally deceive him.

8 He notes that even certainties like mathematical truths could be a deception.

9 Whether waking or sleeping maths truths are true.

10 Dreams must at least be copies of some truth.

Meditation II - The Wax Example Illustration (Revision)

Put these in their correct order

1He examines the wax with his senses

2He knows for certain that he exists

3He notes that his reason not his senses understands the wax clearly

4He assumes he knows nothing for certain

5He realises that he cannot imagine all the possible shapes that the wax can take

6Sense experience is thinking.

7He heats the wax and his sense experience of it changes completely.

8He notes the primary qualities of material objects are, extension, shape and movement.

9He can be certain that he has these experiences,

10The mind is easier to know than the body

For Descartes, what important points are demonstrated by the wax example?

Activity 1

Label each of the following statements Y or N if Descartes would agree or disagree relating to the section of Meditation II before the Cogito.

1. There is a way to defeat the evil demon.

2. The doubts from Meditation I remain.

3. The only certainty may be that there is no certainty.

4. Concepts that can be partially doubted should be treated differently from concepts that can be entirely doubted.

5. Descartes, unlike Archimedes, will need to find more than one indubitable truth.

Activity 2

Label each of the following statements Y or N if Descartes would agree or disagree relating to the section of Meditation II including the Cogito.

1. If Descartes denies that he has senses and a body, then he can't prove that he exists.

2. Descartes proves that God exists.

3. The deceiver could not deceive Descartes into believing he, Descartes, does not exist.

4. Even if there is no physical world, it does not follow that Descartes' mind does not exist.

5. Descartes proves that he exists.

Activity

One benefit of studying Descartes is learning how to reason more effectively. He often uses examples to make a point. Briefly answer the questions that follow each of Descartes' examples.

1. "Archimedes required only one fixed and immovable point to move the whole earth from its place, and I too can hope for great things if I can find even one small thing that is certain and unshakable."

a. Archimedes is being compared to?

b. "One fixed and immovable point" is being compared to?

c. Moving "the whole earth from its place" is being compared to?

d. The point of this analogy is?

e. From you study of logic would you say that the analogy is valid?

Give reasons for your answer.

2. "Let's consider the things commonly taken to be the most distinctly comprehended: physical objects that we see and touch. Let's not consider physical objects in general, since general conceptions are very often confused. Rather, let's consider one particular object. Take, for example, this piece of wax."

a. "Distinctly comprehended" means?

b. An example of a "general conception" might be?

c. The goal in examining the wax is to find out about what?

d. The wax is an example of what?

3. "But, if I happen to look out my window and see men walking in the street, I naturally say that I see the men just as I say that I see the wax. What do I really see, however, but hats and coats that could be covering robots? I judge that there are men. Thus I comprehend with my judgment, which is in my mind, objects that I once believed myself to see with my eyes."

a. The error Descartes believes he makes when he says he "sees" the men and the wax is?

b. What is the purpose of mentioning "robots"?

c. What general point is Descartes making about his senses?

d. What general point is Descartes making about judgment?

e. Errors of the type described in this example are caused by what?

f. What does the last sentence conclude?

g. What evidence is offered for the conclusion in the last sentence?

Activity

Analysis Exercise

All arguments can be divided into two parts: evidence and conclusion. For example:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.

Sentences 1 and 2 are evidence that supports the conclusion

in sentence 3. Think back over Meditations I and II. What evidence, if any, does Descartes offer for each of the following conclusions?

Meditation I

1. The senses cannot be trusted.

2. He cannot be certain that he is sitting beside the fire in his dressing gown.

3. He is not a madman.

4. His dreams must be copies of something real.

5. He can be certain of simple mathematical truths.

6. He cannot be certain of simple mathematical truths.

7. He cannot be certain that God is not a deceiver.

Meditation II

8. The evil demon cannot deceive him about everything.

9. He exists.

10. He is a thinking thing.

11. He can know his essence as a thinking thing more clearly than he can know a piece of wax.

Activity

Evaluation Exercise

Now grade Descartes' evidence for 1-11. Use the following scale -

A: An excellent argument, strong, sensible, would certainly convince any thoughtful person.

B: A good argument, certainly more convincing than non-convincing, but some areas need more development and/or might be open to doubt.

C: A flawed argument, certainly not worthy of a great philosopher. Would need significant improvement to convince a thoughtful person.

D: Any thoughtful person would find it a weak, easy-to-attack argument.

F: A terrible argument that would not convince even someone who desperately wanted to be convinced.

1. Grade each argument.

2. Briefly explain your grade.

4. For each argument you graded "C" or lower, offer evidence that shows why Descartes' argument is weak.

Descartes - in a few sentences explain ...

1 In the battle between Descartes and the evil demon, who wins and how?

2 What is the point of the Archimedes analogy?

3 What does Descartes mean by “I”?

4 What is Descartes’ attitude to sense experience?

Meditations I & II - Problems with Descartes

“Between false belief and knowledge of reality there are many opinions and appearances which may be very different from reality itself.”

Parmenides

Revision Task

1 Is there anything Descartes has not tested with his “Method of Doubt”?

2 What is the problem which arises as a result of this omission?

3 How would Descartes probably answer this criticism?

4 Put his statement - the Cogito - “I think therefore I am”, into the form of a formal argument.

5 Are there any problems as a result of this?

6 Is there a solution?

Descartes and Reality

Usually we take as a given that the world “out there” brought to us by our senses exists pretty much as we sense it. Sure we are deceived by our senses, sometimes, and while we are dreaming we believe what is happening is real, even when it gets pretty weird and embarrassing. So what is Descartes doing? Isn’t he being just a little bit well, silly?

To use an analogy, he is viewing his senses rather like a trusted and loyal bestest, best friend. This bestest best friend has knowingly gone out and deceived him. How can he ever trust him again? This relationship will never be the same again!

This certainty and trust we all seek in our personal relationships, Descartes seeks in the material world. “It’s no use living a lie!” But is this kind of certainty possible?

Cartesian Dualism

Descartes was a dualist. If we forget about God for a moment, according to Descartes, everything in the universe is either mind or matter. Humans are mind and body. Different substances. This raises the question ‘if they are different how do they interact?’ What is the connection?

Descartes said that the pineal gland, situated in the brain, was the bridge between the mind and body but that still leaves the same problem. If there are only two substances, which one of them makes up the pineal gland? And then we are back again where we started.

Meditations II and Beyond

After the Cogito, Descartes continues to use his Method of Doubt. “I cannot infer that the desk in front of me exists.” This certainty was removed by the doubt over the possibility of distinguishing between dreaming and consciousness. So how does Descartes put the world back together?

Descartes was reacting to the sceptics and the empiricists. It was thought by some that the advance of science could result in humans being thought of as merely physical objects - machines.

He wanted to demonstrate foundational certainty and to define substance as other philosophers had tried to.

In Meditation II Descartes established to his own satisfaction that he could

1 intuit that he was, at least, a thinking thing - mind,

2 demonstrate that sense experience was some kind of knowledge

and

3 that matter was deduced and understood by reason.

In Meditations VI, Descartes continues to explore his ideas of physical objects “having a mental image” and a “pure understanding” and deduces that some of his mental images probably come from the actual physical objects.

Descartes continues to explore ideas of physical objects with the aim of differentiating what images come from the objects themselves.

Pure understanding = the knowledge that a triangle has 3 sides.

Mental image = the 3-sided figure imagined in the “mind’s eye” - “visualised”.

He is trying to demonstrate that knowledge is based on reason and reason reflects reality so that he can demonstrate that he does know what he thinks he knows.

Mental images and understanding are distinct. Mental images are not essential to “I”. So this ability depends on something distinct from “Me.”

Material objects probably do exist. But since God is good and therefore not a deceiver, this probability becomes a certainty.

“God would not deceive me into thinking that something exists when it doesn’t.”

So both Descartes, and the world exist as he believes them to exist.

Student Activity

Put Descartes’ argument so far in your own words.

Descartes Meditations I & II - Point-By-Point Summary

Aims - To defeat the sceptics and demonstrate foundational certainty and that rational thought is the basis for this.

Method - Method of Doubt - A thought experiment

Situation - Philosophy, a suspect structure of Classical with Mediaeval additions.

He, like other people, had accepted as true things which have since proved false or at least doubtful.

Doubts can become falsities like apples with slight blemishes can go bad.

Just like the apples in a barrel one bad one can affect the rest so doubtful, not just false ideas must be rejected in case undermine whole arguments. Sound foundations necessary.

Common Sense Method of Doubt

My senses reflect the real world Sense can deceive e.g.

I am awake when I believe that I am Can’t demonstrate that all is not a dream

It is obvious that I have a body Can’t demonstrate that I have a body

God is good All my experience could be caused by an evil deceitful Demon

Meditations II

Recap of the above but ...

Even if deceit is taking place, there must be something which is being deceived.

Demonstrated that thinking is going on. This thinking is the essence of Me - the Cogito “I think therefore I am”

The Wax Example

A ball of wax can be grasped by the senses - taste, touch etc

But if it is heated all of these sense properties change but we still understand the substance to be wax.

Therefore we do not understand the wax through our senses.

We cannot understand the wax by our imagination because it cannot grasp all the possible forms the wax can take - it is by our reason the wax is grasped distinctly.

Descartes Class Exercise 8/10/99

1 What is Descartes position at the end of Meditations I? 2

2 How did he arrive at that position? 6

3 Is Descartes a sceptic? Give reasons for your answer. 2

4 “Descartes methods and his subject matter are no use in

every-day life.”

How far do you agree with this statement?

5

Total 15

Descartes Class Exercise 8/10/99

1 What is Descartes position at the end of Meditations I? 2

2 How did he arrive at that position? 6

3 Is Descartes a sceptic? Give reasons for your answer. 2

4 “Descartes methods and his subject matter are no use in

every-day life.”

How far do you agree with this statement?

5

Total 15

Philosophical Studies

In any assessment question there are three elements for which marks are awarded.

Knowledge & Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation.

Knowledge & Understanding means to put into your own words the,

facts and definitions

explaining what a concept means

the main features of an issue,

what the philosophical challenges are

e.g. what Plato said, what Descartes said ,what the problem is and so on

Analysis can involve -

explaining the different interpretations of concepts

relating sources to themes and arguments

illustrating the differing viewpoints on an issue or problem

explaining viewpoints and challenges

e.g. what Descartes meant, what was his methodology, what are the various arguments and viewpoints, how does his work develop what others had done, what problems arise or remain?

Evaluation can involve -

assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments

discussing both sides, expanding on their consequences

presenting conclusions

providing supporting reasons

Typically questions will invite you to evaluate by one of the following phrases

How far..

To what extent..

Discuss...

Is it...

Should...

How important..

How central..

How accurate...

How acceptable

How effective...

How successful..

How valid...

The evaluation is the most difficult because it assesses how you can handle all the above information by identifying, what was claimed, what was actually achieved the quality of the arguments and the questions and problems which remain despite these developments. In the last part, the Evaluation, you will also be expected to supply your conclusion and to support this with reasons/references to the rest of what you have written. Notice this is not your opinion.

TASK

Let’s list the the sort of points which might be made in an evaluation of Descartes’ Meditations I & II. Remember not all of these would be relevant for every question and more points will be required when we come to evaluate the arguments in Meditation VI.

Present an accurate description of Descartes’ method of doubt.

Why does he think that his position of “I think therefore I am” is beyond doubt?

Do you agree with him ? Give reasons for your answer.

Present an accurate description of Descartes’ method of doubt.

Why does he think that his position of “I think therefore I am” is beyond doubt?

Do you agree with him ? Give reasons for your answer.

Present an accurate description of Descartes’ method of doubt.

Why does he think that his position of “I think therefore I am” is beyond doubt?

Do you agree with him ? Give reasons for your answer.

Present an accurate description of Descartes’ method of doubt.

Why does he think that his position of “I think therefore I am” is beyond doubt?

Do you agree with him ? Give reasons for your answer.

Present an accurate description of Descartes’ method of doubt.

Why does he think that his position of “I think therefore I am” is beyond doubt?

Do you agree with him ? Give reasons for your answer.

”Descartes’ method of doubt resulted in the clear certainty of the cogito.”

How far do you agree with this statement?

KU

Analysis

Evaluation

[pic]

Are they correct? Are there no foundational beliefs?

|Activity 2 |

|What is the “challenge of scepticism”? |

| |

|What are the three kinds of scepticism? |

| |

|What was the Sophist point of view? |

| |

|What is the Sceptic view of the Tripartite definition of knowledge? |

| |

|Why do some philosophers challenge Scepticism because it is impractical and self-contradictory? |

When we perceive the world it is as human senses represent it to us, a bee sees the world in ultra violet light, a bat sees with its ears! So how do we know that that world is as we perceive it to be? Can it ever be?

One of the great philosophers of the twentieth century was Bertrand Russell. This is his view of the situation

From “The Problems Of Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell

|In daily life, we assume as certain many things which, on a closer scrutiny, are found to be so full of apparent contradictions |

|that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe. In the search for certainty, it is |

|natural to begin with our present experiences, and in some sense, no doubt, knowledge is to be derived from them. But any |

|statement as to what it is that our immediate experiences make us know is very likely to be wrong. |

| |

|It seems to me that I am now sitting in a chair, at a table of a certain shape, on which I see sheets of paper with writing or |

|print. |

| |

|By turning my head I see out of the window buildings and clouds and the sun. I believe that the sun is about ninety-three million|

|miles from the earth; that it is a hot globe many times bigger than the earth; that, owing to the earth's rotation, it rises every|

|morning, and will continue to do so for an indefinite time in the future. I believe that, if any other normal person comes into |

|my room, he will see the same chairs and tables and books and papers as I see, and that the table which I see is the same as the |

|table which I feel pressing against my arm. All this seems to be so evident as to be hardly worth stating, except in answer to a |

|man who doubts whether I know anything. |

| |

|Yet all this may be reasonably doubted, and all of it requires much careful discussion before we can be sure that we have stated it in a |

|form that is wholly true. |

| |

|To make our difficulties plain, let us concentrate attention on the table. To the eye it is oblong, brown and shiny, to the touch it is |

|smooth and cool and hard; when I tap it, it gives out a wooden sound. |

| |

|Any one else who sees and feels and hears the table will agree with this description, so that it might seem as if no difficulty would |

|arise; but as soon as we try to be more precise our troubles begin. |

| |

|Although I believe that the table is "really" of the same colour all over, the parts that reflect the light look much brighter than the |

|other parts, and some parts look white because of reflected light. I know that, if I move, the parts that reflect the light will be |

|different, so that the apparent distribution of colours on the table will change. It follows that if several people are looking at the |

|table at the same moment, no two of them will see exactly the same distribution of colours, because no two can see it from exactly the same|

|point of view, and any change in the point of view makes some change in the way the light is reflected. |

| |

|For most practical purposes the differences are unimportant, but to the painter they are all important: the painter has to unlearn the |

|habit of thinking that things seem to have the colour which common sense says they "really" have, and to learn the habit of seeing things |

|as they appear. |

| |

|Here we have already the beginning of one of the distinctions that cause most trouble in philosophy - the distinction between "appearance" |

|and "reality", between what things ‘seem to be’. |

|and “what they are”. The painter wants to know what things seem to be, the practical man and the philosopher want to know what they |

|are; but the philosopher's wish to know this is stronger than the practical man's, and is more troubled by knowledge as to the |

|difficulties of answering the question. |

| |

|To return to the table. It is evident from what we have found, that there is no colour which pre-eminently appears to be the colour |

|of the table, or even of any one particular part of the table - it appears to be of different colours from different points of view, |

|and there is no reason for regarding some of these as more really its colour than others. And we know that even from a given point |

|of view the colour will seem different by artificial light, or to a colour-blind man, or to a man wearing blue spectacles, while in |

|the dark there will be no colour at all, though to touch and hearing the table will be unchanged. |

| |

|This colour is not something which is inherent in the table, but something depending upon the table and the spectator and the way the|

|light falls on the table. |

| |

|When, in ordinary life, we speak of the colour of the table, we only mean the sort of colour which it will seem to have to a ‘normal’|

|spectator from an ‘ordinary’ point of view under ‘usual’ conditions of light. But the other colours which appear under other |

|conditions have just as good a right to be considered real; and therefore, to avoid favouritism, we are compelled to deny that, in |

|itself, the table has any one particular colour. |

| |

|The same thing applies to the texture. With the naked eye one can see the grain, but otherwise the table looks smooth and even. If |

|we looked at it through a microscope, we should see roughness and hills and valleys, and all sorts of differences that are |

|imperceptible to the naked eye. Which of these is the "real" table? We are naturally tempted to say that what |

|we see through the microscope is more real, but that in turn would be changed by a still more powerful microscope. If, then, we cannot |

|trust what we see with the naked eye, why should we trust what we see through a microscope? Thus, again, the confidence in our sense |

|with which we began deserts us. |

| |

|The shape of the table is not better. We are all in the habit of judging as to the ‘real’ shapes of things, and we do this so |

|unreflectingly that we come to think we actually see the real shapes. But, in fact, as we all have to learn if we try to draw, a given |

|thing looks different in shape from every different point of view. If our table is "really" rectangular, it will look, from almost all |

|points of view, as if it had two acute angles and two obtuse angles. |

| |

|If opposite sides are parallel, they will look as if they converged to a point away from the spectator; if they are of equal length, |

|they will look as if the nearer side were longer. All these things are not commonly noticed in looking at a table, because experience |

|has taught us to construct the "real" shape from the apparent shape, and the "real" shape is what interests us as practical men. But |

|the "real" shape is not what we see; it is something inferred from what we see. And what we see is constantly changing in shape as we |

|move about the room; so that here again the senses seem not to give us the truth about the table itself, but only about the appearance |

|of the table. |

| |

|Similar difficulties arise when we consider the sense of touch. It is true that the table always gives us a sensation of hardness, and |

|we feel that it resists pressure. But the sensation we obtain depends upon how hard we press the table and also upon what part of the |

|body we press with; thus the various sensations due to various pressures or various parts of the body cannot be supposed |

|to reveal directly any definite property of the table, but at most to be signs of some property, which causes all the sensations, |

|but is not actually apparent in any of them. And the same applies still more obviously to the sounds which can be elicited by |

|rapping the table. |

| |

|Thus it becomes evident that the real table, if there is one, is not the same as what we immediately experience by sight or touch |

|or hearing. The real table, if there is one, is not immediately known to us at all, but must be an inference from what is |

|immediately known. Hence, two very difficult questions at once arise; namely, (1) Is there a real table at all? (2) If so, what |

|sort of object can it be? |

|(The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1912) |

Let’s see if we can summarise Russell’s argument by answering a few questions.

| |

| |

|1 What sort of ‘knowledge’ does Russell question? |

| |

|2 What philosophical problem does Russell illustrate with the table? |

| |

|3 What is the difference between an artist and a philosopher? |

| |

|4 What is Russell’s conclusion? |

| |

|5 What do you think of Russell’s conclusion? |

|Give reasons for your answer. |

Foundationalism

Foundationalism is the attempt by empiricists and rationalists to identify solid foundations for what we call knowledge. Descartes, a rationalist believed that his own thinking could not be denied nor could belief in a good God.

Hume, an empiricist believed that sense experience was undeniable. Our perceptions happened to us therefore they exist.

Empiricist could also say that we can check one sense against another and so be less likely to be deceived. But still no certainty. In trying to justify knowledge gained from sense experience they would say the method of scientific enquiry means that experimental results can be duplicated all over the world.

As we know sceptics would say that this is meaningless because all we can test is appearance not reality. And the experience of this appearance is subjective not objective.

Another challenge to scepticism is called coherencism. This points out that it usually makes more sense to accept what sense experience is telling us than not. You could doubt that you are reading this page but really…

According to coherencism our knowledge systems are like boats on the sea or cobwebs they cohere together and do not fail so cannot be completely dismissed.

Against the sceptics include those who believe that there are certain basic beliefs which are self-evident and do not need justification and so can be used to end the infinite regress. Rationalist would say that analytic statements, e.g. 2+2=4, ‘all bachelors are unmarried’, are true by definition and require no justification.

Some rationalists would include ‘I exist’, ‘Murder is wrong’, ‘every cause has an effect’ and ‘humans have rights’ as foundational beliefs.

Sceptics would say other kinds of knowledge are not like maths and that analytical statements don’t really say anything new about the world.

Could this really be an elaborate dream? We do not question reality when we dream.

The experiment/game argument is a tricky one. That is why it has been used so much in stories.

The Sale of The Sceptic

In his Sale of the philosophers about 175 CE Lucian pokes fun at some Greek philosophers under the guise of having them put up for sale at an auction.

In the following passage the Sceptic Pyrrho is renamed Coppernob- we can but speculate on the reason for the name change.

|ZEUS. Who’s left? |

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|HERMES: This Sceptic here. Hey Coppernob! Come here and be auctioned! Hurry up! Not many to sell you to - most of them are |

|drifting off now. Still - any bids for this one? |

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|BUYER: Yes me. But tell me first, what do you know? |

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|PYRRHIAS: Nothing. |

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|BUYER: How do you mean, nothing? |

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|PYRRHIAS: I don't think there is anything at all. |

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|BUYER: Aren't we something? |

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|PYRRHIAS: I’m not even sure of that. |

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|BUYER: Not even that you're somebody? |

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|PYRRHIAS: I'm much more doubtful about that. |

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|BUYER: What a state to be in! Well what’s the idea of these scales? |

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|PYRRHIAS: I weigh arguments in them. I balance them until they’re equal, and when I see they’re exactly alike and exactly the same |

|weight, then - ah, then! I don’t know which is the sounder. |

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|BUYER: What are you good at apart from that? |

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|PYRRIAS: Everything except catching a runaway slave. |

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|BUYER: And why can’t you do that? |

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|PYRRIAS: My good man I can’t apprehend anything. |

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|BUYER: I don't suppose you can. You seem slow and stupid. Well, what's the end of your knowledge? |

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|PYRRHIAS: Ignorance, deafness, and blindness. |

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|BUYER: You’ll be unable to see or hear, you say? |

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|PYRRHIAS: And unable to judge or feel either. No better than a worm, in fact. |

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|BUYER: I must buy you for that. How much shall we say for him? |

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|HERMES: One Attic mina. |

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|BUYER: There you are. Well now, you - I've bought you, eh? |

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|PYRRHIAS: I'm not sure. |

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|BUYER: Nonsense! I have bought you, and I've paid my money. |

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|PYRRHIAS: I defer judgment, I'm considering the matter. |

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|BUYER: Look, you come with me - you're my slave. |

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|PYRRHIAS: Who can tell whether what you say is true? |

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|BUYER: The auctioneer can. My mina can. These people here can. |

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|PYRRHIAS: Is there anybody here? |

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|BUYER: I'm going to put you on the treadmill, then. I’ll show you I'm boss - the hard way! |

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|PYRRHIAS: I’ll suspend decision on it. |

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|BUYER: Oh, ye gods! Look, I've already told you my decision. |

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|HERMES: Stop dillydallying, you, and go with him - he's bought you. Gentlemen, we invite you to come tomorrow when we will be |

|putting up ordinary people, workmen and tradesmen. |

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|Lucian, “Sale of the Philosophers”, in Selected Works, tr. Bryan P. Reardon (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1965), pp. 109-11 1. |

|(* In Greek this involves a pun on the word katalambano, which means both "to seize" and "to understand.") |

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|Activity |

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|What does this scene try to point out about the position of Absolute Sceptics? How does it do this? |

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|To what extent do you agree with the playwright? |

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|How might the sceptic defend herself? |

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|How Do You Know, When You Know? |

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|Test Yourself |

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|1 What is epistemology? |

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|2 Carefully explain the difference between rationalists and empiricists. Use examples to clarify the distinction between them. |

|Explain carefully how they justify their position on knowledge. |

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|3 Explain carefully the sceptical challenge. |

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|4 In what way is scepticism necessary? |

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|5 What are the different forms of philosophical scepticism? |

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|6 What are the reasons for scepticism? |

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|7 What responses can be made to these reasons? |

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|8 Which position do you think is the most convincing - the sceptical challenge or the responses - can we have certain knowledge?|

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|Give reasons for your answer |

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Essay Question

“There is no knowledge which can be demonstrated to be certain”.

To what extent do you agree with this statement?

25 Marks

|Remember to include some sources |

|1 Explain Epistemology |

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|2 Examples of Different Kinds of Knowledge |

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|3 Tri partite Definition of Knowledge - Then Empiricist (Tabula rasa) Vs Rationalist (Innate) |

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|4 Describe the Sceptical Challenge(s) |

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|5 Reasons For Sceptical Challenge - (Include Sources) |

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|6 Responses To Sceptical Challenge - (Coherence + Foundationalism) |

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|7 Conclusion based on the above - Russell + Plato appearance and reality , The Sale of The Sceptic, Claimed Certainties - Maths, |

|Analytical & Ethics Statements, Descartes, How Informative are M, A & E Statements?, The Necessity For Scepticism for Philosophy, |

|Solipsism and The Human Experience |

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And finally, what would Plato and Descartes say?

We are already familiar with Plato's theory of reality and we should recall that his image of the Divided Line represents as much a conception of knowledge as a conception of reality. The object of authentic knowledge is what is, as opposed to what is becoming.

Such knowledge is hardly possible in this life, where the soul is imprisoned in the body, and where the body itself is a constant hindrance to the acquisition of knowledge. When the soul is liberated from the body at death, the soul comes into the possession of absolute knowledge. Until that time all we can do is cultivate as much as possible the innate truths that the mind is born with, but which, as they are "recollected," are invariably distorted by the world of Becoming, resulting in mere opinions/beliefs, or relative knowledge.

Likewise, Descartes' theory of knowledge too, seeks to develop at least the foundation of his philosophy apart from the input of the senses. He saw in mathematics an especially good model for philosophical reasoning, and adopted intuition and deduction as the principles of his philosophical method. He believed that, in principle, it would be possible to unfold a complete system of knowledge by the rigorous practising of this method. As with Plato, it is important to see that with Descartes every attempt is made to exclude or minimise the illusory and deceitful

intrusions of the senses.

Empiricism, with its doctrine that the mind is at birth a "blank tablet", rejects the very starting point of rationalism.

It was said earlier that empiricism is the view which emphasises experience as the source of knowledge. We must now explain more carefully what we mean here by "experience."

What Is Empiricism?

There are many different sorts of experience, such as mystical experience, moral experience, aesthetic experience, lonely experience, and wild experience. But here we mean sense experience, that is, perceptions derived from the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

When empiricists say that experience is the basis of our knowledge, they mean sense experience, and therefore that the five senses are the foundation of all our knowledge.

As with rationalism, empiricism comes with varying emphases and in varying degrees. But as a general definition we may say that empiricism is the view that all knowledge of reality is derived from sense experience. This may be livened up somewhat by the empiricist metaphor of the tabula rasa, or "blank tablet." It is a shorthand way of expressing the empiricist denial that any ideas or even intellectual structure is inscribed on the mind from birth-the mind is at birth a tabula rasa.

Revision exercises

On the Value of Scepticism

by Bertrand Russell

from The Will To Doubt

• Index: Historical Writings (Russell)

• Home to Positive Atheism

I wish to propose a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. I must, of course, admit that if such an opinion became common it would completely transform our social life and our political system; since both are at present faultless, this must weigh against it. I am also aware (what is more serious) that it would tend to diminish the incomes of clairvoyants, bookmakers, bishops, and others who live on the irrational hopes of those who have done nothing to deserve good fortune here or hereafter. In spite of these grave arguments, I maintain that a case can be made out of my paradox, and I shall try to set it forth.

First of all, I wish to guard myself against being thought to take up an extreme position. I am a British Whig, with a British love of compromise and moderation. A story is told of Pyrrho, the founder of Pyrrhonism (which was the old name for scepticism). He maintained that we never know enough to be sure that one course of action is wiser than another. In his youth, when he was taking his constitutional one afternoon, he saw his teacher in philosophy (from whom he had imbibed his principles) with his head stuck in a ditch, unable to get out. After contemplating him for some time, he walked on, maintaining that there was no

sufficient ground for thinking he would do any good by pulling the man out. Others, less sceptical, effected a rescue, and blamed Pyrrho for his heartlessness. But his teacher, true to his principles, praised him for his consistency. Now I do not advocate such heroic scepticism as that. I am prepared to admit the ordinary beliefs of common sense, in practice if not in theory. I am prepared to admit any well-established result of science, not as certainly true, but as sufficiently probable to afford a basis for rational action. If it is announced that there is to be an eclipse of the moon on such-and-such a date, I think it worth while to look and see whether it is taking place. Pyrrho would have thought otherwise. On this ground, I feel justified in claiming that I advocate a middle position.

There are matters about which those who have investigated them are agreed; the dates of eclipses may serve as an illustration. There are other matters about which experts are not agreed. Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. Einstein's view as to the magnitude of the deflection of light by gravitation would have been rejected by all experts not many years ago, yet it proved to be right. Nevertheless the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

These propositions may seem mild, yet, if accepted, they would absolutely revolutionize human life.

The opinions for which people are willing to fight and persecute all belong to one of the three classes which this scepticism condemns. When there are rational grounds for an opinion, people are content to set them forth and wait for them to operate. In such cases, people do not hold their opinions with passion; they hold them calmly, and set forth their reasons quietly. The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately. Except in China, a man is thought a poor creature unless he has strong opinions on such matters; people hate sceptics far more than they hate the passionate advocates of opinions hostile to their own. It is thought that the claims of practical life demand opinions on such questions, and that, if we became more rational, social existence would be impossible. I believe the opposite of this, and will try to make it clear why I have this belief.

Take the question of unemployment in the years after 1920. One party held that it was due to the wickedness of trade unions, another that it was due to the confusion on the Continent. A third party, while admitting that these causes played a part, attributed most of the trouble to the policy of the Bank of England in trying to increase the value of the pound sterling. This third party, I am given to understand, contained most of the experts, but no one else. Politicians do not find any attractions in a view which does not lend itself to party declamation, and ordinary mortals prefer views which attribute misfortune to the machinations of their enemies. Consequently people fight for and against quite irrelevant measures, while the few who have a rational opinion are not listened to because they do not minister to any one's passions. To produce converts, it would have been necessary to persuade people that the Bank of England is wicked. To convert Labour, it would have been necessary to show that directors of the Bank of England are hostile to trade unionism; to convert the Bishop of London, it would have been necessary to show that they are "immoral." It would be thought to follow that their views currency are mistaken.

Let us take another illustration. It is often said that socialism is contrary to human nature, and this assertion is denied by socialists with the same heat with which it is made by their opponents. The late Dr. Rivers, whose death cannot be sufficiently deplored, discussed this question in a lecture at University College, published in his posthumous book on Psychology and Politics. This is the only discussion of this topic known to me that can lay claim to be scientific. It sets forth certain anthropological data which show that socialism is not contrary to human nature in Melanesia; it then points out that we do not know whether human nature is the same in Melanesia as in Europe; and it concludes that the only way of finding out whether socialism is contrary to European human nature is to try it. It is interesting that on the basis of this conclusion he was willing to become a Labour candidate. But he would certainly not have added to the heat and passion in which political controversies are usually enveloped.

I will now venture on a topic which people find even more difficulty in treating dispassionately, namely marriage customs. The bulk of the population of every country is persuaded that all marriage customs other than its own are immoral, and that those who combat this view do so only in order to justify their awn loose lives. In India, the remarriage of widows is traditionally regarded as a thing too horrible to contemplate. In Catholic countries divorce is thought very wicked, but some failure of conjugal fidelity is tolerated, at least in men. In America divorce is easy, but extra-conjugal relations are condemned with the utmost severity. Mohammedans believe in polygamy, which we think degrading. All these differing opinions are held with extreme vehemence, and very cruel persecutions are inflicted upon those who contravene them. Yet no one in any of the various countries makes the slightest attempt to show that the custom of his own country contributes more to human happiness than the custom of others.

When we open any scientific treatise on the subject, such as (for example) Westermarck's History of Human Marriage, we find an atmosphere extraordinarily different from that of popular prejudice. We find that every kind of custom has existed, many of them such as we should have supposed repugnant to human nature. We think we can understand polygamy, as a custom forced upon women by male oppressors. But what are we to say of the Tibetan custom, according to which one woman has several husbands? Yet travellers in Tibet assure us that family life there is at least as harmonious as in Europe. A little of such reading must soon reduce any candid person to complete scepticism, since there seem to be no data enabling us to say that one marriage custom is better or worse than another. Almost all involve cruelty and intolerance towards offenders against the local code, but otherwise they have nothing in common. It seems that sin is geographical. From this conclusion, it is only a small step to the further conclusion that the notion of "sin" is illusory, and that the cruelty habitually practiced in punishing it is unnecessary. It is just this conclusion which is so unwelcome to many minds, since the infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.

Nationalism is of course an extreme example of fervent belief concerning doubtful matters. I think it may be safely said that any scientific historian, writing now a history of the Great War, is bound to make statements which, if made during the war, would have exposed him to imprisonment in every one of the belligerent countries on both sides. Again, with the exception of China, there is no country where people tolerate the truth about themselves; at ordinary times the truth is only thought ill-mannered, but in war-time it is thought criminal. Opposing systems of violent belief are built up, the falsehood of which is evident from the fact that they are believed only by those who share the same national bias. But the application of reason to these systems of belief is thought as wicked as the application of reason to religious dogmas was formerly thought. When people are challenged as to why scepticism in such matters should be wicked, the only answer is that myths help to win wars, so that a rational nation would be killed rather than kill. The view that there is something shameful in saving one's skin by wholesale slander of foreigners is one which, so far as I know, has hitherto found no supporters among professional moralists outside the ranks of Quakers. If it is suggested that a rational nation would find ways of keeping out of wars altogether, the answer is usually more abuse.

What would be the effect of a spread of rational scepticism? Human events spring from passions, which generate systems of attendant myths. Psychoanalysts have studied the individual manifestations of this process in lunatics, certified and uncertified. A man who has suffered some humiliation invents a theory that he is King of England, and develops all kinds of ingenious explanations of the fact that he is not treated with that respect which his exalted position demands. In this case, his delusion is one with which his neighbours do not sympathize, so they lock him up. But if, instead of asserting only his own greatness, he asserts the greatness of his nation or his class or his creed, he wins hosts of adherents, and becomes a political or religious leader, even if, to the impartial outsider, his views seem just as absurd as those found in asylums. In this way a collective insanity grows up, which follows laws very similar to those of individual insanity. Every one knows that it is dangerous to depute with a lunatic who thinks he is King of England; but as he is isolated, he can be overpowered. When a whole nation shares a delusion, its anger is of the same kind as that of an individual lunatic if its pretensions are disputed, but nothing short of war can compel it to submit to reason.

The part played by intellectual factors in human behaviour is a matter as to which there is much disagreement among psychologists. There are two quite distinct questions: (1) how far are beliefs operative as causes of actions? (2) how far are beliefs derived from logically adequate evidence, or capable of being so derived? On both questions, psychologists are agreed in giving a much smaller place to the intellectual factors than the plain man would give, but within this general agreement there is room for considerable differences of degree. Let us take the two questions in succession.

(1) How far are beliefs operative as causes of action? Let us not discuss the question theoretically, but let us take an ordinary day of an ordinary man's life. He begins by getting up in the morning, probably from force of habit, without the intervention of any belief. He eats his breakfast, catches his train, reads his newspaper, and goes to his office, all from force of habit. There was a time in the past when he formed these habits, and in the choice of the office, at least, belief played a part. He probably believed, at the time, that the job offered him there was as good as he was likely to get. In most men, belief plays a part in the original choice of a career, and therefore, derivatively, in all that is entailed by this choice.

At the office, if he is an underling, he may continue to act merely from habit, without active volition, and without the explicit intervention of belief. It might be thought that, if he adds up the columns of figures, he believes the arithmetical rules which he employs. But that would be an error; these rules are mere habits of his body, like those of a tennis player. They were acquired in youth, not from an intellectual belief that they corresponded to the truth, but to please the schoolmaster, just as a dog learns to sit on its hind legs and beg for food. I do not say that all education is of this sort, but certainly most learning of the three R's is.

If, however, our friend is a partner or director, he may be called upon during his day to make difficult decisions of policy. In these decisions it is probable that belief will play a part. He believes that some things will go up and others will go down, that so-and-so is a sound man, and such-and-such on the verge of bankruptcy. On these beliefs he acts. It is just because he is called upon to act on beliefs rather than mere habits that he is considered such a much greater man than a mere clerk, and is able to get so much more money -- provided his beliefs are true.

In his home-life there will be much the same proportion of occasions when belief is a cause of action. At ordinary times, his behaviour to his wife and children will be governed by habit, or by instinct modified by habit. On great occasions -- when he proposes marriage, when he decides what school to send his son to, or when he finds reason to suspect his wife of unfaithfulness -- he cannot be guided wholly by habit. In proposing marriage, he may be guided more by instinct, or he may be influenced by the belief that the lady is rich. If he is guided by instinct, he no doubt believes that the lady possesses every virtue, and this may seem to him to be a cause of his action, but in fact it is merely another effect of the instinct which alone suffices to account for his action. In choosing a school for his son, he probably proceeds in much the same way as in making difficult business decisions; here belief usually plays an important part. If evidence comes into his possession showing that his wife has been unfaithful, his behaviour is likely to be purely instinctive, but the instinct is set in operation by a belief, which is the first cause of everything that follows.

Thus, although beliefs are not directly responsible for more than a small part of our actions, the actions for which they are responsible are among the most important, and largely determine the general structure of our lives. In particular, our religious and political actions are associated with beliefs.

(2) I come now to our second question, which is itself twofold: (a) how far are beliefs in fact based upon evidence? (b) how far is it possible or desirable that they should be?

(a) The extent to which beliefs are based upon evidence is very much less than believers suppose. Take the kind of action which is most nearly rational: the investment of money by a rich City man. You will often find that his view (say) on the question whether the French franc will go up or down depends upon his political sympathies, and yet is so strongly held that he is prepared to risk money on it. In bankruptcies it often appears that some sentimental factor was the original cause of ruin. Political opinions are hardly ever based upon evidence, except in the case of civil servants, who are forbidden to give utterance to them. There are of course exceptions. In the tariff reform controversy which began several years ago, most manufacturers supported the side that would increase their own incomes, showing that their opinions were really based on evidence, however little their utterances would have led one to suppose so. We have here a complication. Freudians have accustomed us to "rationalizing," i.e. the process of inventing what seem to ourselves rational grounds for a decision or opinion that is in fact quite irrational. But there is, especially in English-speaking countries, a converse process which may be called "irrationalizing." A shrewd man will sum up, more or less subconsciously, the pros and cons of a question from a selfish point of view. (Unselfish considerations seldom weigh subconsciously except where one's children are concerned.) Having come to a sound egoistic decision by the help of the unconscious, a man proceeds to invent, or adopt from others, a set of high-sounding phrases showing how he is pursuing the public good at immense personal sacrifice. Anybody who believes that these phrases give his real reasons must suppose him quite incapable of judging evidence, since the supposed public good is not going to result from his action. In this case a man appears less rational than he is; what is still more curious, the irrational part of him is conscious and the rational part unconscious. It is this trait in our characters that has made the English and Americans so successful.

Shrewdness, when it is genuine, belong, more to the unconscious than to the conscious part of our nature. It is, I suppose, the main quality required for success in business. From a moral point of view, it is a humble quality, since it is always selfish; yet it suffices to keep men from the worst crimes. If the Germans had had it, they would not have adopted the unlimited submarine campaign. If the French had had it, they would not have behaved as they did in the Ruhr. If Napoleon had had it, he would not have gone to war again after the Treaty of Amiens. It may be laid down as a general rule to which there are few exceptions that, when people are mistaken as to what is to their own interest, the course that they believe to be wise is more harmful to others than the course that really is wise. Therefore anything that makes people better judges of their own interest does good. There are innumerable examples of men making fortunes because, on moral grounds, they did something which they believed to be contrary to their own interests. For instance, among early Quakers there were a number of shopkeepers who adopted the practice of asking no more for their goods than they were willing to accept, instead of bargaining with each customer, as everybody else did. They adopted this practice because they held it to be a lie to ask more than they would take. But the convenience to customers was so great that everybody came to their shops, and they grew rich. (I forget where I read this, but if my memory serves me it was in some reliable source.) The same policy might have been adopted from shrewdness, but in fact no one was sufficiently shrewd. Our unconscious is more malevolent than it pays us to be; therefore the people who do most completely what is in fact to their interest are those who deliberately, on moral grounds, do what they believe to be against their interest. Next to them come the people who try to think out rationally and consciously what is to their own interest, eliminating as far as possible the influence of passion. Third come the people who have instinctive shrewdness. Last of all come the people whose malevolence overbalances their shrewdness, making them pursue the ruin of others in ways that lead to their own ruin. This last class embraces 90 per cent. of the population of Europe.

I may seem to have digressed somewhat from my topic, but it was necessary to disentangle unconscious reason, which is called shrewdness, from the conscious variety. The ordinary methods of education have practically no effect upon the unconscious, so that shrewdness cannot be taught by our present technique. Morality, also, except where it consists of mere habit, seems incapable of being taught by present methods; at any rate I have never noticed any beneficent effect upon those who are exposed to frequent exhortations. Therefore on our present lines any deliberate improvement must be brought about by intellectual means. We do not know how to teach people to be shrewd or virtuous, but we do know, within limits, how to teach them to be rational: it is only necessary to reverse the practice of education authorities in every particular. We may hereafter learn to create virtue by manipulating the ductless glands and stimulating or restraining their secretions. But for the present it is easier to create rationality than virtue -- meaning by "rationality" a scientific habit of mind in forecasting the effects of our actions.

(b) This brings me to the question: How far could or should men's actions be rational? Let us take "should" first. There are very definite limits, to my mind, within which rationality should be confined; some of the most important departments of life are ruined by the invasion of reason. Leibniz in his old age told a correspondent that he had only once asked a lady to marry him, and that was when he was fifty. "Fortunately," he added, "the lady asked time to consider. This gave me also time to consider, and I withdrew the offer." Doubtless his conduct was very rational, but I cannot say that I admire it

Shakespeare puts "the lunatic, the lover, and the poet" together, as being "of imagination all compact." The problem is to keep the lover and the poet, without the lunatic. I will give an illustration. In 1919 I saw The Trojan Women acted at the Old Vic. There is an unbearably pathetic scene where Astyanax is put to death by the Greeks for fear he should grow up into a second Hector. There was hardly a dry eye in the theatre, and the audience found the cruelty of the Greeks in the play hardly credible. Yet those very people who wept were, at that very moment, practicing that very cruelty on a scale which the imagination of Euripides could have never contemplated. They had lately voted (most of them) for a Government which prolonged the blockade of Germany after the armistice, and imposed the blockade of Russia. It was known that these blockades caused the death of immense numbers of children, but it was felt desirable to diminish the population of enemy countries: the children, like Astyanax, might grow up to emulate their fathers. Euripides the poet awakened the lover in the imagination of the audience; but lover and poet were forgotten at the door of the theatre, and the lunatic (in the shape of the homicidal maniac) controlled the political actions of these men and women who thought themselves kind and virtuous.

Is it possible to preserve the lover and the poet without preserving the lunatic? In each of us, all three exist in varying degrees. Are they so bound up together that when the one is brought under control the others perish? I do not believe it. I believe there is in each of us a certain energy which must find vent in art, in passionate love, or in passionate hate, according to circumstances. Respectability, regularity, and routine -- the whole cast-iron discipline of a modern industrial society -- have atrophied the artistic impulse, and imprisoned love so that it can no longer be generous and free and creative, but must be either stuffy or furtive. Control has been applied to the very things which should be free, while envy, cruelty, and hate sprawl at large with the blessing of nearly the whole bench of Bishops. Our instinctive apparatus consists of two parts -- the one tending to further our own life and that of our descendants, the other tending to thwart the lives of supposed rivals. The first includes the joy of life, and love, and art, which is psychologically an offshoot of love. The second includes competition, patriotism, and war. Conventional morality does everything to suppress the first and encourage the second. True morality would do the exact opposite. Our dealings with those whom we love may be safely left to instinct; it is our dealings with those whom we hate that ought to be brought under the dominion of reason. In the modern world, those whom we effectively hate are distant groups, especially foreign nations. We conceive them abstractly, and deceive ourselves into the belief that acts which are really embodiments of hatred are done from love of justice or some such lofty motive. Only a large measure of scepticism can tear away the veils which hide this truth from us. Having achieved that, we could begin to build a new morality, not based on envy and restriction, but on the wish for a full life and the realization that other human beings are a help and not a hindrance when once the madness of envy has been cured. This is not a Utopian hope; it was partially realized in Elizabethan England. It could be realized tomorrow if men would learn to pursue their own happiness rather than the misery of others. This is no impossibly austere morality, yet its adoption would turn our earth into a paradise.

Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge. Epistemology is concerned primarily with the kind of knowledge involved in truth-claims, that is, when the truth or falsity of something is asserted. Propositional Knowledge.

Obviously, the kind of knowledge involved in a straightforward historical claim like "I know that in fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue" is quite different from the kind of knowledge delivered through an introspective intuition, as in "I know that I exist." And both of these are quite different from the knowledge involved in the religious assertion, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." And so on.

Both empiricism and rationalism provide answers to the question, "What is the basis of knowledge?" - though in radically different ways.

Rationalism is the belief that at least some knowledge about reality can be acquired through reason, independently of sense experience.

It is important here to stress, first, that the rationalist believes that only some knowledge about reality can be acquired through reason alone. Even if you are a strict rationalist, how do you know that swans are white and that in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?

Second, we must stress that for rationalists reason is the source of at least some of our knowledge about reality. For example, we know that all barking dogs bark, that a triangle has three sides, and in short, any statement of the form ‘A is A.'

Such statements are absolutely and universally and necessarily true. But that is because they are true by definition. As such they have no bearing on reality, they neither affirm nor deny the existence of anything, they must be true no matter what.

Everyone agrees that such truths are known independently of sense experience; all you have to do is look at the proposition to see that it must be true. The rationalist, though, claims that at least some propositions which are about reality - which affirm or deny the existence of something - may be known independently of sense experience, through reason alone.

For example: “Every event must have a cause”. “It is morally wrong to kill people for the fun of it”. “All individuals are endowed with basic rights”.

Can you derive such universal and certain knowledge from the limited, fluctuating, and relative evidence of sense experience? Where, then, does this knowledge come from?

According to empiricism, all knowledge (at least "existential" knowledge, which informs us about existence) is derived from the five senses.

Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz are usually called rationalists. Because all three were Europeans (Descartes was French; Spinoza, Dutch; and Leibniz, German), they are often called Continental Rationalists.

The movement developed by John Locke and continued by Berkeley and Hume on the other hand, is generally called empiricism, because of its insistence upon the data of experience (or empirical data) as the source of all knowledge. They are often called British Empiricists - they were in fact English, Irish and Scottish respectively. Modern empiricist philosophers sometimes talk of sense-data, that is, the information immediately given by the senses. Empiricists claim that we cannot have an idea about the world which cannot be traced back to sense experience. Can you?

| |

|Test Yourself |

| |

| |

|1 What is epistemology? |

| |

|2 Carefully explain the difference between rationalists and empiricists. Use examples to clarify the distinction between them. Explain |

|carefully how they justify their position on knowledge. |

| |

|3 Explain carefully the sceptical challenge. |

| |

|4 In what way is scepticism necessary? |

| |

|5 What are the different forms of philosophical scepticism? |

| |

|6 What are the reasons for scepticism? |

| |

|7 What responses can be made to these reasons? |

| |

|8 Which position do you think is the most convincing - the sceptical challenge or the responses - can we have certain knowledge? |

| |

|Give reasons for your answer. |

| |

| |

UNIT: Problems in Philosophy

TOPIC: Epistemology

ISSUE: The Challenge of Scepticism

Assessment Guidelines

LO1 -Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a chosen problem or issue.

PC (a) Present a detailed description of a chosen problem or issue.

PC (b) Review and make relevant reference to a range of sources.

LO2 - Analyse in a reasoned and structured manner a chosen problem or issue.

PC (a) Present in a reasoned and structured manner two key positions or arguments found in the problem or chosen issue.

PC (b) Analyse two key positions or arguments.

LO 3 - Evaluate in a reasoned and structured manner a chosen problem or issue.

PC (a) Evaluate in a reasoned and structured manner two key positions or arguments found in the problem or chosen issue.

PC (b) Present a detailed conclusion with supporting arguments.

You will have one hour, under controlled conditions, to answer the question.

Your script will be awarded a Pass/Fail on the learning outcomes. If all three are passed, your script will then be marked and graded.

Higher Philosophy Unit Assessment

Date

Problems in Philosophy - Epistemology

“There is no knowledge which can be demonstrated to be certain”.

To what extent do you agree with this statement?

25 Marks

----------------------------------------

Remember to include some sources

1 Explain Epistemology

2 Examples of Different Kinds of Knowledge

3 Tri partite Definition of Knowledge - Then Empiricist (Tabula rasa) Vs Rationalist (Innate)

4 Describe the Sceptical Challenge(s)

5 Reasons For Sceptical Challenge - (Include Sources)

6 Responses To Sceptical Challenge - (Coherence + Foundationalism)

7 Conclusion based on the above - Russell + Plato appearance and reality , The Sale of The Sceptic, Claimed Certainties - Maths, Analytical & Ethics Statements, Descartes, How Informative are M, A & E Statements?, The Necessity For Scepticism for Philosophy, Solipsism and The Human Experience

Hume & The Challenge of Scepticism

TASK

What did Plato and Descartes have in common - to what branch of philosophy did they belong and to what challenge were they responding?

What is an empiricist?

TASK

In pairs, take each of these propositions in turn to defend and challenge swapping over each time so that each of you has an opportunity to challenge and defend.

You should record each statement you make in defence or as a challenge.

Activity

Read over the Russell excerpt.

According to Russell, what is the basic problem with empiricism.

Give examples.

What other philosophical issues does he raise?

We are already familiar with Plato's theory of reality and we should recall that his image of the Divided Line represents as much a conception of knowledge as a conception of reality. The object of authentic knowledge is what is, as opposed to what is becoming.

Such knowledge is hardly possible in this life, where the soul is imprisoned in the body, and where the body itself is a constant hindrance to the acquisition of knowledge. When the soul is liberated from the body at death, the soul comes into the possession of absolute knowledge. Until that time all we can do is cultivate as much as possible the innate truths that the mind is born with, but which, as they are "recollected," are invariably distorted by the world of Becoming, resulting in mere opinions/beliefs, or relative knowledge.

Likewise, Descartes' theory of knowledge too, seeks to develop at least the foundation of his philosophy apart from the input of the senses. He saw in mathematics an especially good model for philosophical reasoning, and adopted intuition and deduction as the principles of his philosophical method. He believed that, in principle, it would be possible to unfold a complete system of knowledge by the rigorous practising of this method. As with Plato, it is important to see that with Descartes every attempt is made to exclude or minimise the illusory and deceitful

intrusions of the senses.

Empiricism, with its doctrine that the mind is at birth a "blank tablet", rejects the very starting point of rationalism.

It was said earlier that empiricism is the view which emphasises experience as the source of knowledge. We must now explain more carefully what we mean here by "experience."

What Is Empiricism?

There are many different sorts of experience, such as mystical experience, moral experience, aesthetic experience, lonely experience, and wild experience. But here we mean sense experience, that is, perceptions derived from the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

When empiricists say that experience is the basis of our knowledge, they mean sense experience, and therefore that the five senses are the foundation of all our knowledge.

As with rationalism, empiricism comes with varying emphases and in varying degrees. But as a general definition we may say that empiricism is the view that all knowledge of reality is derived from sense experience. This may be livened up somewhat by the empiricist metaphor of the tabula rasa, or "blank tablet." It is a shorthand way of expressing the empiricist denial that any ideas or even intellectual structure is inscribed on the mind from birth-the mind is at birth a tabula rasa.

impressions, Perceptions

which are vivid or lively sensations, or the immediate data of experi- impressions +

ence, and

ideas, which are sort of pale copies of impressions, and ideas

which provide the material for thinking. Hume goes on to distinguish

between simple and complex perceptions (both impressions and

ideas), but insists in any case on the priority of impressions over ideas:

First, we have sensations, and then, second, ideas which are based on

these sensations. The crucial point is that we have no ideas unless they

are derived from impressions, and this brings us to the crunch. For in

the derivation of all our ideas from sense data, Hume was much more

rigorous or consistent or radical than either Locke or Berkeley. This

radicalism shows up, first, in Hume's treatment of the idea of

substance, both material substance in the external world and mental

substance in the internal world.

It is natural to believe that there is Something, some mental

substance, which underlies our intellectual activities: How can there Hume's analysis of

be thinking, etc., without something that does the thinking? Likewise, substance

it is natural to believe that there is Something, some material sub-

stance, which underlies the sensible qualities in the external world:

How can there be qualities without something that is qualified? But a

"natural belief," as Hume calls it, for all its practical importance, is

some thing very different from rational knowledge based on experi-

ence. Since we have no sense impressions whatsoever of substance,

either external material substance or internal mental substance, we

242

Hume's "radical" empiricism is so-called because he applied the empiricist

á criterion of knowledge rigorously, consistently' and exclusively. Unlike previ-

T*HE ous empiricists, he allowed no rationalistic cracks or back doors: Our knowl-

QUESTION edge can extend absolutely no further than what is actually disclosed in sense

OF

KNOWLEDGE experience.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

* St. Augustine has been quoted here as a great opponent of skepticism. In another work, entitled On the Advantages of Believing, he argues that no practical or intellectual progress can be expected from one who is unwilling ever to accept certain claims on the authority of others. What do you think of this position? What might be said for it and against it?

* How do you come out on the question of skepticism? If you are persuaded by the arguments against skepticism, then what is the relevance, for epistemology, of the relativity of reason, perception, and custom? (You might recall the discussion at the end of Chapter I on living and dead options.)

Rationalist theories of knowledge are regarded by many as a bit naive and quaint. However, the "tough-minded" philosophers have been given something of a jolt in recent years. The psycholinguistic research of Chomsky in particular has resurrected the theory of innate ideas. Specifically, his work has brought to light the presence of universal and innate intellectual structures which underlie all language, and which explain the process of language-acquisition better

than the empirically oriented model of learning. Thus psycholinguis- 221

ties (which is concerned with the connection between the mind and

language) has emerged as an unexpected ally of the rationalist theory

of knowledge. THE

WAY

As two classic examples of rationalism we may mention Plato and Descartes. But now we consider the epistomological side of their philosophies.

RATIONALISM (THE STRICT SENSE)

The view that knowledge of reality can be acquired through reason, independently of sense experience.

THE RATIONALISM OF PLATO

A long with many other Greek philosophers, Plato believed that the n, which distinguishes humans from the lower animals, cornreaso

prises the essential nature of the human being. (The classical definition of man as "a rational animal" comes from these Greek philosophers.) Human good and happiness, therefore, lie in the activity and fulfilment of the rational faculty. That is, they lie in contemplation and knowledge. On the other hand, it will be recalled from our earlier discussion that Plato believed that the only proper object of knowledge, or the only thing that can really be known, is Being. This means that we can have no real knowledge of the world about us, the relative and fluctuating world of Becoming. Of this world we have only opinion,

not knowledge.

Now, Plato has Socrates announce in the Phaedo that not on y o real philosophers have no fear of death, but they actually desire and look forward to it. In fact, real philosophers view their lives as lifelong preparations for death. Why? Because as long as we are in this world Why philosophers we are held back from the attainment of real knowledge and therefore desire death happiness. And why is this? For one thing, our bodies are a constant distraction from the higher pursuit of knowledge. The pursuit of knowledge does, after all, require some time and attention, but it seems that most of our time is taken up by the body: We must feed it, clothe it, cleanse it, and pay all sorts of attention to it. For another, and this is more important for the present point, as long as our souls are imprisoned in our bodies they have a natural tendency (if not neces-

sity) to peer out, as it were, through the only windows of the prison, the five senses. As a result, our souls become contaminated by the distortions, illusions, and relativities of the sensible world.

Plato himself represents the twofold problem posed by the body as

follows:

Now take the acquisition of knowledge. Is the body a hindrance or not, if one takes it into partnership to share an investigation? What I mean is this. Is there any certainty in human sight and hearing, or is it true, as the poets are always dinning into our ears, that we neither hear nor see anything accurately? Yet if these sense are not clear and accurate, the rest can hardly be so, because they are all inferior to the first two. Don't you agree?

Certainly.

Then when is it that the soul attains to truth? When it tries to

investigate anything with the help of the body, it is obviously led astray.

Quite so.

Is it not in the course of reflection, if at all, that the soul gets a clear view offacts ?

Yes.

Surely the soul can best reflect when it is free of all distractions such as hearing or sight or pain or pleasure of any kind-that is, when it ignores the body and becomes as far as possible independent, avoiding all physical contacts and associations as much as it can, in its search for reality.

That is so.

Then here too-in despising the body and avoiding it, and endeavoring to become independent-the philosopher's soul is ahead of all the rest.

It seems so.

Here are some more questions, Simmias. Do we recognize such a thing as absolute uprightness?

Indeed we do.

And absolute beauty and goodness too?

Of course.

Have you ever seen any of these things with your eyes?

Certainly not, said he.

Well, have you ever apprehended them with any other bodily sense? By "them" I mean not only absolute tallness or health or strength, but the real nature of any given thing-what it actually

t is. Is it through the body that we get the truest perception of them ?

Isn't it true that in any inquiry you are likely to attain more nearly to knowledge of your object in proportion to the care and accuracy with which you have prepared yourself to understand that object in itself?

Certainly.

Don't you think that the person who is likely to succeed in this

205

9

THE

WAY

OF

REASON

220 colossal challenge to them.

THE

QUESTION CHAPTER 9 IN REVIEW

OF

KNOWLEDGE

SUMMARY

OF

BASIC IDEAS REASON

Empiricism

Rationalism (strict sense)

Plato: Why philosophers desire death

Two bodily hindrances to knowledge

Innate ideas

Knowledge of recollection

Descartes' "geometrical" method

Intuitionism

Descartes' two operations of the mind

Intuition

Deduction

Psycholinguisties

The empirical theory of language-acquisition

Chomsky's theory of language-acquisition

TEST YOURSELF

1. True or false: Plato taught that we bring our ideas into this world from a previous existence in an ideal world.

2. Rules for the Direction of the Mind was written by

3. According to Plato, how does sense experience help us to "recollect" ideas?

4. True or false: By "intUitiOD" Descartes meant a feeling or hunch about something.

5. The phrase "linguistic universals" is employed by -. What does it mean?

6. True or false: To know something immediately is to know it through sense experience.

7. According to Plato, why is absolute knowledge impossible in this life?

8. Why was Descartes especially attracted to mathematics?

FOR FURTHER READING

Julia Annas and Jonathan Barnes. The Modes of Scepticism: Ancient

Texts and Modern Interpretations. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Where does knowledge come from? What is the basis of knowledge?

The question of the origin of knowledge is one of the most import ant questions of philosophy. In fact, it is a crucial question. As we have said already in the introduction to Part 11, how you answer this question will have everything to do with the rest of your philosophy.

TWO MAIN THEORIES ABOUT THE BASIS OF

KNOWLEDGE

Throughout the history of philosophy, thinkers have generally answered this question in two ways. On the one side, we have those philosophers who, in one way or another and in varying degrees, have emphasized reason as the source of knowledge. On the other side, we have those philosophers who, in one way or another and in varying degrees, have emphasized experience as the source of knowledge. The positioi. stressing the role of the intellect or reason is called rationalism, and those holding to this position are called rationalists (from the Latin word ratio, 4 4 reason"). The position stressing the role of experience is called empiricism, and those holding this view are called empiricists (from the Greek empeiria, "experience").

A special note is in order regarding the labels "rationalism" and

A crucial question:

What is the basis of knowledge?

Empiricism and

rationalism

202 "rationalist." This is because these terms, like so many other important terms, bear more than one meaning. Here again we must distinguish between a loose and a stricter sense of these terms. We

THE have already encountered the loose sense of "rationalism" in the

QUESTION

OF Introduction. There we said that rationalism is a dominating interest in

KNOWLEDGE reasoning, reflecting, criticising, examining, and so on. This is what we meant when we defined philosophy as the attempt to provide, within limits, an essentially rational interpretation of reality as a whole, and when we characterised all philosophers as rationalists.

Now, however, in the stricter or more technical sense of the word, rationalism is an epistomological theory, specifically a theory about the basis of knowledge. Note, then, that while a rationalist in the strict

have no rational grounds at all for talk about matter or mind! Just as

Berkeley dissolved Locke's material substance into a bundle of ideas

(colour, sound, taste), so Hume now dissolves Berkeley's mental

substance, the "1," into a bundle of ideas. As Hume says, the

dissolution of the one paves the way for the dissolution of the other.

From the Treatise of Human Nature:

Philosophers begin to be reconcll'd to the principle, that we have

no idea of external substance, distinct from the ideas of particular

qualities. This must pave the wayfor a like principle with regard

to the mind, that we have no notion of it, distinct from the

particular perceptions. . . .

There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment

intimately conscious of what we call our SELF,. that we feel its

existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain,

beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity

and simplicity. The strongest sensation, the most violent passion,

say they, instead of distracting us from this view, only fix it the

more intensely, and make us consider their influence on self either

by their pain or pleasure. To attempt a farther proof of this were

to weaken its evidence; since no proof can be derlv'dfrom anyfact,

of which we are so intimately conscious; nor is there any thing, of

which we can be certain, if we doubt of this.

Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of self, after the manner it is here explain'd. For from what impression cou'd this idea be deriv'd? This question 'tls impossible to answer without a manifest contradiction and absurdity; and yet 'tls a question, which must necessarily be answer'd, if we wou'd have the idea of selfpassfor clear and intelligible. It must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are suppos'd to have a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, thro' the whole course of our lives; since self is suppos'd to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and Joy, passions and sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at the same time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of these impres-

244 THE BRITISH EMPIRICISTS ON SUBSTANCE

Locke

THE

QUESTION

OF

KNOWLEDGE Berkeley

4

Hume

What am 1? I look within, in search of some enduring, stable reality-a self, an ego, an "1." But all I can come up with is a passing parade of perceptions. We have come a long way from Descartes', Locke's, and Berkeley's introspective intuition of mind, the mental

substance!

But Hume is not through. The implications of his relentless and radical empiricism touch every aspect of philosophy. A second important example is the concept of causality. Again, do we not have a

Hume's analysis of natural belief in a causal connection that binds things together in our causality experience? Is it not a universal and certain principle that every event must have a cause? Hume answers again: Natural belief, Yes; rational knowledge, No. Look at your experience once more. What do you actually perceive? What are your impressions? Is it true that in a supposed causal relation, such as A causing B, we have a perception of A coming before B, and we have a perception of A standing next to B (or next to something which stands next to B), but none of this is sufficient to explain a real causal connection between A and B: A could be before B, and be next to B, but still not be the cause of B. What is required, in addition to temporal succession and spatial proximity, is a necessary connection. And that we don't perceive. It is a metaphysical figment without any rational justification whatsoever.

The idea, then, of causation must be deriv'd from some relation among objects; and that relation we must now endeavour to discover. I find in the first place, that whatever objects are considered as causes or effects, are contiguous; and that nothing can operate in a time or place, which is ever so little remov'dfrom those of its existence. Tho' distant objects may sometimes seem productive o each other, they are commonly found upon examination to be link'd by a chain of causes, which are contiguous among themselves, and to the distant objects; and when in any articular instance we cannot discover this connexion, we still p

presume it to exist. We may therefore consider the relation of CONTIGUITY as essential to that of causation; at least may suppose it such, according to the general opinion, till we can find a more proper occasion to clear up this matter, by examining what objects are or are not susceptible of juxtaposition and conjunction.

The second relation I shall observe as essential to causes and effects, is not so universally acknowledged, but is liable to some controversy. 'Tis that of PRIORITY of time in the cause before the effect. Some pretend that 'tis not absolutely necessary a cause shou'd precede its effect; but that any object or action, in the very first moment of its existence, may exert its productive quality, and give rise to another object or action, perfectly contemporary with itself. But beside that experience in most instances seems to contradict his opinion, we may establish the relation ofpriority by a kind of inference or reasoning. 'Tis an established maxim both in natural and moral philosophy, that an object, which existsfor any time in itsfull perfection without producing another, is not its sole cause;butisassistedbysomeotherprinc' le,whichpushesltfrom IP

its state of inactivity, and makes it exert that energy, of which it was secretly possessed. Now if any cause may be perfectly cotemporary with its effect, 'tis certain, according to this maxim, that they must all of them be so; since any one of them, which retards its operation for a single moment, exerts not itself at that very individual time, in which it might have operated; and therefore is no proper cause. The consequence of this wou'd be no less than the destruction of that succession of causes, which we observe in the world; and indeed, the utter annihilation of time. For if one cause were contemporary with its effect, and this effect with its effect, and so on, 'tis plain there wou'd be no such thing as succession, and all objects must be coexistent.

If this argument appear satisfactory, 'tis well. If not, I beg the reader to allow me the same liberty, which I have us'd in the preceding case, of supposing it such. For he shall find, that the affair is of no great importance.

Having thus discovered or suppos'd the two relations of contiguity and succession to be essential to causes and effects, Ifind I am stopt short, and can proceed no farther in considering any single instance of cause and effect. Motion in one body is regarded upon impulse as the cause of motion in another. When we consider these objects with the utmost attention, we find only that the one body approaches the other; and that the motion of it precedes that of the other, but without any sensible interval. 'Tis in vain to rack ourselves with farther thought and reflexion upon this subject. We can go no farther in considering this particular instance.

Shou'd any one leave this instance, and pretend to define a cause, by saying it is something productive of another, 'tis evident he wou'd say nothing. For what does he mean by production? Can

245

9

THE

WAY

OF

EXPERIENCE

246 he give any definition of it, that will not be the same with that of causation? If he can; I desire it may be produc'd. If he cannot; he

1? here runs in a circle, and gives a synonimous term instead of a

THE definition.

QUESTION

OF Shall we then rest contented with these two relations of conti-

KNOWLEDGE guity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By no means. An object may be contiguous and prior to another, without being considered as its cause. There is a NECESSARY CONNEXIONto be taken into consideration; and that relation is of much greater importance, than any of the other two abovemention'd.

Here again I turn the object on all sides, in order to discover the nature of this necessary connexion, and find the impression, or impressions, from which its idea may be deriv'd. When I cast my eye on the known qualities of objects, I immediately discover that the relation of cause and effect depends not in the least on them.

When I consider their relations, I can find none but those of contiguity and succession; which I have already regarded as imperfect and unsatisfactory. 10

Hume's position is appropriately called phenomenalism. This is the

Phenomenalism view that all we can actually know is the phenomena or appearances (phenomenon means, literally, "an appearance") that are presented to us in our perceptions. For the time-honored view that substance (both material and mental) is a metaphysical entity and that causality is a metaphysical connection, the phenomenalist substitutes the view that they are no more than bundles of perceptions: colors, sounds, pains, pleasures, location, succession, and the like. These two pillars of traditional philosophizing now lay in dust before the chisel of Hume's phenomenalism.

E 0 A ISM

nowl eb 0 d hat) disclosedinthe

Mi d, It be ionally known, is

erce i h@

If you find yourself thinking of Hume as a skeptic, you are right.

Specifically, his is the sort of skepticism which denies the knowledge

of metaphysical principles and relations is possible, or what we called

"Relations of

ideas" and in Chapter 8 "philosophical skepticism." Perhaps the best way of

'.matters of fact" summarizing Hume's antimetaphysical skepticism is by means of his

own derivation of all possible knowledge from two, and only two,

10 Ibid., pp. 75-77 (slightly edited).

sources: "relations of ideas" and "matters of fact." The following two paragraphs from Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding should be studied until the distinction is appreciated:

All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of thefirst kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short ' every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a proposition which expresses a relation between thesefigures. That three times five is equal to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid would for ever retain their certainty and evidence.

Matters offact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with theforegoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so comformable to reality. That the sun will not rise to-morrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation, that it will rise. We should in vain, therefore, attempt to demonstrate its falsehood. Were it demonstrativelyfalse, it would imply a contradiction, and could never be distinctly conceived by the mind.

247

THE

WAY

OF

EXPERIENCE

ma

rea but

specific ex

heit,"

David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, in Hume's Enquiries,

d

ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, 2 ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902), pp. 25-26.

248 David Hume, who carried British empiricism to

its sceptical conclusion.

THE

QUESTION

OF

KNOWLEDGE

Our knowledge is either based on relations olf ideas, in which case it is certain but has no connection with reality, as with "three times five is equal to half of thirty," which, though absolutely certain, is absolutely certain independently of anything in the world of reality; or our knowledge is based on matters offact, in which case it does inform us about the world of reality, as with "the sun will rise tomorrow, but can never be certain because it is derived from a limited and passin 9 parade of perceptions.

This same skeptical and antimetaphysical distinction is restated in the celebrated outburst with which Hume concluded the Enquiry:

When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, "Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?" No. "Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter offact and existence?" No. Commit it then to theflames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.12

12 Ibid., p. 165.

Hume's Treatise of Human Nature was first

published in 1739. The disappointed Hume 249

described it as having fallen "still-born from the

press," so poor was the response to it. It was

followed by the Enquiry Concerning Human THE

Understanding. WAY

OF

A EXPERIENCE

T R E A T I S E

0 F

I-Itim@tii Nattix-e:

B E I N G

An A T T r?,i P T to introduce the ex-

pt.riznetital @lethod of

I N T 0

MORAL, SUBJECTS.

R.r,; te,,,p"um felic;taf, ubi fentire, lux VOID; lux lewt;as, doe liet. I'ACIT.

BOOK 1.

OF TIIE

U N D E R S'I'A N 1) I N G.

L 0 NI) ON:

I'ri,ited for joi@@, Noc)@,,, ;it the near

Morcer's-Cl,opol in C,4eapftde.

,@j L)Cuxx-x lx.-

Again, there is no halfway house: Our ideas are either certain but uninformative, or they are informative but never certain. And there we are stuck. But not for long.

CHAPTER 10 IN REVIEW

SUMMARY

nipiricism is the epistemological claim that the mind at birth is a tablet" and that all knowledge (exclusive of logical and atical knowledge) is derived ultimately from sense experience.

hapter we considered three versions of rationalism,

250 In the previous c ions of empiri-

and in the present chapter we considered three vers

cism.

rigin in Greek philosophy and is most

THE Classical empiricism has its o homas Aquinas. It

QUESTION ristotle and@ later St. T

OF notably associated with A Form-philosophy, wherein the

KNOWLEDGE will be recalled that Aristotle's is a essence of things.

object of knowledge is identified with the abiding

Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed that this essence is in particular things, and thus that it is with particular things that we must begin. From the particulars the mind is able to form a universal concept, which corresponds to the common essence in the particulars, and which guides knowledge and discourse amidst the flux and multiplicity of the sensible world. St. Thomas introduced the intellectual faculty of abstraction, whereby the mind is enabled to lift the universal features from particulars, leaving behind in the particulars all that is not essential to them.

In some ways Locke is the giant of all empiricists, and certainly the

one who set the empiricist agenda for the modern period. He began his famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding with a scathing rebuttal to the doctrine of innate ideas. In place of innate ideas Locke substitutes experience. This comes in two forms: sensation, our experience of external objects, and reflection, our experience of the internal workings of our minds. From sensation and reflection we form simple ideas, and from simple ideas the mind compounds complex ideas. In all of this the active and passive functions of the mind should be distinguished. Very important is Locke's epistemological or representative dualism, whereby our ideas are held to convey to us a likeness of the realities external to our minds: the perception of a tree, and the actual tree "out there." This, however, involves a great problem known as the egocentric predicament: If all we can know directly is our own ideas, how can we ever know whether they correspond to anything that is not an idea?

Locke believed in material and mental substance; Berkeley believed at least in mental substance; but Hume's radical empiricism pushes everything further. All we have are perceptions, divided into lively impressions and pale ideas; that's all we have. The timehonored concept of underlying but unpereeived substance is, therefore, an unjustified figment, as is also the concept of causality, which, in its pre-Humean form, was thought to involve some unpereeived metaphysical necessity. Hume's phenomenalism, which reduces knowledge to phenomena or appearances or bundles of ideas, represents a serious skepticism: A proposition is either a mere relation of ideas ("A is A"), which says nothing about reality itself, or it is a matter of fact ("Swans are white"), which can never be known with certitude because of the limitations of our perceptions.

250 In the previous chapter we considered three versions of rationalism, and in the present chapter we considered three versions of empiricism.

THE Classical empiricism has its origin in Greek philosophy and is most

QUESTION

OF notably associated with Aristotle and, later St. Thomas Aquinas. It

KNOWLEDGE will be recalled that Aristotle's is a Form-philosophy, wherein the object of knowledge is identified with the abiding essence of things.

Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed that this essence is in particular things, and thus that it is with particular things that we must begin.

From the particulars the mind is able to form a universal concept, which corresponds to the common essence in the particulars, and which guides knowledge and discourse amidst the flux and multiplicity of the sensible world. St. Thomas introduced the intellectual faculty of abstraction, whereby the mind is enabled to lift the universal features from particulars, leaving behind in the particulars all that is not essential to them.

In some ways Locke is the giant of all empiricists, and certainly the one who set the empiricist agenda for the modern period. He began his famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding with a scathing rebuttal to the doctrine of innate ideas. In place of innate ideas Locke substitutes experience. This comes in two forms: sensation, our experience of external objects, and reflection, our experience of the internal workings of our minds. From sensation and reflection we form simple ideas, and from simple ideas the mind compounds complex ideas. In all of this the active and passive functions of the mind should be distinguished. Very important is Locke's epistemological or representative dualism, whereby our ideas are held to convey to us a likeness of the realities external to our minds: the perception of a tree, and the actual tree "out there." This, however, involves a great problem known as the egocentric predicament: If all we can know directly is our own ideas, how can we ever know whether they correspond to anything that is not an idea?

Locke believed in material and mental substance; Berkeley believed at least in mental substance; but Hume's radical empiricism pushes everything further. All we have are perceptions, divided into lively impressions and pale ideas; that's all we have. The timehonored concept of underlying but unpereeived substance is, therefore, an unjustified figment, as is also the concept of causality, which, in its pre-Humean form, was thought to involve some unpereeived metaphysical necessity. Hume's phenomenalism, which reduces knowledge to phenomena or appearances or "bundles of ideas," represents a serious skepticism: A proposition is either a mere relation of ideas ("A is A"), which says nothing about reality itself, or it is a matter of fact ("Swans are white"), which can never be known with certitude because of the limitations of our perceptions.

BASIC IDEAS 251

Empiricism ?

THE

Tabula rasa WAY

OF

Universal concepts EXPERIENCE

Intellectual abstraction

Aristotle and St. Thomas: Three stages of knowledge

Locke's ar uments against innate ideas

9

Locke: Experience, sensation, and reflection

Simple and complex ideas

The mind as passive and active

Epistemological dualism, or the representative theory of knowledge

The egocentric predicament

Hume: Perceptions, impressions, and ideas

Hume's analysis of substance

Hume's analysis of causality

Phenomenalism

Relations of ideas and matters of fact

TEST YOURSELF

1. True or false: Fido is an abstraction.

2. The impossibility of escaping the world of our own ideas is called

3. Why does Hume have little time for talk about, say, "necessary connections" or substances?

4. Name a few of Locke's arguments against innate ideas.

5. Why, for St. Thomas, is the singular prior to the universal in one way, but the universal prior to the singular in another way?

6. What is the empiricist's attitude toward a claim such as "All barking dogs bark"?

7. What role does induction play in Aristotle's view of knowledge?

8. Who wrote A Treatise of Human Nature?

9. Why is Hume's empiricism called radical empiricism?

in-

AL

es, believed in mi

252 10. True or false: Locke, like Deseart nd or mental

substance.

THE

QUESTION QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

OF

KNOWLEDGE 0 When considering thinkers who belong to the same traditions, such

as the empiricist tradition, be able to identify what they hold in common and where they differ. Can you compare in this way the

thinkers in this chapter?

& What do you yourself make of the egocentric predicament? Is it a genuine problem? If not, why not9 If so, how do you propose to

escape the skepticism inherent in it?

á What do you think about Hume's rejection of mind (as a mental substance) or causality (as a metaphysical connection)? Does it make any difference to your philosophical perspective? To your practical life?

FOR FURTHER READING

Robert R. Ammerman and Marcus G. Singer (eds.). Belief, Knowledge, and Truth: Readings in the Theory of Knowledge. New York: Scribners, 1970. A collection of traditional, recent, and important statements on all aspects of knowledge, including some encountered

in our chapter.

Bruce Aune. Rationalism, Empiricism, and Pragmatism: An Introduction. New York: Random House, 1970. Chs. 2-3. Discussions oriented to beginners on "Hume and Empiricism" and "Contemporary

Emp racism.

V. C. Chappel (ed.). Hume: A Collection of Critical Essays. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1966. An anthology of advanced essays on Hume's philosophy, including issues considered in our chapter.

Frederick Copleston. A History of Philosophy. Baltimore: Newman Press, 1946-1974. 1, Ch. 29; 11, Ch. 38; V, Ch. 4-6 and 14-15. Authoritative accounts of the empiricist epistemologies of' Aristotle, St. Thomas, Locke, and Hume, by a recognized historian of philosophy.

A. C. Ewing. The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Ch. 2. A beginner's discussion of the issue between rationalism and empiricism ("The 'A Priori' and the Empirical") by an intuitionist philosopher.

Antony Flew. Hume 5 s Philosophy of Belief. A Study of His First Inquiry. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961. A standard treatment of the issues in Hume's Inqutry, including relations of ideas and matters of fact, the nature of empirical belief, the idea of necessary connection, etc.

252 10. True or false: Locke, like Deseartes, believed in mind or mental

substance.

THE

QUESTION QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

OF

KNOWLEDGE

á When considering thinkers who belong to the same traditions, such as the empiricist tradition, be able to identify what they hold in common and where they differ. Can you compare in this way the thinkers in this chapter?

á What do you yourself make of the egocentric predicament? Is it a genuine problem? If not, why not? If so, how do you propose to escape the skepticism inherent in it?

á What do you think about Hume's rejection of mind (as a mental substance) or causality (as a metaphysical connection)? Does it make any difference to your philosophical perspective? To your practical life?

FOR FURTHER READING

Robert R. Ammerman and Marcus G. Singer (eds.). Belief, Knowledge, and Truth: Readings in the Theory of Knowledge. New York: Seribners, 1970. A collection of traditional, recent, and important statements on all aspects of knowledge, including some encountered in our chapter.

Bruce Aune. Rationalism, Empiricism, and Pragmatism: An Introduction. New York: Random House, 1970. Chs. 2-3. Discussions oriented to beginners on "Hume and Empiricism" and "Contemporary Empiricism.

V. C. Chappel (ed.). Hume: A Collection of Critical Essays. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1966. An anthology of advanced essays on Hume's philosophy, including issues considered in our chapter.

Frederick Copleston. A History of Philosophy. Baltimore: Newman Press, 1946-1974. 1, Ch. 29; 11, Ch. 38; V, Ch. 4-6 and 14-15. Authoritative accounts of the empiricist epistemologies of' Aristotle, St. Thomas, Locke, and Hume, by a recognized historian of philosophy.

A. C. Ewing. The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy. New York: Collier Books, 1962. Ch. 2. A beginner's discussion of the issue between rationalism and empiricism ("The 'A Priori' and the Empirical") by an intuitionist philosopher.

Antony Flew. Hume's Philosophy of Belief. A Study of His First Inquiry. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961. A standard treatment of the issues in Hume's Inquiry, including relations of ideas and matters of fact, the nature of empirical belief, the idea of necessary connection, etc.

We began this part of the book with a chapter on doubt, and it is fitting to conclude with a chapter on certainty. To see that certainty really does pose a problem, just ask yourself whether you are certain of any of the following propositions, and whether you are certain about them in different ways:

256 chapter we will consider the problem in only one of its aspects, but,

philosophically, a very basic one. Still more specifically, we will

19 discuss one philosopher's attempt to account for certainty, especially

THE in light of the preceding chapter. A warning: This may not be easy

QUESTION going, and the quoted material will be a good challenge.

OF

KNOWLEDGE

KANT AND HUME

"I openly confess my recollection of David Hume was the very thing which many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction."' Thus spoke the German philosopher Immanuel Kant2 (1724-1804), who marks a turning point in modern epistemology.

Kant observed that there must be something radically wrong with the whole way of thinking that led finally to the phenomenalism and skepticism of Hume. For, Kant says, I am certain of some of the truths which Hume called "matters of fact." He cites, as an example, all mathematical propositions, such as 7 + 5 = 12 (though most philosophers now regard mathematical truths to be true by definition); from natural science he cites as an example Newton's Third Law of Motion, that in all motion action and reaction must always be equal; and from metaphysics he cites the principle of causality, that every event must have a cause. For Kant it was not a question of whether we possess such knowledge but how. In his explanation of how propositions can be at once genuinely informative about reality and absolutely certain,

Kant signals an altogether different approach to the problem and

establishes himself as one of the greatest epistemologists of all time.

SOME IMPORTANT TERMINOLOGY

But, to begin at the beginning, it is necessary to study some terminol-

ogy which Kant himself introduced into philosophical discussion.

First, the distinction between a priori knowledge and a posterior

A priori and a knowledge. You can pretty much guess the meaning of these Latin

posteriors terms just by looking at them. A priori knowledge is knowledge which

knowledge comes before (prior to) sense experience and is therefore independent

of sense experience. This, of course, is the emphasis of the rationalist.

A posteriors knowledge is knowledge which comes after (posterior to)

sense experience and is therefore dependent on sense experience. This

is the empiricist emphasis.

Second, we have the distinction between analytic and synthetic

Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, tr. Lewis W. Beck

(Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1950), p. 8.

Rhymes with font.

Knowledge 257

a priory a posteriors THE

PROBLEM

Derived independently Derived through OF CERTAINTY

of sense experience sense experience

knowledge. Analytic knowledge is another way of expressing Hume's 4 4 relation of ideas." When this kind of knowledge is expressed in a proposition, the predicate is contained already in the subject. Examples are: "The sum of the angles of any triangle is 180 degrees"; "All barking dogs bark"; or any proposition of the form "A is A" (the predicate "A" is contained already in the subject "A"). Now all such knowledge or propositions have to be true. For they are true by definition, or to say the same thing, they are logically true, and this means that you could not deny them without self-contradiction. Do you recall the Law of Identity from the Three Laws of Thought? Who in their right minds would be interested in affirming that A is not A? (Such statements are sometimes called tautologies or redundancies.) Now no one questions the absolute truth of analytic propositions. Rationalists and empiricists alike agree that such propositions must be true no matter what. On the other hand, it is important to see that such truths do not really tell us anything about reality. They neither affirm nor deny the actual existence of anything. The proposition "AR barking dogs bark" is necessarily true whether or not there are any dogs, or, for that matter, whether or not there is an hing. A statement like "Afi barking dogs Yt

bark" only means "If there are any barking dogs, then they bark." The truth of these propositions is, then, a pn'ori and utterly independent of sense experience and of the sensible world itself.

Analytic and

synthetic

knowledge

analytic synthetic

True by definition, but Not logica @y certain,

not bearing on reality but bearing on reality

E.g., "Rectangles have E@g "It s snowing in

four sides. Anchorage Alaska."

Synthetic knowledge, on the other hand, corresponds to Hume's

matters of fact." In synthetic propositions, the predicate adds

258 something to the subject, and thus two ideas are "synthesized" in the

proposition. Examples are: "Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit";

"Dogs bark"; and any proposition of the form "A is B" (the predicate

THE "B" amplifies the subject "A"). In this way a synthetic proposition

QUESTION

OF affirms or denies the existence of something (and is therefore some-

KNOWLEDGE times called an "existential" proposition); it informs us about things;

it really does tell us something about the actual universe.

IS THERE SYNTHETIC A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE?

Now we have just seen that everyone, rationalists and empiricists both, accepts the absolute truth of analytic propositions as a priory' certain. It is also clear that few rationalists have ever insisted that sense experience plays absolutely no role whatsoever in the acquisition of synthetic knowledge. Just consider: Even if you are the staunchest rationalist, how do you know that swans are white? that in fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue? Obviously there is much about the actual world that we could not possibly know except in an a posteriors way: making observations, lighting bunsen burners, taking field trips, and the like. Everyone admits this.

It turns out then that both rationalists and empiricists accept analytic propositions as a priori certain, and that they both accept at least some synthetic propositions as a posteriors probable. The real question and the real issue between rationalists and empiricists is this: Can we possess any knowledge that is both a priori certain and synthetically informative? Is there such a thing as synthetic a priori knowledge? This is a crucial question, and how you answer it will make all the difference to your general philosophical perspective.

SYNTHETIC A PRIORI, A CRUCIAL QUESTION

One of the questions that divides philosophers into two different camps is the question of synthetic a priori knowledge: Is it possible to know synthetic propositions with a priori certainty? Are there any nonanalytic truths that are, nonetheless, universally and necessarily true?

s we already have seen, Kant answered the question of synthetic

Kant's Copernican a priori knowledge with a resounding Yes. But his explanation is

revolution: hardly what traditional rationalists would have expected-or accepted.

Experience Kant turned the epistemological world upside-down. In fact, he

dependenton likened his contribution to the Copernican revolution, which, by

concepts radically shifting our viewpoint (the sun does not go around the earth,

but the earth goes around the sun), resulted immediately in a superior

Descartes Evaluation (LO 3)

It is important to include evaluation into your essay. As well as knowledge & Understanding, and Analysis you are required to Evaluate - weigh up the arguments and the implications of arguments. Usually invited to evaluate by some standard formula, ÒTo what extent would you agree that, How far is it the case that, DiscussÓ and so on.

NB - Even if the question does not do this, you still have to do it!

Descartes

+ve -ve

Looked at the Big Questions - Detached - lacking practical help for life

What can I know, what is real and

what am I - ambitious

Human -universal questions

Method of Doubt - playing sceptics Did not force through

at their own game - testing methodology Method of Doubt

= scientific enquiry to this day.

The Demon is pure genius Never really gets rid of the Demon

Autonomy of thought God dragged in to make arguments work

Challenge to authority and

Òcommon senseÓ Dodgy proofs for God - Cartesian Circle

ÒI clearly and distinctly grasp the idea of God

Began Modern Philosophy God has given me the ability to clearly and dist-

and scientific enquiry into humanity inctly grasp.Ó

ÒI think therefore I amÓ - one of the Cogito = circular argument

great discoveries in thought Cogito = a dead end

The wax example beautiful and Never really dismisses the deception of the

persuasive illustration senses

Never really demonstrates the clear distinction

between waking and dreaming

Relies on memory for testing and demonstrating but does not test or demonstrate the reliability of memory

Cartesian Dualism difficult to defend

ÒWith the careful application of his method of doubt, Descartes concludes Meditations VI having achieved the certainty he was looking forÓ.

To what extent would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

ÒBy the end of Meditations VI, Descartes has clearly and distinctly demonstrated that the world is as he thinks it to be.Ó

How far would you agree with this statement? ( 25 Marks)

Quick Quiz Post Sheet 18

1 An empiricist is a) someone who doubts everything

b) someone who doubts the reason for beliefs

c) someone who relies on reason for knowledge

d) someone who relies on the senses for knowledge

2 Hume was an empiricist. T/F

3 According to Hume Impressions are vivid actual experiences

and ideas are pale copies of impressions. T/F

4 Hume was inquiring into innate thoughts. T/F

5 Descartes believed that the mind was a tabula rasa. T/F

6 Hume dismissed a) Mathematical statements as

meaningless. T/F

7 Hume dismissed experimental reasoning. T/F

8 The original film script for the ÒMatrixÓ an

example of a complex idea. T/F

9 Hume was a sceptic. T/F

Questions after page 20

1 What is epistemology?

2 What is the cognitive process?

3 What is common-sense scepticism?

4 What are the advantages of this position?

5 What are the different positions which can be taken within philosophical scepticism?

6 Give examples of each and explain why these positions are taken.

7 Which position is sometimes described as incoherent and why?

8 Where does Plato fit into this?

9 Where does Descartes fit into this?

Check Your Knowledge again

Quick Quiz Post Sheet 18

1 An empiricist is a) someone who doubts everything

b) someone who doubts the reason for beliefs

c) someone who relies on reason for knowledge

d) someone who relies on the senses for knowledge

2 Hume was an empiricist. T/F

3 According to Hume Impressions are vivid actual experiences

and ideas are pale copies of impressions. T/F

4 Hume was inquiring into innate thoughts. T/F

5 Rationalists believed that the mind is a Òtabula rasaÓ. T/F

6 Hume dismissed mathematical statements as

meaningless. T/F

7 Hume dismissed experimental reasoning. T/F

8 The original film script for the ÒMatrixÓ is an

example of a complex idea. T/F

9 Hume was a sceptic. T/F

Revision Exercises on Hume So Far..

Read or Reread Sheets -20.

1 Why is Hume an important figure for psychology as well as philosophy?

2 He is described as an empiricist and a sceptic - why?

3 Identify four sources for knowledge.

4 What is the problem with strict rationalism? Give examples to illustrate this.

5 What is the problem with strict empiricism? Give examples to illustrate this.

6 Why do some philosophers say that scepticism is incoherent and contradictory?

7 What is Hume's Fork? Why was philosophy never the same again?

8 What sort of knowledge does Hume deny?

9 Why did Hume say thinking was either impression or idea? What is the difference? What are the problems with this?

10 What is the Missing Shade of Blue, what does it illustrate an what was HumeÕs response?

Philosophical Problem 1

THE COW IN THE FIELD

Farmer Field is concerned about his prize cow, Daisy. In fact, he is so concerned that when his dairyman tells him that Daisy is in the field happily grazing, he says he needs to know for certain. He doesn't want just to have a 99 per cent idea that Daisy is safe, he wants to be able to say that he knows Daisy is okay.

Farmer Field goes out to the field and standing by the gate sees in the distance, behind some trees, a white and black shape that he recognises as his favourite cow. He goes back to the dairy and tells his

friend that he knows Daisy is in the field.

At this point, does Farmer Field really know it?

The dairyman says he will check too, and goes to the field. There he finds Daisy, having a nap in a hollow, behind a bush, well out of sight of the gate. He also spots a large piece of black and white paper that has got caught in a tree.

Think and Respond

What branch of philosophy does this problem belong to?

Daisy is in the field, as Farmer Field thought, but was he right to say that he knew she was?

Explain your answer.

Philosophical Problem 2

THE TUCK-SHOP DILEMMA

Two girls have been caught climbing through the school tuck-shop window. Dr Gibb, the headmistress, tells them sternly to confess to being the long-suspected tuck-shop thieves. They will not. Then the good doctor sends one of the girls out and speaks in private to the other.

ÔJane, it would be much better if you admit things. If you do, then I will be able to reduce your punishment to being suspended for the rest of term.' 'But I didn't do it,'wails the unfortunate girl.

'If you really didn't do it, then you need fear nothing. But if Janet tells me that you were both stealing and you've lied to me, I shall make sure you are expelled! Now go next door, tell Janet to come in, and wait on your own to think about what I've said.'

Dr Gibb then calls Janet into her study and says much the same thing, only leaving her to think things over in a different room.

When half an hour is up, she asks Jane if she is now prepared to admit to stealing from the tuck shop.

Think and Respond

What branch of philosophy does this problem belong to?

Irrespective of whether she is guilty or not, what should Jane do to minimise her punishment if

a) she can talk to Janet first

b) she is kept isolated from Janet?

WHAT MAKES PHILOSOPHY DIFFERENT?

If we take an historical area and try to see how this would raise philosophical questions.....

Who killed President Kennedy?

This is an historical question. In looking at it people are concerned with what took place in Dallas Texas in November 1963. In relation to this if we asked the question ÒWhat really exists (or existed)?Ó - the answer would include....

the body of John F Kennedy

the cars in the motorcade

Deally Plaza

the book depository

the bullets

They would also refer to the event of the assassination of the president.

Is this event different from the individual elements listed above?

A mathematician might be concerned with questions like - what is the square root of -7? or - what is the highest possible prime number?

From a philosopherÕs point of view the basic question is - what is a number? Do numbers exist in the same way guns and bullets do.

The philosophical question - Òwhat really exists?Ó presents problems which philosophers try to cope with. There may be a wrinkle in a carpet but does this wrinkle exist as well as the carpet? Is there something in addition to the hall, classrooms, toilets and so on which we would call North Berwick High School?

If historians ask questions like Who killed Kennedy? and How big was the British army in 1914? - mathematicians consider what the square root of a negative is - artists ask if modern art is good art, philosophers consider questions such as ÔWhat are events?Õ, ÔWhat are numbers?Õ and ÔWhat is art?Õ

Revision Activity 1

So what do you think makes a question philosophical?

Question Philosopher

Mathematician

Physicists

Psychologist

Historian

Man/woman Is it wrong to drink and drive?

in a pub

Police person

Artist

In the above exercise, copy out the chart and under the ÒQuestionÓ heading write two examples of questions for each discipline.

Next under the ÒPhilosopherÓ heading for each case write down the PhilosopherÕs perspective - what would be the important philosophical question?

Use the reading on the previous page to help you with this task.

Philosophy is not just about how to think however, it is about how to live.

Philosophy takes a closer look at the ideas behind how we live our lives. What we think is true affects our views of ourselves and how we treat other people in the world. We all have ideas in our heads about ourselves, other people and the world. These ideas have to come from somewhere.

That is philosophy - it is about ideas - ideas about the world, ideas about people and ideas about how to live.

The word ÒphilosophyÓ means Òlover of wisdomÓ. Philosophy began as a mixture of science, theology, magic and ethics. Early philosophers wanted to discover order in the universe.

Logic

No matter what branch of philosophy you are inquiring into, the process used is logical thought.

Logic is the skeleton on which the flesh of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and all the rest hang. Or to use another analogy a scientist would use experiments a philosopher uses logic. So logic is fundamental to philosophical enquiry. A philosopher tests an argument using logic just as a scientist uses experiments to test an hypothesis.

The strength of philosophical arguments are tested by logical thought just as the strengths of hypotheses are tested by experiments.

LetÕs suppose for once that some things are obviously true - that 1=1=2. A toddler might say Òone what?Ó but we know what these symbols mean and we accept the statement as true.

If you are actually standing outside and you feel little droplets of water fall on you head in a continuous manner then you are unlikely to challenge the statement that Òit is rainingÓ. You would doubt the sanity of anyone who did.

But there are many, many beliefs held by us which do not resemble the above. Some beliefs, perhaps most, are held to be true because we accept some other belief which we think support them.

We infer some beliefs to be true because of others others which we have previously accepted.

Logic is about what we can infer to be true from a collection of facts, statements or beliefs.

For example, we have seen a large number of black crows, we have never seen a crow that is not black. From this we infer that all crows are black. In experiments we have seen copper sulphate lose its blue colour when heated and so we infer that this is always the case.

If we look at the difference between logic and epistemology it might help. When faced with a set of beliefs A,B, C and D - the epistemologist would ask ÒCan I know if beliefs A, B, C and D are true?Ó The logician would ask. ÒIf A, B, C and D are true, what else can I know? What else can be inferred from A, B, C and D if they are true?Ó

When faced with a conclusion the logician does not ask if the conclusion is true but does this conclusion necessarily follow from the premises?

All men are humans. (Major premise)

Socrates is a man. (Minor premise)

Therefore Socrates is human.(Conclusion)

The form is all pÕs are q.

r is a p.

Therefore r is a q.

So logic is the study of valid inference.

Revision Activity 2

What is logic?

Why is logic important?

What question does a logician ask?

Write down three examples of logical arguments.

Video - What is philosophy? (And what good is it anyway?)

The Philosophy of Boxing

1 On what basis is the acceptability of boxing questioned?

2 What is Fleur FisherÕs premise?

3 What is her conclusion?

4 What is her argument?

5 Why does Barry McGuigan say her argument is inconsistent?

6 What according to Fisher makes boxing different (and so her argument consistent)?

7 What is the Òresponsibility of official sporting bodiesÓ?

8 What does Barry McGuigan use to support his argument?

9 What is empirical evidence?

10 In what way is it argued that boxing is a benefit to society?

11 How is this argument attacked?

12 What is important about consequences and significances?

13 What is important about philosophy?

14 What makes philosophy different?

15 It is less concerned with _______ than __________ .

16 What does philosophy teach?

17 What is the first argument for the effect of boxing on spectators?

18 What is the argument for a positive effect on spectators?

19 What does Roy Hattersley argue?

20 What does he use to support his argument?

21 What is meant by rationalise?

22 What is important about the use of analogies to support or attack an argument

23 What is the Òbig philosophical questionÓ which is raised?

24 What is a libertarian?

25 What is a principle?

26 What is the principle underlying the right to choose?

27 What is a paradox?

28 What is the principle which underlies paternalism?

29 What is moral corruption?

After the video

Give some examples of paternalism.

Who Am I? - The Question of Identity

Frank Zappa once asked the someone the question ÒWhatÕs the filthiest part of your body?Ó before he got an answer Zappa said ÒI think itÕs your mind.Ó

If someone said to you that your most attractive feature was your mind would you be offended?

Are we just physical or is there more?

Well who are you exactly? Imagine the scene in a cheap soap - a hospital bed on which the patient lies unconscious, head swathed in bandages. Slowly s/he comes round .. ÒWhere am I?Ó is usually the first question - as if there are not enough clues. Sometimes the plot line requires memory loss in which case we move on to ÒWho am I?Ó

You donÕt need to suffer from amnesia to ask this question. Maybe you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror or perhaps the question just arises from within. Who am I exactly? How do I know who I am? How can I know that I am the same person I was yesterday? Do I have a soul? What will happen when I die?

Activity 11

If you had to say who you were how would you do that? What is it that makes you a unique individual. Imagine you wake up in a hospital bed like our soap character, what answers would you be looking for in answering the question - ÒWho am I?Ó

Mind & Body

In Biblical terms humans are both spiritual and physical. This allows the opportunity for good and evil.

The Greek Philosopher Plato believed that humans were part of the physical world. There is a body, the body receives information about the outside world through the senses but then humans have a mind which in immaterial and can receive information of eternal truths beyond the physical world. The human soul is another aspect of identity. Plato believed the soul to be like the driver of a chariot guiding the two horses of mind and body. The body wanted to be involved with pleasures of the flesh revealed by the senses while the soul wanted to travel to heaven - the realm of ideas and to understand them.

IÕve changed my mind. HeÕs lost his mind. My mind was elsewhere. What do we mean by this ÒmindÓ?

The French philosopher Rene Descartes believe that the body and mind were different.

Descartes was a rationalist - there was no need for religion and the supernatural. Human beings should and can rely on their reason.

But the early rationalists like Descartes were not atheists. God may well exist and have created the world but the world is a rational place and so to understand it we are required to use our reason. The mind was not physical like the body.

He argued that you could doubt the existence of the body - it could be an illusion. But the mind was another thing. You cannot doubt that you have a mind even if you doubt the existence of the mind what is doing the doubting? The thinking thing - the mind - therefore Descartes famous statement ÒI think therefore I am.Ó

But we have a problem here. If there are two substances mind and body and they have completely different properties, how do they interact with each other? DescarteÕs thinking on this mind/body problem had an influence not only on philosophy but can also be seen twentieth century psychology.

One critical aspect of this problem is the question of survival after death. Is there some form of life after the physical body has creased to function? If the mind/soul is independent of the physical then the treatment of the body after death is not important. If the mind requires some sort of physical attachment then it might explain why some people spend millions of pounds on hi-tech refrigerators in an attempt to survive death.

Buddhist believe in rebirth. According to Buddhism, there is no permanent self or soul. Humans are are a combination of five elements which are constantly changing. So nothing lasts in life never mind after death. All is constantly changing. In fact there is no all - there is just change! This is called anatta or the doctrine of no soul.

To illustrate this point a fomous Buddhist called Nagasena compared a human being to a chariot. If you disassemble a chariot completely - take off the wheels, the standy-up bit and the leady things, what are you left with? Is there an essence a soul of chariot left behind? no. Humans, according to Buddhists are made up of five elements, the skandhas matter, sensation, perception, and consciousness. There is no permanent soul or self lying behind these and operating them like a puppeteer does a puppet.

Activity 12

1 What issues might a religious person who was also a rationalist encounter in their belief about God?

2 How important is your mind to you? What place does it have in your overall thinking about yourself?

3 What recent examples can be given of the mind being increasingly regarded as something which needs to be given more consideration and requires more understanding.

4 To Plato what was a human being?

5 Why was doubt important for Descartes?

6 What is a rationalist?

7 Why is Descartes described as a dualist?

8 What is the problem with this philosophical viewpoint?

9 What contrasting underlying beliefs about the mind/body/soul debate are evident from?

a) cryogenics

b) cremation

c) a reluctance to cremate

10 What is the doctrine of anatta?

11 Is there a problem with this doctrine?

So what is your viewpoint on this issue? Give reasons for your answer.

Who Am I? By DANIEL C. DENNETT

Now that I've won my suit under the Freedom of Information Act, I am at liberty to reveal for the first time a curious episode in my life that may be of interest not only to those engaged In research in the philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience but also the general public.

Several years ago I was approached by Pentagon officials who asked me to volunteer for a highly dangerous and secret mission. In collaboration with NASA and Howard Hughes, the Department of Defence was spending billions to develop a Supersonic Tunnelling Underground Device, or STUD. It was supposed to tunnel through the earth's core at great speed and deliver a specially designed atomic warhead "right up the Red's missile silos," as one of the Pentagon brass put it.

The problem was that in an early test they had succeeded in lodging a warhead about a mile deep under Tulsa, Oklahoma, and they wanted me to retrieve it for them. "Why me?" I asked. Well, the mission involved some pioneering applications of current brain research, and they had heard of my interest in brains and of course my curiosity and great courage ....Well, how could I refuse?

The difficulty that brought the Pentagon to my door was that the device I'd been asked to recover was fiercely radioactive, in a new way. According to monitoring instruments, something about the nature of the device and its complex interaction with materials deep in the earth could cause severe harm to brain tissues. No way had been found to protect them. The only solution was to remove the brain of the person recovering the device!

The brain would be kept in a safe place where it could execute its normal control functions by elaborate radio links. I would submit to a surgical procedure that would completely remove my brain. I would then be placed in a life-support system at the manned Spacecraft Centre in Houston

Each input and output pathway as it was severed, would be restored by a pair of microminiaturized radio transceivers attached precisely to the brain, the other to the nerve stumps in the empty cranium So no information would be lost, all the connections would be preserved.

At first, I was a bit reluctant. Would it really work? The Houston brain surgeons encouraged me. "Think of it," they said, "as a mere stretching of the nerves. If our brain were just moved over an inch In our skull, that would not alter or impair your mind. We're simply going to make the nerves indefinitely elastic.

I was shown around the life support lab on Houston and saw the sparkling new vat in which my brain would be placed I met the large team of scientists discussed the procedure and after a time agreed to the

operation. I was tested, scanned, interviewed and psychoanalysed. They took down by autobiography in great detail, recorded my every belief, hope fear and taste - they even asked me for a list of my favourite CDÕs.

A few days later the operation took place. As I awoke from the anaesthetic I asked the embarrassing question. ÒWhere am I?Ó ÒYouÕre in Houston.Ó replied the nurse. With that she handed me a mirror. I looked exactly the same except for two little antennae l on each side of my head!

ÒI gather the operation was a success. Could you take me to my brain please?Ó

In a room down a long passage way I saw what looked like a very large pink walnut floating in a jar surrounded by circuit chips, plastic tubules, electrodes and other paraphernalia.

"Is that mine?" I asked. "Hit the output transmitter switch there on the side of the vat and see for yourself," the project director replied. I moved the switch to OFF, and immediately slumped. groggy and nauseated, into the arms of the technicians, one of whom kindly restored the switch to its ON position. While I recovered my equilibrium and composure, I thought to myself.. "Well, here I am sitting on a folding chair staring through a piece of plate glass at my own brain.... But wait," I said to myself. "shouldn't I have thought, 'Here I am suspended in a bubbling fluid, being stared at by my own eyes?Ó

I tried to think this latter thought. I tried to project it into the tank offering it hopefully to my brain, but I failed to carry off the exercise with any conviction. I tried again. "Here am I, Daniel Dennett, suspended in a bubbling fluid, being stared at by my own eyes."

No, it just didn't work. Most puzzling and confusing. Being a philosopher of firm physicalist conviction, I believed unswervingly that the tokening of my thoughts was occurring somewhere in my brain: Yet, when I thought "Here I am." where the thought occurred to me was here, outside the vat, where I, Dennett, was standing staring at my brain.

I tried and tried to think myself into the vat, but to no avail. I tried to build up to the task by doing mental exercises. I thought to myself, "The sun is shining over there, " five times in rapid succession, each time mentally ostending a different place: in order, the sunlit corner of the lab, the visible front lawn of the hospital, Houston, Mars, and Jupiter.

I found I had little difficulty in getting my "thereÕsÓ to hop all over the celestial map with their proper references. I could loft a "there" in an instant through the farthest reaches of space. and then aim the next "there" with pinpoint accuracy at the upper left quadrant of a freckle on my arm. Why was I having such trouble with "here"? "Here in Houston" worked well enough, and so did "here in the lab," and even "here in this part of the lab," but "here in the vat" always seemed merely an unmeant mental mouthing.

I tried closing my eyes while thinking it. This seemed to help, but still I couldn't manage to pull it off, except perhaps for a fleeting instant. I couldn't be sure. The discovery that I couldn't be sure was also unsettling. How did I know where I meant by "here" when I thought "here"', Could I think I meant one place when in fact I meant another?

I didn't see how that could be admitted without untying the few bonds of intimacy between a person and his own mental life that had survived the onslaught of the brain scientists and philosophers, the physicalists and behaviourists. Perhaps I was incorrigible about where I mean I when I said "here." But in my present circumstances it seemed that either I was doomed by sheer force of mental habit to thinking systematically false identical thoughts, or where a person is (and hence where his thought are tokened for purposes of semantic analysis) is not necessarily where his brain, the physical part of his soul, resides.

Nagged by confusion, I attempted to orient myself by failing back on a favourite philosopher's ploy. I began naming things.

"Yorick." I said aloud to my brain. "You are my brain. The rest of my body. seated in this chair, I dubbed Hamlet.' " So here we all are: Yorick's my brain, Hamlet's my body, and I am Dennett. Now, where am I? And when I think, where am l?" where's that thought tokened? Is it tokened in my brain, lounging about in the vat, or right here between my ears where it seems to be tokened? Or nowhere? ItÕs temporal coordinates give me no trouble: must it not have spatial coordinates as well?

I began making a list of the alternatives.

1. Where Hamlet Goes, there goes Dennett.

This principle was easily refuted by appeal to the familiar brain-transplant thought experiments so enjoyed by philosophers. If Tom and Dick switch brains, Tom is the fellow with Dick's former body just ask him, he'll claim to he Tom, and tell you the most intimate details of Tom's autobiography. It was clear enough, then, that my current body and I could part company, but not likely that I could be separated from my brain. The rule of thumb that emerged so plainly from the thought experiments was that in a brain- transplant operation, one wanted to be the donor, not the recipient. Better to call such an operation a body transplant, in fact. So perhaps the truth was.

2. Where Yorick goes, there goes Dennett.

This was not at all appealing, however. How could I be in the vat and not about to go anywhere, when I was so obviously outside the vat looking in and beginning to make guilty plans to return to my room for a substantial lunch? This begged the question I realised, but it still seemed to be getting at something important. Casting about for some support for my intuition, I hit upon a legalistic sort of argument that might have appealed to Locke.

Suppose, I argued to myself, I were now to fly to California, rob a bank, and be apprehended. In which state would I be tried: in California where the robbery took place, or in Texas, where the brains of the outfit were located? Would I be a California felon with an out-of-state brain, or a Texas felon remotely controlling an accomplice of sorts in California?

It seemed possible that I might beat such a rap just on the undecidability of that jurisdictional question, though perhaps it would be deemed an interstate, and hence Federal, offence. In any event, suppose I were convicted. Was it likely that California would be satisfied to throw Hamlet into the brig, knowing that Yorick was living the good life and luxuriously taking the waters in Texas? Would Texas incarcerate Yorick. leaving Hamlet free to take the next boat to Rio? This alternative appealed to me.

Barring capital punishment or other cruel and unusual punishment, the state would be obliged to maintain the life-support system for Yorick though they might move him from Houston to Leavenworth, and aside from the unpleasantness of the opprobrium, I, for one, would not mind at all and would consider myself a free man under those circumstances. If the state has an interest in forcibly relocating persons in institutions, it would fail to relocate me in any institution by locating Yorick there. If this were true, it suggested a third alternative.

3. Dennett is wherever he thinks he is.

Generalised, the claim was as follows: At any given time a person has a point of view, and the location of the point of view (which is determined internally by the content of the point of view) is also the location of the person. Such a proposition is not without its perplexities, but to me it seemed a step in the right direction. The only trouble was that it seemed to place one in a heads-l-win-tails-you-lose situation of unlikely infallibility as regards location. Hadn't I myself often been wrong about where I was, and at least as often uncertain?

Couldn't one get lost? Of course, but getting lost geographically is not the only way one might get lost. If one were lost in the woods one could attempt to reassure oneself with the consolation that at least one knew where one was: One was right here in the familiar surroundings of one's own body. Perhaps in this case one would not have drawn one's attention to much to be thankful for.

Still, there were worse plights imaginable, and I wasn't sure I wasn't in such a plight right now.

Point of view clearly had something to do with personal location, but it was itself an unclear notion. It was obvious that the content of one's point of view was not the same as or determined by the content of one's beliefs or thoughts.

For example, what should we say about the point of view of the simulator viewer who shrieks and twists in his/her seat as the roller-coaster footage

overcomes her/his psychic distancing? Has s/he forgotten that s/he is safely seated in the simulator?

Here I was inclined to say that the person is experiencing an illusory shift in point of view. In other cases, my inclination to call such shifts illusory was less strong. The workers in laboratories and plants who handle dangerous materials by operating feedback-controlled mechanical arms and hands undergo a shift in point of view that is crisper and more pronounced than anything a simulator can provoke. They can feel the heft and slipperiness of the containers they manipulate with their metal fingers. They know perfectly well where they are and are not fooled into false beliefs by the experience, yet it is as if they were inside the isolation chamber they are peering into.

It does seem extravagant to suppose that in performing this bit of mental gymnastics, they are transporting themselves back and forth. Still their example gave me hope. If I was in fact in the vat in spite of my intuitions, I might be able to train myself to adopt that point of view even as a matter of habit. I should dwell on images of myself comfortably floating in my vat. beaming volitions to that familiar body out there, reflected that the case or difficulty of this task was presumably independent of the truth about the location of one's brain. Had I been practising before the operation, I might now be finding it second nature.

You might now yourself try such a trompe l'oeil. (trick of the eye)

Imagine you have written an inflammatory letter which has been published in the Times, the result of which is that the government has chosen to impound your brain for a probationary period of three years in its Dangerous Brain Clinic in City Hospital. Your body of course is allowed freedom to earn a salary and thus to continue its function of layinÕ around etc. At the moment, however, your body is seated in an auditorium listening to a peculiar account by Daniel Dennett of his own similar experience. Try it!

Think yourself to the clinic, and then hark back longingly to your body, far away, and yet seeming so near. It is only with long-distance restraint (yours? the government's?) that you can control your impulse to get those hands clapping in polite applause before navigating the old body to the rest room and a well-deserved glass of evening sherry in the lounge.

The task of imagination is certainly difficult, but if you achieve your goal the results might be consoling. Anyway, there I was in Houston, lost in thought as one might say, but not for long. My speculations were soon interrupted by the Houston doctors, who wished to test out my new prosthetic nervous system before sending me off on my hazardous mission. As I mentioned before, I was a bit dizzy at first, and not surprisingly, although I soon habituated myself to my new circumstances (which were, after all, well nigh indistinguishable from my old circumstances). My accommodation was not perfect, however, and to this day I continue to be plagued by minor coordination difficulties.

The speed of light is fast, but finite, and as my brain and body move farther and farther apart, the delicate interaction of my feedback systems is thrown into disarray by the time lags. Just as one is rendered close to speechless by a delayed or echoic hearing of one's speaking voice so, for instance, I am virtually unable to track a moving object with my eyes whenever my brain and my body are more than a few miles apart. In most matters my impairment is scarcely detectable, though I can no longer hit a slow curve ball with the authority of yore. There are some compensations of course.

Though alcohol tastes as good as ever, and it warms my gullet while corroding my liver, I can drink it in any quantity I please, without becoming the slightest bit inebriated, a curiosity some of my close friends may have noticed (though I occasionally have feigned inebriation, so as not to draw attention to my unusual circumstances).

For similar reasons, I take aspirin orally for a sprained wrist, but if the pain persists I ask Houston to administer codeine to me in vitro. In times of illness the phone bill can be staggering!

But to return to my adventure. At length, both the doctors and I were satisfied that I was ready to undertake my subterranean mission. And so I left my brain in Houston and headed by helicopter for Tulsa. Well. in any case, that's the way it seemed to me. That's how I would put it, just off the top of my head as it were.

On the trip I reflected further about my earlier anxieties and decided that my first postoperative speculations, had been tinged with panic. The matter was not nearly as strange or metaphysical as I had been supposing. Where was I? In two places, clearly - both inside the vat and outside it. Just as one can stand with one foot in Connecticut and the other in Rhode Island, I was in two places at once. I had become one of those scattered individuals we used to hear so much about. The more I considered this answer, the more obviously it appeared. But, strange to say, the more true it appeared, the less important the question to which it could be the true answer seemed. A sad, but not unprecedented, fate for a philosophical question to suffer. This answer did not completely satisfy me, of course.

There lingered some question to which I should have liked an answer, which was neither "Where are all my various and sundry parts?" nor "What is my current point of view?"

Or at least there seemed to be such a question. For it did seem undeniable that in some sense I and not merely most of me was descending into the earth under Tulsa in search of an atomic warhead. When I found the warhead, I was certainly glad I had left my brain behind, for the pointer on the specially built Geiger counter I had brought with me was off the dial.

I called Houston on my ordinary radio and told the operation control centre of my position and my progress. In return, they gave me instructions for dismantling the vehicle, based upon my on-site observations. I had set to work with my cutting torch when all of a sudden a terrible thing happened. I went stone deaf. At first I thought it was only my radio earphones that had broken, but when I tapped on my helmet, I heard nothing. Apparently the auditory transceivers had gone on the fritz. I could no longer hear Houston or my own voice, but I could speak, so I started telling them what had happened. In midsentence, I knew something else had gone wrong. My vocal apparatus had become paralysed. Then my right hand went limp-another transceiver had gone. I was truly in deep trouble. But worse was to follow.

After a few more minutes, I went blind. I cursed my luck, and then I cursed the scientists who had led me into this grave peril. There I was, deaf, dumb, and blind, in a radioactive hole more than a mile under Tulsa. Then the last of my cerebral radio links broke and suddenly I was faced with a new and even more shocking problem: Whereas an instant before I had been buried alive in Oklahoma, now I was disembodied in Houston.

My recognition of my new status was not immediate. It took me several very anxious minutes before it dawned on me that my poor body lay several hundred miles away, with heart pulsing and lungs respirating, but otherwise as dead as the body of any heart-transplant donor, its skull packed with useless, broken electronic gear. The shift in perspective I had earlier found well nigh impossible now seemed quite natural. Though I could think myself back into my body in the tunnel under Tulsa, it took some effort to sustain the illusion. For surely it was an illusion to suppose I was still in Oklahoma.

I had lost all contact with that body still it occurred to me then, with one of those rushes of revelation of which we should be suspicious, that I had stumbled upon an impressive demonstration of the immateriality of the soul based upon physicalist principles and premises.

For as the last radio signal between Tulsa and Houston died away, had I not changed location from Tulsa to Houston at the speed of light? And had I not accomplished this without any increase in mass? What moved from A to B at such speed was surely myself, or at any rate my soul or mind - the massless centre of my being and home of my consciousness.

My point of view had lagged somewhat behind, but I had already noted the indirect bearing of point of view on personal location. I could not see how a physicalist philosopher could quarrel with this except by taking the dire and counter intuitive route of banishing all talk of persons. Yet the notion of personhood was so well entrenched in everyone's world view, or so it seemed to me, that any denial would be as curiously unconvincing, as systematically disingenuous, as the Cartesian negation, "non sum."

The joy of philosophic discovery thus tided me over some very bad minutes or perhaps hours as the helplessness and hopelessness of my situation became more apparent to me. Waves of panic and even nausea swept over me, made all the more horrible by the absence of their normal body-dependent phenomenology. No adrenaline rush of tingles in the arms, no pounding heart. no premonitory salivation. I did feel a dread sinking feeling in my bowels at one point. and this tricked me momentarily into the false hope that I was undergoing a reversal of the process that landed me in this fix - a gradual undisembodiment. But the isolation and uniqueness of that twinge soon convinced me that it was simply the first of a plague of phantom body hallucinations that I, like any other amputee, would be all too likely to suffer.

My mood then was chaotic. On the one hand. I was fired up with elation of my philosophic discovery and "as wracking my, brain (one of the few familiar things I could still do) trying to figure out how to communicate my discovery to the journals: while on the other, I was bitter, lonely, and filled with dread and uncertainty.

Fortunately, this did not last long, for my technical support team sedated me into a dreamless sleep from which I awoke hearing with magnificent fidelity the familiar opening strains of my favourite ÒDeep PurpleÓ track. So that was why they had wanted a list of my favourite CDÕs! It did not take me long to realise that I was hearing the music without ears. The output from the stereo system was being fed through some fancy rectification circuitry directly into my auditory nerve. I was mainlining hard rock! An unforgettable experience.

At the end of the track it did not surprise me to hear the reassuring voice of the project director speaking Into a microphone that was now my prosthetic ear. He confirmed my analysis of what had gone wrong and assured me that steps were being taken to reembody me. He did not elaborate, and after a few more tracks, I found myself drifting off to sleep.

I later learned that I had slept for the better part of a year, and when I awoke, it was to find myself fully restored to my senses. When I looked into the mirror. though. I was a bit startled to see an unfamiliar face. Bearded and a bit heavier, bearing no doubt a family resemblance to my former face, and with the same look of sprightly intelligence and resolute character, but definitely a new face. Further self-explorations of an intimate nature left me no doubt that this was a new body, and the project director confirmed my conclusions. He did not volunteer any information on the past history of my new body and I decided (wisely, I think in retrospect) not to pry.

As many philosophers unfamiliar with my ordeal have more recently speculated, the acquisition of a new body leaves one's person intact. And after a period of adjustment to a new voice, new muscular strengths and weaknesses, and so forth. one's personality is by and large also preserved.

More dramatic changes in personality have been routinely observed in people who have undergone extensive plastic surgery, to say nothing of sex-change operations, and I think no one contests the survival of the person in such cases.

In any event I soon accommodated to my new body, to the point of being unable to recover any of its novelties to my consciousness or even memory. The view in the mirror soon became utterly familiar. That view by the way, still revealed antennae and so I was not surprised to learn that my brain had not been moved from Its haven in the life-support lab.

I decided that good old Yorick deserved a visit. I and my new body, whom we might as well call Fortinbras, strode into the familiar lab to another round of applause from the technicians, who were of course congratulating themselves, not me. Once more I stood before the vat and contemplated poor Yorick, and on a whim I once again cavalierly flicked off the output transmitter switch.

Imagine my surprise when nothing unusual happened. No fainting spell, no nausea, no noticeable change. A technician hurried to restore the switch to ON but still I felt nothing. I demanded an explanation, which the project director hastened to provide.

It seems that before they had even operated on the first occasion, they had constructed a computer duplicate of my brain, reproducing both the complete information-processing structure and the computational speed of my brain in a giant computer program. After the operation, but before they had dared to send me off on my mission to Oklahoma, they had run this computer system and Yorick side by side.

The incoming signals from Hamlet were sent simultaneously to Yorick's transceivers and to the computer's array of inputs. And the outputs from Yorick were not only beamed back to Hamlet, my body, they were recorded and checked against the simultaneous output of the computer program, which was called "Hubert" for reasons obscure to me.

Over days and even weeks, the outputs were identical and synchronous, which of course did not prove that they had succeeded in copying the brain's functional structure, but the empirical support was greatly encouraging. Hubert's input, and hence activity, had been kept parallel with Yorick's during my disembodied days. And now, to demonstrate this, they had actually thrown the master switch that put Hubert for the first time in on-line control of my body - not Hamlet, of course, but Fortinbras.

Hamlet, I learned, had never been recovered from its underground tomb and could be assumed by this time to have largely returned to the dust. At the head of my grave still lay the magnificent bulk of the abandoned device with the word STUD emblazoned on its side in large letters - a circumstance which may provide archeologists of the next century with a curious insight into the burial rites of their ancestors.)

The laboratory technicians now showed me the master switch, which had two positions, labelled B, for Brain (they didn't know my brain's name was Yorick) and H, for Hubert. The switch did indeed point to H. and they explained to me that if I wished, I could switch it back to B. With my heart in my mouth (and my brain in its vat), I did this.

Nothing happened. A ÔclickÕ, that was all. To test their claim and with the master switch now set at B, I hit Yorick's output transmitter switch on the vat and sure enough, I began to faint. Once the output switch was turned back on and I had recovered my wits, so to speak. I continued to play with the master switch, flipping it back and forth. I found that with the exception of the transitional click, I could detect no trace of a difference. I could switch in mid-utterance and the sentence I had begun speaking under the control of Yorick was finished without a pause or hitch of any kind under the control of Hubert. I had a spare brain, a prosthetic device which might some day stand me in very good stead, were some mishap to befall Yorick. Or alternatively, I could keep Yorick as a spare and use Hubert.

It didn't seem to make any difference which I chose, for the wear and tear and fatigue on my body did not have any debilitating effect on either brain, whether or not it was actually causing the motions of my body, or merely spilling itÕs output into thin air. The one truly unsettling aspect of this new development was the prospect, which was not long in dawning on me, of someone detaching the spare - Hubert or Yorick as the case might be - from Fortinbras and hitching it to yet another body, some johnny-come-lately Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. Then (if not before) there would he two people, that much was clear. One would be me, and the other would be a sort of super-twin brother. If there were two bodies, one under the control of Hubert and the other being controlled by Yorick, then which would the world recognise as the true Dennett? And whatever the rest of the world decided which one would be me?

Would I be the Yorick-brained one, in virtue of Yorick's causal priority and former intimate relationship with the original Dennett body, Hamlet? That seemed a bit legalistic, a bit too redolent of the arbitrariness of consanguinity and legal possession, to be convincing at the metaphysical level. For suppose that before the arrival of the second body on the scene, I had been keeping Yorick as the spare for years, and letting Hubert's output drive my body - that is, Fortinbras - all that time.

The Hubert-Fortinbras couple would seem then by squatterÕs rights (to combat one legal intuition with another) to be the true Dennett and the lawful inheritor of everything that was Dennett's. This was an interesting question, certainly, but not nearly so pressing as another question that bothered me. My strongest intuition was that in such an eventuality I would survive so long as either brain-body couple remained intact, but I had mixed emotions about whether I should want both to survive.

I discussed my worries with the technicians and the project director. The prospect of two Dennetts was abhorrent to me, I explained, largely for social reasons. I didn't want to be my own rival for the affections of my

wife, nor did I like the prospect of the two Dennetts sharing my modest professor's salary. Still more vertiginous and distasteful, though, was the idea of knowing that much about another person, while he had the very same goods on me. How could we ever face each other? My colleagues in the lab argued that I was ignoring the bright side of the matter. Weren't there many things I wanted to do but, being only one person, had been unable to do?

Now one Dennett could stay at home and be the professor and family man, while the other could strike out on a life of travel and adventure - missing the family of course, but happy in the knowledge that the other Dennett was keeping the home fires burning.

I could be faithful and adulterous at the same time. I could even cuckold myself - to say nothing of other more lurid possibilities my colleagues were all too ready to force upon my overtaxed imagination.

But my ordeal in Oklahoma (or was it Houston?) had made me less adventurous, and I shrank from this opportunity that was being offered (though of course I was never quite sure it was being offered to me in the first place). There was another prospect even more disagreeable: that the spare, Hubert or Yorick as the case might be, would be detached from any input from Fortinbras and just left detached. Then, as in the other case, there would be two Dennetts, or at least two claimants to my name and possessions, one embodied in Fortinbras, and the other sadly, miserably disembodied. Both selfishness and altruism bade me take steps to prevent this from happening. So I asked that measures be taken to ensure that no one could ever tamper with the transceiver connections or the master switch without my (our? no, my) knowledge and consent.

Since I had no desire to spend my life guarding the equipment in Houston, it was mutually decided that all the electronic connections in the lab would he carefully locked. Both those that controlled the life-support system for Yorick and those that controlled the power supply for Hubert would be guarded with fail-safe devices, and I would take the only master switch, outfitted for radio remote control, with me wherever I went. I carry it strapped around my waist and - wait a moment - here it is.

Every few months I reconnoitre the situation by switching channels. I do this only in the presence of friends, of course, for if the other channel were, heaven forbid, either dead or otherwise occupied, there would have to be somebody who had my interests at heart to switch it back, to bring me back from the void. For while I could feel, see, hear, and otherwise sense whatever befell my body, subsequent to such a switch, I'd be unable to control it. By the way, the two positions on the switch are intentionally unmarked, so I never have the faintest idea whether I am switching from Hubert to Yorick or vice versa.

(Some of you may think that in this case I really don't know who I am, let alone where I am. But such reflections no longer make much of a dent on my essential Dennettness, on my own sense of who I am. If it is true that in one sense I don't know who I am then that's another one of your philosophical truths of underwhelming significance.)

In any case. every time I flipped the switch so far, nothing has happened. So let's give it a try....

"THANK GOD! I THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER FLIP THAT SWITCH.Ó

ÒYou can't imagine how horrible it's been these last two weeks - but now you know, itÕs your turn in purgatory. How IÕve longed for this moment! You see, about two weeks ago - excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but I've got to explain this to my ... um, brother. I guess you could say. but he's just told you the facts so you'll understand - about two weeks ago our two brains drifted just a bit out of synch. I don't know whether my brain is now Hubert or Yorick, any more than you do, but in any case the two brains drifted apart and of course once the process started, it snowballed for I was in a slightly different receptive state for the input we both received, a difference that was soon magnified.

In no time at all the illusion that I was in control of my body - our body -was completely dissipated. There was nothing I could do - no way to call you. YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I EXISTED! It's been like being carried around in a cage, or better, like being possessed - hearing my own voice say things I didn't mean to say, watching in frustration as my own hands performed deeds I hadn't intended. You'd scratch our itches, but not the way I would have, and you kept me awake, with your tossing and turning. I've been totally exhausted, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. carried around helplessly by your frantic round of activities, sustained only by the knowledge that some day you'd throw the switch. "Now it's your turn, but at least you'll have the comfort of knowing I know you're in there. Like an expectant mother, I'm eating -- or at any rate tasting, smelling, seeing - for two now, and I'll try to make it easy for you. Don't worry, just as soon as this colloquium is over, you and I will fly to Houston, and we'll see what can be done to get one of us another body.

You can have a female body - your body could be any colour you like. But let's think it over. I tell you what - to be fair, if we both want this body, I promise I'll let the project director flip a coin to settle which of us gets to keep it and which then gets to choose a new body. That should guarantee justice, shouldn't it? In any case, I'll take care of you, I promise. These people are my witnesses. "Ladies and gentlemen, this talk we have just beard is not exactly the talk I would have given, but I assure you that everything he said was perfectly true. And now if you'll excuse me, I think I'd - we'd-better sit down.Ó

Activity

What issues are discussed in the story?

Explain how modern technology can highlight philosophical problems.

Socrates (c 470-399 BCE) was born and lived in Athens. We know of

him from the writings of his pupil Plato (c 428-348 BCE). These philosophers raised the questions - What knowledge is available?

How do we obtain knowledge? Why is this knowledge true?

Socrates did not ask questions about the physical world (scientific questions) but about how we should live.

ÒGod orders me to fulfil the philosophersÕ mission of

searching into myself and other men.Ó

To know is to be able to do good - the do the right thing. So discovering the correct questions was important.

In 399 BCE Socrates was tried for corrupting the youth and found guilty. He was sentenced to death and committed suicide by drinking hemlock. Plato gives an account of this in The Phaedo .

Socrates is so important a figure that those who came before him are called the pre-socratic philosophers.

Epistemology

What does it mean to ÒknowÓ?

I know that Beethoven was a great musician

I know that it is going to rain.

I know daffodils are yellow.

I know Catherine very well.

I know God exists.

Most of us take for granted that we know things and can know things.

But to ÒknowÓ can mean different things as the above statements show.

What about the statement....

ÒI know I left the car keys on the kitchen table!Ó

Is this in the same category? What do we mean by knowing?

Where does memory come into this?

What are the problems with memory?

What is a just society?

Social Philosophy

What sort of things go into the creation of a just society?

If we think specifically about crime and punishment, why do we have punishment?

Narrowing it down to capital punishment, what are the arguments for and against this?

Aesthetics

What is art?

(Or ÒI know what I like!Ó ?)

Recently a new portrait of the Queen was unveiled to a very mixed reception.

Some thought it was good. Some thought it was bad. Some liked it.

Some hated it.

Even more recently, the Sensations Exhibition in London, included a portrait of Myra Hindley made up of childrenÕs hand prints. Some people demonstrated against it saying that it was obscene and should be withdrawn. Others said that to do so would be to censor art just like dictators and repressive regimes have done in the past.

So who was right?

More recently a painting was found in a skip in London. It was taken to a gallery and put on display as an original painting by a very famous contemporary British artist and valued by the gallery at a six-figure sum.

Later it turned out to be the work of a student who thought it was so bad he threw it away! And all this is before we begin to discuss the work of Damien Hurst?

What questions does this raise for us? (See also attached sheet)

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PHILOSOPHY

Metaphysics

What is real?

One of the common issues in this discussion is - Òdo humans have souls?Ó

Can we hold onto the accepted scientific idea that all is change - in a constant state of flux and yet still say that humans have souls?

What are the other problems raised by the body and soul issue?

What about God?

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Let us discuss how scientific enquiry progresses.

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PHILOSOPHY

The philosophical branch which investigates the question ÒWhat is Real?Ó is called metaphysics.

Metaphysics is concerned with what constitutes ultimate reality - in other words what really exists - and the nature of what exists.

ÒMetaÓ means ÒbeyondÓ, so metaphysics is about what exists beyond the physical.

Metaphysics is not concerned with questions like whether the Loch Ness monster exists or not. If it does exist it is a physical object and we can prove its existence by filming or capturing it.

Two of the major metaphysical questions are...

Is there a God?

and

Do humans have souls?

The answers to these questions are not in the physical realm of science - we cannot do experiments to find the answers - if they do really exist - they are non-physical.

These are the subjects of metaphysical questions.

BLADE RUNNER

TASK 5

What philosophical questions were explored in the film?

The Categories

Aristotle was a great lister and labeller. He liked to identify things especially things in nature. ÒSuch and such is a plant, that is a mammal, this is an insectÓ and so on. In many ways he is the father of modern science as well as being one of the two major philosophers, the other being Plato, who shaped thinking right up to the present day. Aristotle was a pupil of Plato and studied at his academy.

For Plato the highest degree of reality was that we think with our reason. He mistrusted the senses. Aristotle was an avid observer of the natural world and so replied that it was with our senses that we perceive things. For Aristotle the natural world was the real world.

Plato believed that there existed an almost parallel and perfect ideal world which contained the forms of everything in the universe. This was also the world where the individual human souls came from. Aristotle believed that the form of anything was not determined by an idea of perfection but that the form of something and what it does makes it what it is. Identity is inherent.

Aristotle had an interesting perspective on causality. For an event like a window smashing we could say the cause was the brick thrown at it.

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PHILOSOPHY

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PHILOSOPHY

Form and Substance

In many ways Aristotle identifies a very modern human trait - that of categorising and labelling.

All of existence can be divided into two categories - things which are alive and things which are not and then this allows further categorisation.

All living things

All living creatures

All humans

I was at a wee social gathering and one of the women was explaining how she likes to have things in the house neat, tidy and ordered. Her husband was looking for their sonÕs football where upon the woman said to her husband there was a place for balls Bob. There was a pause and then Bob asked ÒAnd where is that place Agnes?Ó

If we are asked to put things away and tidy up and put things away, all will go reasonably well until we find something which we cannot identify. What is this? Where should I put it.

LetÕs play a game!

I am thinking of something. Can you guess what it is?

Where do you start?

Do squirrels suckle their young? - Where would a Martian start to try to answer this question?

His (AristotleÕs) views on women seem to have been less enlightened. Women were imperfect men. Flawed creatures. The woman was passive whereas the man was active - the woman was the soil but it was the man who planted the seed.

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PHILOSOPHY

This view was very influential centuries later during the formation of Christian doctrine and practice as it relates to the place of women in the church and for some still seems to hold true today.

ARGUMENTS

Are used often to help us act. To identify things.

We all have arguments especially if we live in a family or are a character in a Soap Opera. We can have either good arguments or bad arguments. The good ones are generally those we win and the bad ones those we do not.

Philosophical arguments are different - or should be. In philosophical terms to ÒargueÓ does not mean to have a Òverbal fightÓ with some one; an argument may simply mean to justify our beliefs about something.

Argument involves at least two components - Logic and Rhetoric.

Logic concerns those reasons that hold for anyone, anywhere, without appealing to personal feelings, sympathies, or prejudices.

Rhetoric, on the other hand, does involve such personal appeals. Personal charm may be part of rhetoric, in a writer as well as in a public speaker. Jokes may be part of rhetoric. Personal pleas are effective rhetorical tools; so is trying to be sympathetic to readers or playing off their fears.

But none of this has anything to do with logic. Logic is impersonal. It is important to note however that usually in a philosophical argument, both logic and rhetoric function together.

TASK

Can you think of a situation recently where you had to argue a case for something using both logic and rhetoric?

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PHILOSOPHY

As previously stated his views on women seem to have been less than PC. Women were imperfect men. Flawed creatures. The woman was passive needing care, not capable of exercising power appropriately .

The Rules of Arguing - There are rules for this?

These came from Aristotle. Maybe he argued a lot with women! Much of making up your mind about something, finding the truth, discovering what is right or true, involves argument. By learning the basic rules of argument you will avoid what are called fallacies and help you to identify the flaw in some one elseÕs argument. How many times have you thought ÒThereÕs something wrong with that argument - I donÕt know what it is but.....Ó

By studying a little logic you will be able to avoid that problem.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore Socrates is mortal.

This form of argument is called a syllogism - the formula being,

It is an example of a valid form of argument. In a valid form of argument, if the premises are true the conclusion will also be true.

PHILOSOPHY

20

PHILOSOPHY

TRY IT YOURSELF!

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PHILOSOPHY

But an argument can be both valid and have a conclusion which is false e.g.

If Tom went to the circus he must be mad.

Tom went to the circus.

Tom is a madman.

The argument is valid because it conforms to the rules.

So what is the use if you can get duff results. The important thing

is that the first statements (called the premises) are true. If this is the

case then the conclusion must be true if the argument form is valid.

* A valid argument is an argument whose form guarantees that

its conclusion is true if the premises are true.

* An invalid argument is an argument whose form does not

guarantee that its conclusion is true if the premises are true.

* The validity of a form of argument does not say whether the premises are true or false.

* Even if the premises are false the argument can still have a

valid form.

* An invalid form does not guarantee that the conclusion is

true even if the premises are true.

* Even if the the premises are false the argument can still have

a valid form.

* An invalid form does not guarantee that the conclusion is true even if the premises are are true.

However the conclusion may be true it is just not guaranteed as part

of the argument.

If P then Q If P then Q

P Not P

Therefore Q Therefore not Q

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PHILOSOPHY

Some Exercises

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PHILOSOPHY

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PHILOSOPHY

If we apply this structure to the area of social philosophy for example.

In particular if we look at social justice in crime and punishment,

what is the result?

Can we discuss the issues and problems raised in this area using this structure of argument?

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PHILOSOPHY

Some Exercises

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GLOSSARY

anecdotal Generalisations from few particular experiences

evidence

argument a process of reasoning from one claim to another.

assertion a statement or declaration.

deduction a process of reasoning from one principle to another by accepted rules. Premise to conclusion. If you are certain of the premise, you can be certain of the conclusion.

fallacy an argument which is in error, an invalid argument.

hypothesis a provisional conclusion, accepted as probable in the light of known facts.

logic the rules of valid argument.

paradox a conclusion which contradicts itself despite the premises being seemingly acceptable. (See example)

premise the starting point or basis or an argument

presupposition a condition which is presumed to exist underlying an argument although not mentioning it. (See example)

proof a sequence of steps, each taken according to the rules, which leads to an acceptable conclusion.

reason the ability to think abstractly, to form arguments and make inferences.

reductio ad absurdum refuting an argument by showing that it leads to an absurd or contradictory conclusion.

rhetoric the use of persuasive language to get people to accept you beliefs.

skepticism the belief that knowledge is not possible, that doubt cannot be overcome by any valid argument.

syllogism a three-line valid argument. (See example)

valid an argument that correctly follows the rules of inference.

paradox Statement - ÒHelp those who do not help themselvesÓ

Problem - Do you help yourself?

presupposition A lawyer presupposes that a court tries to achieve justice.

(This would of course raise questions for a philosopher)

syllogism All PÕs are QÕs. (Major premise)

S is a P. (Minor premise)

Therefore S is a Q. (Conclusion)

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PHILOSOPHY - ASSESSMENT 1 (1998)

NAME________________________ Class ________

1

In column (a) below there is a list of philosophical problems. Match each problem with the correctly corresponding branch of philosophy.

(a) (b)

What is art?

Do humans have souls?

Does every cause have an effect?

Is capital punishment just retribution?

Is abortion right or wrong?

How do we know that we are not just

dreaming what we experience?

2 Take any four of the problems above and write a brief explanation on the reverse side of this sheet explaining exactly what the problem is in each case.

PHILOSOPHY MODULE 1 ASSESSMENT 1

PHILOSOPHY - Revision Exercise 1

NAME________________________

1

In column (a) below there is a list of philosophical problems. Match each problem with the correctly corresponding branch of philosophy.

(a) (b)

What is art?

Is there a divine being?

Does every cause have an effect?

What is the balance of freedom and responsibility in justice?

Is genetic engineering right?

How do I know that what I see is what is??

2 Take each of these statements and explain the philosophical issues raised by each question.

PHILOSOPHY MODULE 1 Revision Sheet 1

DAVID HUME - PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS

To show your understanding, use the following terms in sentences in connection to with Hume and his ideas.

You can change the terms to suit your sentence e.g. the first can be changed to criticised or criticise.

CRITICISM - SKEPTIC - ARGUMENT - REASON - DEDUCTION - PRINCIPLE

EMPIRICISM - INDUCTIVE - DOGMATISM - PRESUPPOSITION

What is the Argument from Design ? (The name Paley may be helpful here.)

How would you criticise the argument?

Philosophical Investigation

Investigate the following major philosophical figures.

Hume, Descartes and Sartre.

Where and when did they live?

What thinking were they reacting to?

What were their main contributions to philosophical thought?

In what ways can their thinking be criticised?

Add any technical terms to your glossary list with meanings

DAVID HUME

Answer these questions in sentences.

Which branch of philosophy was Hume most concerned with?

To which area of human enquiry did he apply scientific methods?

What was he a skeptic about?

In what way was he non-dogmatic?

What was his view of reason?

HUMAN UNDERSTANDING

PHILOSOPHY

Assessment Sheet 2a)

The aim of this exercise is to assess how well you understand some important philosophical terms and how well you can use them yourself.

David Hume has been described as non-dogmatic and a skeptic.

What do these terms mean?

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What is a presupposition?

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What is a philosophical enquiry into what is real.

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What is a paradox?

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An argument which correctly conforms to the rules of inference.

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Give an example of an hypothesis.

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What is the difference between an assertion and an argument?

Give an example of each.

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What is the difference between logic and rhetoric? Why are they both important?

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How does skepticism and lack of dogmatism relate to views of God?

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Descartes is described as a Dualist. How did this shape his view of the nature of a human being?

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What presupposition does a lawyer operate under?

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What presupposition does a teacher operate under?

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Give an example of a paradox.

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The object of this section is to consolidate what constitutes a valid

argument and to be able to identify and use valid and invalid

arguments. We will apply this to the exploration of the various

problems and issues faced by the main branches of philosophy.

You should also familiarise yourself with the range and meaning

of the technical terms used in philosophy.

Specifically you have to be able to identify what constitutes a

premise and a conclusion - give 2 examples of each and also

distinguish between a valid and an invalid argument by

giving an example of each and a reason for each choice.

But first let us just stand back a moment and review some of the

ground we have covered so far.

In our discussions we have discovered that, although to begin

with, philosophy may sound like some new and mysterious discipline,

its basic principles are familiar to us all.

Just think how often in substantial arguments abstract concepts

like ÒfreedomÓ, ÒidentityÓ, ÒrealityÓ, ÒillusionÓ, ÒnaturalÓ and ÒtruthÓ

are discussed.

We all have some opinion on the questions of God, morality and

the universe but without questioning, these are mere

assumptions. Philosophy gives us the ability to look critically at

our presuppositions.

Remember to be critical means to be careful, cautious and willing

to change our position on things.

Argument is the process by which truth is sought and falsehood

identified.

Deductive Arguments reason from one statement to another by

accepted logical rules - if you accept the premise you are bound by

logic to accept the conclusion.

For example

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A deductive argument is valid when it correctly conforms to the rules

of deduction.

However a valid argument can still have a conclusion which is false.

For example

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The important thing to remember is that the premises should be true.

If the premises are true, the rules are followed then the truth of the conclusion is guaranteed.

The tests are 1 Are the premises true?

2 Is the form valid?

If the answer to both is yes then the argument is said to be sound.

Sometimes a valid argument can leave out a step.

For example

Men canÕt give birth

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Robert canÕt give birth.

But what about this? What is right and what is wrong?

Some elephants are domesticated.

Some camels are domesticated.

Therefore some camels are elephants.

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This is an argument which is invalid - not valid and therefore a fallacy. Many political arguments contain fallacies.

Remember the argument about the antidote?

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What was wrong with it?

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How could it be corrected?

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IF P THEN Q.

NOT Q

THEREFORE NOT P

This form of argument ____________________________

In deduction the conclusion never states more than the premises.

In an inductive argument the conclusion always states more than the premises.

This means that it is less certain but not less important.

It is used extensively in science. Moving from an observed set of things

to an entire class of things.

For example

From All the crows I have ever see have been black.

To ________________________________

But perhaps it should be

Based on _______________

I would hypothesise that ___________

But there is no guarantee of truth. Why?

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An hypothesis is acceptable until a counter-example comes along.

A counter-example for the above hypothesis would be

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Does this mean that we should not accept what scientists tell us to be

the case?

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An hypothesis will also be rejected when

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In inductive arguments the result is either sound or unsound

Hypothesis:

Most philosophy students have red hair.

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MORE EXERCISES IN ARGUING!

Three examples of deductive arguments.

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Two valid arguments with conclusions which are false.

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When is an argument said to be sound?

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Two examples of fallacious arguments.

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What are the major differences between deductive and inductive arguments?

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What is wrong with the forms of the following arguments?

If P then Q If P then Q

Not P P

Therefore not Q Therefore Q

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How could it be corrected to make it valid?

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Give three examples of inductive arguments.

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For what is there no guarantee in inductive arguments?

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Why is this?

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What are the implications of this for hypotheses?

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Give two examples of sound and two of unsound arguments.

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PHILOSOPHY

Revise the following philosophical terms and concepts

Rationalism, Dogmatism (and its opposite) skepticism

See Hume for the above.

Presupposition

Paradox

Dualism and the nature of humankind

See Descartes for the above.

What would their view of Feng Shui, Astrology, Religion and the X-Files phenomenon.

NAME ___________________________________________

February 1998

1 Identify the premises and the conclusions in each of these examples.

The pie is either apple or pear.

It is not apple.

It must be pear.

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The accident happened on either Tuesday or Wednesday

Wednesday was accident-free.

It must have been Tuesday.

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Men cannot give birth.

John is a man.

John cannot give birth.

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2 Some arguments are valid and some are invalid.

Give a reason for an argument being valid.

Show this in an example.

Give a reason for an argument being invalid.

Show this in an example.

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Philosophy Introduction Summary

1 Metaphysics - What is real?

God? The human soul? Who are you? What is your essence? Are you just physical?

2 Epistemology - What can we know?

The problem of the “cage of the mind”. What can we know about the external world? Can we rely on our senses? What can we know about other minds?

The problem of nature of mind.

Solipsism - it’s all in the mind! - no proof that there is anything out there! Just because it is observable does not mean that this is proof that it exists.

Scepticism - There may or may not be an external world and if it exists it may or may not be different from the way it seems to you.

If there is an external world and it is observable because it exists.

3 Ethics - What should we do? (And Why?)

Some times called “Moral Philosophy” - this is the enquiry into how we should act. What are right and wrong, good and bad, and also what makes an action right or wrong etc.

So we are looking at moral codes, the rules for behaviour, and what these are based on - the principles which lie behind them and give them authority.

S6 Module 2 1998

Philosophy

Philosophy Quick Quiz 1

1 What does the word ‘philosophy’ mean?

2 Link the three main branches of philosophy to the statements below

“We should care for the environment.”

“Behind the material universe lies a positive creative and intelligent force.”

“When I say ‘green’ I mean green like that object there.”

3 Give an example of a question from each branch.

4 What do philosophers deal with?

5 What tool do they use for this activity?

6 One branch of philosophy inquires about whether there is anything beyond the physical world.

Give an example of a question from this area of philosophy.

7 A Chinese philosopher once said that his hat may be old and battered but it contained the whole world.

What did he mean by this?

What two philosophical problems arise as a result of this?

8 Why do humans sometimes disagree on what constitute a right or wrong action?

9 How do we explain that there are similarities in moral codes across the world and even back in time?

Philosophy Introduction Revision June 1999

Revise

What the word ‘philosophy’ means

The three main branches of philosophy and the statements and problems they deal with.

An example of a question from each branch.

What sort of questions and problems philosophers deal with.

What tool they use for this activity - the process they use to enquire into the problems.

The main problems/questions/arguments dealt with in each branch

The application of philosophy in every day life.

Philosophy Introduction Revision June 1999

Revise

What the word ‘philosophy’ means

The three main branches of philosophy and the statements and problems they deal with.

An example of a question from each branch.

What sort of questions and problems philosophers deal with.

What tool they use for this activity - the process they use to enquire into the problems.

The main problems/questions/arguments dealt with in each branch

The application of philosophy in every day life.

Philosophy - August Revision Sheet

1 Which branch of philosophy do the following questions come from?

a) Does God exist? ____________________

b) Do animals have rights? ____________________

c) What is real? ____________________

d) How do I know I am not alone? ____________________

2 What is a moral code?

3 What is the problem with philosophical questions?

4 What is an “argument” in philosophy?

5 Who was Socrates and what was his method?

6 What is the difference between the rationalist and the empiricist position? (Use the terms innate and tabula rasa in your answer)

7 What is the tripartite definition of knowledge?

8 What is the sceptical position?

-----------------------

Summary so far

• Scepticism means…..

• Justified true belief is …..

• Absolute scepticism is….

• Philosophical scepticism is

• Local scepticism is…

• Common-sense scepticism is….

• The four reasons for scepticism are

1. Appearance and reality

2. Could be a dream/ veil of perception

3. An experiment or game

4. Infinite regress

• The glaring contradiction for Absolute scepticism….

Activity 4

1. Why is “Absolute Scepticism” impractical and contradictory?

2. Summarise the 4 reasons for scepticism.

3. Is it possible to find a foundational belief?

4. Does the tripartite test for knowledge stand up to scrutiny?

?

If a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it. Does it make a sound?

Activity 5

Complete a 200 word assignment outlining the main points of foundationalism and coherencism.

Here are some different knowledge statements.

1. I know the earth is the third planet from the sun.

2. I know how to ride a bike.

3. I know North Berwick.

4. I know 2 + 2 = 4

5. I know men.

6. I know all bachelors are unmarried men.

7. I know the sun will rise tomorrow.

8. I know food will nourish me.

9. I know salt tastes salty.

10. I know the best way home

11. I know murder is wrong

12. I know this is my body.

13. I know how to speak English.

14. I know what red is like.

15. I know the meaning of life

16. I know me.

17. I know I like ice-cream.

18. I know the earth is flat.

19. I know smoking is bad.

20. I know maths.

Remember he does not believe that there really is a Demon – this is a thought experiment Demon.

Define knowledge

Explain propositional knowledge

Explain tripartite definition

Discuss the problems with this definition

Explain the part justification plays in knowledge claims

Explain and discuss empiricism and rationalism

Explain, analyse and evaluate Descartes’ epistemological claims

Why do you think that Plato said that the traveller did not really know?

Daisy was in the field, as Farmer Jones believed and this belief was justified but was she right to say that she knew Daisy was in the field?

Give reasons to support your answer.

Gettier (left) and friend

To think one must be a thinker

I am thinking

___________________(Therefore)

I must exist.

Up to this point Descartes claims that he is starting to see more clearly and distinctly what he is. Even sense experience which is of doubtful truth appears more clear and distinct. But his mind is still not fully understood nor completely under his control and so needs careful monitoring.

Sense experience is a real part of him – part of his experience. But what is the relationship of this experience to the external world? But is this experience real? Descartes’ Next Aim

Descartes now wants to establish the relationship of sense experience to knowledge. To what extent do his perceptions (a kind of thinking) inform him of how the world really is? Instead of looking at perceptions in general, which maybe confusing, Descartes chooses one object to examine in order to be certain how he understands that object.

What does sense experience tell him about a piece of fresh bees wax?

So all the distinctive sense-properties of the wax disappear when it is heated. Does this mean that it is still wax?

Well of course it is still wax! This is not some magic act. No one would doubt that but these qualities, previously identified, cannot be the essential qualities of wax because they have gone but the wax remains.

So the wax is material substance.

The sense qualities of the wax are not essential to the substance – so what essential properties does a material substance like wax have?

So the essential properties of material objects are extension, shape and velocity.

How does he know that these are the properties?

Imagination?

Does his imagination have a part to play in the understanding of how the wax can change its shape? No because it can change into more shapes than he can imagine.

The same with extension. Heating by various amounts increases the size by a greater variety of increments than he can imagine.

So understanding does not come via the senses nor imagination. So how?

So this or any other piece of wax or any material substance is understood, not by sense experience, nor by imagination, but reason, mind, intuition. Before confused now clear and distinct.

He then points out that although he understands the wax is clearly and distinctly by reason, the language he often uses to express his understanding is often not clear and distinct.

Descartes points out that although he knows now how he knows, he is drawn to his previous way of thinking partly because of his use of language and expressions. He talks about his habit of saying that he “sees the same wax” when it is more accurate to say that he “judges it to be the same wax”. He “sees” human beings from his window but this also a judgment. They could be robots with clothes. Not a perception but an inference.

Descartes believes that he has established that he really knows the wax by reason alone. He then turns his attention back on himself and the question of whether he is anything more than a thinking thing.

Because mind is known directly – intuitively – Descartes argues that “there is nothing more clearly and distinctly apprehended than my own mind”.

So he has reconfirmed that he is a “thinking thing” and that this thinking thing understands material substances not by perception nor imagination but by reason.

Object Quality

God Perfection

Mind Thought (no space, no shape, no motion), Unitary

reasoning, remembering, doubting, has free will and responsibility

Material extended in space,

Substances divisible, shape,

capable of motion,

subject to cause and

effect

Review 1

How does Descartes move from the position that material objects can,

probably do and eventually must exist?

Review 2

According to Descartes, what is the difference between having a "mental image" and having "pure understanding"?

Review 3

What point is Descartes making here? Why is it important?

Review 4

What point does Descartes make here?

Review 5

What is Descartes talking about here?

Review 6

Explain Descartes’ point with examples.

Review 7

What point is Descartes making here?

Review 8

What point is Descartes making here?

Review 9

What is Descartes’ point here?

Assignment 1

Using your notes, summarise Descartes’ arguments up to this point.

Use a lined sheet of paper.

You will be continuing this process as we read through Meditations VI

Review 10

Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 11

Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 12

Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 13

Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Assignment 2

Using your notes, summarise Descartes’ arguments up to this point adding

this information to Assignment 1.

Review 14

Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Assignment 3

1. What does Descartes believe he has achieved by the end of

Meditation VI?

2. What reasons does he have for his new found certainty?

Assignment 4

1. What do you think about Descartes’ argument that it is it better that we are deceived when we are occasionally sick than when we are usually healthy?

2. How convincing is his explanation of how waking can be distinguished from dreaming?

3. In what ways is Descartes’ radical method of doubt not radical enough?

4. Descartes’ claims that his philosophy new – is he right?

5. How convinced are you by Descartes’ method of doubt?

6. How convinced are you by his claim to foundational certainty

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

Descartes, born in France, is known as the “father of modern philosophy”.

As well as being a great philosopher he was also a gifted mathematician and a scientist.

“Most of all I was delighted with mathematics because of the certainty of its demonstration and the evidence of its reasoning.”

He was greatly influenced by mathematics and wanted philosophy to be similarly certain.

What can be known?

Descartes was concerned not only with epistemology - what can be known, but also metaphysics – what is real and the philosophy of mind. He was one of the founders of the Enlightenment or Age of Reason which began in the late seventeenth century and culminated in the French and American revolutions of the late eighteenth century.

Like Socrates, he was keen to differentiate between truth, falsehood and opinion. Descartes believed that sense experience alone could not justify what is true and so could not be relied upon. He believed that only by using rational thought was it possible to justify what was true and what was right.

So Descartes was a rationalist. He was a mathematician and a scientist as well as being a philosopher and supported the new science of Galileo. Like Galileo, he was also a Roman Catholic. He was keen to avoid ending up like Galileo and did not want to be accused of encouraging people to believe that the new science meant that humans were just physical and no longer needed God nor the Church.

The scientists Galileo and Copernicus had established that material things in the universe operated according to scientific laws. Objects moved because of the action of physical forces.

Science had established that the Earth was just one of many material objects and was not the centre of the universe as had been thought and taught. The Earth was in no way special. Therefore the physical world could be explained without the need for God.

These new scientific beliefs had resulted in conflict with the Roman Catholic authorities. According to Catholic teaching, the earth and humanity were central to God’s plan for the universe.

Descartes embraced the new science - indeed he was part of it - but he was also a devout Catholic, a product of the Jesuit education process. How could he keep a foot in both camps?

Descartes published “Meditations on First Philosophy” at the age of 45. His works came in for much criticism as the years went by. Eventually, believing that he was physically threatened, he took up a position as tutor to Queen Christina of Sweden.

Descartes caught pneumonia and died in 1650 at the age of 54.

How can knowledge claims be justified?

Assignment 15

1. On what did Descartes claim his knowledge was based?

2. What justifications for knowledge had he accepted in the past?

3. What general problems did he now identify with his previous knowledge claims?

4. What were Descartes’ aims and what was his test?

5. What problems are related to the empirical approach?

6. How could Descartes doubt his body?

7. Why did he claim at first that maths was more dependable than astronomy?

8. Why did he have to admit that even mathematical truths were challengeable?

9. Outline Descartes’ Dream argument in your own words.

10. Why is the dream argument more a bigger challenge to empiricism than illusions and hallucinations?

11. Even if you are dreaming, what should you still be able to infer about reality?

12. Clearly explain the effect of the Demon argument.

?

Doubt

Sense Experience Sense experience

Waking is not dreaming

Body

External world

Scientific Knowledge

God is good

Mathematical Truths

Example

Towers appear different

This experience dreamt

Phantom limbs

Sense deception again

Astronomy

Deception occurs

2+3 could be a deception

D

Reason

Can be deceptive

Dreams can be vivid

Awareness can deceive

Can be deceptive

Depends on sense ex

But deception!

Sense Experience Part of deception?

D

JTB necessary but not sufficient

I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time it is expressed by me, or conceived in my mind.

(The Cogito)

One of Descartes contemporary readers, Pierre Gassendi, pointed out that the Cogito depends on a claim for the existence of a substance. Descartes claims that something must be thinking but, although he may have established that thinking is happening, Descartes has not established a substance which thinks. Descartes has just assumed the “thing which thinks” – in other words his own mind.

He may have established thinking, but not a thinker

In this section Descartes compares his aim to Archimedes. In ancient Greece, Archimedes discovered the power of the lever. His famous quote was …

I know that I don’t know!

Thinking okay, but not that the thoughts are his

(Is the Demon really gone?)

At best Descartes has only established his own thinking = Subjectivism

This leads to the danger that only his thinking is real = Solipsism

I am thinking, therefore I think = circular argument

Review 1 How does Descartes move from the position that material objects can, probably do and eventually must exist?

Review 2 According to Descartes, what is the difference between having a "mental image"

and having "pure understanding"?

Review 3 What point is Descartes making here? Why is it important?

Review 4 What point does Descartes make here?

Review 5 What is Descartes talking about here?

Review 6 Explain Descartes’ point with examples.

Review 7 What point is Descartes making here?

Review 8 What point is Descartes making here?

Review 9 What is Descartes’ point here?

Summary Activity 1

Using your notes, summarise Descartes’ arguments up to this point.

Use a lined sheet of paper.

You will be continuing this process as we read through Meditations VI

Review 10 Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 11 Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 12 Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Review 13 Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Summary Activity 2

Using your notes, summarise Descartes’ arguments up to this point adding

this information to Summary Activity 1.

Review 14 Outline Descartes’ reasoning in the above section.

Assignment 22

1. What does Descartes believe he has achieved by the end of Meditation VI?

2. What reasons does he have for his epistemological certainties?

Assignment 23

1. Explain, with the use of examples, the problem of using Descartes’ clear and distinct rule.

2. How convincing are his explanations of how waking can be distinguished from dreaming?

3. What is the problem with Descartes’ distinction between primary and secondary qualities of physical objects?

4. What are the problems with Descartes’ argument that the waking can be distinguished from the dreaming?

5. In what ways is Descartes’ radical method of doubt not radical enough? What important things does he not doubt or examine?

6. Descartes’ claims that he has achieved all his aims. How convinced are you by Descartes?

Ref Meditation 1

Illusion & Phantom limbs - False sensations so all sensations could be false

Dreaming argument – Dreams cannot be differentiated from waking state.

Reason – This could be a deception

Demon argument – All thinking could be a deception.

Response Meditation V1

By use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses. Clear & Distinct Ideas

Dreams and waking can be differentiated by reason – dreams are often confused and they do not conform to the rules of time and space. The waking state is predictable and obeys natural laws.

God would not allow deception so the external world must exist as it is perceived.

Misperceptions are a misjudgement of reason not a deceit.

Criticisms

What's might seem clear might not be true at all. Cartesian circle: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule.

Some dreams vivid and some waking experiences confused!

Relies on the existence of a benevolent God.

Cartesian Circle

Deception does take place

No proof for innate ideas

Atheism

Suffering

God beyond human understanding

Cogito foundational certainty problems

Memory problems

I? - Gassendi

No evidence for I - Hume

Memory needed for I - Ayre

René DESCARTES

1596-1650

Descrates' memorial in the Adolf Fredrik Kyrkogård in Stockholm,

his remains were later removed to Paris

Meditation 1 - Reprise

Illusion & Phantom limbs - False sensations so all sensations could be false

Dreaming argument – Dreams cannot be differentiated from waking state.

Reason – This could be a deception

Demon argument – All thinking could be a deception.

Response Meditation V1

By use of clear reasoning we can correct the errors of the senses. Clear & Distinct Ideas.

(Med II – ‘Cogito’ = Clear and Distinct Med II I - ‘Trademark’ ect arguments = Clear & Distinct)

Dreams and waking can be differentiated by reason – dreams are often confused and they do not conform to the rules of time and space. The waking state is predictable and obeys natural laws.

God would not allow deception so the external world must exist as it is perceived.

Misperceptions are a misjudgement of reason not a deceit.

Criticisms

What's might seem clear might not be true at all. Cartesian circle: the clear and distinct rule is justified by appealing to God but God is justified by appealing to the clear and distinct rule. Cogito = deadend, not Foundational Certainty

Some dreams vivid and some waking experiences confused!

Relies on the existence of a benevolent God.

Cartesian Circle

Deception does take place

No proof for innate ideas

Atheism

Suffering

God beyond human understanding

Cogito foundational certainty problems

Memory problems

‘I?’ - Gassendi

‘No evidence for I’ - Hume

‘Memory needed for I’ - Ayre

René DESCARTES

1596-1650

Descrates' memorial in the Adolf Fredrik Kyrkogård in Stockholm.

His remains were later removed to Paris

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