Most important/significant concepts/ideas. Cogito “I think therefore I am”: In the First Meditations Descartes explains why he can call his beliefs into doubt, since his beliefs have deceived him before — I think we can all relate to one experience where our beliefs have been totally wrong and we feel the way old Descartes feels here. He argues that perhaps he is currently dreaming or that God is actually a deceiving demon, or that he is simply crazy. This gives him reason to be skeptical of all his beliefs, which leads us into the Second Meditations. Here is where he convinces himself that nothing of the world is real. He essentially disbelieves everything that can possibly be called into question and whittles existence down into nothing. Empiricism: knowledge can only be gained, if at all, by experience. Rationalism: Using rational insight (intuition), come to conclusions from intuited premises through valid arguments (deduction). Apriori: knowledge gained independently of sense expereinces, (intuition and deduction) Aposteriori: depednt upon sesne experience The Cave: Imagine a cave with a small tunnel of light leading out and hundreds of human beings tied up so that they can't move—they just stare straight ahead all day long (creepy, we know). But they do get a little entertainment: there's a rockin' shadow-puppet show projected on the wall in front of them with a fire burning in the back for light. Since this show is all these poor people can see, they think it's the best, most awesome reality ever. They chat about it, gossip, call people names... you know, the usual. So that's how life goes down in the cave until one day, one of the prisoners manages to break free and begins to figure out what's going on. It takes a while for his eyes to adjust, but gradually, he sees that there is a much brighter speck of light at the end of another tunnel. So out he goes... and wow, you can imagine how amazing and beautiful the real world looks to him compared to that two-dimensional, dark cave he's spent all his life in. Feeling sorry for all his fellow prisoners, the freed prisoner goes back down and explains to everyone that they're all trapped in this massive cave, and everything they think is real is an illusion. Guess what? They think he's nuts. He keeps trying to convince them, and he's finally able to persuade a few... but the rest choose to remain where they are. Meno’s Paradox : The Meno is probably one of Plato's earliest dialogues, with the conversation dateable to about 402 BCE. The dialogue begins with Meno asking Socrates whether virtue can be taught, and this question (along with the more fundamental question of
what virtue is) occupies the two men for the entirety of the text. Important and recurring Platonic themes are introduced in the Meno, including the form of the Socratic dialogue itself. Socrates attempts to dissect an ethical term by questioning a person who claims to know the term's meaning, and eventually concludes that neither he nor the "expert" really know what the term means. Other important themes
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