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Unformatted text preview: The notice we have by our senses of the existing of things without us , though it be not altogether so certain, as our intuitive knowledge, or the deductions of our reason, employed about the clear abstract reasonings of our own minds; yet it is an assurance that deserves the name knowledge . (ECHU 4.11.3) And, somewhat more hedged: There is, indeed, another perception of the mind employed about the particular existence of finite beings without us , which going beyond bare probability, and yet not reaching perfectly to [the certainty of by logical and mathematical reasoning], passes under the name knowledge . (ECHU 4.2.14) Locke says that we only have sensitive knowledge of the existence of particular things accessible to our senses right now: this knowledge extends only as far as the present testimony of our senses , employed about particular objects, that do then affect them, and no farther (EHU 4.11.9.) So our beliefs about non-present external things can only rise to the level of (what Locke calls) opinion or probability, not knowledge properly so-called (since its not totally certain and infallible). In much of our lives we will simply be guided by probable opinion. This is okay as a way to run your life (Locke says), but we shouldnt confuse it with knowledge strictly so called. The external world skeptic asks us: (i) How can we know for certain that there is an external world answering to our sensory ideas? A more radical skeptic might further ask: (ii) Do we have any reason at all to think that there is an external world answering to our sensory ideas? Or even: (iii) Is it even intelligible to talk about an external world beyond our ideas? (Is this even a thinkable hypothesis?) (1) Some of our ideas come unbidden . If I turn my eyes to at noon toward the sun I cannot avoid the ideas which the light or the sun then produces in me. (EHU 4.11.5) (2) Some ideas differ from others in terms of their vivacity , and these bolder ideas presumably are caused by an external world (rather than our own imaginings or dreamings). (EHU 4.2.14, 4.11.6) (3) Our senses in many cases bear witness to the t ruth of each others reports concerning the existence of sensible things without us (EHU 4.11.7) (4) If we question our faculties in the way the skeptic asks us to, then we lose all grasp on what it would even be to know something. So we cannot talk sense about knowledge at all unless we already accept that our faculties are at least broadly reliable, and thus that there is an external world answering to our ideas. (EHU 4.11.3) (5) It is really impossible to be a skeptic; no-one can really doubt these things, however much they may pretend to do so (EHU 4.11.3)....
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This note was uploaded on 05/05/2008 for the course PHIL 20C taught by Professor Schwartz during the Winter '08 term at UCSB.
- Winter '08