class16c07 - therefore I exist ( cogito ergo sum ) • I...

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Sources of knowledge: Sense experience (empiricism) Reasoning alone (rationalism) We truly know only that of which we are certain ( a priori ). Since sense experience ( a posteriori knowledge) cannot guarantee certainty, reason alone must be the means for getting knowledge Epistemology: the study of the nature, source, limits, and justification of knowledge
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Cartesian Doubt Sense experiences are often wrong I might be wrong about whether I have a body or if there is a world apart from my imagination (it may be a dream) I might be wrong even about whether my reasoning abilities (e.g., 2+3=5) can be trusted (evil genius); so I should suspend judgment René Descartes (1596-1650)
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Descartes’ Escape from Doubt I cannot doubt that I am doubting (thinking). All other knowledge is based on the indubitable foundation that I exist: I think,
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Unformatted text preview: therefore I exist ( cogito ergo sum ) • I know I exist imperfectly only by first knowing perfect existence (God); and as a perfect being, God would not deceive me or allow me to be deceived when I know something (e.g., wax) clearly and distinctly—that is, as an intelligible (e.g., mathematical) object Objections to Descartes’ Method of Doubt • To doubt everything , we must doubt whether we are truly doubting, and that requires us to assume a public world of language users • Limiting knowledge only to what we know with certainty is too restrictive: we often know things not based on indubitable foundations • To reason that God guarantees one’s ability to reason is to assume exactly what we are trying to prove (the Cartesian Circle)...
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2008 for the course POLS 209 taught by Professor Kellam during the Spring '07 term at Texas A&M.

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class16c07 - therefore I exist ( cogito ergo sum ) • I...

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