PSYC-212-Lecture-Notes.pdf - PSYC 212 – Lecture 1 – January 11th Psychophysics Historical Introduction Epistemology – How Can We Know the World

PSYC-212-Lecture-Notes.pdf - PSYC 212 – Lecture 1 –...

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PSYC 212 Lecture 1 January 11 th Psychophysics Historical Introduction Epistemology How Can We Know the World? Perception is deeply rooted in philosophy, more specifically epistemology : the field of philosophy that’s interested in the nature of knowledge (how can we know the world?). The only way we can know the world is through our senses, but early philosophers disagreed. o Plato: what matters is the realm of “ideal forms” that we can only know using our reasons; Plato is a rationalist. Rationalism: we can’t trust our senses at all; what matters is the realm of “ideal forms” that we can only know using our reason. Plato & the allegory of the cave: three men are trapped in a cave and have lived there all their lives. All they can see are shadows of objects (this is the equivalent of our senses according to Plato Æ what we perceive is only the shadow of other things ideal forms that we don’t direc tly have access to). Eventually, a man breaks out and leaves the cave. He is blinded by the sun at first. He r ealizes that all the shadows he’ d been seeing were the reflection of other, more pure, abstract forms. He then tries to free his comrades, but the y don’t want to be freed. o General idea: the role of the philosopher is to teach people what these ideal forms are, which is difficult because we are usually reluctant and comfortable in our illusion. Ideal forms that Plato is talking about Æ geometry triangles (angles always add up to 180 degrees), and other interesting properties. Don’t need any reference from the external world to do these things. Nativism/ innatism: we are born already knowing the world. o We must know what we’re looking for to look for it and recognize it when we see it. Therefore, he thinks we must be born with some knowledge of the world, meaning that knowing/ learning something is remembering something that we already know. o Anamnesis: idea is that: (1) our souls are immortal and made of left-overs of a greater “cosmos - soul’ that had universal knowledge, (2) we lost this knowledge when our souls were incarnated in our imperfect bodies, and (3) we must recover this knowledge by trying to remember what we forgot. Rationalism prevailed in the Western world until empiricism was introduced. Empiricism: knowledge is obtained by a means of our perceptual experiences. o Philosophers associated with this point of view: (1) Hobbes , and (2) Locke . o If all that we know/ learn comes from the world, then we cannot be born with a knowledge of the world; this is something we must discover through our senses. T hus, we are born as a “blank slate” and we draw knowledge through experiences.
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o Not everything we know must come from our senses Locke makes a distinction between simple and complex ideas.
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