PHL301_10-12-06 - 1 DESCARTES MEDITATIONS Descartes raises...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
DESCARTES’ MEDITATIONS Descartes raises an old problem about the nature of knowledge that was known by Plato. First, we have to have some idea of what knowledge is and the usual definition is: THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE To know something (i) you must believe it (ii) it must be true (iii) you must have adequate evidence for it KNOWLEDGE = BELIEF + TRUTH + ADEQUATE EVIDENCE A Possible Regress? You have to have adequate evidence for the evidence for the evidence, etc. Descartes says we have to come to something at the bottom of the works that we cannot doubt, something that is its own evidence and therefore must be true and then we could build knowledge on the basis of that. That is what Descartes is trying to do and that’s the point of his methodic doubt. Let us doubt everything down the line until we get to a place where we cannot stop. MEDITATION I Descartes’ METHODIC DOUBT If there’s any possibility of doubting something, we’re going to throw that out until we find something we can’t doubt. That is what the methodic doubt is all about. Can we doubt anything? 1. AUTHORITY A lot of knowledge is from various authority, people who are suppose to know, but this is not indubitable knowledge. We can always doubt so- called authority, if we can’t prove it, we can always doubt what they say. Descartes is aware that many of his teachers and his authority had told him things in his youth that have turned out to be false. So authority doesn’t give us knowledge that is absolutely indubitable. 2. OUR OWN EXPERIENCE? --Are the senses trustworthy? We get most of our knowledge also from our senses, but they deceive us all the time because anything we see with our senses we have to interpret it and sometimes we interpret it wrong Sure distant things can deceive us, but what about things real up close, can we really doubt those? He says that if things get too close to your eyes, they are even more deceptive than otherwise. When you get close, things 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
get distorted. So it’s not the question of distance because wherever you are, things get distorted. Descartes dream argument: everything might be a dream You might say reality seems to have more coherent while dreams are often illogical and one thing follows another and so on; but as you get older, you can’t always distinguish between dreams and what really happened. More modern format of dream argument: Suppose in the future, you were in a car accident and only your brain survives. They are able to hook it up to a vat in a laboratory and hook it up to all sorts of devices so that you thought you were standing in front of a classroom giving a speech. It was all fed into you by some external stimuli. Descartes says as a consequence we can’t trust our senses even in the ordinary
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 09/27/2009 for the course PHL 301 taught by Professor Bonevac during the Fall '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

Page1 / 6

PHL301_10-12-06 - 1 DESCARTES MEDITATIONS Descartes raises...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online