DESCARTES-1 - DESCARTES Epistemology Descartes is a...

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DESCARTES Epistemology Descartes is a foundationalist: Foundationalism: epistemological view that a good system of beliefs contains only true and/or reliable beliefs, all of which can be traced back to a certain group of core beliefs called “basic beliefs.” All other beliefs are “built up” so to speak from this “foundation.” (hence the name) Basic Belief: a belief that is either 1) innate and cannot be doubted 2) self evident, and cannot be doubted 3) of the kind that to try to doubt it, proves it (or various combinations of these three). Examples might include: the principle of identity A=A, the principle of non-contradiction (PNC) Opposing epistemological view— coherentism Coherentism: epistemological view that a good system of beliefs is one in which no belief contradicts another belief. Willard Van Orman Quine is a 20 th century example. He thought that a belief system is like a giant web. The beliefs we are most familiar with and have the best justification are in the middle of the web, holding it together. New and/or shaky beliefs are on the periphery. When a new belief comes into the web and contradicts something in the middle, it likely gets doubted and booted. If a new belief comes in and contradicts something on the periphery, it is a judgment call as to which to keep. Difference? A foundationalist system will be all true (most likely) and also coherent, but it may not allow one to believe very much (like Socrates, humbly admitting that he doesn’t know much). A coherentist system will let you have all sorts of beliefs and you can believe something quite easily (with little justification). So such a system can be very large! However, it is unlikely that such a system will prevent false beliefs (and, in theory, one could have an entire system of false beliefs without a single true one…although many think that this too is unlikely). 3 main beliefs Descartes tries to doubt, but later regains with justification: 1. Cogito ergo sum —I think therefore I am. 2. That God exists. 3. That there are material physical (i.e. extended) objects (one being my body, the rest being the external world) Cogito This is a belief that justifies itself in the very process of trying to doubt it. If you think you do not exist, you are allowing that there is a you doing this doubting. (see below for further description) 1
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God Very similar to Anselm’s Ontological argument: 1. If there is a God, it is that being than which nothing greater can be thought. 2.
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DESCARTES-1 - DESCARTES Epistemology Descartes is a...

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