Intro to phil 7

Intro to phil 7 - Our Knowledge of the External World The...

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Our Knowledge of the External World
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The Meditations Descartes’ goal is to establish his beliefs with certainty. “My reason tells me that as well as withholding assent from propositions that are obviously false, I should also withhold it from ones that are not completely certain and indubitable.” First Meditation
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First Meditation To that end, he wants a completely stable, certain foundation for them. Since he has at times found himself to be in error, he proposes to start afresh and to accept only those propositions of which he can be absolutely sure.
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First Step: Doubt Descartes wants to motivate his project by showing that we have reason to doubt all of our beliefs. So in the first meditation Descartes is looking for some reason to doubt his beliefs. If our beliefs have an insecure foundation, then there is reason to doubt them.
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First Step: Doubt The things of which we are most certain have come to us through the evidence of our senses. Sensory experience is the foundation of most of our beliefs. Do we have any reason to think that sensory experience is an insecure foundation for belief?
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Sensory Experience
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Sensory Experience
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Sensory Experience
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Sensory Experience Sensory experience sometimes misleads in more commonplace situations too.
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Sensory Experience
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Sensory Experience Hopeful: surely at least some of the time we can be sure that our senses don’t mislead us. There is a big difference between misidentifying your friend way across the quad and making a mistake about whether or you are sitting in a seat in the lecture hall or not.
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Doubting Sensory Experience Doubtful: But sometimes even the most vivid experiences turn out not to be veridical, for example, when we are dreaming.
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Dream Skepticism We sometimes have vivid dreams. But the things we apparently experience while dreaming are not (or not always, at least) real. If there is no reliable way to distinguish dreams from waking experience, why take our waking experiences to provide us with knowledge?
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Doubting Sensory Experience Isn’t it possible, at least, that we are at all times deceived by a malicious demon controlling our sensory experiences and ensuring that they are all false? Isn’t it possible, at least, that we are residents of the Matrix?
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You’re at the zoo. You seem to see a zebra.
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Intro to phil 7 - Our Knowledge of the External World The...

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