Phil - Epistemology Review- Descarte, Locke, Hume 2011

Phil Epistemology - Review:Epistemology(theoryofknowledge RenDescartes(15961650 1 Metaphor for Knowledge if one has a house with rotten timber and

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Review: Epistemology (theory of knowledge) René Descartes  (1596-1650) 1) Metaphor for Knowledge : if one has a house with rotten timber and shaky  foundations, the solution is to demolish it, and find the foundations, and then  rebuild from scratch. 2) Cartesian Dualism : Descartes assumes that the essence of a thing can generally  be   known   before   one  knows  whether  or  not  it  exists,   because  the  essential  properties of a thing are implied by the idea or concept of that thing. You can have  an idea or concept of a thing prior to knowing whether the thing exists: so in  many cases you can know the essence of something before knowing whether it  exists.   In   terms   of   matter/bodies/substances:   knowledge   of   essence   precedes  existence. The exception to this is the   cogito :   I think, therefore I am . Here,  existence precedes essence. Therefore the mind is better known than the body.  Hence Cartesian dualism: the mind and the body are metaphysically distinct. 3) Descartes’ Method : Descartes sets himself the task of showing that there is at  least one certain piece of knowledge we are safely in possession of and cannot  doubt. Descartes attempts to construct his own theory of what we know from the  starting point of skepticism. His response to the problem of skepticism looks  paradoxical: it is not turn his back on skepticism, but to embrace it. It is to not  stop doubting, but instead to try to doubt everything: to refuse to accept anything  that it is possible to doubt. Descartes thinks this is the only way to discover  whether there is something that  cannot be doubted . Arriving at certain knowledge  can be achieved, Descartes holds, by employing a ‘skeptical method’, which is a  shorthand way of saying that one starts by doubting everything that it is possible  to doubt. 4) Skeptical Arguments : a) Senses : we have reason for caution: ‘from time to time I have found that the  senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have  deceived us even once’.  b) Madness : The sensory beliefs of mad people are often false,  even when the  circumstances in their environment are favorable . If I am mad though, I suffer  1
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not only from  sensory hallucinations , but  defects of judgment . And if I suffer  defects of judgment, then I may not know that I am mad. This is a continuation  of the argument that the senses cannot be trusted to give us “knowledge”.  c) Dreaming : the qualitative character of my experience does not guarantee that I  am not dreaming. Again, there seems to be an implicit continuation of the 
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This note was uploaded on 02/28/2012 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Anchustegui during the Spring '11 term at Boise State.

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Phil Epistemology - Review:Epistemology(theoryofknowledge RenDescartes(15961650 1 Metaphor for Knowledge if one has a house with rotten timber and

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