Lecture 12_Transition to Epistemology (Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley)

Lecture 12_Transition to Epistemology (Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley)

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EPISTEMOLOGY (Theory of Knowledge) The Rationalist’s Confidence: Back to Descartes i. Preamble a. Epistemology is the study of knowledge. b. Rationalists believe that reason can give us knowledge of reality. c. Empiricists believe that knowledge of the world is acquired through the senses. ii. Descartes lived in the time of Galileo, who raised the doubt that what we think that we see we might not really see at all. Because of this, Descartes reasons that we could be mistaken in all of our perceptions . iii. Thus, in his Meditations , he begins by doubting all that he knows. Once he finds a belief that is indubitable, then he can argue for the truth of other beliefs—this is his method of doubt, wherein he uses doubt as a tool to arrive at truth that we can know with certainty. iv. In his famous dream argument , he argues that we could be just dreaming, which would cause our senses to be wrong. He argues that God could be deceiving him about mathematical truths, which otherwise seem indubitable, and even that God could be an evil genius whose only job is to deceive him. Descartes finds that the only thing that he cannot doubt is the fact of his own existence. If he doubts his existence, he still must exist to doubt it. In the second meditation, he attempts to get rid of the idea of the evil genius. Descartes decides that the evil genius could not possibly fool him about his own thinking, thus the “I” that
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2012 for the course PHI 2010 taught by Professor Tacks during the Spring '12 term at Florida State College.

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Lecture 12_Transition to Epistemology (Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley)

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