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Largely because of this method which stressed how we know what we know rather than what it is possible to know modern philosophy is often said to have begun with Descartes.

The cartesian method was outlined in his discourse of method, one of the most famous philosophical books of all times. The book was written and published in French, which was quite shocking, he wrote that in style that "even women can understand it"


26)Descartes: cogito and the mind/body problem


· Descartes set out to build a new fundation for philosophy beginning with the search for a base that was immune from doubt.

As St. Augustine had done before him he concluded that doubt itself implies the existence of doubting being. This conclusion led to his famous declaration “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am).

The notion of mutually exclusive classes of substance gave rise to mind/body problem:

how can the two possible interact?

Descartes's answer was that they intersect in the pineal gland of the brain.


The mind/body problem

· The famous mind/body problem is the question whether there exists a distinct mental or spiritual sphere separate from the physical and, if so, how the two interact.

· The relationship between spirit and matter is an age-old mystery and is basic to many religious conceptions. Its importance as philosophical problem derives from the strict dualism of Descartes. For whom reality consisted of two disparate types of substance, mind and matter.

The question rised by this formulation is how two utterly dissimilar substances can interact; if I cut my finger, how does my mind know it hurts? If I want to rise my hand, how does my body know what it should do?


27)The theory of substance: monism and monistic theories


· The one-substance-view is reffered to as monism or monistic theories

· Probably the most extreme monist was Parmenides, who held that there is only one eternal being and that the appereance of individual things is only an illusion.

· The term is most closely associated with Spinoza who believed that God and nature are one and that mind and matter are a “double aspect” of a single universal substance, fundamentally neither physical, nor mental and therefore “neutral”.

· This view is imperatively linked to pantheismGod and nature are one and therefore there is no Divine person – God is not a person – God is everything and by the same token every human being being a part of the nature is a part of God.

· Other monisms are not neutral for according to them there is only one substance but the substance is either material or spiritual.

· Therefore a materialiast is a monist;

· the materialsit view asserts that mind is reducible to an aspect of matter (according to Democritus who is seen as the firt materialist philosopher, even human soul is made of atoms, according to Thomas Hobbes, another materialist living in the XVIIth century our ideas and everthing which is falsly described by us as spiritual can be explained by physics.)

On the other hand idealistic or solipsistic view holds that the reality is fundamnetally spititual or mental and that what we tend to perceive as matter is just a phenomenon, an illusion or that simply we cannot find any sensible proof for the existence of metrial world (hence solipsism from the Latin expression “Solus ipse sum” – “Therefore I am alone”.)

28)The theory of substance: pluralism and pluralistic theories

· The many-substance-view is reffered to as pluralism. The best known though highly improbable and and eccentric example of pluralism is the system of monadology created by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. According to Leibniz the only existing things are so called monads – ultimate elements of the universe

· Monads are centers of force; each monad possesses its own degree and kind of force;

· God is a monad (the highest one) and every human soul is a monad too but they do not interact – as Leibniz used to say they are windowless, their activities are coordinated according to a divine preestablished harmony (harmonia prestabilita) like perfectly synchronized clocks ticking in unison.

Monads are centers of force; substance is force, while space, matter, and motion are merely phenomenal.


29)What is the ultimate source of our knowledge? Nativism vs. empiricism.


“What is the ultimate source of our knowledge?”

· those who claim that some notions are innate are reffered to as nativists.

· those who claim that there are no innate ideas nad that experience is the only and ultimate source of our knowledge are widely known as empiricists

(the word empiricis from Greek empeiria – experience)


— Descartes anwers that it must have been imprinted in our minds by God which means that we are born with such ideas as God or sooul.

— The view stating that we are born with some notions is not a new idea in philosophy. Plato held that the role experience, was far smaller than common sense might suggest. According to Plato, a child begins life with knowledge already present within him — there is no such thing as learning new things, “what we call learning is really just recollection” (Phaedo 72e).

— This view, known as nativismwas shared by Descartes as well as a huge numeber of his followers or those who were inspired by his philosophy such as Malebranche, Spinoza or Leibniz.

— But at the same time there was already a number of philosophers who opposed Descartes stating that there are no (and there cannot be) innate ideas.

— So the second great philosophical question of that time (apart from body/mind problem) can be put as follows: Are there or are there not innate ideas in other words “what is the ultimate source of our knowledge?”.

— those who claim that some notios (not necessarily all of them, but let us say the most important ones as far as methaphisycs is concerned) are innate are reffered to as nativists.

— Those who oppose that, that is those who claim that there are no innate ideas nad that experience is the only and ultimate source of our knowledge are widely known as empiricists

— (the word empiricis from Greek empeiria – experience)



30)Locke’s tabula rasa and the critique of nativism.

· Locke identified experience as the source of knowledge. The mind, he said, is at birth a tabula rasa or “blank slate”, on which the world of experience gradually imprints itself in a series of descrete sensations.

· Locke: if so called innate ideas are already imprinted in our minds at the moment of birth how can we explain the lack of certain ideas in the minds of children, idiots or so called savage people?

Nativists argued that the general laws of logic are commonly shared by all the humans because our minds simply have them. Locke replied that Indians cannot understand neither the idea of one God, nor the idea of identity. What’s more, we cannot have an innate sense that God should be worshipped, when we cannot even agree on a conception of God or whether God exists at all. One of Locke's fundamental arguments against innate ideas is the very fact that there is no truth to which all people attest.

31)Locke: primary and secondary qualities


Locke's main task as an empiricist was to explain why some of our perceptions may differ but others are not in question. For example it may happen that we will not agree on a color of an apple of particular smell of perfumes or wine. But we usually don't discuss the number of apples. In order to explain this phenomenon Locke introduced the category of primary and secondary qualities.


Primary qualities such as shape, motion or number are independent of our experience of them. secondary qualities such as color and taste, depend on our individual perception.

Locke saw primary qualities as actual attributes of the perceived object rather then sensation. While Locke was an empiricist he was not a phenominalist. he saw a world composed of real things of which we sense two kinds of qualities.

Primary qualities(shape, position, number) are actually present within an object and are not easily divorced from it. Secondary qualities are those that have the power to produce sensation in the observer(color, taste,sound) This distinction has become not only an important point in philosophy but a familiar way of understanding the world -- that is, in terms of what is independent of us what is independent on our interacting with it.



34)Hume: the critique of necessary connection between cause and effect

· According to Hume our belief that events are causally related is a custom or habit acquired by experience: having observed the regularity with which events of particular sorts occur together, we form the association of ideas that produces the habit of expecting the effect whenever we experience the cause.

· But something is missing from this account: we also believe that the cause somehow produces the effect. Even if this belief is unjustifiable, Hume must offer some explanation for the fact that we do hold it. His technique was to search for the original impression from which our idea of the necessary connection between cause and effect is copied.

· The idea does not arise from our objective experience of the events themselves. All we observe is that events of the "cause" type occur nearby and shortly before events of the "effect" type, and that this recurs with a regularity that can be described as a "constant conjunction."


· Although this pattern of experience does encourage the formation of our habit of expecting the effect to follow the cause, it includes no impression of a necessary connection. Still, we do have the idea of a necessary connection, and it must come from somewhere…..

For an explanation, Hume refers us back to the formation of a custom or habit. Our (non-rational) expectation that the effect will follow the cause is accompanied by a strong feeling of conviction, and it is the impression of this feeling that is copied by our concept of a necessary connection between cause and effect. The force of causal necessity is just the strength of our sentiment in anticipating efficacious outcomes.


On a farm there was a flock of chickens. One chicken started talking with another, remarking "how good our farmer has been to us. I think he is and awfully nice man, because he comes every morning to feed us"


35)Kant: a prori /a posteriori and analytic / synthetic judgments

· A prori knowledge is prior to and independent of observation and experiment, a posteriori knowledge comes only after direct experience. Which means that a priori knowledge is general and universal and a posteriori knowledge is accidental and refers to details.

· Parallel to the a priori/a posteriori distinction is that bewteen analytic and synthetic judgements – the difference, in effect, bewteen statements whose truth depends purely on the meaning of their terms (i.e: “All bachelors are unmarried”, Oak is a tree, Every dog has four legs, A parrot is an animal, Socrates is a human being– these are all examples of analityc judgements, for their predicate is already present in their subject).

· Synthetic judgements require outside evidence to determine their truth or falsity (i.e. All bachelors live alone, Socrates drinks a lot of wine, This parrot doesn’t speak Russian).

· Kant claimed, which was quite obvious, that all analityc judgements are a priori because they do not depend on experience; however, since they tell us nothing new they are of no practical use. But, on the other hand, necessary truths cannot be proved by obeservation or experience which only tells us how things are, never how they must be. Necessary truths are known, if at all, a priori, in other words by pure reasoning. We can understand how there can be truths which are anlityc and a priori. But can there be synthetic a priori truths?

· This, he said is the fundamental question of philosophy. For it is only by a priori reasoning, that philosophy could reach beyond confines of human thought, so as to prove that the world is real. In others words, we have to decide which part of our knowledge can be called “science” and which is just a speculation, in other words what can we know for sure?

36)Kant: forms of sensible intuition and categories and “the second Copernican revolution”

· Our expreience is not a passive absorption of sensations but the result of our own metal process; the phenomenal world does not reaveal itself to us but is reavealed by us.

Kant, very modestly, called this fundamental reversal of perspective “the second Copernican revolution”.

37)Kant: is metaphysics a science?

· Kant claimed, many metaphysical questions – such as the existence of God and the soul or the extent of free will fall beyond the possibility of human knowledge.

· Nevertheless, reason seeks a state of rest from the regression of conditioned, empirical judgments in some unconditioned ground that can complete the series. Reason's structure pushes us to accept certain ideas of reason that allow completion of its striving for unity.

· We must assume the ideas of God, freedom,and immortality, Kant says, not as objects of knowledge, but as practical necessities for the employment of reason in the realm where we can have knowledge. These ideas are the proper objects of faith. In other words, according to Kant metaphysics cannot be a science, therefore it is not objectively possible



38)Kant ethics: categorical imperative

Thus the existence of God cannot be proved in the realm of metaphysics but it is possible in the field of ethics. How is that possible?

Kant accepted so called “practical reason” as the proper authority for moral actions – it is a kind of rational moral sense which is to decide what is good and wrong and how to control our unruly passions and control our behaviour.

Practical reason is, by definition autonomous, which means that every human being is autonomous in its decisions: I am (that is my free will) to decide what is good and wrong but it doesn’t mean that I can do simply whatever I want or desire for my moral sense is rational.

All the principles of human moral behaviour are included in one general principle, a principle which is called categorical imperative and which is often referred to as a masterpiece of ethics.

“Act as if the principle of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature”.



Date: 2015-12-17; view: 635

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