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Philosophy - Essay Example

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Kathryn Schulz has thrown down a challenge to anyone considering themselves a know-it-all. Her argument is quite simple and is based on inductive reasoning. Throughout history humans have developed theories to explain the nature and operation of the world around them…
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Download file to see previous pages Descartes would respond to this challenge by saying that there is one thing we can know for sure, and that is that there is a “we,” or at least an “I.” This is certain beyond anyone possible doubt, because doubt necessitates it. If I doubt that I exist, then there must be an “I” to have the experience of doubt. So from doubt emerges certainty. This process is entirely mental and depends not at all on what the senses tell us is actually out there. That is good, because our senses may be lying to us. Descartes’ evil genius or demon could have our brains floating in a vat or our bodies hooked up to a bio-chamber like the ones on The Matrix. This being the case, how can I know that the street I see from my window is actually there? How can I be sure that the flowers I smell are there? A sadistic entity might deceive me into thinking that I am taking a whiff of a bed of roses when in actuality I’m smelling a pile of horse dung. In the same way, my sandwich might be a plate of sand and the music I listen to the screeching of fingernails on a chalkboard. All of this could have been set up for the amusement of the demonic genius who controls me. But there is one thing that said villain cannot do. He cannot trick me into believing that I exist if I don’t. ...
Thus it is my rational mind, using the tools of science, that will get at the truth, separating fact from fiction in what my senses say. Nonsense, says David Hume. People can have ideas, even complex sets of ideas, that all fit together and sound good yet are totally fallacious. Aristotle developed a system of physics that fit this description perfectly. I can develop a theory that a young lady loves me, based on such rational notions as, “After all, I’m a fine young man, and don’t young ladies tend to fall in love with fine young men?” But when I test the theory out and ask her for a date she might say no. My ideas of what he feelings must be had no correlation with the outside world at all. So, for Hume, all we can know is what our senses tell us. But he carries this a step further, saying that f all we can know is what our senses tell us, then deductions made on the basis of observations can never be trusted. An example can be seen in a game of billiards. The stick hits a ball that hits another ball, and all are in motion one after the other. We conclude from this that there is some sort of force that one object passes to the other and develop theories about inertia and momentum. But, did we see this actual force? No. We saw a stick make contact with a ball, which set out in motion and struck another ball, which in turn launched into motion. But, for all we know, one did not cause the other. The balls may have some sort of internal property that sets them off, and it is sheer coincidence that this principle kicked in at the moment each was struck by the other. This being the case, what can we ever really know? Well, we can know that stuff happens. How or why it occurs, on the other hand, is forever ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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