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February 7, 2013 Philosophy Note.docx

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PHIL 115

Pragmatism Chapter 1  The present dilemma in philosophy is that it is not as objective or rational as it should be o Subjectivity of the thinker should be bracketed  Thinking pertains to the object not the subject  No one who claims to know anything in any discipline is completely objective  Tough-minded temperament and tender-minded temperament o [hard facts, skeptical, not religious, empirical] – tough-minded, [idealistic, optimistic, dogmatic, speculative] – tender-minded  We value mathematics and science (tough-minded) more than we value history and poetry (tender-minded)  Every philosopher ends up with a world view that reflects their temperament Chapter 2  Pragmatism is a theory of truth and knowledge that bears on actions  Ideas are always in service of our practical projects (actions)  Theories are instruments by which we enhance our practice o We make predictions and hypotheses to cope with the world  Thinking allows us to do something – page 30  What difference does it make?  Everything depends on human actions and the ability to cope with human actions  James rejects that truth has an absolute, incontrovertible foundation  Experience is the basis of knowledge; all knowledge is uncertain and contingent  All human capacities and reason is finite  Knowledge doesn’t have a foundation  Ancient Greeks place a dichotomy and hierarchy on theory and practice o Regard theory and practice as inseparable  A theory is supposed to solve a problem from our experiences, a specific problem o Explains every human experience relating to the specific problem, superior to its competitor  Hypothesis is not true until it passes for true among those who are competent inquirers  There is knowledge and experience of causality o I have the ability to predict  A true idea allows me to anticipate because of its practical ability to help me cope with the world  The theory of evolution does not correspond to anything, yet it is true  A statement makes agreeable connection with experience  Pages 98-99,284  We rarely accept a complete conversion of belief  Any new hypothesis needs to be brought into a larger world view and be coherent with it, no contradiction  The truth is absolute and objective (empty answer) o Why would I desire to know it? Value it?  Any theory of truth should be able to tell us why we value it  Truth allows us to get what we want  page 42 o Provides consolation, comfort Chapter 3  James cannot observe the human as an immaterial substance  There is a continuity of my self-consciousness over time – Locke  If there is intelligent design in the world, there must be a divine designer o NO  Is there design in nature? o The idea of design fails to pass the pragmatic test and therefore must be rejected  Ideas of design makes more of a moral difference – gives hope for the future, page 89  Free will allows us to be the bearers of dignity (Kant)  Makes no experiential difference but a moral one o No difference if my act is of causes or free will  All we require is instinct and utility for moral responsibility o Don’t need a notion of free will for moral responsibility to exist  Scientific/philosophical inquiry is only important and true if it solves a specific problem  Human nature is progressing/advancing Chapter 5  Not common sense judgement, but notions of common sense o Totally uncontroversial, plainly true  We should question common sense historically o Common sense truths are inventions  We acquire new knowledge by adding to old knowledge, and vice versa o Rarely does someone do a radical conversion of world view  Common sense is not a sense of eternal truths o “Recipe” that has been passed down, unquestionable  Page 89 – notion of causality, distinction between mind and body…  No self-evident truths that are artifacts  Truths are highly workable instruments  No such thing as the light of nature  Human knowledge is fallible, contingent, and uncertain February 7, 2013  Assignment #8 – critique one idea from James’s book (can disagree or agree), 1 idea of the philosopher, 1 idea of me, 600 words, due Thursday February 14, 2013 Chapter 6  Pragmatism will go through three stages: o It is universally false, plainly false o New truth is acknowledged to be true, but it is trivially true (somewhat true) o P. 95  Truth is defined by the majority of philosophers as a relation of correspondence or agreement between a statement and a fact o As if truth is an unchanging matter, static  Nothing a human experiences is static, experience is constantly changing, therefore knowledge is the gradual process of inquiry  P. 96 – true ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify  Truth and falsity are properties that belong to ideas o Truth is a n
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