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PHIL 1000
Bryson Brown

Intro Philosophy - Many topics which are today considered sciences started out as philosophies - Philosophy emerged in Ancient Greece and India the same time as the development of mathematics o Euclid  Math text on geometry  5 axiom proofs of systems of geometry o Socrates  Taught Plato  What is justice?  Right and wrong?  Truth and falsity? o Aristotle  Student of Plato  Taught Alexander the Great  Wrote treatises on philosophy, physics, biology, rhetoric, etc  Work was lost, brought back to Europe by the Arabs in the 11 /12 Centuries - Philosophies focus on “making a case” o Arrive at a conclusion based on reasoning - Making a case leads to arguments o Has a premise and a conclusion o Good argument  True premise  Conclusion supported by premise o Circularity  Begging the question  Assuming the conclusion as the premise o Evaluating Arguments  Identify premise and conclusions  Evaluate the premises  Do you think they are true? Why?  Can you give reasons to reject them?  Do you have reasons to accept them?  Evaluate the link  Does the conclusion follow the premises?  Establishing independence  Does the reason for accepting the premise depend on an assumed conclusion? - Premises o Regresses  Arguments in support of premises but there has to be an end o Authority o Observation/personal experience o Pure reason (math) - Evaluating Authorities o When can we rely on a source of information  Basic capacities  Training  Experience/opportunity  Motives  Supporting reliability  Undermining reliability o Trusting yourself  When should I trust myself to “get it right”?  Do I have the training/background needed to answer questions reliably?  Am I motivated to arrive at a particular answer regardless of what the evidence shows? The Existence of God - Unlike Greek, Scandinavian or other gods that have supernatural powers but still have weakness and limits - The monotheistic God is o Omnipotent o Omniscient o Perfectly benevolent - Pro o The ontological argument (Anselm, Descartes…) o Cosmological (Aquinas) o Teleological/Design (Aquinas, Paley…) - Contra o The argument of evil (Hume, Mackie…) - Anselm o Does the definition of God require/imply God’s existence? o Anselm claims that it does, in an argument that goes:  God is perfect, by definition  But existence is a perfection  So, by definition, God exists  “Something than which nothing greater can be thought” o Invites us to imagine such a thing as non-existent o Some greater than non-existence would be existent o Therefore, it is greater to be such that you cannot be thought to not exist than to be such that you can thought to not exist, God cannot be thought to not exist o It’s greater to be the creator who made all from nothing than to not be the creator, God must be such a creator - Guanilo o Not an atheist, but not convinced by Anselm’s argument o Worries that if understanding the idea of God and believing God exists are so closely liked, then it’s odd that the argument exists at all o The distinction between what is understood and existence remains important  The thought is distinct from the thing thought of o How do you understand the word “God”, when we have no clear grasp of what he is (by ‘species and genius’)? All we have is Anselm’s verbal formula, not an understanding of God’s nature. o This keeps the argument from convincing me, since the verbal formula “that which is” doesn’t have the power to persuade me that there is such a thing. o I imagine it, but I don’t assume that it exists as I imagine it, only if I really take it to be as I imagine it do I wind up concluding that it must exist, but that’s exactly what’s to be proven. o The Island  A classic example of one important way to criticize arguments: present another argument with the same structure that is clearly misleading  Consider the most perfect island (an island which none greater can be thought)  Surely, if Anselm’s argument works, this island exists  But that’s crazy o Guanilo emphasizes the gap between two thoughts  If there is a God, he is greater than anything else we can conceive  Because God is greater than any other thing we can conceive, he must exists o The difference between thinking and understanding is important  The idea of a nature, we can understand  Words, we can think without full understanding o Guanilo may be dubious about our ability to understand what God is, or he may be saying that it’s only by understanding God, not by verbal arguments, that we can see that God exists. - Three types of arguments for God’s existence o Cosmological  Some feature of the universe that demonstrates God’s existence o Ontological  Something about the definition or nature of God is taken to demonstrate God’s existence o Teleological  Some aspect(s) of the apparent goal-directedness of things in the world are claimed to be best explained by the intervention of a supernatural creator/designer - An important argument against o The argument from evil  God is omnipotent so can prevent any evil he is aware of  God is omniscient so he knows of any evil  God is perfectly benevolent so he will prevent any evil that he knows of and is able to prevent  Therefore there should be no evil, but there is.  Therefore there is no God - Aquinas o Aquinas was the most important figure in reconciling the philosophy of Aristotle with Christian theology - Aristotle and Christianity o His work overwhelmed the Christian intellectual world with its scope, richness and arguments o Tensions  Aristotle held that the world was eternal, while the Church believed that the world was created ex nihilo only a few thousand years before  Aristotle’s view of substance, as a combination of matter and form, needed careful handling to fit the Church’s position on Jesus being both man and God at the same time o The Church went through bitter disputes and turmoil over how to respond and proceed with Aristotle’s ideas o Causes of a thing  Formal cause  Essence of the thing  Material cause  Matter  Efficient cause  Way it was created  Telos  Reason/purpose of the thing - Regress Arguments o Aquinas’ arguments from change, from causes (of existence) and from what is necessary and what can fail to exist all insist on the impossibility of an infinite series in which each member depends on the previous member o Some of the arguments don’t seem very convincing  “Now eliminating a cause eliminates its effects, and unless there is a first cause there won’t be a last or an intermediate. But if a series goes on forever it will have no first cause, and so no intermediate causes and no last effect, which is clearly false.” (Pg. 41)  But its having no first cause doesn’t eliminate any cause in an infinite series of causes. It seems Aquinas is simply begging the questions against the possibility of infinite series. o Sources of heat  Heat comes from what is hottest, fire  Wetness comes from what is wettest, water  Aquinas claims that the same goes for “all perfections” whose ultimate sources are God. - David Hume o Argument from design o Arguments between Cleanthes, Philo and Demea o All agree on God’s existence o Cleanthes  Defends the argument from design  Pro natural religion  Anthropomorphic  Cleanthes objects to Demea’s mysticism  If God is beyond our understanding, why does Demea think belief is important, and God ‘sublime’?  Equates Demea’s view with atheism  Does not care about regress  The need for an intelligent cause is obvious  Like effects have like causes  The universe is a jumble of complicated machines o Demea  Mystic  God cannot be described in any “human” way  Nothing created God  Mysticism: A dead end?  Rejects Cleanthes’s anthropomorphism and defends that God is much more abstract. o Philo  Empiricist  The difference between the man made and the natural  God is a designer/maker, just as man is  Argues that the designing mind itself seems to call for another designing mind  But this leads to an obvious regress  In our experience matter falls into order, just as ideas do  Argues that there is little gain in supposing an intelligent cause if we cant explain that causes origin.  The parallel between the design of the world and human designs has been greatly weakened  The world is imperfect in a number of ways  The universe is more like a living, growing thing o Prior to Darwin, this was the strongest objection to the argument from design o Now we have two objections  Hume: Reproductions is as evident a cause is order in the world as is reason- and that reproduction regularly gives rise to reason, but never in reverse.  Darwin: The appearances of design in the living world are the result of natural selection. Rene Descartes Epistemology- study of knowledge - Meditation I o Demolition - Meditation II o Foundation - Meditation III o Clarity and Distinctness - First Meditations Pg. 144 o Begins with a worry o Believed in many falsehoods in the past o These errors spread, producing further errors  Until he sweeps away the old and re-builds on secure foundations he can’t really trust anything he thinks he knows o Proposes the method of doubt  Reason leads him to hold back from opinions that are not completely certain and indubitable just as carefully as he does with those, which are patently false.  To do this, I will not need to run through them all  Go straight to the basic principles and foundations of his beliefs o The Senses  Basic source of Descartes’ past opinions  The senses sometimes deceive us  Still, in many cases we seem confident about them  It would be crazy no to be  However, dreams can seem quite real and convincing, even though they certainly aren’t o What’s left?  Not physics  Geometry  Laws of geometry govern shape  Arithmetic  Basic laws still apply  What about God?  Couldn’t God cause me to be mistaken about the most basic facts of arithmetic or geometry  Would God do this?  Wouldn’t God’s absence make me more likely to be systematically wrong, since my original cause is then less perfect than God?  A less perfect/powerful cause of my experience o Quest for certainty o Maintaining doubt requires constant effort o The Deceiver o God is supremely good and source of truth o Therefore it is an evil demon who constantly tries to confuse me o Therefore I must be so certain of my beliefs that it passes the demon test o The Method  Should we try to start from zero, or as near as possible, and re build our system?  Is there another way to go about this?  What do we normally do to detect and fix errors in our beliefs?  Descartes seems to think this effort is necessary, but not something we cam do all the time o Neurath’s ship  There is no dry dock that we can rebuild our beliefs in  We must repair the ship “while at sea” - Second Meditation pg. 146 o Is there any way out of this skeptical hole that Descartes dug in Meditation 1?  Assumes he’s being manipulated by the deceiver  Can’t trust his sense or memory  “It feels as if I have fallen unexpectedly into a deep whirlpool which tumbles me around so that I can neither stand at the bottom nor swim to the top”  “I will suppose, then, that everything I see is spurious. I will believe my memory tells me lies, and that none of the things it reports ever happened. I have no sense. Body, shape, extension, movement and place are chimeras.”  “So what remains true? Perhaps the one fact that nothing is certain.” o I think so I am (cogito) o But what am I?  Take away whatever in in question, given the deceiver, and what is left is the ‘certain and unshakeable’  I am, I exist must be true whenever I think it – so I am a thinking thing (148)  What else? Could I still be a material thing a human body, or a vapor that permeates the body?  At least I can know that I exist without knowing about such things  And that means I should focus on what I do know, and ignore the rest  In order to know that x, we need to rule out everything incompatible with x  Since I know I exist, but don’t know that I have body or even if there is such thing as bodies, my existence has to be compatible with not having a body or even there not being any bodies  So what I am doesn’t include the body at all  His own thoughts and ideas are secure from the deceiver o Relation of mind and body o Knowledge  Needs evidence  Foundationalism  Coherentism o Descartes is a foundationalist o The wax (149)  Undermines the assumption that we know external things clearly and more distinctly than our own minds  The sensory description of the wax has completely changed after the wax melts  We know it is still the same wax - Third Meditation o The Rule of Certainty  Something about Descartes’ grasp of his own experience, and knowledge of his own mind, tells him what he needs in order to be certain of something o Mistakes and Errors  Are imperfections  If there is a perfect God, why are there imperfections?  Imperfections are “evils”  God exists with evil  Theodicy o Clarity and Distinctness  Clarity: If I can’t mistake it for any other thought  Distinctness: I grasp how it is made up of other ideas  Perceive each idea with clarity  Clarity and distinctness should guarantee truth  I see every part with clarity, I have a complete understanding of something o Concept of Substance  Originated with Aristotle; ousia (being)  For Aristotle, a substance is just a thing, person or object that can be the subject of a sentence; a noun.  Not much more than a grammatical distinction  For scholastic and early modern rationalists, it takes on greater force  A substance is an entity defined by a “nature” or “essence” or “true definition”  Essence  The set of necessary and sufficient properties that define what a substance is  It is as if everything in the universe could have a mathematical definition  So if you could grasp by the “natural light” the essence of a substance, you could draw deductive conclusions about that substance, including whether or not it exists at all. o Formal and Objective Reality  For Descartes there are degrees of reality; one thing can contain “more reality” than, a dream of that thing  Something that was infinite would contain more reality that something that was finite  Formal Reality  The properties that an object actually has  Objective Reality  The properties that a representation of that object actually has  The object existing as a thought/idea o Eminence  To contain something eminently is to contain it implicitly or potentially  My legs are part of the formal reality of my body but the ability to walk is eminent  DVD code is formal, movie itself is eminent o Existence of God  An idea is a representation of some thing as existing  God exists even as a thought  If God created everything, then God created our idea of God - Fourth Meditation o Mistakes are wrong  God is perfect  God created the world so it should be perfect  Why do I make mistakes then? o The Mind vs. The Body  Succeeds in emphasizing the role of reason and understanding (as opposed to the senses) in our idea of the wax  But it’s not clear that Descartes’ conclusion (that we have a clearer/more distinct idea of our minds than we do physical things) really follows  The shift to more sophisticated view of the wax doesn’t obviously imply that our view of our minds is superior o No Deceiver  Since God is perfect, God cannot be the deceiver  Still, I am sometimes deceived  So I must be misusing my faculties when I go wrong  Given that I’m not God, it’s not all that surprising that I’m capable of being imperfect  But its still troubling, since as God’s creation I should be perfect o Two processes  Faculty of knowledge  Understanding, memory and imagination  Clearly very limited  Faculty of choice  Unlimited  Freedom of will is as absolute as God’s will o Comparing the two  Neither my will nor my intellect is the cause of my mistakes  Free will is unlimited, leading me to jump to a conclusion when I have not reached a clear and distinct conclusion (pg. 106) o Moreover  Pg. 161  I can avoid error if I exercise restraint o Does it work?  If whenever I have to make a judgment, I restrain my will so that it extends to what the intellect clearly and distinctly reveals, and no further, then it is quite impossible for me to go wrong  This seems to imply that I can never go wrong when judging whether or not the intellect clearly and distinctly reveals something  Is that right? Does Descartes defend it?  Monotonic view - Fifth Meditation o Getting the material world back o Physical properties  In Physics: Distinct  Mass  Gravity  Time  Distance  Location  Not In Physics: Confused  Colour  Taste  Smell  Warmth/Cold o Clear and Distinct  “Clear” perceptions are those we wouldn’t or couldn’t mistake for another idea  “Distinct perceptions are those which allow us to grasp how “simple natures” are combined in them  Descartes wants to separate our ideas (which in themselves we always grasp clearly) into those which are distinct and those which are “confused”  He says we understand quantities (geometrical shapes in general) distinctly, and we can grasp a lot of features of various geometrical shapes distinctly too o Physical Objects  What about material things?  Do they really exist?  Do we know anything about them?  What do our ideas of these things involve?  Extension: (continuous quantity), shape, number, motion (many of these do not seem clear and distinct)  Can’t just be made up: pg. 162 o The Senses?  The senses cannot be a source of such ideas, since I can prove things about figures I’m sure I’ve never seen pg. 162  And proofs reveal, clearly and distinctly, that these features are attached to those figures- I cant be in error about that o A new proof of God  A more Anselmian view  Just as it’s a theorem that the interior angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, its equally a theorem that God exists  Supreme God not existing (thus lacking perfection) is like a mountain without a valley pg. 162  “Sophistical”  “It does not seem to follow from the fact that I think of God as existing that he does exist” pg. 163  Superficially convincing  Unsure that it works  Descartes believes this argument works  Tangle:  If X is God, then X must exist  God must exist  Anselm and Descartes want us to accept both o Theoretical Entities?  If there are electrons, there must be negative charge  Based on electron theory  If there is a God it is based on the theistic theory of God  How do we accept these theories?  We’re only committed to these properties of the entities if we accept the theories they’re part of  Atheists simply don’t accept the God theory o State of Play  Meditation 5 finishes with defensive memory  He draws on God to guarantee that, once something has been demonstrated, our memory of having demonstrated it is sufficient to guarantee its truth.  So his knowledge (now restricted to what he perceives or has perceived as clearly and distinctly) depends on his (continuing) awareness of God’s existence and perfection - Meditation Six o The existence of material objects remains an open question at the outset  Descartes knows they can exist, since the external things are described by geometry and the mathematical laws of motion, he grasps these clearly and distinctly, and so he knows that God could make them that way.  Descartes thinks his imagination also suggest the existence of material things o Other aspects of material things  Colours, sounds, taste, pain  Not as direct as geometry/laws of motion  But perceived by the senses, and part of how we imagine as well  So Descartes will review what he used to accept, based on the senses, and see what he still thinks belongs in his view of the external world o The Familiar World  Sensations, feelings, shapes and motions, heat, hardness, light, colours, smells, tastes, sounds…  Ideas ‘the only immediate objects of my sensory awareness’ (166)  But ‘not unreasonable’ to think the things perceived through the senses ‘were things quote distinct from my thought, namely bodies which produced ideas’ o A natural first take  These thngs are not under my direct control, so I naturally see them as existing independently  My only model for them is grounded in my ideas, so I naturally see them as existing independently  My development begins with sensations, so I naturally thought that sensations was the source of all my ideas  I find myself attached inescapably to a single body, so I naturally think of it as ‘mine’ or even as ‘me’. o But it’s a bit odd  Why does hunger feel the way it does? How does it make me know I need to eat?  Why does the feeling of pain cause mental distress?  And what about all those errors?  For example, what about phantom limb pain?  What about dreams?  Couldn’t I just be systematically made to go wrong on these issues? o Clarity and Distinctness  My mind is distinct form my body  External things could exist, so far as I clearly and distinctly understand them  God would be a deceiver if external, geometrical bodies weren’t the cause of my sensory experience  They must contain what I clearly and distinctly perceive in them – but not what I don’t (senses)  Mind  Not extended  Thinking  Body  Extended  Not thinking o Confused signal  Sailor vs. ship and me vs. my body  What’s good and what’s bad for me – indicated by direct signals rather than clear and distinct perceptions  But what about signals that are really misleading? When illness makes us want to eat or drink things that are bad for us? Doesn’t that show bad designs? o Mechanical Limits  Why doesn’t God prevent our natures form misleading us in this way (someone with dropsy) – perhaps due to congestive heart failure – responds by feeling thirst, drinking and making the problem worse?  This turns on the workings of the body and how signals are produced in it, to guide our actions  The brain is where the signals actually make contact with the mind… so anything that produces the same effect in the brain will have the same effect on our feelings and sensations… Final  Locke’s Essay Lecture 1 - Ideas and their causes - Mind o Ideas o Powers - World o Corpuscles  Small particles  Particles are solid, have shapes and can move, bump and connect other particles  Observable properties arise from the corpuscles they’re made out of and how their arranged and connected  They act on our senses producing ideas in our minds - Producing Ideas o Things produce ideas in our minds by interacting with our senses o The ideas may be produced in different ways (a “positive” idea like cold can be created by a lack of heat) o So our ideas don’t necessarily match up directly with the real features of things “out there” o Knowing the ideas is different from knowing about their causes - Ideas and Qualities o Ideas are the contents of our mental states o Qualities are modifications of matter in the bodies that’s cause perfections in us o So a quality is a power in things to cause certain ideas in us  Words like “white”, “cold”, “round” can be used to describe either our ideas (which we are directly aware of) or the qualities of a thing (a snowball) which causes these ideas in us (which we aren’t directly aware of) - Primary Qualities o Some qualities are necessarily present and can’t be lost by an object o Dividing a grain in half, and in half again, and so on, still leaves us with a thing that has bulk, shape, solidity etc. o Division can never take away solidity, extension, figure or mobility, but only makes two or more distinct separate masses of matter, of that which was one before o These are primary qualities, every bit of matter has these - Secondary Qualities o Such qualities which are nothing in themselves but produce various sensations due to primary qualities o Qualities in some things that change the ideas other things produce in us. o The external world is made up of things that have both primary and secondary qualities - Causal Powers o “How bodies produce ideas in us”  Manifestly by impulse o This is Locke and the corpuscularians fundamental view in the external/natural world o Corpuscles act on others by colliding o Corpuscles are what the physical world is made of o This is the only way physical objects can act on another in Locke’s view  Give rises to the concept of how we “receive” ideas from external objects - Third Category o These are qualities that act indirectly o That is, they act on other objects in the external world, changing the ideas those objects cause in us  These are generally accepted to be ‘bare’ powers (to be nothing more, as we understand them, than powers in the first object to alter the idea-causing powers) of the second  But for Locke the secondary qualities are also just bare powers, since only primary qualities can really act as causes - The World according to Locke o In principle, Locke’s world can be fully described in terms of the primary qualities of things  Their mass or bulk, along with their position and shape and motion  These are properties that have causal power, and so only they could really cause our ideas, or change in the ideas some other thing causes in us - Overall Metaphysics o The physical world is just matter with primary qualities o Mind is distinct form matter o Laws that govern the physical world and its causal powers concern themselves only with certain qualities, these alone are seen as really out there in the world, colours are dismissed o But we can’t dismiss our ideas of colours so easily, since we are directly, immediately aware of our ideas as they really are - Optimism o Locke is an optimist about our grasp on our ideas o We can even talk about them, by connecting the ideas with sounds which other people can hear and understand o Since our minds are all assumed to work in much the same way, we can arrive at a shared “code” for various ideas o And by introspection, we can directly come to understand our minds and how they operate - Pessimism o It’s much harder to figure out what’s going on in the external world o A substance is a persisting thing, it continues to exist despite various changes o Minds are substances, and we have a special kind of grasp of them o But we also recognize ‘external’ substance o Collections of things that share certain identifying properties - The substratum o Substances would include water, gold, species of plants and animals o The mystery of what links various qualities that identify a particular substance o This is what Locke calls the obscure and relative idea of substance in general o IT underlies the observed qualities and somehow unites them Issues in Philosophy of Science - Epistemology o How does science reach the conclusions it draws about the world? o Is this method justified? - Metaphysics o Do the things that scientific theories talk about really exist? o Or are electrons, quarks etc. really just devices that we use to organize our data and predict observations - Induction o Involves drawing general conclusions about patterns of events from observations o Consider the rising and setting of the sun and the ‘motions of the heavens’  We can observe these events, including the complex patters of planetary movements  We reason inductively when we conclude that the sun will come up tomorrow, or that Jupiter will rise at 22:00 on a certain evening o Black Swans  A black swan is a real bird  Europeans found black swans in Australia, when up to that point, by induction, they concluded all swans were white  A ‘black swan’ is a thing or event that upsets what seemed ot be a reasonable inductive conclusion - Observations o To imply induction we must make an observation o What is an observation  A kind of spontaneous report, responding to some circumstance or fact  It is generally the kind of thing we think we get right, or at least mostly right  Observations of public circumstances or facts are reliably agreed to by independent (trained?) observers. If something isn’t generally agreed to, then its not a pure observation o How do we learn what we can observe?  The colour-blind case: learning you can’t tell red from green  Other cultures: ease of translation and finding reliable agreement on independent reports  Improvements: finding we can use instruments and other new methods to improve precision and reliability of agreement  Extensions: Entirely new kinds of observation can arise when we show reliable independent agreement o The Flip-Side  N-Rays  Prosper-Rene Blondlot was a French physicist in the th early 20 Century  At that time x-rays, y-rays and b-rays had all been discovered  Blondlot noticed a subtle difference in the brightness of a spark across a gap placed in an x-ray beam  He thought it was a new kind of radiation, which he called n-rays, were involved in this phenomenon  He and other physicists published papers and described what materials emitted n-rays  Used perceived light form a dim phosphorescent surface as an instrument for detecting n-rays, I took a lot of training  Others had difficulty replicating the results  An American physicist R.W. Wood disproved the technique, published a report and n-ray research stopped o People Can Fool Themselves  Some observations don’t hold up to tests  A crucial part of this is generating expectations about what will be observed and agreeing with others in the group about those expectations, and the observations that they give rise to  When we alter the expectations, the same situations lead to different observations  When we alter the situation and expectations aren’t changed, the observations don’t change David Hume - Sect. IV, Part II of Inquiry - Problem of Induction o Predict future experience on the basis of past experience - “Hume’s Fork” o Hume rejects “innate” knowledge that rationalists (Descartes) believed in o Therefore, there are only two kinds of knowledge we could use to justify and beliefs at all. o Only two kinds of knowledge  Matters of fact and existence, which we gather from sensory experience  Relations and ideas, which we gather from “inner” experience (thought, knowledge) - Hume reviews progress to this point o What is the basis of our reasoning concerning matters of fact?  Cause and effect! o What is the basis of C+F?  Experience  Events of type B tend to follow events of type A, and so we come to except that A causes B  But this is purely a sense of expectation founded on familiarity  We have no access to the “inner springs and workings” of nature; we can perceive no inner necessity in our prediction that a flying rock will break a window  It’s just what we’re used to - What about the laws of physics? o Newton’s laws etc, can be expressed in math and we can deduce predictions from them o So we can say that a rock falls because of the law of gravity o Where are these laws from?  Laws of physics are not deduced from experience, but are essentially the product of educated guesswork  They are an attempt to summarize
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