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Lecture 6

Lecture 6- Descartes, perception and truth.docx

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University of Guelph
PHIL 1050
Patricia Sheridan

Lecture 6- Descartes, perception and truth Rationalist or empiricist? ✤  rationalism and empiricism deal with the role of sense experience in getting information about the world.! ✤  Rationalism! ✤  Descartes’ position! ✤  Our fundamental ideas about the essential truths of reality are in the mind, and not gotten from sensation! ✤  Senses can give us no reliable information! ✤  Empiricism! ✤  Locke’s position! ✤  sense experience is the source of all our ideas! ✤  We rely on the senses, therefore! ✤  Essences will always elude us! Ideas and reality ✤  Do the ideas in our minds represent anything about reality?! ✤Or are we stuck in a world of ideas that reveal nothing about the world outside the mind?! ✤  Descartes trying to answer this! ✤  Spoiler: our purely intellectual ideas represent reality! Can I know anything? ✤  I am, I exist! ✤  “necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived by my mind.” (147)! ✤  What is this ‘I’?! ✤  “I am not admitting anything except what is necessarily true.” (148)! ✤  Necessary truth will point to essences! ✤  what does he know with certainty?! Wax and knowledge ✤  What does the example of the wax tell us about the nature of body?! ✤  What do the sensory features of the wax tell us?! ✤  How do we come to discover true and permanent facts about the nature of that substance?! ✤  We do not understand ourselves and the world based on sensation, but “purely mental scrutiny” (149)! ✤  All of our ideas and the propositions based on them are mental! ✤  our belief in sensory information, however, is founded on illusion rather than certainty! ✤  e.g. the wax is white! Imagination and Intellect ✤  Two ways to determine what he is:! ✤  Imagination! -  “imagining is simply contemplating the shape or image of a corporeal thing.” (148)! -  imagination not a route to knowledge about self (or anything else for that matter)! ✤  Intellect! -insight without sensation! -He is a ‘thinking thing’ or thinking substance! -operations of the mind--doubting, understanding, willing, imagining! -all kinds, or modes,
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