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Unit IV Lecture VI – March 15.docx

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Philosophy 2006
Sean Coughlin

Unit IV Lecture VI – March 15, 2012 Descartes – The Meditations on First Philosophy Context  After Descartes wrote his meditations, he sent them to various philosophers, theologians, and scientists to promote his views and to ask for possible objections  17 c. – new skeptical movement arose in certain philosophical circles – the new pyrrhonists o Represented a rebirth of an ancient Greek school whose goal was the total disavowal of knowledge o Purpose of this skeptical doubt was a kind of tranquility of the soul o Absolute form of skepticism o Attempted to throw doubt upon the questionable methods and principles of the Platonist schools of magic and alchemy  Although there are differences among the various new skeptics, their methods all shared 2 things in common: 1) they all doubted that our senses give us certain knowledge of anything, and 2) they all rejected the possibility of finding a criterion of truth  If our senses ever deceive us, what reason could we ever have to trust them?  Serious problem of skepticism is not that the world might be an illusion. It’s a problem about what we know—whether or not it is in principle possible to tell the difference between our appearances and reality  According to skeptics, if we have no criterion (no rule against which we can measure what appears to us in order to determine if its real), then it seems we can’t ever come to have true knowledge  For many of the new Pyrrhonists, the best way to deal with this problem was to accept it and move on—They think it might just be a brute fact that we cannot know with abso
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