What is the difference between knowledge and belief?
Can we ever be utterly, 100%, certain that something is true?
What makes memory images memory images?
What makes a sentence true or false?
What is the status of scientific laws? How certain are they?
Given that all experience is private (remember Sarah and GOS), how do we achieve public
Does the world out there resemble my impressions of it?
Are there biases that operate in our understanding of the world?
Rene Descartes 1596-1650
Wrote one of the most famous philosophical texts of all time
Accomplished scientist and mathematician
Often called the father of modern philosophy
Interested in the nature of science and in the science of vision and in the method of science
He wrote during a period of great intellectual confusion
o Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy were published in Latin, later in French
1. The Project
Descartes project was to pull down the "edifice of knowledge"
And then build it up again on sure foundations, on foundations of certainty
"cleaning the Augean stables" = mythology, Hercules had to clean a stable that hadn't been
cleaned in 30 years in one day, cleaned by having two rivers flow through the stable
o Descartes wanted to do the same, great ride of everything and start completely over
2. Method of Doubt
Doubt everything which can be doubted using the highest possible standards, get rid of it
And see if there is anything which cannot be doubted
a. Memory- much of what I know is based on memory
o But memory is often false
o So I shouldn't trust any knowledge based on memory
o But there are sensory illusions
o There are dreams, we don't know that we're dreaming
There is madness, people who see/ hear thing