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Western University
Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

Epistemology October-09-12 Sample issues:  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 knowledge?  Does the world out there resemble my impressions of it?  Are there biases that operate in our understanding of the world? Descartes' Rationalism  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  "methodological skepticism"  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 b. Sense-perception o But there are sensory illusions o There are dreams, we don't know that we're dreaming o There is madness, people who see/ hear thing
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