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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

Plato’s Forms 11/6/2012 6:30:00 AM Preliminary matters a) The meaning of "metaphysics" - meta= after - Metaphysics is the study of the most basic questions about reality, about what there is b) Our program for this unit - What is really real? - Minds and bodies - The question of free will - Time What is Really Real? Universals or Particulars? Introductory question: the nature of numbers Numbers appear to be real public objects, nonspatial, eternal, and not perceptible but knowable by the mind or intellect - Use numbers to count physical objects, but are not physical objects themselves - Numbers are mental objects, like thought or dreams? - If they were just the contents of our minds then we would each have our own 2,3,4,5.. - Numbers do not have privacy - If it were true that numbers were just mental, then they would not have existed before there were minds - Would it have been true in primeval times that 2+3=5? - Numbers must be public objects, non physical, eternal, independent of our minds, but not located in physical space - Number seem to be public but nonspatial objects - Not objects of perception, but objects of thought - They are real things Plato's Forms a) Properties of Forms Unlike physical things they don’t perish, they exist forever Unlike physical things they don’t change Unlike physical things they aren’t perceived, they are known Unlike with physical things we can be completely certain about their existence and their nature Forms cause the existence of physical things and their properties b) Scope of Forms - Forms corresponding not just to numbers, but to any general concept at all - Example: Tree, horse, yellow, round - Just as the sun illuminated the visible world and permits it to be visible. So the form of goodness “illuminates” the intelligible world and permits it to be intelligible - Moreover, just as the objects of the visible world derive their bing from the sun, so the objects of the intelligible worlds derive their being from the form of goodness The twice-divided line The Cave: - To explain the strangeness of the picture of things - Plato gives us the allegory of the cave Idealism - Plato’s theory gives rise to a whole tradition in philosophy according to which such entities as forms exist. The tradition is called idealism. How crazy is this? Thursday: Reading # 35, Hume Nominalism 11/6/2012 6:30:00 AM Some regrettable language: two directly contrary opposite meanings of "realism" Nominalism: the really real things are concrete particulars (this horse, that table, that mountain….) - The idea that universals (dog, horse, tree, yellow, cold) are not real existent things, but just words (nomina) - Nominalism challenges the idea that ideas, forms exist - The idea that universals are real, public objects Hume's two propositions: i) “The mind cannot form any notion of quantity or quality without forming a precise notion of the degrees of each” Three arguments for this proposition a) any idea of a line is an idea of a line of a determinate length b) any sense impression contains determinate quantity and quality c) everything in nature is individual ii) “[the] application of ideas beyond their nature proceeds from our collecting all their possible degrees of quantity and quality in such an imperfect manner as may serve the purposes of life” Summary of Hume's view: all that really exist are determinate particulars, and universals (aka “abstract ideas”), being indeterminate, are nothing but disjunctive lists of determinate particulars Another famous argument for Nominalism: Occam's Razor "entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily" entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitate - William Occam -If you can get by with a theory that postulates fewer entities, then that I what you should do Consider two theories: A. The planets move around the sun in ellipses because there is a force between any of them and the sun which decreases as the square of the distance. B. The planets move around the sun in ellipses because there is a force between any of them and the sun which decreases as the square of the distance. This force is generated by the will of some powerful aliens. Humes theory requires particulars Platos theory require particulars and Ideas Platos theory and Humes theory are equally good at explaining the world What Occam’s Razor says is: Keep it simple! Cartesian Dualism 11/6/2012 6:30:00 AM A sense of the terrain: conscious states o sense-perceptions (visual, auditory, tactile….) o body sense (pains, somesthesia, itches….) o imaginings (day dreams, mythical figures….) o thought (math, logic, science, language….) o memories (of all of the above) o dreams (of all of the above) o hallucinations, delusions (all of the above) o emotions (?) Some characteristics of conscious states a) privacy : We cannot experience what is going on in other people’s minds; No one can have access to others conscious states (they can guess about them but cannot HAVE them. Because of privacy, I cannot even know for sure that another person has conscious states. b) immediacy : Interpret your conscious state without having to think, we don’t have reason through to know what our conscious state is c) incorrigibility: Conscious state you’re having that cannot be corrected; (i.e. pain in your finger, no matter what your doctor tells you it is still there) You may mistake a dream for perceptual awareness, or an imagination for a memory d) evanescence: Thing come and go; i.e. Daydreaming e) spatial oddness: Where do the conscious states occur? (i.e. an itch in your arm: Is it in your arm or your brain?) Spatial Extension vs. Spatial Location Other matters concerning conscious states a) Conscious states and other species: We feel reasonably confident that other people have conscious states much like ours even if
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