Monday, September 23, 2013
Understanding the Enlightenment
Descartes Knowledge – How does Descartes think knowledge should be expressed?
1. My shirt is white. (Empirical thus it is temporary).
2. 1+1=2 (Eternal thus it will always be that way).
Four categories of truth:
1. Verification (To show if something’s true or false).
2. Modality (Capture the mood of the speaker).
Possibility (Possibly my shirt is white).
Actuality (My shirt is actually white).
Necessity (Strongest) (What must be the case).
3. Temporality (If it’s true how long is it true?)
4. Origin (What is the origin of the source?)
Any empirical claim can be falsified if the circumstances justify it.
“My shirt can be white now but it could be blue later.” (Contingent: it is the case but it
doesn’t have to be the case).
“Mathematical equations do not depend on senses.”
1+1 will always equal 2 so it is called eternal sentences.
Empirical truth: Anything that you learn through observation (senses) can at best have the
modality of actuality; furthermore, anything that has the modality of actuality is subject to
Eternal truth: It is impossible to alter the connections; therefore the connection is not
The model of knowledge that we are seeking is epitomized by mathematics.
The origin of mathematics is not empirical; it is eternal because it will be true even after we die.
In mathematics the truths are eternal.
If a truth is eternal does it have a creator?
Why is mathematics certain? It is pure (not empirical)
There is only one way to think an isosceles triangle.
With intuition the criterion of truth, is that the mind grasps the claim. Clarity becomes the minds
sign of true. The faculty of intuition is only concerned with self-evident terms. Monday, September 23, 2013
The second cognitive faculty is deduction; it deals with claims that are self-evident, but not
obviously self-evident. There needs to be a series of self-evident truths.
1. Axiom of equality: things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
2. 2+2=4 (self-evident)
3. 3+1=4 (self-evident)
In the case of mathematical claims, the modality of these claims is necessity. This means that the
truths are already there. The mind cannot create/alter mathematical truths, because the
connections are already there. All that the mind can do is seek out the answers.
1. We have to unprejudiced our mind.
2. Mathematical problems are far more complicated to solve, we need to refine the method
that nature has already given to us.
The Faculty of Reason it’s never faulty. When you make errors in reasoning, they are never
due to the mind, even if you were drunk. Premises are put forth are actually false. If you don’t
test for the truth, the truth itself will be faulty. Inattention also produces errors.
Object of Study the objects of study are pure because they are not empirical, they have no
empirical content. They are pure in the sense that they are simply known by the mind. When you
imagine the isosceles triangle, you have the complete thought, unlike imagining your kitchen
where you may leave something out.
The certainty of mathematics is never questioned, in the regulie.
In other places, namely outside the Regulie, mathematics is dubitable (it can be doubted).
Three reasons for Doubting Mathematics: (following reasons on p. 220 CK)
1. The feeling of confidence when you do mathematics is the same whether you get the right
answer or the wrong answer. The feeling of confidence when doing mathematics is
unreliable. Monday, September 23, 2013
2. Now, in our progression, we have no knowledge of God. If there is a God and God created
us, it may be the case that He brought it about because God is a deceiver. Then, he could
cause us to believe that things are certain and true when in fact they are false. He could force
us to believe that things are true when they were false, and we would never know it.
Therefore, what his reason for doubting mathematics states is that before we can know about
the certainty of mathematics we must know two things; that there is a god, and that God is
not a deceiver (p. 60 M).
3. If you’re a s