PHI 205 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Logical Truth

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4 Apr 2017
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Review: Rationalism and empiricism
The debate between rationalism and empiricism is a debate over how we have knowledge
oWhether that knowledge is based on sensory impressions (what we see, hear, feel,
taste, smell…)
oRationalists think that we can have knowledge a priori
oEmpiricists do not believe we can have a priori knowledge; think all/most of our
knowledge is a posteriori and based on sense impressions
Knowledge a priori: knowledge before experience
Hume on the origin of ideas
oIdeas can be complex, but these complex ideas can be analyzed and broken down
into simple ideas
oThese simple ideas need to somehow mimic or copy a sense impression
oHume notes that he can perceive his body, colors, shapes, sounds, etc.—but never
comes across a soul
Challenge for rationalists: how can we know what we know if not based on impressions?
oWhat is the soul if it is not based on sense impressions?
Background on Kant’s Prolegomena
Didn’t publish anything for ten years; at the end of that decade, published A Critique of
Pure Reason
oThis was his attempt to understand the debate between rationalists and
empiricists, as well as to provide an answer to the empiricists
Essentially, Kant’s response was to provide a synthesis of the rationalist and empiricist
ideas
Kant’s Prolegomena
“Human reason has this particular fate”
o“Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is
burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it
is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to
answer” (Kant)
oAsking, can we use reason to gain a priori knowledge?
oReason can give us the knowledge that we want
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