PHI 205 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Bertrand Russell, Cartesian Doubt

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Published on 13 Apr 2017
G. E. Moore
Lectured to Cambridge
Went at the same time as Bertrand Russell
Moore created a response to Kant’s debate about empiricism vs. rationalism
Moore came in essentially wondering, why are we being skeptical of the world around
Tried to defend what he called a “common sense conception of the external world around
Poses opposition to Cartesian skepticism
oAlmost exactly opposes what Descartes specifically said we cannot know
What he knows with certainty, he knows is wholly true:
1. Moore knows, with certainty, that there exists a present living human body, which is his
2. Moore knows, with certainty, that his body was born at a certain time in the past, and has
existed continuously ever since, though not without undergoing changes.
3. Moore knows, with certainty, that his body has been in contact with the earth, or at least
it has not been far from the earth’s surface.
4. Moore knows, with certainty, that there have also been many other three dimensional
things with which his body is in contact (e.g., a pen), or which exist at various distances
from it (e.g., a bookcase).
5. Moore knows, with certainty, that there have been large numbers of living human bodies,
and, like his own, these bodies were born, continued to exist, and have been in contact
with or not far from the earth’s surface.
Essentially, Moore is saying that he knows:
oHe has a body
oHis body was born at some point
oHe is here, on earth
And not floating somewhere in space or wherever Descartes’ evil demon
is trying to trick him into thinking that’s where he is
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