Descartes (1641), "Second Meditation"
Rosen and Dorr (2002), "Composition as a Fiction”
February 14 & February 16
I. Rene Descartes
A. Wants to get rid of anything he can doubt in any way
1. Dreaming doubt
2. Created by evil deceiver that makes him think false thoughts
B. Trying to prove he exists
C. Cogito ergo sum = I think therefore I am
D. The fact that I am thinking about whether I exist means I exist
1. P1 – I am now thinking something
2. P2 – If I am now thinking something, then I now exist.
3. C1 – So I now exist.
F. Entertains possibility that he only exists when he thinks
1. When he is thinking, he exists.
2. He is unsure if he exists when he isn’t thinking.
1. P1* – I am now waking somewhere.
2. P2* – If I am walking somewhere, then I now exist.
3. C1 – So I now exist.
H. Argument* is vulnerable to dreaming doubt or deception
1. Cannot be certain about P1*
I. Epistemology (having to do with theory of knowledge)
1. Apriori = believe because of rationality
2. Aposteriori = can believe from sense experience
1. Necessary = something could not have been otherwise
2. Contingent = something could have been otherwise
K. Argument could be instance of contingent apriori
1. I could not have existed
2. Introspection = why we accept premises that we are thinking (apriori)
a. Cannot look at thinking; all internal
3. Something contingent that we can know by reason alone
L. Rationalism vs. Empiricism
1. Empiricism = we learn everything through the senses; mind is blank
2. Rationalism = there are things we can know through reasoning alone
a. Descartes; Leibniz
M. The problem of other minds
1. How can we know that anyone else is a person with a mind?
2. Nothing causes anything else; God causes everything instantaneously
1 Philos 1100H
O. Descartes thinks we have a will that is completely unrestrained; but understanding
1. Led into error when I say that seems right when I don’t completely
2. This is one of the things we cannot understand
II. Rosen and Dorr
3. Grue (Green in this room or blue next door)
4. Bleen (Blue in this room or green next door)
B. We operate with Blue/Green concepts, someone else could operate on the
grue/bleen concepts. As long as we’re all in the same room, the blue/greeners and
the grue/bleeners will all group the same things together.
C. This room:
1. Seph’s water bottle (blue and bleen) and Aaron’s notebook (green and
D. Next door
1. Susie’s wallet (blue and grue) and Aaron’s pencil (green and bleen)
E. You could also start with grue and bleen and define blue and green based on that
(as opposed to what we did, which was start with blue and green and define these
new concepts with them)
F. Which concepts are right? Are any concepts better than any other concepts? Why
is our way better?
G. Visual phenomenology – certain experi