PHIL 001 Lecture 1: Meditations (Philosophy)

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 001
Professor
andreja Novakovic
Semester
Winter

Description
● STAGE SETTINGS ○ Realized that he had some false beliefs, had been drawing conclusions from those beliefs ○ Should “raze everything to the ground and begin again from the original foundations.” (p. 59) ○ Did not have time until now ● WHY QUESTION YOUR OWN BELIEFS? ○ Has has been wrong before. He has made mistakes. His beliefs have turned out to be false ○ He inherited many beliefs from others, without knowing they are true. Tradition is not a good basis for believing something ● QUESTIONS OF FOUNDATIONS ○ Are all of my beliefs well founded? Do I have a solid basis for believing they are true? What makes me so certain they are true? ○ It would be inefficient if I went through each and every belief that I happened to have ○ I need to get at the “basic principles” that support my beliefs ● SKEPTICISM ○ Method of “razing everything to the ground” in order to see whether there is anything left standing ○ To instill doubt ○ Target is not just beliefs that are false, but beliefs that can be doubted ○ What we can doubt, we will dismiss as false ○ Descartes is not necessarily a skeptic. He is not defending the view that we can’t know anything for sure ■ Used skepticism in order to find out whether we can know anything for sure ● POSSIBILITY OF DOUBT ○ Highly probable ■ Many beliefs that are probably true ■ If we can imagine a scenario in which they turn out to be false, we can doubt them ■ If we can doubt them, we will dismiss them as false ○ Indubitable ■ Requires unshakeable certainty, beyond all doubt ■ ● Knowledge = certainty beyond all doubt ● THE SENSES ○ Where do most of our beliefs come from? Why do we believe what we do? Why do we believe that we are sitting in this auditorium? ■ Many of our beliefs are derived from the senses ○ Are the senses a good basis for believing things? ○ The senses are sometimes deceptive ■ ex) hallucinations in the desert, planets are closer than they really are ○ Does that mean that my senses could be deceiving me ​all the time? ● MADNESS ○ Can I doubt that I am sitting here (in my winter dressing gown, holding this sheet of paper in my hands)? ○ To doubt that would be madness. Only insane people can doubt all of their sense impressions ■ Believing they are made of glass/heads made out of clay, etc. ● DREAMING ○ But when I dream, I experience the very things that insane people experience while awake ○ Right now it doesn’t seem to me like I’m dreaming. But sometimes while I’m dreaming, I also think I’m wide awake ○ “As I consider these matters more carefully, I see so plainly that there are no definite signs by which to distinguish being awake from being asleep. (p. 60) ● DREAM ARGUMENT ○ Assume I am currently dreaming ○ This would mean I am not sitting in my study, next to the fireplace ○ What would have to be true, even if I am currently dreaming? ○ I couldn’t have fabricated everything in my dream ● CONCLUSION OF THE DREAM ARGUMENT ○ Even if I am dreaming some things would have to be true ○ Corporeal nature (shape of bodies) would have to be true ● MATHEMATICS ○ Whether or not I am awake or
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