Chapter 2: HOW DO WE KNOW ANYTHING.
• Solipsism: the theory or view that the self is the only reality.
• Relativism: the idea that everything is an opinion, not absolute rather relative to
• Epistemological: theory about knowledge
o If you want to find out whether what is inside your mind is any guide to whats
outside your mind, you cant depend on how things seem. (inside your mind)
o Argument: you have never actually seen your brain you just assume you have
o Even if you have seen it , it could be just another visual experience – maybe you
are the only thing that exists.
o Conclusion: your mind is the only thing that exists – solipsism
o You cannot conclude that there is no external world based on whats inside your
o The right thing to say is you don’t know anything beyond your impression and
experiences, there may or may not be an external world – this view is called
o Suppose you argue that there must be an external world, there must be an
explanation for your experiences.
o A skeptic can have 2 responses:
o 1. Even if there are external causes how can you tell from the contents of your
experiences what those causes are like ▯you’ve never observed them directly.
o 2. What is the basis of your idea that everything has to have an explanation?
CHAPTER 3: OTHER MINDS.
o Special kind of skepticism – that the physical world you seem to see and feel
around you including your own body really exists.
o This is skepticism about the nature or even existence of minds or experiences
other than your own.
o We do not know much about other peoples minds, we just observe their bodies
o None of these will give you direct access to their thoughts and feelings the only
experiences you can actually have are your own.
o If you believe anything about the mental lives of others it is on the basis of
observing their physical construction and behavior.
o Example: when you and your friend are having icecream how do you know the
chocolate flavor tastes the same to them as it does to you? – there seems to be no
way to compare the two flavor experiences directly.
o Argument: you can say since you are both humans you can both distinguish the
two flavors with your eyes closed its likely your flavor experiences are similar.
o But how do you know THAT? – the only type of experience you have had with
ice cream is in your own case. o To deny this you have to appeal to an assumption that flavor and color
experiences are correlated with certain physical stimulations of the sense organs.
– skeptic would say you have no evidence for such assumption all you can
observe is the correlation in your own case.
o If we continue down this path it leads to the most skeptic question of all : “how do
you even know that your friend is conscious” “how do you know if there are other
minds at all”
o How do you know the beings around you aren’t just mindless robots.
o We have no way of discovering the correlations between experience and
o You do not know how a tree feels when you cut it branches or a Kleenex feels
when you blow your nose into it.
o So the question is: what can you really know about the conscious life in this world
beyond the fact that you your selfhave a conscious mind.
CHAPTER 4: THE MINDBODY PROBLEM
• Is your mind something different from your brain?
• Are your thoughts, feelings, perceptions sensations and wishes things that happen
in ADDITION to all the physical processes in your brain or are they themselves
some of those physical processes?
• Example: when you bite into a chocolate bar, and a scientist was looking in your
brain while you ate it, he can use instruments to measure what is happening inside
(scientifically) but he cannot observe the experience of tasting chocolate since it is
inside your mind.
• The inside of your mind is a different kind of “Insideness”
• Conclusion: there has to be a soul attached to your body in some way which
allows them to interact.
• If that is true then you are made up of two very different things: a complex
physical organism and a soul which his purely mental – this view is called
• The view that people consist of nothing but physical matter and that their mental
states are their physical states of their brains is called physicalism(materialism)
• Physicalists believe that mental states are just states of the brain and there is no
philosophical reason to thing they cant be. – details will have to be discovered by
• Dualism is the view that you consist of a body plus a soul and that your mental
life goes on in your soul