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Chapter 13

PHLA10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Foundationalism, Parallel Postulate, Senses Fail

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William Seager

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Descartes Foundationalism
Chapter 13
Think of a building
oHas two parts; a strong foundation and the superstructure (the rest of the building)
Descartes divided beliefs into two parts;
oFoundational beliefs
Are solid beliefs
oSuperstructural beliefs
Built on a foundational belief
Can also be called Euclidean theory of knowledge
Functionalist ideas are formed like this;
oFirst identify the beliefs that the provide the foundation of knowledge
Said beliefs must have “special properties”(eg. Must be past doubt)
oThen once the foundation is established, other ideas can be linked to it
Euclid’s Parallel Postulate
OK so from what I got out of this part is that Sober loves to confuse us, his main point of
this paragraph is to say:
oWhat strikes one person as obvious may not be so obvious to someone else
Sober talks about Euclid and how he said that if there a parallel line and a point that is not
on that line, there will be one parallel line that goes through that point but never intercepts
the other line.
This may seem like a fairly obvious thing to one, not another person may not think so,
therefore it is important to state the obvious
Descartes Method of Doubt
Descartes said for beliefs to be foundational, there can be no doubt formed around them
(are indubitable)
If it is dubitable it is not functionalist
If something is dubitable it is not false, it’s just not absolutely certain
The Method Applied to a Posteriori Beliefs
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An a posteriori belief is one that requires expriance to be know (eg. Youch, Vision, Smell
Descartes says these can be doubted as your senses can be false
oEg. You think Dragons are real because you’ve seen them, this is dubitable
because you may have been on Acid and are tripping balls (hallucinating), your
senses are impaired
Beliefs that rely on senses fail the method of doubt test
Dubitability Is a Logical, Not a Physiological, Property
A proposition is dubitable when a story can be formed about it
It has nothing to do with whether you can get yourself to believe in the story
oEg. Stephen sees a Dragon, Ali says “BRUH, you were on Acid”
Ali himself does not have to take Acid, but the fact that a logical story can be
created to explain the dubitability of the proposition is enough to doubt a proposition
(I think that’s, what the book means)
The Method of Applied Beliefs Based on Rational Calculation
Descartes says that a priori truths can be doubted too
oA priori are truths that don’t require sensory information to be true, they are true by
their own definition (eg. A Batchelor = Unmarried man, you don’t have to see, smell
or taste a bachelor to know he is an unmarried man, you know it from the meaning
of the word. It is a priori)
This is where shit gets weird
Descartes says a prioiri truths are dubitable too, because our minds can be deceived by an
evil demon who can make us believe totally obvious facts to be false
oeg. 2+3=5, seems to be true but this could just be an evil demon tricking us to think
this way.
Therefore this too is dubitable (I don’t get Descartes either, I feel like Sober and Sear are
with us and don’t believe what Descartes is saying, they just want us to know this cause its
part of the history of Philosophy)
I am thinking, Therefore I Exist
I think therefore I am
Descartes says this is the only thing that can’t be doubted; thinking and existence
As the very process of doubting it confirms it is happening
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