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introduction to epistemology knowledge and scepticism

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Cressida Tweed

on 12 March 2016

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Transcript of introduction to epistemology knowledge and scepticism

Introduction to Reason and experience
This refers to epistemology: the theory of knowledge.
What is the object on my desk?

Key philosophical problems in epistemology:
The infinite regress of justification: in order to know something is true, you need to be able to prove it; but then you also need to prove the justification! That goes on forever!
The problem of scepticism or philosophical doubt
In pairs, prove to each other you are not dreaming right now. You have one minute!
The problem of scepticism 2
How do we know what we perceive is real?
Key Questions:
- what do we mean by knowledge?
- can we know anything for certain?
- How do we get knowledge of the world?

how do you know it exists?
Are you sure it exists?
”A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!
The issue of
Question: if minds are immaterial (as souls are not made of physical matter) how do I know that they exist!
I can't see your mind right now!
I could be alone in the universe!
Solipsism: The only thing I know is that I exist.
Either we use our senses and accept that we can never achieve certainty
Or we look for certainty with the use of reason I can't doubt that 2+2=4.
I don't see numbers but I know they exist!
But can reason and
experience work together?

who would eat my apple?
Do animals perceive the world the way we do?
That means our perception of the world never completely corresponds to what the world is really like.

Is knowledge possible?
Using the key arguments we have looked at, answer ONE of the questions below:

1. Prove that only your mind exists.
2. Explain why we can never have true knowledge of the external world.
3. Explain Zeno's paradox and what it proves about reason and experience.
Full transcript