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Modern Epistemology

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Alex Morales

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Modern Epistemology

Origin of Knowledge
By Manuel Alejandro Morales Márquez
Origin of Knowledge refers to...
The process through which knowledge is acquired.
There are four main branches: Rationalism, Empiricism, Criticism, and Constructivism.
RATIONALISM
Main representatives: Plato (428-348b.c.), Aristotle (384-322b.c.), Descartes (1596-1650), Spinoza (1632-1677), Leibniz (1646-1716).
Even though the matter world is real, when it’s perceived in a chaotic way, it’s our reason what gives it a meaning through interpretation.
This is achieved through the perception of a substance, an essence that remains within the objects.
AN EPISTEMOLOGY TIMELINE
300 BC
476 AC
1400
Plato
Aristotle
Hellenistic Age
Middle Ages
Patristics
Scholastic
William of Ockham
Modernity
Descartes
Spinoza
Leibniz
Rationalism
1715
Modernity
Contemporary Dark Days
Empiricism
1588
1800
Hobbes
Locke
Berkeley
Hume
Kant
Criticism
Wittgenstein
Popper
RENE DESCARTES
He brought up the
mind – body problem
.
His system is known as
methodic doubt
or Cartesian doubt.
In order to reach
absolute certainties
you have to start from an
absolute doubt
.
I think, therefore I am (
cogito ergo sum
).
There are two types of substances:
reason
and
matter
. The “I think, therefore I am” proves the existence of the first one, but how can we prove the existence of the second one
????
Through the existence of
God
.
If God exists, all my clear and distinct ideas will be true.
Cartesian Paradox
BARUCH SPINOZA
There’s just
one substance
: God.
God has
two attributes
: thought and extension.
All things in the world are modifications of the only substance, God.
This doctrine is known as
pantheism
.
Every
idea implies an objective reality
, for idea and matter are attributes of the same reality.
There are no true nor false ideas, but
adequate
or
inadequate
.
There are three levels of knowledge:
Opinion
– Imagination: it’s empiric and leads to confusion.
Rational
: adequate ideas common to all human kind.
Intuitive
: holistic knowledge of God.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Physical reality can’t be based in something extensive (the extensive can’t be made of unextensive points).
Extension is an illusion and is made of simple, all-containing and non material beings, called monads.
Like atoms, but without the matter!!!
God (again) as the
Infinite Monad
.
Man: combination of
reason Monads
(soul) and
perceiving Monads
(body).
Monads of reason perceive with more clarity than the others, that’s where
knowledge is born
.
EMPIRICISM
Main representatives: Hobbes (1588-1679), Locke (1632-1704), Berkeley (1685-1753), Hume (1711-1776).
This branch was born in England under the strong influence of Isaac Newton.
The only way to know the world is through empiric experience (your senses!). There can’t be innate ideas.
John Locke
Knowledge is originated by the
senses
; without these, our mind is like a “
tabula rasa
”.
The thinking process goes from
Sensorial perceptions
to
Simple Ideas
to
Reflection
(complex)
ideas
(combination of simple ideas)
.
Primary qualities
(solidity, extension
, figure, mobility
), are in the objects.
Secondary qualities
(
textures
,
colors, sounds, tastes
),
the product of the influence of objects in our senses.
GEORGE BERKELEY
Primary and secondary
qualities
are both
in the subject
.
Distinguishes between
sensations
(reality) and
sensorial objects
(hypothetical).
If the physical world exists, is only because
God “creates it constantly”
.
DAVID HUME
Knowledge comes from
perceptions,
which leave sensorial
impressions
from which we form
ideas
.
Knowledge can be about facts and their relations or association of ideas.
Concepts such as mind or God fall apart.
Logical principles
, such as cause and effect, are product of people’s imagination.
What are the logical principles????
Principles that work as the common sense of our reason.
Some examples:
A→B→C, then A→C
(If I’m a human being → I am a mortal being → I’ll have to die eventually. This is the same as If I'm a human being → I'll die eventually).

P¬¬P
(I’m hungry if and only if it’s not the case that I am not hungry).
Man cannot know the real nature of the world:
skepticism
.
This is because there can be
relations of ideas
(they tell us nothing about the world); or
matters of fact
(they’re uncertain).
IMMANUEL KANT
He tried to answer the question: what can we know about the world?
Both
rationalists
and
empiricists
were right about something, but also mistaken in some other matters.
Knowledge starts with the
senses
.
But it is
reason
(through the
categories
) the one that brings order to the sensorial information.
Categories
are rational operations that we use to put

order to the information captured by the senses. Examples: time and space.
Phenomena
: the things as they appear before us according to the categories of perception.
Noumena
: things as they are on themselves, beyond the limits of perception and human knowledge.
CRITICISM
Name used to descibe Immanuel Kant's (1724-1804) philosophy.
Knowledge has
limits
: human faculties.

The knowledge that we can obtain requires the combination of
reason
and
experience
.

ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY
In the 20th century analytic philosophy (the
analysis of propositions
) is born.

One of its branches is the
language philosophy
(language analysis to determine its precision).

It affirms that knowledge is acquired through the
language
.

“What I am saying right now is false.”
Socrates says: “What Plato says is false”. And Plato affirms: “What Socrates says is true”.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Austrian thinker who influenced every philosopher until today.
His philosophy is divided in two stages:
logic philosophy
and
language games
.
Thoughts are logic representation of
facts
. Language reflects
thoughts
. Therefore,
language
shows us the world.
1st Stage
A proposition that can’t be proved, should not be said.
2nd Stage
Rejects the previous stage, for one same word can have different meanings according to the context in which it’s used.
There are many languages and they evolve. Wittgenstein called them
language games
.
What really matters is not the
language – fact relation
, but its
use
.
In order to know a proposition you must verify to which language game they belong.
Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)
He’s considered to be a
critic rationalist
, that is, reason gets a confidence vote, as long as we can verify its content empirically.
He was a
Neokantian
!!!
Scientific knowledge is true knowledge but fallible, not certain.
Critic method: scientific knowledge is always hypothetical, consists in search and eliminate mistakes in order to reach the truth.
Science shouldn’t be based on faith but in reason.
Principle of falsifiability
: for a theory to be label as scientific, it must be able to be falsifiable. This means that the scientist can contrast it with reality in order to refute it.
Scientific theories
could never be definitive. There’s always the possibility of finding new facts by reformulating a theory or creating a new one.
SOURCES
Gaarder, J. (2001). El mundo de Sófía. España: Siruela.
Mitchell, H. (2011). Roots of Wisdom. A tapestry of philosophical traditions. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage.
Bowen, J. (2008). The dream weaver. One boy's journey through the landscape of reality. USA: Pearson.
Rauhut, N. (2011). Ultimate questions. Thinking about philosophy. New Jersey: Pearson.
Moore, B. and Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy. The power of ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Reale, G. y Antiseri, D. (2010). Historia de la Filosofía. Tomo II. Del Humanismo a Kant. Barcelona: Herder.
Types of Monads
Just perceiving Monads
Reason Monads
The memory Monads
Common matter
Like in the non-rational animals.
Like our understanding (soul) or God.
We have
innate ideas
(identity, cause, perception) as dispositions.
But since each Monad contains everything, we virtually know everything.
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