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6. Modern Times

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Carolina Sanz

on 10 January 2017

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Transcript of 6. Modern Times

Rationalism vs Empiricism
Modern Times

Based on his doubts, Descartes wanted to create a permanent structure in sciences.
Since the destruction of the foundations brings with it the downfall of the rest of the edifice, therefore, he attacked the principles upon which all opinions rested.

He learned either from senses or through the senses; yet senses are
therefore we must not trust our senses.

Sleep/awake. Even thought someone can de doing exactly the same thing in their sleep and in reality, what happens in sleep, does not appears so clear no so distinct as reality.

1596- 1650, France.
He studied with the Jesuits and then he studied law.
He invented the analytical geometry.
He waited until he could dedicate his life to the creation of a new method.
“If he is doubting, he is thinking therefore he exists” COGITO ERGO SUM <<I think, therefore I AM >>
Descartes is searching for a certainty hidden within all doubts. He needs to search: one immoveable point which is certain and indubitable.

Starting point:
1. All the things that I see are false
2. Nothing has ever existed
3. We possess no senses
4. Body, figure, extension, movement and place are fictions of my mind.

His only certainty: <<I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it>>.

<<Cogito ergo sun>>: Is the immoveable point, indubitable.
The things represented in dreams are representations which can only have been formed as the counterparts of something real and true.

dreams and imaginary
ideas are made up real particularities mixed up.

Images in our minds, whether true and real or false and fantastic, are made up truthful parts.

Sciences can be divided into two categories:
Those who study composite things such as Physics, Astronomy and Medicine are more dubious and uncertain than
Those sciences that study things in a simple and general way such as Arithmetic.
Material substance doesn't exist, only the ideas and soul that perceive them.

The only place anything exists is in the mind. Only the mental substances (ideas) exists physical doesn’t.

Secondary and primary qualities only exists in the mind of the perceiver

If humans have wrong ideas it doesn’t matter because God has the right ones.
“To be is to be perceived”

12 March 1685 - 14 January 1753.
Known as Bishop Berkeley
1. Perceived
2. Remember
3. Invented
4. Invented from those we perceive

If a Tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it makes sound?

No, but everything exists in the mind of God. God is a constant perceiver, everything exists in His mind.

Ideas are all we can experience.
All the observation and experience tells us.

For him, the human mind is made of different categories that are structured in our heads a prior to experience.

Space and time
quantity, quality, relation and modality (refer to how you get the information by listening, watching…)

Process of knowledge:

1.A priori
we have a specific structure; we have the ability to think.
2.By experience
the data enters to our minds.
3. A posteriori
First our mind places everything in the space and time.
4. Then it places into secondary categories.
5. Raw unprocessed data is unused.
Knowledge Is obtained by:

I. Our a-priori categories
II. Experience
III. Rational process of structuring experience in our minds.


1) Phenomena things as they appear to us under the categories of perception
2) Noumena things as they are themselves.

We cannot get to know the noumena.
1724- 1804

He is known as the synthesizer of the empiricism and rationalism.
New epistemological method
They were against the Middle Ages’ studies since they combined myths with facts
They were interested in the material things of the natural world rather than the metaphysical problems.
What is man?

He is against the classical definition that man is a
reasonable animal:
from a single question, with that answer, we fall into an infinitude of other questions.

Defining man as a being formed by a body and a soul can be deceiving because knowledge cannot be acquire by sensations, in order to get to know a body in space and time, senses are needed.

is an attitude that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from oneself.

<<Man is a thing that thinks>>

It is a thing which:
which also imagines and feels.

His ontological definition is different from the classical definition since man is not define in terms of the existence of a body and a soul.
He cannot prevent from thinking that corporeal things, whose images are formed by thought, which are tested by the senses can exist.

Knowing things based on our senses can be deceitful, yet this proves the nature of our mind, which is in fact the only certainty.

Bodies cannot be known by our senses, nor by our imagination, but by understanding only.

Bodies and objects are not known from the fact that they are seen or touched, but only because they are understood.

Therefore, real knowledge can only be acquire by reason when the studied object is understood.
To read: Meditations 1 and 2 by Descartes

1. What is the starting point of knowledge?
2. What is the only certainty that we have?
3. Can we learn from our senses? Why?
4. How do we learn things?

John Locke
(1632- 1704)

He described human understanding in empirical terms, arguing that there are no innate ideas.
He based his political views on the idea of natural rights.
He wanted to clear the world from the “rubbish” of rationalism.
Empiricism is the base for how all people learn everything they know.
Knowledge is based on observation, and experience. It can only be acquire by sense and experience.
There are no innate ideas, because if they actually existed they should be present in every one at every moment of human existence, no matter how young old or intelligent.

Because children or ideots [sic] don't know them, the innate ideas don't exists.

Mind is a “tabula raza” or a blanc tablet we are born with and is written by experience.

Simple sensations form simple ideas, with reflection we combine them. But all ideas have their own origin in experience.
1. Primary qualities:
solidity (size), extension (space), figure (shape) and mobility. They are inherent to the object and stay the same even though you break them apart.

2. Secondary qualities:
Color sound taste texture smell, are produced by primary qualities. They are not inherent to objects but are produced in the perceiver by contact with the object. They are not trust worthy because they can be distorting by a medium EJ glasses.
We all get knowledge including abstract concepts by experience.
Mind and senses work together in order to turn experience into understanding,
Even imaginary ideas come from experience put together EJ: dragon.
Knowledge is limited our experience

Natural rights exists despite of any government, people have the right to:
o Make own decisions
o Private property the right of property is based on work.
He helped to promote capitalism.
Government should be a matter of mutual consent among everyone involved if you are not in favor live somewhere else.

Categorical imperative: are universal moral laws.

“Act only according to that maximum which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”

“Act so that you treat humanity, weather in your own person or in that of another always as an end and never as a mean”
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