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21 Cards in this Set

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Modernity - 3 aspects
1. rationalism – Descartes – “I think therefore I am” - reason alone leads to truth, logic, innate knowledge

2. empiricism – Hume - experience alone, sensory experience leads to knowledge

3. idealism – Kant – synthesis: noumenal (God’s business, we cannot understand it, prideful to try)
Phenoumenal (this world, what we can know in our humble humanity)
Dualism: belief that there are two principles irreducible to each other

Subjective/objective: Subjective reflects opinion, objective reflects facts
Idea of Objective value
The belief that certain attitudes are really true and others really false.
Rene Descartes Meditation I
Senses: went from the status of being most certain to being most dubitable

He has great anxiety because he can never be sure that he is not dreaming

After seeing that some people make mistakes calculating simple things. So how does he know that when he adds 2 plus 3 is 5?

God tricks us with simple things, so cannot be trusted whatsoever.
Rene Descartes Meditation II
Like Archimedes, he only need one point in order to move the earth. He needs one certain thing for his foundation of knowledge.

Something essential (these are indubitable, they are what makes the wax) can be known about the wax.

The mind alone can perceive the essence of the wax, objects are not known by the senses or by the imagination. Senses deceive, imagination cannot conceive of anything that it has not yet encountered.

He perceives things through the mind alone! Only the mind is good enough to know things by.

Innate ideas: ideas that already exist in our minds help us to rationalize

Yet he is prone to mental error…but what is the nature of the mental error?

the error is in treating information from the senses as indubitable...

...the mind is a judge and when it errs is when it chooses to treat a source (like the senses) or anything that is dubitable as indubitable or assume things based on information received from the senses.
Descartes Meditation III
I will shut down my senses and look more deeply into myself. What else can I know?
Certainties/truths – things perceived by the mind alone that are clear and distinct and can’t be refused or denied

Now he wants to prove the existence of God, and prove that he is not an “evil genius” so that he can go beyond being certain of his own existence. As long has he supposes and evil genius then he can be certain of nothing more than his own existence.
Descartes Meditation III: Proof of the Existence of God
Step One: Classification of thoughts

1. Images/ideas: a man, chimera, sky, angel, God
2. Volitions/willings or affects/emotions or judgments: only the judgments are epistemologically subject to error

Step Two: Identify the sources of ideas
1. Innate- he was born with them
2. Adventitious (sources from outside of himself)
3. Produced by me- he made them up himself

Step Three: What reason is there for thinking that his adventitious ideas correspond to reality?

1. By nature: spontaneous impulses are not reliable (they do not come from the light of nature: they are not certain)

*even if you have an idea you done like, it doesnt mean that you aren't the source of it.

*There is no reason to think that the ideas that seem to come from outside of me are reflecting reality. Hence, back to the drawing board.

2. Do all ideas represent reality in the same way?

Causes must have more or as much reality as an effect. Something cannot come from nothing.

Searching for an idea that cannot have come from within himself because it has more reality than he does so that he can prove that something other than himself exists.

If there is an idea in his mind that has more objective reality than he himself has than it is true that there must be someone/thing other than himself that exists and has more reality than himself.

3. What other sorts of things does he have ideas of?
-Corporeal + inanimate things

...Next step is to compare the amounts of reality of these things.

Test one:
Cause (Descartes could be the cause of the idea of himself)
Effect (Descartes’ idea of himself) He is as real as he is. Valid.

Test four: Cause D Effect Angels. Valid.

Test five: Cause: D Effect: God. NOT VALID

God is infinite, Descartes is finite
Infinite vs. Finite: finite is less real than infinite.

4. It is impossible for the idea of God to have come from within himself? Pg 30,31
Objective Reality
“By objective reality of an idea,” Descartes writes, “I mean the being of the thing represented in the idea, as it is represented in the idea … Whatever we perceive as being in the object of our idea is in the ideas themselves objectively”
Formal Reality
Formal reality, broadly speaking, refers to the actual being of a thing as the thing that it is.
Formal Falsity
Saying of something that isn’t that it is or the flip side in your particular judgment.
Material falsity
Good exists. Evil is the absence of the good. This is when an idea of a non-thing (Evil for instance) is represented as a thing.
John Locke 1632 – rejected the notion of innate ideas, all ideas come from sensory experience, your mind is a blank slate “tabula rosa” at the beginning of our lives.

David Hume 1711 – more holistic understanding of experience. Father of modern skepticism. No one can prove that causality is going to hold. There is no guarantee that things will continue just because they have always been so. What can science tell us?
Blending rationalism with empiricism.

Immanuel Kant read Hume and could not stop thinking about it.

Until Kant, we had to get our minds so that they reflect reality as much as possible

Kant says it’s not that my mind has to conform to reality but rather, what’s out there has to conform to my mind. In order for me to have knowledge, the world must conform to my mind.
Kant’s critique of pure reason
talks about how empiricism and rationalism are merged.

There are innate rules: concepts of space and time, rules according to which our minds operate. (rationalistic) a priori (What is necessary and universal) vs. a posteriori (contingent, empirical, based outside)

We have to discover the moral law within us, derive it with our minds.
Freedom according to Kant
Following the rule that you give yourself. We must legislate for ourselves. Rules have a necessity and obligation, but freedom is still following the rules that you set for yourself.

The law does not reflect good and evil, but rather reason legislates the law and that law determines what is good and evil.
The world is divided up physics, ethics, logic.

Two distinctions regarding kinds of knowledge: {empirical vs rational} and {formal vs material}

Empirical or experience-based knowledge is contrasted with rational or (pure) knowledge, which is pure in the sense that it is independent of experience (a priori). This distinction between empirical and rational knowledge rests on a difference in sources of evidence used to support the two different kinds of knowledge.


Formal is contrasted with material knowledge. Formal knowledge has no specific subject matter; it is about the general structure of thinking about any subject matter whatsoever. Material knowledge is of a specific subject matter, either nature or freedom.
Kant's 2 steps to finding morality.
1.Analytical: what is the logical understanding of morality
2.Synthetic: how do these concepts apply to our world?
What is good? (Kant)
The good will: Honesty, humility, charity, etc… are only good as applied by the good will. Good will is good without limitation.
What’s the relationship between morality and happiness? (Kant)
Basically: morality is not going to make you happy.
What makes a good will good? (Kant)
Even if good will causes disaster…it’s still moral. Utilitarianism: what is good is what is beneficial for the largest number of people.
Role of Reason (Kant)
To produce a will that is good in itself.

If the proper end of nature were preservation/happiness/welfare, then instinct would be better than reason.