Selasa, 09 Oktober 2007

catatan harian 10 oktober 2007, ramadan

Nietzsche's first question is to ask what we understand by the idea of a "will to truth". For instance, it is presumed that we desire to know the truth objectively, "for its own sake" - but is this really the case? What if we did it because we found the truth useful?

Nietzsche criticises the idea of "opposite values" which seems to so deeply influence the way we see things. For example, we seem to have the idea that consciousness and instinct are somehow opposed and separate, but mightn't it be the case that consciousness is coloured or informed by instinct? So, we may think we value the truth for it's own sake, but really we value it for a specific use that it has - perhaps what we value is not truth at all, but a useful lie? Such concerns should be borne in mind when we consider what really motivates philosophers who claim "disinterestedness" and "objectivity".

Nietzsche criticises Stoicism for its desire to "live according to nature". What, he says, can this mean? On the one hand, we have to live according to nature - so this is an empty statement; on the other, nature does not represent the sort of equilibrium that they want it to (it is savage, irrational, etc.). So, to live according to nature, stoics must falsify it.

Nietzsche then attacks the anti-realist approach to philosophy which attempts to set up an opposition between the "real" and "apparent" world. For Nietzsche, this is a mistake in that it imagines that there is something more "real" than appearances or perspective. Similarly, materialistic atomism is a belief in something ultimate, invisible, indivisible and yet "beyond" our senses.

He then criticises Kant for attempting to prove that there are such things as synthetic a priori judgements by circular argument. How, he argues, do we know that these are possible? Because we have a faculty capable of them.

He attacks the concept of immediate certainties - especially in relation to Descartes' famous "cogtio ergo sum" (I think therefore I am). What is it about such things that he thinks is immediately certain? Even the most self-evident things seem to require some form of reflection and thought. Also, what is certain about this? Why can't we say that there is more than one "I" or self? Aren't we simply being misled by grammar?

Finally, Nietzsche looks at the problem of free will. Firstly, as above, why should we suppose one "I" and not a competing number of individual wills? Next, when we look at a willed action, this seems to be borne out as there are numerous conflicting sensations and impressions which take part. The idea of a single will which causes our actions is based on a belief in the law of cause and effect - a thing which Nietzsche, together with Hume, argues is not a fundamental principle of the world. Rather, the world - including ourselves - is seen as a battleground of competing "wills to power". Any other suggestion is based on an attempt to democratise nature.

AS Philosophy

Module 1

The

Theory

Of

Knowledge

Unit 5

Knowledge, Belief and Truth


What is Truth? Said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.”

Of Truth, Essays or Counsels Civil and Moral, Francis Bacon.

Definitions of Truth

In the gospel of John in the New Testament (18:28-40), Jesus is brought up before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. Pilate, a practical and worldly man, is bemused as to why Jesus has been brought before him: what has he done?

During a brief exchange between Pilate and Jesus, we see two distinct concepts of truth at work. On the one hand, Jesus has a very firm idea (18:37):

“You are right in saying I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

To which Pilate merely replies: “What is truth?” – as if to say, “You think truth exists independently of everyone as a standard by which we can judge our beliefs?”

This sort of debate has been central to philosophy for centuries. We will now look at different theories of knowledge, truth and belief.

What is Knowledge?

There are a number of different ways in which the verb ‘to know’ is used. I can know someone’s voice, a piece of music or my own mind. However, this sort of knowledge seems less specific than factual knowledge: I can know someone’s voice or face without necessarily being able to put a name to it; I may change my mind.

Factual knowledge usually entails knowing that something is the case. It is also called propositional knowledge because it can take the form of a logical proposition. For example, “Wales’ rugby team is not as good as it once was” proposes a fact. It is something which might either be true or false.

Knowledge by Description and Acquaintance

Bertrand Russell identified two main types of knowledge: knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintance. The second of these we might also call "propositional knowledge". In other words, I know that something is true (or false). These sorts of statement can therefore always be phrased in the following way: "I know that X is true" (where X is a statement such as "John is bald").

The other type of knowledge is different in the sense that it cannot be put into the same sort of form. For instance, if I say, "I am in pain", it is not the same as knowing some sort of detailed medical account of your pain. Similarly, saying "I know how to ride a bike" is not the same as saying, "I know that to ride a bike you need to push the pedals round and turn the handle bars". The distinction here is between being acquainted with direct sense experience (pain, balance and co-ordination, a friend’s face) and inference (“I know the chemical composition of citric acid”).

Exercise

Which of these two different types of knowledge – if either – do you feel are less certain? Does the fact that many statements which claim knowledge by acquaintance cannot be completely translated into knowledge by description make them less or more certain?

Knowledge and Belief

Although sometimes the words ‘know’ and ‘believe’ are used interchangeably, in a strict sense they are very different. Probably, no one would criticise you for saying, “I believe it’s time for us to go” when you actually mean simply, “It’s time for us to go”.

However, belief frequently implies that there is something you are either unsure of or for which there is insufficient proof. For instance, I might say, “I believe that a European single currency is a good thing”, or “I believe that Wales will win next Saturday”. These things may very well be false: the single currency may prove disastrous, and Wales – judging on recent form – may very well lose.

Knowledge, on the other hand, in its strict sense, only applies to things that are true. Therefore, it may be inappropriate to say, “I know that Wales will win” or that “I know which horse will win the 3:30 at Kempton”, because there is an element of doubt involved (unless I have some proven psychic ability, such as Mystic Meg).

Exercise

Try to think of a sentence which meets one of these three categories (belief, knowledge by acquaintance or knowledge by description) then write it down in the first column of the box below, labelling the type of knowledge it represents in the next column (go for 2 or 3 examples of each type).

I have put in a few examples of my own to start you off.

Sentence

Type of Knowledge

I am in pain.

Acquaintance

Paris is the capital of France.

Description

Wales will win the Triple Crown this year.

Belief


Conditions of Knowledge

The first philosopher to define knowledge was Plato, who stated that for us to say that we know something:

1. It must be true.

2. We must actually believe it (it must be consciously held).

3. There must be sufficient evidence for it (it must be justified).

Therefore, we may say that knowledge is ‘true justified belief’.




Exercise

Using the following table, think of things that fit these criteria in different ways (true but not justified belief, untrue but justified, etc.). Place a tick under the appropriate column heading as you go.

Statement

True?

Justified?

Believed?

How does this tripartite (3-part) definition of knowledge hold up? Have you identified any problems with it? Before going further we need to look at some useful terms.


If and only if

Like our use of the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘ belief’, the word ‘if’ has different uses. Sometimes when we use it we only want to convey a loose connection between statements: “I will come with you to the pictures if you go on Friday”. In this example, the two statements – your going to the cinema, my coming with you – are not absolutely connected. I may go to the cinema with you on another evening if you suggest it – in other words, other things are possible.

However, if I say, “I will come with you to the pictures if, and only if, you go on Friday”, I am excluding other possibilities (such as going on Tuesday). This distinction is important for philosophers because it allows them to be more precise about the relationship between certain statements.

Exercise

Indicate which of the following are examples of ‘if’ and which are examples of ‘if and only if’.

Statement

If

If and Only If

I will die if I stop breathing

I can make a hot cup of tea if I have hot water

I will pass my exams if there is a miracle

If I eat any more I will be sick

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

When we talk of something being true ‘if and only if’ something else is true, this can happen in one of two ways. For instance, if we take the example, “I will grow up to be strong and healthy if I exercise and eat sensibly”, in what way might this be true? Will I be strong and healthy only from eating sensibly and exercising? Or can these things be achieved in other ways?

So, in this example:

1. These would be necessary conditions for health if it could not be achieved without them.

2. These would be sufficient conditions for health if that were all that were needed to be done in order to be healthy.

Another example might be learning to drive. Passing my theory test is a necessary condition of getting a driving license, but it is not a sufficient condition (you also need to pass your practical test).

Exercise

Take the following situations and list both necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be the case in each of them. The first example is given for you.

Situation

Necessary Condition

Sufficient Condition

Learning a foreign language

Having a source of vocabulary (foreign language speaker or dictionary)

Learning vocabulary and applying it using correct grammar

Riding a bike

Meeting a friend for a drink

Getting up in the morning at 7am

Making a cake

Gettier Problems

In 1963, the philosopher Edmund Gettier published an article in the Journal Analysis called “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” The article, although quite short, had a profound effect on epistemology by challenging the long-held traditional definition of knowledge as proposed by Plato almost two and a half thousand years before.

Gettier’s objections go something like this. Imagine a situation where all the traditional conditions for knowledge were fulfilled – and yet you could not say that it constituted knowledge. For instance, take the following situation:

1. Fred believes that Sam is in his room;

2. Fred sees Sam in his room;

3. Sam is in his room.

This fulfils the traditional conditions of knowledge. Sam is in his room, Fred believes that he is and is justified in doing so by the experience of seeing him there. However, unknown to Fred, what he sees in Sam’s room is not Sam at all, but his twin brother Tim. However, Sam is actually in the room but is just out of sight (e.g. he is hiding under the bed).

From this point of view, it would appear that Fred is right, but only by coincidence. Sam is in the room (albeit under the bed), Fred is justified in believing he is, except that it cannot be said to be a genuine case for knowledge because Fred is only correct through coincidence. Does this mean that the tripartite definition of knowledge is incorrect?

Exercise

Can you think of any other situations in ordinary life where it might be said that the tripartite conditions of knowledge were met, and yet you would not say that someone actually had knowledge? Try to list 3 examples.

Responses to Gettier

There have been 5 main attempts at trying to repair the damage made to the tripartite theory by introducing another condition to the triangle (making it a square). These are as follows:

1. No False Belief Condition: Beliefs cannot be based on a false belief. This attempt argues that no knowledge can be claimed if it relies on a false belief. So, in our example, it is false that Fred is actually looking at Sam.

2. Defeasibility Condition: Something is known as long as there is no evidence to the contrary. This is a common sense view, argued by Keith Lehrer and Thomas D. Paxson, which argues that Fred would be perfectly entitled to claim that he knows that Sam is in the room because he is not aware of anything to the contrary. In other words, there is nothing to "defeat" the claim - "defeasibility" meaning "capable of being defeated". Another example would be the flat earth theory, or the concept that the earth was the centre of the universe. These were once claimed as knowledge by the majority of people – until further knowledge arrived to prove that a different case is true.

3. Reliability. This theory proposes that justified true belief should be obtained through a reliable method. Therefore, if I believe that Sam is in the room but I am also aware that my method of checking is not wholly reliable (or that I am aware that there are more reliable methods), then I cannot claim knowledge in this instance.

4. Conclusive Reasons Condition: A reason must exist for the belief that would not be true if the belief itself were false. This was first put forward by Fred Dretske. If, for example, I believe that there is a chair in front of me, the reason for believing that it is there would not exist if the belief were false (that is, if the chair were not there).

5. Causal Connection Condition: There must be a causal connection between the knowledge and the belief. This argument, first put forward by Alvin Goldman, states that a belief must have an appropriate connection to the knowledge claimed. In our example, Fred should not be able to claim that he knows Sam is in the room because there is no ‘appropriate connection’ between his viewing Tim (Sam’s twin brother) and his conclusion that Sam is in the room.

Exercise

Are there any problems with any of the above theories? Take each in turn and see if you can think of how they might be criticised.

Analysis of the Responses

Each of the 5 different responses admits that Gettier has highlighted a problem, and each seeks to resolve it by adding another condition to knowledge. So, what was a tripartite division becomes a four –part one. You could also think of this as moving from a triangle to a square.




Let's now look at each of the responses in turn:

1. No False Belief Condition. This response argues that we cannot be said to know anything if it is based on a false belief or on a group of beliefs of which one is false. So, in the example we have been considering, I cannot be said to know that Sam is in the room because my "knowledge" is based on the false belief that I am seeing Sam (whereas I am actually seeing Tim). So, adding this as an extra condition seems to work, doesn't it?

The main problem with this theory is that it seems to deny things that we would say that we know. For instance, I may claim to know a certain piece of information because my friend Bob told me. However, I might also believe that Bob is trustworthy because he has never lied to me - which may turn out to be false. In this way, although Bob is not lying in this instance, my belief that Bob has never lied to me is false. However, is this really a reason not to say that we don't really know that what Bob has said is true? In this case the rule seems too harsh. What if I had other information that agreed with what Bob said (so that I have other evidence for the truth of the statement)? According to this theory, my false belief that Bob has never lied to me means that I cannot claim that I know this piece of information.

A comeback to this criticism is to say that only if the false belief is relevant to the knowledge being claimed does it mean that the claim does not really constitute knowledge. But what if I hold a belief that relies on something being true even though I do not consciously believe it? For instance, imagine that I am due to meet Jane at 7pm. Imagine now that Jane's lift lets her down and she has to catch a bus. Is my belief that I will meet Jane at 7pm a case of knowledge? I do not consciously hold the belief that she is getting a lift, so I am not wrong about that. However, can I really say that I know she will be there?

2. The Defeasibility Condition. This response argues that the extra condition should be that there is no information that would count against the justification. So, in the case of Fred and Sam, the fact that Tim was in the room should really count against the claim for knowledge.

However, think of this example:

I think that Jim is at home because he is usually at home at this time. However, unknown to me, Dave has called Jim to go out to play squash (an offer I know Jim would normally accept). However, also unknown to me, Jim has just fallen over and sprained his ankle, so he cannot play.

In this example, can I say that I know Jim is at home? From the point of view of the defeasibility condition, there exists a fact that if it was true - Dave calls Jim to play squash - would "defeat" my knowledge that Jim is at home. However, the other fact - Jim has just sprained his ankle - means that he does not play and is therefore at home.

The problem here seems to be that either I say that I do know that Jim is at home - in which case we are left with the same problem as earlier examples (it just happens to be true) - or I have to admit that the simple existence of a fact that would defeat the initial belief is not enough. In either case the defeasibility condition seems to be problematic.

3. Reliability. The main problem with this approach lies in what we mean by reliability. What defines a reliable method? A sceptic would point out that a method that we consider reliable may still possibly deceive us (this is the problem of induction). Also, we must consider the possibility of the application of the method - after all, human beings are not perfect and even a reliable method does not stop people making mistakes.

4. Conclusive Reasons. The main objection to this theory is that it tends to exclude a lot of things that we would consider knowledge. In other words, true knowledge would be quite rare if we only ever accepted it when there were conclusive reasons. As we have already seen, knowledge which excludes all doubt tends to tell us nothing about the world (e.g. all bachelors are unmarried). On the other hand, knowledge which gives us information about the world (e.g. all bachelors collect stamps) is always open to doubt. This leaves us with the problem of defining what exactly a conclusive reason might be.

5. Causal Connection. The final theory proposes that there must be a direct link between my justification (seeing Sam) and my belief (Sam is in the room). Therefore, Gettier is answered by arguing that my belief that Sam is in the room is false when it is Tim that I see, but it would be true if it were Sam.

There are a number of problems with this view, but the most convincing of them involves inductive arguments. Consider an argument such as "all humans are mortal". What is the cause of this belief? If it is the fact that individuals die, then this cannot be said to cause the belief that all people die (so there appears to be no direct link between the facts and the belief). On the other hand, the fact that humans die – because it is an inductive argument – cannot be known by me. However, would we really say that we do not know that “all humans are mortal”? This seems too strict a rule.


Summary of Gettier Problem and Responses.

As you can see, none of the suggested solutions to the Gettier problem are without their faults. Does this mean that all attempts to define knowledge are fruitless? Whatever the case, it appears that the tripartite definition offered by Plato is inadequate. However, this may not be as disastrous as it sounds. As we have seen in looking at Descartes’ attempts at finding an absolutely indubitable truth, absolute certainty may be beyond our reach. However, we do make claims to knowledge everyday and rely on them to go about our daily business. So, is it that important that we cannot be absolutely certain about anything? If this approach is taken, we may either say that there is no such thing as knowledge – which seems a very sceptical position to take – or adopt the position that what we term knowledge may still be open to doubt. Either way, we may adopt a pragmatic approach that allows us in our day-to-day activities – or even our scientific endeavours – to still make claims to knowledge.

We will now go on to look at different definitions of truth.

Foundationalism

The first theory of truth we are going to look at is called Foundationalism. As the term implies, this view assumes that certain beliefs act as a foundation for other beliefs. So, for instance, the statement, “The car is red” is a foundational belief in that it is not based upon other beliefs, but is a direct experience.

On the other hand, a statement such as, “The Ferrari Testerosa is the fastest road car in the world” is not foundational in that it rests on other beliefs (such as my trust in second hand information in magazines, my own knowledge of available cars, etc.). Such a belief is nonetheless still part of a foundational theory of knowledge.

From this point of view, beliefs are more or less certain according to the extent to which they can be derived from foundational beliefs. Some beliefs, such as that there is a soul which survives the death of the body, are very difficult to prove in that they seem very far removed from direct foundational beliefs (such as that we have a mind).

Exercise

What beliefs about the objects around you or the situation you are in are foundational, and what are based upon such beliefs?

Correspondence Theory

Foundationalism is basically what is termed a correspondence theory of knowledge. This is because certain beliefs held in the mind are said to correspond – or not – to states of affairs in the outside world.




The problem with this view is that we have no way of checking our beliefs. In other words, if I believe that the moon is made of cheese, I can check this against the state of affairs, or ask an astronaut. However, aren’t these ways of checking reliant upon other foundational beliefs? What do they in turn rely upon? So, either the fundamental truth is somehow self-evident – whatever that means – or there is a further supporting truth. And so we are caught in what is called an ‘infinite regress’ – so called because the reasons which we base our beliefs upon regress infinitely (in other words, there is never an end to them).

As you may recall from the previous unit, the realist view of perception was open to similar criticisms. This is because realism implies a correspondence theory of knowledge.

Coherence theory and Idealism

From the above criticisms, it can be seen that the idea that beliefs correspond to states of affairs is problematic. This is because what we get are not ‘states of affairs’ at all, but only other perceptions that in turn require foundations. What can they be checked against?

Idealism, which if you remember argued that our perceptions do not correspond to a separate reality, argues that there are no foundational beliefs. Rather, our beliefs exist in a network of interrelated perceptions. From this point of view, no one belief is more important than another, but throw light upon one another.

There are 3 main problems with this view:

1. If false beliefs outweigh true ones, this would make the incorrect conclusion the correct one – according to the coherence theory of truth. For instance, if I believe that the 1969 moon landings were faked in a photographic studio, I might be able to back this up with selective evidence. If I then reach a point where the evidence for this is more than for the belief that the moon landings took place, I would be forced to conclude that it was the truth.

2. Coherence theory is also circular. If a certain belief is true because it coheres with others, what do they cohere with? This is another example of an infinite regress. Also, since coherence theory is not a foundational theory, we cannot appeal to one or a select number of beliefs over the others, because all beliefs are equal.

3. What does coherence itself consist of? If someone were to establish criteria for coherence, this in itself would only be another belief, and so subject to the same criticisms, wouldn’t it?

Reliabilism

A further account of knowledge and truth is provided by reliabilism. This theory supposes that our main method of justifying our beliefs is to appeal to what has been reliable in the past. Thus, if I want to prove to someone else that I could speak Russian (and not just some string of made-up, Russian-sounding words), we could both go to a native Russian speaker or a lecturer in the languages department at a university who could confirm it. I could also translate some Russian books or attempt to display my knowledge by answering their questions.

These methods would be acceptable to different degrees depending on how reliable they have proven to be. For instance, the fact that I can ‘prove’ to a large group of people that I can make a coin disappear is not very reliable (a fact that stage magicians exploit).

There are two main methods of reliabilist justification: internal and external. External is obviously the most reliable because it deals with what is apparent to others. So, if I wish to establish some medical fact, I can visit a doctor, who has established scientific ways and means of confirming a diagnosis. Alternatively, I can rely on my own internal sensations to inform me of my own condition (which is obviously not so reliable or open to demonstration).

Problems with Reliabilism

The internalist form of reliabilism seems to be circular. How do we know that the methods we use to establish that something is true are really reliable? What method do I use to check that the means for establishing whether the reliable method is reliable is itself reliable? And so on.

The externalist form is open to the criticism that just because a method – such as use of a thermometer - gives us a reliable response, this does not mean that the response is true. So, a computer with a bug in it might always provide the same response to a particular question, but that would not be the correct one.

Discussion

Can you think of any other criticisms of reliabilism? Is it better as a theory of truth than the others already discussed? Are there any counter arguments that a reliabilist could use?

Phenomenalism

The last theory we are going to look at is Phenomenalism. We looked briefly at this in the last unit and, as you may recall, the theory proposes that we cannot experience anything beyond the phenomena of our perceptions. This view, similar to Idealism, states that the real objects of experience are beyond us, and that we cannot experience them directly.

The most well known form of Phenomenalism is that proposed by the English philosopher A. J. Ayer and the movement known as Logical Positivism. From Ayer’s viewpoint, a proposition is true only if some experience can verify it. So, the statement that the Amazon is the longest river in the world may be measured by looking at satellite photographs of all the world’s rivers. However, the statement that “I can turn invisible but only when I close my eyes, no one is looking and there are no cameras, etc.” is considered by Ayer to be nonsense because there is no possible way that anyone – even the ‘invisible man’ himself – can verify it. This is called the Verification Principle.

For Phenomenalists, all statements about the world are actually statements about sense experience – whether actual or possible. So, although we may not currently be able to prove that there has been life on Mars, it may in future be possible to do so. In this sense, whereas Idealists considered material objects not to exist, Phenomenalists consider them ‘permanent possibilities of experience’.

Problems with Phenomenalism

Phenomenalism as a theory of truth is a form of reliabilism. What can be justified – or verified – has meaning, what cannot be – at least potentially - is nonsense. The methods used to verify statements are traditional empirical and scientific ones – i.e. the senses plus scientific equipment. As such, it is open to some of the same criticisms as reliabilism itself.

However, perhaps the main problem with the approach is that the verification principle itself is too vague. How is a statement verified?

Maths and logic are also problematic for this theory in that they are truths that seem to be independent of sensory verification. Ayer’s answer to this was to consider them conventions of language. Similarly, all ethical and aesthetic statements were held to be neither true nor false because they could not be verified.

Ironically, one criticism points out that the verification principle itself is not – by its own criteria - meaningful. For, it is not an analytic truth (a ‘convention of language’) and neither is there any possible or actual sense experience that could be said to verify it.

Summary

This unit has looked at various approaches to the definition of knowledge and truth. It has also distinguished between two types of knowledge – by acquaintance and by description – and distinguished between knowledge and belief. We also looked at the tripartite definition of knowledge introduced by Plato, considered objections to this – so-called Gettier problems – and then critically examined attempted solutions. We then looked at Foundationalism and considered the Correspondence theory of truth which it implied. Problems with this lead us to look at Idealism and the Coherence theory of truth. Finally, we looked at Phenomenalism and the Reliabilist theory of truth.
This ends the Theory of Knowledge module of AS Philosophy. Before moving on to the next module, complete the following assignment.

Assignment 5: Unit 4 - Definition of Knowledge

Answer the following past paper question below (answer all parts). The deadline for submission is the week ending December 6th 2002. Essays may be handwritten or typed. Submissions may be via email, post or in person. You may also upload a Word file by clicking on the button below. There is an upper word limit of 2000 words, and a lower limit of 600.

Total 45marks.

1. Identify and illustrate two ways in which beliefs may be justified. (6 marks)

2. Outline and illustrate the role of justification in distinguishing between knowledge and true belief. (15 marks)

3. Assess the view that knowledge is true justified belief. (24 marks)

Introduction

We have all had the experience of being unsure or mistaken about something: you mistake someone's voice on the phone for someone else's; you wonder whether you've locked the door after you've left the house; you think it's Tuesday when it is actually Wednesday. These sorts of situation are common and do not tend to cause most people any great deal of anxiety - we simply accept them as normal incidents. But what if we were mistaken all the time? Is this possible?

From the very first beginnings of philosophy in ancient Greece, philosophers have been discussing this question. On one side of the discussion are the Sceptics who argue that it is impossible to be certain about anything. They point to similar examples as the ones I have given above, arguing that if we can be deceived about such simple things, who is to say that we are not mistaken more often than we think? (See Appendix A for a brief history of scepticism)

On the other side of the discussion are the various groups of philosophers who have tried to prove that certainty is possible. These attempts have given birth to various theories of what knowledge is, how it can be guaranteed, etc., and the proper name for this aspect of philosophy is Epistemology (from the Greek episteme, meaning 'knowledge', and logos, meaning 'study of' or 'talk about').

What Will We Be Studying?

In the following sections we will look at many of the main issues and problems in TOK and we will consider how philosophers over the ages have attempted to answer them. Throughout our survey we will always try and relate these problems to everyday life so as to make the ideas more real. Although this will sometimes be difficult or not always possible, most of the time it will allow us to clarify and understand the theories better.

Some of the main issues we will be covering are:

· What possible reasons might make us doubt our knowledge?
· Is it possible to justify our knowledge with experience or rational proof?
· What is knowledge? Can it be defined?
· By what means do we come to know the world?

At the end of each section there will be an assignment or questions to help you work through the ideas for yourself. Sometimes this will involve you doing some research and extra reading using the Internet, journals or books; sometimes it may involve making notes or answering questions on a video you have been asked to watch; sometimes it may involve simply sitting down and trying to question your own experience so that you can establish your own viewpoint.

Introduction

There are many points in our daily life where we might be mistaken about things or have cause to doubt them. As an exercise, I want you to think about the types of mistake that are possible and what that mistake is due to. So, for instance, I might think that today is Tuesday, when it is actually Thursday, which I could consider a lapse of memory. Set your answers out in a table like this:

Mistake

Reason

Thinking it is Tuesday not Thursday

Lapse of Memory

Mathematical mistake (42 + 59 = 111)

Faulty Reasoning

Try and cover as many different types of mistake as you can think of (there is no need to list more than one example for each type - confusing Tuesday and Thursday is an example of faulty memory, so there is no need to list other examples).

Once you have done this, turn the page.


The Sources of Knowledge

Now, look through your list. How does it compare to mine?

Mistake

Reason

Thinking it is Tuesday not Thursday

Lapse of Memory

Mathematical mistake (42 + 59 = 111)

Faulty Reasoning

Mistook a flying paper bag for a bird

Visual hallucination

Thought I heard the doorbell ring

Auditory hallucination

Thought I smelt burning

Olfactory hallucination

Felt as if something was crawling up my arm

Tactile hallucination

Dreamed that I won the lottery

Dream (sleeping hallucination)

Accepted that Father Christmas is real

False trust

Thought that Canada was a continent

Misheard, confused, misinformed

Feeling of familiarity in unfamiliar place

Déjà vu (false internal conviction)

Do you have any that aren't on my list? Or have you missed out some that I have mentioned? Of course, the reasons for the different types of mistake might be different to the answers I have given. Some might argue that Déjà vu, for instance, is a form of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception, or psychic ability), or even evidence of reincarnation or past life memories.

From the point of view of the sceptic, the reason for the mistake is not so important as the fact that the mistake itself is possible. Looking down the list you may also note that most of the errors listed are due to some limitation in our sensory apparatus (our eyes, ears, etc.). This is not really surprising in that almost all of our knowledge - arguably - comes through them at one time or another.


The arguments from illusion and deception

Most people don't really question their senses, but most people are also familiar with the types of mistake reported above. Why, then, aren't we more sceptical of the information coming through our senses?

For convenience, we can categorise the type of error under four main headings:

1. Optical illusions
These are traditional examples of diagrams, pictures, models, etc., which seem to provide odd effects on the senses. Look at the following pictures and note what you think this could tell us about our senses:

(a) The Grid
Stare at the grid below for a few seconds. Can you notice anything strange happening?







(b) Sloping lines
Look at the picture below of sloping lines. Or are they?





(c) Ascending and descending
Are the monks walking up or down? (Drawing by M.C.Escher)

(d) Old or young woman?
Can you see more than one face here?




For further examples of illusions see:

http://www.optillusions.com

2. Delusions, waking dreams and visions.

There is, as you might guess, a great deal of debate as to whether visions - in the religious sense - actually exist. However, setting this issue aside for the moment, it is possible to classify certain experiences as delusional. For example, someone who is running a fever, has suddenly woken from a deep sleep, is exhausted through hunger or fatigue, or even under extreme stress, may hallucinate.

We may also include here certain types of mental illness where voices are heard or things projected out onto the outside world so that they appear as real (whatever that is! We shall come back to this later). However, the main thing to notice here is that the mind is capable of producing illusions under certain circumstances.

3. Natural illusions

The types of thing included here would be such things as: moisture rising from the ground appearing as a pool of water (a mirage); the light of a star that has by now died but can still be seen; a stick in water that looks bent; the way the moon looks bigger nearer to the horizon.

These, and other examples, are often cited as proof that the senses cannot in themselves be trusted. As with the optical illusions (above), there seems to be a natural tendency to misinterpret, or provide misleading information regarding certain experiences.

4. Relative or subjective sensations

Hot water to a cold hand can feel hotter than to a warm hand - and vice versa. Also, people who have had a limb amputated sometimes still have sensations where the limb was. Experiences of this type suggest that even something as fundamental as our bodily sensations can be mistaken.

This is an especially strong point for the sceptic because our sense of touch is very often seen as being the most reliable, the thing most capable of giving us proof. If we can touch or feel something we are more likely to accept it as real than if we have merely seen it.

How far can Scepticism go?

So far we have considered ordinary doubts that people may suffer from in the course of their everyday existence. However, we now come to the thorny question of to what extent it is possible for there to be such a thing as "global" scepticism - that is, doubt about everything which we experience.

To illustrate this it is necessary to distinguish between ordinary doubt and what is called "philosophical doubt". We all experience ordinary doubt: "Did I leave the iron on?", "Is Jim in a mood with me?", etc. These doubts are doubts about facts. If I go back home, I can check if the iron is still on; if I talk to Jim, I may find out if I have done something to offend him.

Philosophical doubts are different. In the above situations, examples of philosophical doubts would be: is it possible to really tell if the iron is on; can I really find out if Jim is angry with me - or even more radically, if Jim is actually there (and not some figment of my imagination - or a robot!).

Type of Doubt

Example

Local scepticism (also called "ordinary doubt")

Is that a bird or a plane?

Global scepticism (also called "philosophical doubt")

Are my senses mistaken all the time?

Before moving on, have a think about this difference and try to get it clear in your head. Ordinary doubt - or local scepticism - can usually be tested - and even when it can't, there may well come a time when it can. So, I may currently have doubts about whether there is life on some distant planet; however, in the future, technology may eventually allow me to actually find out (the development of a more powerful telescope, for instance).

However, philosophical doubt - or global scepticism - seems to deny the possibility of there being any conclusive way of finding out. For instance, if in regard to the question of life on some other planet someone argued, "We can never really know that there is not life on another planet because it may be undetectable to us," then that person is a sceptic.

This sort of doubt is largely responsible for the reputation which philosophy seems to have in some quarters of being absurd and unrealistic. "Do you think that table is really there?" the philosopher asks. "You think you are talking to me, but what proof do you have?" However, the underlying point is a serious one: how can we ever really know something with absolute certainty? Remember, no matter how certain we are, there is always room for doubt. Even something like science, which uses experiment to prove theories, sometimes finds new truths which seem to contradict old ones (Einstein's theory of Relativity, for example).

In summary, scepticism attacks certain beliefs that most of us hold to be true:

  • It is sometimes possible to be certain about something.
  • Our senses are mostly trustworthy.
  • We can eventually find out whether we have been mistaken or not.
  • It is possible to experience reality as it really is.

Exercise

Before moving on to the next section, I want you to do two things. Firstly, make a list of what you think are sceptical arguments (you can base them on the examples I have already given, but try to think of your own - 3 or 4 should do). Secondly, try to identify answers that you think a non-sceptic could use to show that these problems do not exist. Is it possible to do it?


Counter Arguments

So, what would it be like to be completely mistaken about everything? When I see a mirage I can eventually find out that I was wrong to think there was a pool of water there. But if I question my ability to check that fact - that is, to put my mistake right - where does this leave me?

Some philosophers have attempted to argue against this point by pointing out how the concept of a mistake only makes sense if it is possible to not be mistaken. D. Z. Phillips, in his book Introducing Philosophy, lists 3 counter arguments to philosophical doubt:

i. The mistakes we make with regard to the senses seem to take for granted the accuracy of some of the sensory information. When we see a mirage, we do not doubt that the ground is there; when we mistake someone's voice on the phone, we do not doubt that someone is speaking.

ii. Philosophical doubt seems to ignore the fact that these errors form part of the way we see the world. What would it be like for a straight stick not to appear bent in water? Or to see clearly in a fog?

iii. Most of the examples given by sceptics involve unfavourable conditions: tiredness leads to hallucination or a mistake; something is seen fleetingly or at a distance; a fog obscures our vision. However, when these circumstances change, we realise our mistake. We rub our eyes, and the illusion disappears. We go closer, and we see clearly what we could not make out at a distance. We wait, and the fog lifts.

Despite these counter-arguments, sceptical arguments persist. In fact, some philosophers have argued that it is impossible to prove the sceptic wrong, so we should just accept it - and move on. However, before we do that, we are going to look at another form of scepticism: the argument from dreaming.

The Argument from dreaming

Most of what we have covered so far has dealt with the untrustworthiness of the senses. However, certain philosophers have taken the problem a stage further by asking the question, "Is it possible to tell reality from a dream?"

The basis for this question is simple: when we dream we often believe that what we are experiencing is real. So, how can we be sure that what we are now experiencing is not a dream of some sort?

The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) most famously asked this question in his Meditations on the First Philosophy . However, the idea itself is not a new one. Many cultures contain stories and belief systems that portray life as a dream. Hinduism, most notably, considers all material existence to be illusory, or "maya", from which we "wake up" when we realise the true reality. Descartes had a similar agenda, though his intention was to establish beyond doubt that we are not deceived in any way - which dreaming would be an example of.

The argument itself is not so easy to refute as you would think. To someone who replies that the argument can be easily refuted by the simple fact that we wake up, it can be pointed out that there are occasions when people seem to have dreamed of doing that. This involves us in what is called an "infinite regress": anything which is mentioned as being an aspect of reality (as opposed to a dream) is said to be part of the content of the dream itself. So, I may dream that I think I am awake; I may dream that I can tell waking from dreaming; and so on.

Descartes' answer to this problem is to try to guarantee knowledge through appeals to God and rational necessity (we shall look at this in more detail later in the course). However, other philosophers have put forward arguments based upon the idea that dreaming and waking up are concepts that are tied together (you cannot have one without the other).

eXistenZ

The idea of never waking up has been used by writers and film makers a number of times. Jacob's Ladder (1990) provides an original twist to this sort of story, and the 1999 film by David Cronenberg, called eXistenZ, uses the modern day equivalent of virtual reality games, with the tag line, "Where does reality stop... and the game begin?"

Exercise

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark says:

O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count
myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I
have bad dreams.
(II. ii. 254-6)

Here the idea seems to be that dreams provide some sort of link to - or proof of - the existence of the outside world. Consider to what extent this may be true. Is it possible that you are dreaming right now? What arguments might be used against someone who thought that life is a dream or illusion? As you consider these issues, make a list of arguments for the argument (life may be a dream) and against it (dreams and reality are different and easily distinguished). Which side wins? Try and make it like a real argument where the points follow on from one another. For Example:

For

Against

Dreams seem real when we are dreaming

When compared to real life, dreams seem fragmented

Real life is sometimes fragmented and strange

But not always

Once you have done this, move on to the next section.
Other Arguments

Brains in Vats

The recent films The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003) , starring Keanu Reeves, imagines a situation where human beings are deceived on a mass scale by artificially intelligent machines to believe that they are living a normal life. However, they are actually living in a massive hive of incubators, providing energy for the machines whilst hooked up to a virtual reality replica of the real world.

This is similar to what is called by philosophers the "Brains in Vats" argument, where it is supposed that the world as we know it is actually technologically generated and fed into our brain, which sits hooked up to wires in a vat of chemicals, devoid of a body.

(A lot has been written about the connections between philosophy and the themes of the films. Anyone interested in exploring further should get hold of a copy of The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Open Court, 2002), edited by William Irwin. The official Matrix website also has a section dedicated to philosophical themes explored in the films written by actual philosophers - go to www.whatisthematrix.com and choose Philosophy from the Mainframe menu. Be careful, though: not all the material - in the book or website - is suitable for a beginner.)

Worlds of Robots, Aliens and Hollywood Executives

Other variations on this argument include the idea that human-looking machines are trying to pass themselves off as humans (Blade Runner, 1982), that the world is maintained by an alien race (Dark City, 1998) or even that a whole community of actors has been set up as a back-drop for the televised activities of one man (The Truman Show, 1998).

Whatever the plot details, the story is generally the same: systematic deception on a massive scale. Modern variations of the story have tended to include advancements in technology that would allow such deception - such as virtual reality, robotics, etc. - but the idea itself is independent of the technological means. What is important is not so much whether such a deception is possible, but how could we tell?

Witnesses and Testimony

This leads us nicely into our next topic - that of knowledge at second hand. Once again, doubt concerning this sort of knowledge can be divided into what I shall call "local" and "global" scepticism. Local scepticism concerning the statements and behaviour of other people is common: "I think he's lying", "I don't believe her", "I don't trust them".

We are quite use to being sceptical (with a small 's') about certain things: "He said he'd swum the Channel, but I was sceptical". However, so-called "global" scepticism about such things is a great deal more ambitious, and approaches the sort of scenario we come across in the films listed above.

Imagine if everyone was deceiving you all the time, would you actually know what truth was?

Exercise

Despite the unlikelihood of being in something like The Truman Show, we cannot deny that a great deal of our information comes at second hand and from distant sources. Is there any knowledge, in fact, which does not come to us from second hand sources? How much do we actually experience at first hand? As an exercise, make a list of statements of different sorts - such as, "I know the world is round", "I know Man landed on the moon", "I know grass is green" (choose about 5). Now, try to identify where this knowledge comes from. How much of it - if any - is second-hand? How much is first-hand? Which is more certain?

Assignment


In this unit we have looked at:

· The nature of scepticism
· How the senses may deceive us
· Arguments for illusion, deception and dreaming
· The difference between ordinary and philosophical doubt (Local and global scepticism)
· Brains in vats, alien takeovers and Hollywood conspiracies

Assignment for Unit 1

Choose one essay title from the following two past paper questions. Although you will not be ready to answer the whole question just yet - there are a few more things we need to cover - you can make a start on it by sketching out some ideas. There is an upper word limit of 1500 words, and a lower limit of 600.

1. Examine the extent to which sceptical arguments prevent us from claiming knowledge about the recent and distant past.

2. Assess the implications of the argument from illusion for our knowledge of the external world.


Appendix A: Brief History of Scepticism

Scepticism (from the Greek, skeptesthai, 'to examine') is the philosophical view that it is impossible to know anything with absolute certainty, or to know the world as it 'really' is. The word can also mean a general reluctance to accept anything on face value without sufficient proof (as in "He heard that Jim had run the 100m in under ten seconds but he remained sceptical").

However, Scepticism (with a capital 'S') began in the 5th century BC in Greece where certain philosophers came to express doubts about how certain we could be about our knowledge. Protagoras of Abdera (480-411 BC), for instance, is reported to have said that "man is the measure of all things" (i.e. that we make the world in our own image) and Gorgias (485-380 BC) that "nothing exists; if anything does exist, it cannot be known; if anything exists and can be known, it cannot be communicated". Many such thinkers arose from the group known as the Sophists, men who would hire their skills in debate and argument out to anyone for the right fee. From this point of view, this form of scepticism is based on the fact that with enough skill, any argument can sound convincing.

Next came the Pyrrhonists, so called after Pyrrho of Elis, it's founder, who argued that since we can never know true reality we should refrain from making judgements. His pupil, Timon of Philius, followed this by adding that equally good arguments could be made for either side of any argument (so it was impossible to decide). The New Academy of the 2nd century BC, founded by Carneades (214-129 BC), taught only that some arguments were more probable than others. Later sceptics include Aenesidemus (1st century BC), who put forward ten arguments in support of the sceptical position, and the Greek physician Sextus Empiricus (3rd century AD), who argued the use of common sense over abstract theory.

When we reach the Renaissance we can see the influence of Greek scepticism in such thinkers as the French essayist Michel de Montaigne (1553-1592), but the sceptical issues only fully resurfaced with the French philosopher René Descartes ( 1596-1650). Descartes attempted to use sceptical arguments in order to establish a firm ground for knowledge. So, Descartes reasoned, if we attempt to subject everything to doubt we will hopefully discover at some point if there is anything that cannot be doubted. This he claimed to achieve in his assertion that it is impossible to doubt that we are thinking beings - which proves that we exist ( 'Cogito, ergo sum', which is Latin for 'I think, therefore I am'). By employing this 'method of doubt', as he called it, Descartes merely used scepticism as a means to find something certain, and was not therefore actually a sceptic.

The sceptical cause was once again championed by the Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), who argued that certain assumptions - such as the link between cause and effect, natural laws, the existence of God and the soul - were far from certain. What little we know that seems certain, Hume argued, was based on observation and habit as opposed to any logical or scientific necessity. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), influenced by Hume, set limits to human knowledge by arguing that certain things - such as if there was proof for God, or if the world had a beginning - did not make sense to be asked.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) argued that objective knowledge did not actually exist, and his scepticism influenced in turn that of French Existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). The American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), argued that all belief - even that in oneself - is irrational (even though it seems the most natural thing).

Modern day philosophy, although it does not generally take extreme sceptical arguments very seriously, still retains the influence of earlier sceptical thinkers.

What Will We Be Studying?

In the following sections we will look at many of the main issues and problems in TOK and we will consider how philosophers over the ages have attempted to answer them. Throughout our survey we will always try and relate these problems to everyday life so as to make the ideas more real. Although this will sometimes be difficult or not always possible, most of the time it will allow us to clarify and understand the theories better.

Some of the main issues we will be covering are:

· What possible reasons might make us doubt our knowledge?
· Is it possible to justify our knowledge with experience or rational proof?
· What is knowledge? Can it be defined?
· By what means do we come to know the world?

At the end of each section there will be an assignment or questions to help you work through the ideas for yourself. Sometimes this will involve you doing some research and extra reading using the Internet, journals or books; sometimes it may involve making notes or answering questions on a video you have been asked to watch; sometimes it may involve simply sitting down and trying to question your own experience so that you can establish your own viewpoint.

Introduction

When I throw a ball into the air and watch it fall, I am confirming something that I know to be true about things in the world - that is, that they obey the law of gravity. But how do I know this? Is it from having seen it happen countless times? Or, is it from understanding some principle or law that is fundamental to the universe?

This debate has been part of philosophy for a long time. On the one hand are those who claim that our knowledge of the world comes from experience and the information that we receive through our senses: these are called Empiricists. They would view the law of gravity as being dependent on observation (the ball falls once, twice, ten times, fifty, a hundred, a thousand… and so on). From the empiricist’s point of view, our knowledge of things comes from piecing together all the different bits of experience to arrive at an overall explanation. So, if the experiences change – the ball stays in the air – so must the explanation.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that we understand the world through reason: these are the Rationalists. In the case of the ball, they would argue that we discover the fundamental truth (the law of gravity) which underlies all these experiences. A better example might involve the idea of an object: do we learn this concept from experience (“that thing seems to be a thing”), or is it because we already have the idea of it (“That things seems to be a red thing”). So, for the rationalist, there are certain principles or ideas that form the basis of our understanding of the world. We do not create them; they already exist. The empiricist, on the other hand, doubts the very existence of these “first principles”, and instead tries to show that they can be derived wholly from experience.

In all truth, this distinction between rationalism and empiricism is not really as simple as that; both outlooks are vital to our understanding of the world. Science, for example can’t just rely on the application of laws because those laws may change; on the other hand, it can’t just perform experiments without having an idea of what best explains the underlying behaviour (that is, they must have what’s called a “working hypothesis”). However, the two labels are useful in the sense that they represent the two furthest extremes in how we acquire knowledge and allow us to see what’s good and bad in each approach.

First of all, let's look more closely at Rationalism.

Whilst rationalists shared an appreciation for science and empirical enquiry, they also emphasised certain key notions that were not shared by empiricism and became the subject of keen debate between the two camps.

1. A Priori Knowledge – “Some ideas are true independent of experience”. Whilst rationalists did not deny that the senses give us important information about the world, they did not consider them to be the sole means of knowledge. In fact, they quite often thought that the senses mislead us. For this reason, they argued that knowledge which is independent of experience must be more trustworthy because it has less to do with the senses. Such ideas they called a priori, which is a Latin phrase meaning “prior to” or “before” – experience, that is. Examples of such knowledge include:

a. Mathematical propositions (2 + 2 = 4).
b. Things which are true by definition (all bachelors are unmarried).
c. Self-evident truths (such as “I think therefore I am” or “God exists”).

2. Innate Ideas – “Some ideas are present from birth”. Amongst those ideas which do not require the proof or suggestion of sense experience are concepts which are present from birth. These ideas – which are called innate – can theoretically be discovered or ‘brought out’ (the original meaning of the word “education”) from within the mind of each individual. So, for example, one of Descartes’ arguments for the existence of God is that the idea is present in the mind from birth, left there almost as if an artist had signed his work or left a trademark.

3. Logical Necessity – “Some things cannot be conceived of as otherwise”. Another important idea for rationalists is that of necessity. Although we may use the word everyday, the rationalists actually meant something very specific by it. So, for instance, we might say something like, “In order to pass your exams you have to study hard”. However, in reality, there are lots of ways you might pass your exams: you may have a natural talent for learning so that you don’t have to work hard (it just sticks); you may be lucky; you may bribe an examiner – or cheat. However, if we were to say something like, “In order to have 3 things you have to have more than 2 things,” then we are approaching more what the rationalists meant by the term. To distinguish between these two uses, philosophers generally call the first sort – passing your exams – “empirical necessity” (it could be otherwise); the latter sort (having 4 things) is called logical necessity. So, if we can prove that something is true because “it could not be otherwise”, then we have achieved logical necessity and an absolute degree of certainty. The goal for rationalists was therefore to find those “logical necessities” which would help us find certainty in the world and answer those difficult moral, religious and metaphysical questions that interest us so much.

Next >>

Scepticism (from the Greek, skeptesthai, 'to examine') is the philosophical view that it is impossible to know anything with absolute certainty, or to know the world as it 'really' is. The word can also mean a general reluctance to accept anything on face value without sufficient proof (as in "He heard that Jim had run the 100m in under ten seconds but he remained sceptical").

However, Scepticism (with a capital 'S') began in the 5th century BC in Greece where certain philosophers came to express doubts about how certain we could be about our knowledge. Protagoras of Abdera (480-411 BC), for instance, is reported to have said that "man is the measure of all things" (i.e. that we make the world in our own image) and Gorgias (485-380 BC) that "nothing exists; if anything does exist, it cannot be known; if anything exists and can be known, it cannot be communicated". Many such thinkers arose from the group known as the Sophists, men who would hire their skills in debate and argument out to anyone for the right fee. From this point of view, this form of scepticism is based on the fact that with enough skill, any argument can sound convincing.

Next came the Pyrrhonists, so called after Pyrrho of Elis, it's founder, who argued that since we can never know true reality we should refrain from making judgements. His pupil, Timon of Philius, followed this by adding that equally good arguments could be made for either side of any argument (so it was impossible to decide). The New Academy of the 2nd century BC, founded by Carneades (214-129 BC), taught only that some arguments were more probable than others. Later sceptics include Aenesidemus (1st century BC), who put forward ten arguments in support of the sceptical position, and the Greek physician Sextus Empiricus (3rd century AD), who argued the use of common sense over abstract theory.

When we reach the Renaissance we can see the influence of Greek scepticism in such thinkers as the French essayist Michel de Montaigne (1553-1592), but the sceptical issues only fully resurfaced with the French philosopher René Descartes ( 1596-1650). Descartes attempted to use sceptical arguments in order to establish a firm ground for knowledge. So, Descartes reasoned, if we attempt to subject everything to doubt we will hopefully discover at some point if there is anything that cannot be doubted. This he claimed to achieve in his assertion that it is impossible to doubt that we are thinking beings - which proves that we exist ( 'Cogito, ergo sum', which is Latin for 'I think, therefore I am'). By employing this 'method of doubt', as he called it, Descartes merely used scepticism as a means to find something certain, and was not therefore actually a sceptic.

The sceptical cause was once again championed by the Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), who argued that certain assumptions - such as the link between cause and effect, natural laws, the existence of God and the soul - were far from certain. What little we know that seems certain, Hume argued, was based on observation and habit as opposed to any logical or scientific necessity. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), influenced by Hume, set limits to human knowledge by arguing that certain things - such as if there was proof for God, or if the world had a beginning - did not make sense to be asked.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) argued that objective knowledge did not actually exist, and his scepticism influenced in turn that of French Existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). The American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), argued that all belief - even that in oneself - is irrational (even though it seems the most natural thing).

Modern day philosophy, although it does not generally take extreme sceptical arguments very seriously, still retains the influence of earlier sceptical thinkers.

Imam Fakhr Ad-din ar-Razi (d. 606 A.H./1209 C.E.), had a debate on the question of the trinity with a priest. He reported it in his commentary on the Holy Quran under the comments on verse 3:61:

"When I was in Khwarazim, I was told that a Christian had come there who claimed to have deep knowledge of Christianity. I went to him and a debate started between us. He demanded proof of the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh). I said that we have received authentic reports with regards to the miracles performed by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), just like the reports we have received with regards to the miracles performed by the prophet Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) [peace be upon on them].

Now if we deny the authentic reports, or we accept them but the fact that miracles prove the truth of the prophets, this would necessarily deny the prophethood of all the Prophets of Allah (pbut).

On the other hand if we accept the truth of the reports and also believe that miracles are such sure signs of the truth of the Prophets (pbut), and both these arguments are proved to be true for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the truth of his prophethood would be essentially proved.

The priest answered that he did not claim that Christ was a prophet but believed him to be God. I told him that:

first we should have the definition of God. We all know that God must be self-existent, first and prime cause, and beyond physical description. However, we find that Jesus (pbuh) had a human form, was born, and did not exist before, and then was apparently killed by the Jews. In the beginning he was a child and gradually grew into a youth. He needed food to live and used to eat and drink, and had all the characteristics of human being. It is obvious that an accidental being cannot be self-existent, and one who is subject to change cannot be eternal and everlasting.

Secondly, your claim is wrong on the ground that you say that Jesus (pbuh) was arrested by the Jews and then was crucified. He also made every effort to run away in order to save himself. He tried to hide himself before his arrest and then, before his death, he cried aloud. Now if he was God, or a part of God that was united with the God-head or God was in him, why could he not save himself from this persecution, and punish them for such a sacrilegious act. His weeping and crying, and making efforts to hide himself, is just as inconceivable. We are really surprised at how a man with ordinary common-sense could ever believe something which is so evidently irrational and contrary to human reason.

Thirdly, your hypothesis is impossible because we must agree with one of three logical possibilities in this matter. Either :

God was the same Christ (pbuh) who was visible to the people in human form, or

God was fully united with him or

some part of God was united to him.

All three possibilities are equally irrational and logically impossible.

The first because if the creator of the universe was Jesus (pbuh), it would require that the God of the universe was crucified by the Jews, in this case the existence of this universe would have ceased. The God of the universe being killed by the Jews, who are the most inconsiderate and disregarded nation of the world, is all the most ironical and unimaginable. He must be a most helpless God indeed!

The second possibility is also unacceptable, because if God is neither a body nor an essence, his presence and unification with form and body is rationally not possible. And if God has a form and is material, its unity with other substances would mean that the particles of God’s matter are separate from one another; if he is an essence, this would necessitate some other matter for its existence, which would imply that God was dependent on something outside Himself for his existence.

The third possibility that some parts of god were united with him is also absurd because if those parts were vital for God, it would require that God would have been without some of his vital parts after they were united with Jesus (pbuh), and God would no longer be perfect. If those parts were not vital and God would lose nothing without them, such parts could not be parts of God.

The fourth argument, refuting this Christian claim, is that it has been proved that the Christ had extraordinary liking for worship and for obedience to God. Had he been the God Himself he would have not been involved in the worship of God. As God is not required to worship himself.

I asked the priest what arguments he had for his claim for the divinity of Christ (pbuh). He answered that he performed great miracles like reviving the dead and healing lepers. These miraculous achievements are not possible without divine powers. I asked him if he agreed that an absence of predicate did not necessarily prove the absence of the existence of the subject. If you do not agree with it, it would demand that in the beginning when this universe did not exist, God also did not exist.

On the other hand, if you agree that the absence of a predicate does not necessarily prove the absence of the subject, I will ask you a question. How do you know that God is not united with me, with you or with any living creature as He was united with Christ (pbuh)? He answered that it was obvious that Christ (pbuh) performed miracles and wonders, while such wonders are not performed by any of us. This was enough indication that God was not united with us.

I said to him that this showed that he did not understand the premise that the absence of a predicate did not prove the absence of the subject, because if the performance of miracles is a predicate of God’s union with Christ (pbuh), the only thing absent in our case, is the performance of miracles but this absence of predicate does not prove that God is not united with us or with other animals. I added, that any faith which requires us to believe that God can be united with animals cannot be acceptable to any sensible man.

Moreover, Moses (pbuh) miraculously turned his staff into a serpent. Logically speaking, making a wood into a living serpent is greater marvel than the revival of a dead man. Because the difference between a living man and a dead man is not as great as between a piece of wood and a living serpent. Now if Moses (pbuh)did not become God by performing this wonder how could a lesser wonder be an argument for Jesus being God or the Son of God? The Priest was spell-bound and gave up the discussion."

Saya terpekur, kata-kata tidak keluar?

Mengapa ? mengapa karena aku takut ditertawakan?

Puasa? Aku segan ? dan jadi tidak nyaman ? tidak ada kesan ? tidak

Aku harus lebih cepat menyesuiakn diri dalam jubah keruhanian, apakah dnegan baju?

Apakah dnegan kaos oblong? Ada pertentangan? Apakah dengan gamis sederhana? Apa yang kucari, aku ingin jadi apa, apa ada yang harud kukenakan dan kutanggalkan?

Detik ini,aku harus menjadi pir, muqarib, detik ini

Aku harus membuang imajinasi dan kyayalan, desire, keinginan dan rencana-rencana

Aku harus menjadi makhluk yang real.

Tahqiq itu muhaqis menjadi real benar-benar real. Aku harus tahu bahwa aku harus mendapatkan keabadian pujian abadi, kekasih abadi, cita-cita abadi, kebahagiaan abadi, kampung abadi, muamalah abadi, dan sejati. Aku harus melupakan segala yang tidak aabadi dan menipu, tidak!!!!

Aku tertipu, dan akan selalu tertipu

Ada yang menipu kita . kebnaikam kita merasa baik jadi tenang saja,kedua komuitas kaerna orang-orang disekitar anda jujg abiasa-biasa maka anda juga terkondisikan,kedua ilmu anda merasa terus berkembang berarti anda sebenanry amaju, dan ketiga anda merasa tidak ternacam, tidak ada kejadian luar biasa yang anda rasakan, dan ke-4,

Pasca lebaran,

Tidak ada lagi seno, tidak ada lagi, residen, tidak ada lagi,

Salat khusu dan tepat waktu serta tidak maksiat

Maksiat mata, maksiat hati

Jangan maksiat hati: jangan iri, jangan ragu kepada allah, jangan menggantukankepada selain-Nya, jangan pesimis, jangan ingin mendapat pujian dari manusia, jangan ingni populer, jangan ingin duniawi, jangan percaya sejati kepada selain-nya, jangan tergoda khawatir, jangan, mencintai selain Allah, jangan terllau mencintai anak, istri, keluarga, jabatan, karir, karya, buku, benda, citra, memori, spot, ilmu

Jadi bahaya, dan bahaya dari duniawi.

Awas perangkap, ketika ada gold coin ia ada visual yang lain, ada kita harustahu jebatakan-jebakan itu seperti : bogor trade mal, 2 jam dengankeluarga di depan tv, atau aku harus asik, menghibur diri dengan,

Kata ahlusunah , khumus itu tidak ada, sebab khumus dalam ayat anfal ? itu berkaitan dengan ghanimah, menurut jafar hadi, ghanimah itu bukan saja rampasa perang tapi juga pemberian atau fawaid apa saja, maghanima katsiratan, dan di zaman rasul juga rasul menyuruh orang yang masuk islam untuk mengeluarkan khumusnya.

Jadi ilmu adalah aksiden ?kaerna tanpa subyek ia bukan ilmu lagi ?

Saya berpikir maka saya ada, seolah-olah saya itu ada diluar dirinya ?

Itu out himself? Source of knowledege : 1

Banyak tertawa, diam abus, mata tidak ceria, jantung tidak ceria, kepala pusing, dan suuzan.

Aura hati, aura jiwa. Aura spiritual harus tampak dan menonjol

Keluar dari dunia khayalan,

Ekplains detail about source of knowledge?!,

And also ekplain about theori of Plato,?

Nulis skripsi, paper sudarminto, paper pak heriyanto,

Presentasi dengan power point, paper sebelumnya,

Yang penting, ya skripsi,

Kemudian test, kemudian tesis

Kemudian, hari ini selasa, anda harus real dan juga

Anda hrus bekerja keras dan baik, dan anda siap kehilangan,

Hakikat kemalasan

Adalah Prof. Kazuo Murakami, seorang ahli genetika, dalam bukunya The Divine Message of The DNA yang kemudian membuka wawasan saya lebih luas. Ternyata menurut ilmu genetika memang betul, segala sesuatu yang merupakan "bakat" ditentukan oleh kode genetis yang ada dalam DNA kita. Sebagai gambaran, setiap kilogram tubuh kita terdiri dari sekiar 1 trilyun sel. Jadi seorang bayi yang baru lahir sudah memiliki sekitar 3 trilyun sel. Padahal awalnya kita hanyalah satu buah sel yang sudah dibuahi. Yang kemudian membelah menjadi 2, 2 menjadi 4, 4 menjadi 8 dan seterusnya hingga trilyunan tadi. Setiap sel memiliki inti sel (nucleus) yang mengandung DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA). DNA inilah yang menyimpan kode genetis yang menjadi cetak biru tubuh kita. Jadi akan menjadi seperti apa kita, seolah sepertinya sudah terprogram dalam DNA tadi.


Lalu jika dalam setiap sel tubuh kita terdapat DNA yang sama, bagaimana sebuah sel tahu bahwa ia adalah bagian dari rambut, misalnya, dan kapan rambut mulai tumbuh, dsb. Menurut pakar genetika, ternyata terdapat mekanisme "nyala/padam" pada DNA tadi. Sebagai contoh, gen yang menentukan sifat kelamin laki-laki (berkumis, bersuara berat, dsb) yang semula "padam" akan "menyala" pada saat pubertas.


Bahkan, lebih jauh lagi. Proses nyala/padam tadi ternyata dapat terjadi sebagai respon lingkungan yang berubah. Dua ilmuwan dari Institut Pasteur mengamati hal ini. Bakteri E.Coli yang hanya mengkonsumsi glukosa, ternyata ketika ditempatkan pada lingkungan yang hanya ada laktosa, mampu merubah diri menjadi pemakan laktosa.
Mekanisme internalnya sangat ajaib, karena bakteri adalah makhluk satu sel. Sehingga perubahan menjadi pemakan laktosa seolah-olah seperti menyalakan sebuah kemampuan yang semula tidak nampak.


Dan ini membawa konsekuensi luar biasa. Karena jika benar gen pembawa sifat tadi memiliki mekanisme nyala-padam seperti itu. Kita tidak pernah tahu potensi apa dalam diri kita yang saat ini belum kita nyalakan. Jangan-jangan saya juga memiliki bakat bermain saksofon sebagus Dave Koz, hanya saat ini belum dinyalakan saja. Atau jangan-jangan ada bakat bisnis sehebat Donald Trump yang masih terpendam dalam diri saya, dan menunggu dinyalakan?

What is epistemologi

Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature, methods, limitations, and validity of knowledge and belief.

Is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature, character, way and limitations and true or not , validity of \

And tell the argume of scepticisme!

And what viewof misbah ebotu epitemologi?

Aku ingin membuat situs tentang ibnu arabi-Shadra Society

Islamic Philosophy and Mysticisme Islam

For Indonesian Society and All around the World

This resource is intended to be a comprehensive aid to the study of Mulla Shadra and Ibnu Arabi thoght. It is primarily aimed at those coming to this text as undergraduates or A level students - although it is also accessible enough to be of interest to the non-academic philosopher or layperson.

For A level students the text is an option in the fifth module in the A2 syllabus from the AQA examining board.

2 komentar:

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Anonim mengatakan...

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