Epistemology and Descartes - About people.tamu.edu

Epistemology and Descartes - About people.tamu.edu

How Can We Know Anything about the World Around Us? Idealism: we can know about the world because it is comprised of our ideas Phenomenalism: physical objects are knowable, but only as bundles of sense data Nave Realism: we do not perceive ideas or mental representations Idealism: George Berkeley (1685-1753)

What we perceive is the real world, but the only things we perceive are our ideas. So the world consists only of ideas and the minds that perceive them (including God). That is, the worlds existence consists in its being perceived (esse est percipi) Objection: this seems to deny that physical bodies exist Phenomenalism: John Stuart Mill (1806-73)

Things are knowable because they are simply phenomena (things that appear to us under certain conditions) We know things in the world because they are permanent possibilities of sensation Objection: things dont exist because they are experienceable; they are experienceable because they exist Transcendental Idealism: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

We know about things not as they are in themselves but only as they appear to us (as phenomena), structured by the minds categories (e.g., space, time, cause) Objections: (1) If we are limited to phenomena, we cant know what the world is really like; (2) categories differ culturally; (3) this does not explain why we have only these categories Nave Realism: We Do Not Perceive Ideas; We Perceive Their Objects

John Searle Perceptions are always intentional, that is, about something; and when our perceptions are caused by the things they are about, we can be said to know those things Perceptions are not purely passive; they are affected by ones background knowledge and beliefs

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