Philosophy Final

Why does Descartes begin by doubting everything he thinks he knows?

*wants to make sure that he's right and to find the foundation of certainty.
*wants to make certain that his conclusions are valid.
*desires to start philosophy anew--to build it up logically and deductively from a foundation of certainty.
*skeptical agai

How is Descartes' method of applying skeptical doubt different from traditional skepticism?

*doubts everything to get certainty
*traditional skepticism breaks down any conclusion and believes that no truth can be arrived at
*Descartes is constructive with anything that can be doubted

What does Descartes find he can doubt?

*can doubt his body since it depends on the senses
*senses can be doubted--are illusory
*could be possible dreaming or doubt theories of reason (math) via evil demon

Why is Descartes' doubt of the senses less radical than Plato's?

*admits that there are times when the senses don't deceive us
*believes it is enough that the senses can deceive in order to reject their evidence as dubitable
*Plato believed the senses can never give us true knowledge

Explain how Descartes applies his method of systematic doubt first to particular knowledge claims and then to ever more general claims. How does he manage to doubt the most general of all such claims?

*doubts the particular=his senses
*wonders if he is dreaming and whether the senses are deceiving him
*doubts the most general=math
*does this by believing there is an evil demon deceiving him

What can Descartes not doubt? Why can't he doubt it?

*can't doubt his own existence
*doubting his existence would be self-defeating
*in order to have doubts/be deceived by an evil demon, he has to exist

Having proved the necessity of his existence, what does Descartes go on to show that his essence is in the second meditation?

*proves that his essence is in his thoughts
*he is a thinking thing
*he believes that what he cannot doubt exists in his thinking
*even thinking proves he exists

How does Descartes prove the necessary existence of a metaphysical soul (that is, the necessary existence of "thinking substance") in the second meditation?

*proves that he is not just a material thing
*material things are known through the senses & can be doubted
*can't doubt himself
*he is not just his thoughts
*thoughts don't think by themselves

Why does Descartes insist that the reasoning in the first and second meditations establishes more than merely the claim that he is his thoughts?

*1st conclusion of 2nd med: can't doubt himself because doubting himself proves he exists
*2nd conclusion of 2nd med: I am not just my thoughts because my personal identity would always change
*there must be a thing that does the thinking

What point(s) is (are) demonstrated by the passage about the ball of wax in the second meditation?

*demontrates that the senses are a product of our thoughts
*we see only sensory inputs that we interpret as certain things
*also proves that we know our soul's better than the body since the body is known through our senses and the soul is known immediate

What are the 3 reasons why Descartes believes he must prove the existence of God?

1. God needs to exist in order to validate clear and distinct ideas. We need God to guarantee the certainty of our thoughts. Otherwise our knowledge is relative to us and humans are fallible.
2. In order to do science, we need math and in order to do math

How does Descartes first arrive at the criterion of "clarity and distinctness"? About what is Descartes clear and distinct at this point in the Meditations?

*comes up epistemological criteria in order to determine actual knowledge/truth
*came up with criteria from certainty of self, which he knows clearly and distinctly
*things that are clear and distinct to Descartes are subjecting his beliefs to doubt and f

Why is "clarity and distinctness" so important to Descartes?

*helps to prove the existence of God and establish the truth he is after
*in order for his criterion to be valid, God must exist

What is meant by "the light of nature"?

*light of nature=light of reason
*most reliable faculty
*more reliable than the senses
*Light of reason=what I'm naturally inclined to believe is what the senses teach me (can be doubted)

How does the discovery of the epistemological criterion of clarity and distinctness lead to the necessity of proving God's existence?

*in order for his criteria to be true, God must exist
*otherwise God would be a deceiver, which cannot be true

Why would God be a deceiver if it turned out that any of Descartes' clear and distinct ideas were false?

*If the ideas were clear and distinct but wrong anyway, God would be a deceiver
*we wouldn't know when we are wrong but it wouldn't be our fault
*God wouldn't let me be false without giving me a chance to discover I'm wrong

How does God's existence ensure that mathematical claims are in fact true?

*in order to do math, we must be sure of God's existence in order to make sure there isn't an evil demon deceiving us

What is the "Cartesian circle"?

*idea that in order to prove the existence of God, Descartes needs to be clear and distince
*in order to be clear and distinct and to be sure that he is being valid, God must exist

What are the three different kinds of ideas that Descartes distinguishes at the outset of the third meditation?

*innate ideas: my own experience, thought, truth, unity...something which I just know and is too simple to define
*ideas that originate externally...objects
*ideas that I invent myself...usually a composite of things that I already know

What are the three different levels of "formal reality" Descartes distinguishes?

*infinite substance...God...has the most reality
*finite substance...finite substance...depends on infinite substance and includes objective things
*attributes...characteristics of finite substances...depend on the finite substances...have the least reali

Why is "infinite substance" (if it exists) said to be "more real" than "finite substance"?

*independent of everything else
*doesn't depend on anything for creation/existence
*encompasses all things

Why is "finite substance" said to be "more real" than "attributes"?

*substance is independent of its attributes
*can have a pure substance with no attributes
*can't have an attribute without its substance

In what sense is finite substance relatively dependent? In what sense is it relatively independent?

*dependent because it must be created
*independent on how much it depends on
*something independent of being created is superior to something else that is dependent on creation

What are the only possible examples of finite substance and attributes thus far in the Meditations?

*finite substance: thinking substance (mind)
*attributes: thoughts

How does Descartes know that he is only a finite substance?

*doesn't have all the attributes that make him perfect

What kind of substance is the universe? Why?

*infinite composition of finite substances
*universe is finite because it's dependent on creation

What does the term "objective reality" mean?

*the formal reality and the content of what the idea represents

What is the first step of Descartes' third meditation proof for God's existence (the principle of the conservation of "reality" borrowed from physics)?

*there must be as much formal reality in a cause as there is in its effect
*we (as finite substances) cannot have created God (an infinite substance)
*there must be as much formal reality in a cause as there is in its objective reality

How does Descartes apply the formal/objective reality distinction to this principle to prove God's existence?

*a finite substance cannot create the idea of an infinite substance
*an infinite substance exists as the cause of our idea of an infinite substance

In what sense is the idea of God more real than my own mind? In what sense is it less real?

*more real than my own mind: formal reality of God...states that God is infinite
*my idea of God is less real in the sense that it is a thought, therefore an attribute

Explain the "creation by negation objection" (and how it constitutes an objection to the third meditation proof); explain Descartes' reply.

*can form the idea of an infinite substance through the negation of the idea of a finite substance
*the idea of infinite is logically prior in the sense that to know we are imperfect, we must already know what perfection is
*if i did not know the idea of

Why does Descartes say that his idea of God is more clear and distinct than his idea of himself?

*the idea of God is more clear and distinct because he must know infinite substance in order to know that he is finite
*can't doubt his existence and the fact that he's finite

What would the objective reality of the idea of God be if the "creation by negation" objection were valid?

*creation of negation objection gives idea of god that we are finite substances and the idea of negating the idea of finite
*the objective reality of the idea of god would be finite

Explain the "thousand-sided-figure objection" and Descartes' reply.

*objection states that as finite substances we can't have an idea of God because he is a finite substance
*as finite substances, impossible to truly understand an infinite substance
*any idea of God must fall short of how God really is
*reply: idea of God

Explain the "you're-not-living-up-to-your-potential objection" and Descartes' reply.

*potential possibility of being infinite and that everyday we get better and better and are slowly increasing the amount of knowledge we have
*reply: there is a difference between potential and actual perfection
*idea of not being potentially infinite is

Explain the "Superman objection" and Descartes' reply.

*there might be someone not as infinite as God but more infinite than us
*reply: this person would still be finite and wouldn't be able to create the idea of God

How does Descartes' response to the "thousand-sided-figure objection" potentially leave him open to the "Superman objection"?

*reply mentions that there is more objective reality in his idea of God than he could be the cause of
*lead to the idea that there is something greater than me but less than God and has created the idea of God
*however can't have anything in between finit

What is the "problem of theodicy" in the context of epistemology with which the fourth meditation is concerned?

*problem with evil/error
*as humans who are capable of making errors, we are superior to other things
*it must be better for us that we are able to make errors otherwise God would not let us

Why does Descartes say that it must be the case that I am somehow better for being able to make mistakes than I would be if I could not?

*God would not have done otherwise since he is perfect and is not a deceiver
*there may be in the universe more perfection because some of its parts are not immune from error
*also can't complain about how God has made him

Why have I "no cause for complaint on the grounds that the power of understanding or the natural light which God gave me is no greater than it is"?

*Descartes has no reason to complain because he believes the universe may be more perfect that way
*possibility that he may not have the most perfect role in the universe

Why are both will and understanding needed before one can be right or wrong about anything?

*will is a force that makes you affirm but has no data
*understanding gives us the data...without it, we would have nothing to say

How does the combination of will and understanding lead to the possibility of error without God's being at fault, according to Descartes?

*our will sometimes causes us to answer questions we don't fully understand, which leads us to make mistakes
*if judgement is withheld until understanding is clear and distinct, error will be impossible

How does this analysis explain the paradoxical claim that we are actually better for being able to err than we would be if we could not?

*because it indicates that our will is free

Is it possible for me never to make mistakes? What would I have to do in order to achieve this?

*not possible without infinite understanding, which we don't have

Why is God not capable of mistakes? How does this square with Descartes' claim that I am better for being capable of error than I would be if I were not?

*not capable of mistakes because he has infinite free will and understanding, which makes him all powerful
*better that we can make mistakes because we have infinite will

Why can't the "infinite" free will be the cause of my idea of God´┐Żthereby undermining the third meditation proof?

*free will is an attribute of us even though it is infinite

Explain how Descartes reasons that some of our ideas contain implications which seem to be necessarily true because they describe properties of objects which, once noticed, "are ones which I now clearly recognize whether I want to or not".

*some ideas will point out certain consequences that we cannot ignore

Explain the "ontological proof" for God's existence. What are Descartes' specific contributions to this classic proof?

*God must exist in order to be perfect
*nonexistence would be a contradiction to the perfection of God

What does it mean to say that, in the "Ontological proof," Descartes regards existence as a "predicate"?

*existence is a predicate because in order for God to be a truly perfect being, he must exist

Briefly explain Kant's critique of the ontological proof.

*doesn't believe that existence should be a predicate of the ontological proof
*the real contains no more than the possible

What are the reasons common sense believes in the existence of material objects, according to the opening discussion in the sixth meditation? Why are these reasons not sufficient?

*act as red herrings
*3 arguments...1) imagination works with sense perception...2) common sense assumes objects are independent of my mind...3) imagination is a mental faculty of images

Explain the relationship between ideas and minds that Descartes re-affirms (from the second meditation) as the first premise of his proof for the existence of extended substance in meditation six.

*ideas are attributes of the mind
*in order to have thoughts, there must be a mind
*the substance that thinks is my body

How do the ideas of motion, changing posture or shape, etc., establish the existence of extended substance, according to meditation six?

*motions can't exist without bodies
*minds are metaphysical substances
*motion implies space--only the body takes up space
*get the idea of motion via sensory experiences

Is my idea of motion clear and distinct? If so, why? If not, why not?

*idea of motion not clear and distinct because it's derived from the senses
*idea of motion only exists because there are movable objects
*connection between idea of motion and movable objects is clear and distinct

What are the three criteria that the sense experience of any particular material substance must satisfy in order for us to be (relatively) sure of its existence? How does one's own body satisfy these criteria?

*gives us guidelines on how to do empirical research
*combine all of your senses, use memory/prior experiences, use reason

What does Descartes conclude the relationship between mind and body is at the end of the sixth meditation?

*Descartes establishes existences of bodies
*he is not a body but a thinking thing
*not identical to his soul
*has no idea what the relationship between the soul and body is
*soul=metaphysical, body=physical

In the sixth meditation, Descartes concludes that "hunger, thirst, pain and so on are nothing but confused modes of thinking which arise from the union and, as it were, intermingling of the mind with the body." Explain.

*since I'm a thinking substance and something hurts me, that something must be a confused thought
*when I hurt, my soul hurts

How does Descartes resolve the concern that he may be dreaming at the end of the sixth meditation?

*dreams don't have chronological order...just fragments
*can connect present experience to past when awake but not during dreaming

Why is Kant suspicious of metaphysics?

*metaphysics has no standards for arguments...fine as long as no contradiction occurs
*has made no progress
*Kant wants to reform metaphysics, not destroy it

How does Hume's analysis of causality arouse Kant from his "dogmatic slumbers"? Why is saying that causality is only habitual expectation radical and subversive (flies in the face of common sense)?

*Hume questions whether or not our knowledge of causality might be generally true
*Hume thinks belief in causality is just habit
*Leads Kant to a transcendental inquiry on the possibility of general experience

What does "a priori" mean?

*logic guarantees it in advance
*don't need to empirically prove it

A posteriori"?

*knowledge claim that needs to be empirically verified

What is an "analytic proposition"?

*predicate contained in the subject
*analysis alone reveals its truth

A "synthetic proposition"?

*predicate not contained in the subject
*predicate adds content to the subject

Why it would seem that "synthetic" propositions must be a posteriori? How does Hume's insistence that in fact they are lead to his repudiation of metaphysics?

*they need experience to verify because they add new knowledge and are not true by definition
*Hume: all metaphysical claims must by synthetic a priori since denial of them is never contradictory and we can't empirically verify metaphysical claims...but t

How does Kant rescue metaphysics from Hume's skepticism?

*shows that math, like metaphysics, contains a priori synthetic claims
*judgements are a priori because they are necessary but can't be empirically proven

How does Kant link mathematics, pure natural science and metaphysics together?

*math describes the way reality is
*math and pure physics contain a priori synthetic propositions because they are necessary and come from the construction of concepts
*metaphysics is a science because the best proofs he knew are metaphysical ones

Why does Kant insist that mathematics is composed of a priori synthetic propositions?

*math has to be necessary
*synthetic because predicate of math not contained in the subject and math is true of real intuitions

What does Kant mean when he says that math must be based on "intuitions" and not on "concepts"?

*math doesn't come from concepts but from the construction of concepts
*can be referred back to a concrete intuition
*math is true of the way the world appears to us to be

What is the difference between "empirical" and "pure" intuitions? Why must the intuitions upon which math is based be "pure"? What are pure intuitions of?

*empirical: objects
*pure: empirical intuition without empirical content...remain with space and time
*math is possible because it elaborates on pure intuitions of the forms of sensibility

What, according to Kant, are the two "a priori forms of sensibility" and how does "pure intuition" of them make a priori synthetic knowledge possible in mathematics?

*space and time are the contents of intuition
*true a priori because it's true of every possible experience
*true synthetically because every object we encounter will be spatial and temporal

example of an a posteriori content

any object