Epistemology 1

“Theory of
Traditionally divided
into two categories
A. Rationalism
B. Empiricism
Those who assert that by
reason alone we can
discover knowledge
I. The school emphasizes that our
“senses” cannot give any certain
II. True knowledge is already within
our minds in the form of “innate
ideas” which we do not acquire, but
are born with
III. Plato and Descartes are
examples of Rationalism
Those who assert that
we obtain knowledge
solely by our senses
I. Empiricism has usually developed
in countries where the dominant
interests have been practical and
worldly (US and Great Britain)
II. Modern Empiricism grew out of
the philosophical struggles in 17th
century England, when that country
was rapidly developing, commercially
and industrially
III. Roger Bacon, John Locke,
George Berkley, and David Hume are
I. Socratic Period:
A. The Apology: contains
account of Socrates’ speech in
defense of himself at his trial
B. The Crito: A Platonic defense
as being a loyal citizen of Athens
C. The Euthyphro. The Laches, and
the Charmides: discusses the ideas
of goodness and prudence
D. The Protagoras: discusses virtue
and its teachability
E. The two Hippias (the Major and
Minor): seen as a spirited erotic
tale: the Major attempts to
understand the concepts of “beauty”
II. The Transition Period
A. The Lysis: treats the concept
of “friendship”
B. The Cratylus: devoted to the
philosophy of language
C. The Euthdemus: directed
against the logical fallacies of
some of the later Sophists
D. The Menexenus: discussion of
Sohistic rhetoric
III. The Period of Maturity (theory of
“ideas” being developed)
A. The Meno: again takes up the
teachability of virtue
B. The Phaedo: doctrines of
ideas and immortality of the soul
are interwoven
C. The Symposium: the theory of
“Ideas” applied to the realm of the
D. The Republic: rests on same
dualism as The Phaedo, concerned
with this world and its problems,
contains material on ethics, the
“Allegory of the Cave”, and the myth
of the fate of the soul
E. The Phaedrus: (Once regarded
as first work of Plato), a work on love
and Eros ; contains OrphicPythagorean theory of transmigration
of souls
The Works of Old Age
A decline in Ontology
I. The Parmenides: Socrates
defending himself against a series of
criticisms of the theory of ideas by
Zeno and the Eleatic School
II. Theatetus: epistemelogical
concerns on theory of “ideas”
III. The Sophist: a continuation of
The Theaetus, main attack is the
IV. The Statesman: views the true
ruler as the “Knower” who alone
possesses truth—enlightened
V. The Philebus: a short discussion
on the “one and many”, shows
relationship of pleasure to the good
VI. The Timaeus: the only dialogue
concerning natural science—contains
a theory of creation
VII. The Critias: discusses the ideal
agrarian state projected onto the
earliest days of Athens
VIII. The Hemocrates: describes
the degeneration from the original
ideal state to the present
IX. The Laws: (last work), basic
concepts of The Republic are
reemphasized, some concessions to
“real life”
PlaTo’s ePisTemelogy
I. Cannot be found systematically in
any one work
II. The Theaetetus —considers
knowledge, conclusion is negative
A. Knowledge is not senseperception
B. Knowledge is not simply “true
C. Knowledge is not true judgment
plus an “account”
D. Characteristics of true knowledge
1. infallible
2. of the real
Theory of Form or “Ideas”
I. Knowledge is related to the good,
but not the good itself
II. Knowledge is in the eternal realm
of the essences
III. There is a world of being
(Parmenides)—unchanging ideals
IV. There is also the world of
becoming (Heraclitus)—everchanging
V. There is a third realm (The
Timaeus) called space
VI. An interpretation of the theory of
A. Any attempt to reduce it to a
principle and interpret it as a whole
is futile
B. The concept of the idea must
not be interpreted as being a
subjective concept in the mind—
it has an objective reality
C. Ideas have a three-fold
1. Ontological—in that they
represent real being
2. Teleological—all ideas have
ends and aims to their being
3. Logical—the ideas enable us to
bring order into the chaos of
Individual beings
D. The ideas exist in a sphere apart
from our reality
1. The Phaedo teaches that the
soul existed before its union with
the body in a transcendental realm
2. The process of knowledge
consists essentially in recollection
3. God or the “demiurge” form
things of this world according to
the model of the Forms
E. The Philebus, there is a strong
Pythagorean influence
1. Nature is reality is numbers
2. Uses Pythagorean opposites
3. Origin of Ideas is the One
Allegory of the Cave
I. Found in Book 7 of The Republic
II. Knowledge advances by stages
A. From sense perception it
proceeds to pure thought (pure
B. From pure thought is proceeds
to the idea (mathematical
knowledge to dialectical science
C. From the ideal to the realm
beyond (from ideas to the Good)
III. The allegory shows the ascent of
the mind from the lower sections to
the higher as an epistemological
A. Prisoners represent the majority
of humankind
B. We live in a world of shadows
C. The view of the world is
distorted by the shadows
D. We cling to our distorted views
IV. The cave also represents the
importance of proper education
I. Cartesian Doubt
A. Considered to be the
“founder” of modern philosophy—
first philosopher to allow the new
physics and astronomy to effect his
philosophical system
II. During the Thirty Years’ War
(1619) in Bavaria he had a dream in
which he said “the spirit of Truth”
opened to him “the treasures of all
the sciences”
A. He recorded this incident in
Discourses on Method (1637)
B. Second major work is the
Meditations (1642)
1. In the Meditations he
the “duty of doubt”
2. Wanted to go beyond the
senses to beginning of knowledge
3. In the Second Meditations he
uses “wax” as an example of how
senses deceive us
4. By concentrating only on what
knew for certain, he began
what we
know as “Cartesian
C. The methodology of “Cartesian
1. Begins by doubting everything
he could manage to doubt
a. First begins doubting
b. What thing I cannot doubt is
own experience “While I
wanted to think everything false, it
must necessarily be that I who
thought was
something; and
remarking this, I THINK THEREFORE
I AM, was so certain that
all most
extravagant suppositions of the
skeptics were incapable of
upsetting it. I judged that I could
receive it without
scruple as the
first principle of the philosophy that I
2. Having set a secure foundation, he
to work to rebuild the edifice of
a. “I am a thing that thinks”
b. My existence is different from
physical world; that the soul
is wholly
distinct from the body
c. Why was the Cogito so
Because it is “clear
and distinct”—thus,
all things that
we conceive clearly and
are true
d. He deals with knowledge
our bodies—here he uses the
example of wax
e. Proving the existence of
External World can be
done only
by proving the
existence of God
3. His Proof of God’s existence (A
revision of Anselm’s Ontological
a. Everything has a cause
our ideas)
b. We have an idea of God
c. Nothing less than God is
adequate to cause our idea of God
4. Besides the ideas of self and God,
there was another set of ideas which
were seen to be innate without any
reference to the external world—the
truth of mathematics
5. All other knowledge comes to us
us from the outside world
III. Empirical Emphases
A. Descartes realized that one
could proceed by deduction only a
short distance from the apex of a
B. A deduction from intuitively
self- evident principles is of a
usefulness in science—it
would yield
only the most
general of laws
C. He also posited a belief that one
cannot determine from a mere
conclusion of general laws, the
cause of physical processes
D. For one to be able to deduce a
statement about a particular effect,
it would be necessary to include
among the premises information
about the circumstances under
which the events occur
E. An important tool for
and experimentation
is to provide
knowledge of the
conditions under
which events of
a given type takes place
IV. Primary Qualities and Secondary
A. In his doubting process he had to
prove what is clear and distinct about a
physical object—he would use a lump of
wax as an example
1. We understand the “real
nature” of wax through
2. Such “intuition” is to be
distinguished from the
sequence of
3. He would distinguish between
those “primary qualities” which all
bodie must possess and “secondary
qualities” which exist only in the
perceptual experience of the subject
B. He believed that God created a
universe of “infinite extension” (thus, no
vacuum) and “motion”—science thus
reduced to measurement and
1. All change must come through
2. Motion could neither increase
nor decrease, but only transferred from
one body to another
3. The universe continues to run
as a
machine and each body
persists in a state of motion in a
straight line; the geometrically
simplest form in which God set it
going, unless acted on by an
external force
V. General Scientific Laws
A. From his understanding of
extension, he would develop several
important physical principles
B. He seemed to believe that because
the concepts of extension and motion and
clear and distinct, certain generalizations
about these concepts must be considered
as a priori truths
1. One generalization is that
all motion is caused by impact or
pressure due to his belief that no
vacuum can exist, thus every entity
must be touched by another entity
2. However, he denied the
possibility of action-at-a-distance in
an effort to defend a thorough-going
mechanistic view of causation
3. Such a view would be
revolutionary in his day—
this belief would be a denial of
magnetism and gravity
4. Another generalization is
derived from the idea of
extension is that all motion is a
cyclical rearrangement of bodies; if
one body changes its “location”, a
simultaneous displacement of others
bodies is necessary to prevent a
C. Descartes wrote that God is
the ultimate cause of motion—a
perfect being would create a
universe “all-at-once” and this
perfect being would keep motion
going, otherwise the universe would
run down
John Locke
Essay Concerning
Human Understanding
I. He attempts to show how various
concepts or ideas come from or are
built up from different kinds of
II. Denial of Innate Ideas—there are
no principles or ideas that we have
any reason to believe we have prior
to, or independent, of our sense
III. The White Paper (Tabula Rosa),
Locke believed that our minds are
like a white paper—void of all
characters, without any ideas
IV. Two sources of knowledge—
perception and reflection
IV. Simple Ideas
1. Simple ideas are the most
basic of our knowledge
2. Simple ideas are presented to
us in sensation and reflection
3. Once the mind experiences
simple ideas, it has the power to
store up, to repeat, and to combine
V. Primary and Secondary Qualities
A. Primary qualities are those
items in our experience which must
belong to the objects that we are
B. Secondary qualities are
nothing in the objects themselves,
but powers to produce various
sensations in us by primary
qualities, e.g., color
VI. Kinds of knowledge
A. Discussed in the Fourth Book of
the Essays, how reliable can
knowledge of sensation and reflection
B. Our knowledge is the result of
the examination of ideas it see if they
agree or disagree in some
respects—four kinds
1. First kind is achieved by the
inspection of two or more ideas to
if they are identical or
2. Second kind is the discovery
two or more ideas are related
in some manner
3. Third kind is about ideas which
deals with the coexistence of two
or more ideas belonging together
4. Fourth kind of knowledge is
the discovery of whether or not any
of our ideas are experiences of
something that exist outside of our
minds, i.e., if they are of some real
VII. External Reality
A. In order to keep his theory of
knowledge from ending to calling
knowledge one’s person’s
experience based on one’s
observations, he
attempted to
show that even with
our limited
knowledge gained from experience
we have some basis for claiming
that we know something
what goes on outside of our minds
B. The Mind is incapable of inventing
simple ideas—thus they must be the
result of something outside of our
VIII. His view on prospects and
limitations of science are found in his
A. He had a view accepting a
primitive concept of atoms, thus in
order to be
able to “predict”
mechanical behavior
one would
need to:
1. Know the configurations and
motions of atoms
2. Know the ways in which the
of atoms produce ideas of
primary and
secondary qualities in
the observer
3. If these two conditions were
met, then one would know a priori
certain properties would be
identified with entities
B. However, we are ignorant of the
configuration and motion of atoms
1. This ignorance is contingent
2. Know the ways in which the
of atoms produce ideas of
primary and
secondary qualities in
the observer
3. But, we still could not reach a
necessary knowledge of
since we are ignorant
of the ways in which atoms manifest
certain powers
C. The atomic constituents of a body
possesses the power through motion,
to produce in us ideas of secondary
qualities such as colors and sounds
D. Also, the atoms of a particular
body have the power affect the
atoms of other bodies so as to alter
the ways in which these bodies affect
our senses
E. Only by “divine revelation” could
we know the ways in which atomic
motions produce effects on us
F. He also held that an unbridgeable
epistemological gap separates the
“real world” of atoms and the realm
of ideas that constitute our
IX. He recommended a
methodology of correlation and
exclusion for scientific investigation
based on a compilation of extensive
natural histories
A. This understanding involved a
shift in focus from “real essences”
configurations of bodies)
to “nominal
essences” (the
observed properties and relations of
B. He insisted that the most that
can be achieved in science is a
collection of generalizations about
the association and succession of
C. He somewhat “degenerated”
natural science—a trained scientist
may have judgment and opinion, not
knowledge and certainty
X. He did believe that there do exist
necessary connections in nature—
even though the connections are
opaque to human understandings.
A. The usage of the term “idea”
between gaps
1. “Ideas” are effects of
operations in the “real
world” of
2. Thus, red is produced by
processes external to the
B. He was confident that the
motions of atomic constituents of
matter that give rise to our ideas of
colors and taste—even though we
cannot learn just how this takes
David Hume
I. Carried British Empiricism to a
skeptical blind alley
A. By contending that belief in the
identity of the self or objects in the
external world was simply the
result of
a habit
B. Identity is “nothing really
belonging to these different
perceptions and
uniting them
together; but it is merely a quality
which we attribute to them because
of the union of their ideas in the
II. In An Inquiry Concerning Human
Understanding he divided the
perceptions of the mind into two
A. Thoughts or ideas—the least
forcible and lively—they are
reflections of impressions
B. Impressions—results from
direct experience; what we see,
hear, feel
C. The creative power of the mind
amounts to no more than the
faculty of compounding,
transposing, augmenting
diminishing the materials afforded
us by our senses and experiences
The Synthesis
Immanuel Kant
I. He initiated a “Copernican
Revolution” in philosophy
A. Reaction to radical empiricism
of David Hume
B. Freed theology from corrosion
of classical empiricism while
rationality of
religious belief
II. Kant responded that Hume and
the empiricists had a passive and
dualistic view of cognition—which
conceived of the mind as simply a
receptor of particular sense
A. Kant emphasized that the
mind is
active—instead of
beginning with the object as
something already given to which
the mind must conform, he
reverses the order and conceives
of the object as in some respect
by the a priori
B. The mind imposes upon the
material of experience its own
forms of
cognition, determined by
the very
structure of human
C. The raw material of experience
is thus molded and shaped along
definite lines according to
the cognitive
forms with the mind
D. These forms of the mind are
way we “put things together”
E. All experiences presuppose
these a
priori categories which
are not
themselves observable
III. The cognitive forms of
experience determine the possibility
of objects of knowledge
A. The categories of experience
determine our knowledge of
B. If the word object were taken to
refer to “things-in-themselves”, things
apart from any relation to a knowing
subject, then we could not say they are
known by the human mind
C. We cannot, thus, know noumena,
things- in-themselves, i.e., supersensible
objects, for we lack the necessary
cognitive organ
IV. He looks at the nature of
judgment of judgment in four
A. Analytical judgment—
(rational &
deductive)—in which
the predicate is
within the subject and may
known by analysis of it, e.g.,
men have no hair”
B. Synthetical judgment
(empirical & inductive)—one in
which the predicate
is not
contained with the subject., e.g.,
“the rose is red”
C. A priori judgment
(rational)—one which asserts a
universal and necessary
connection, e.g., 2 + 2 = 4, always
and must be, a judgment
the fact
D. Post-priori judgment
(empirical)—one which does not
assert a universal and necessary
a judgment after the
fact, e.g., “the rose is red”
E. For Kant, the major question is
whether there are synthetical, a
priori judgments (i.e., those
judgments in
which predicates are
not contained within the subject
but are still universal
necessary)—he concluded there
were—math is an example
V. Kant gives two sources of
A. Sensibility—the use of senses
B. Understanding—the rational
of the mind