Knowledge and Truth


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Knowledge and Truth

  1. 1. Knowledge and Truth Introduction to Philosophy LIU
  2. 2. How do We Know what we Know?
  3. 3. Knowledge of What? <ul><li>Knowledge does not only pertain to the knowledge of books. Knowledge in philosophy is defined from a wider perspective. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is a wide spectrum of philosophical questions about philosophical problems questioning the truth of our knowledge and the method by which we gain knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Questions about physics , metaphysics, ethics, politics, good and evil, the soul and the body and the mind and the brain. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How did man reach the idea of God? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is the human soul mortal or immortal? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is Justice and Equality? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>The question of God arises due to the observation of human existence and the universe. The question of Justice arises due to the observation of injustice. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Knowledge of What? (Continued) <ul><li>Philosophical questions about values bring to the forefront philosophical problems about the truth of systems of knowledge and government. Questions related to the values as they apply to the systems in place. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do we have to obey the law if the law is unjust? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the justification of political authority? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Socrates and Aristotle <ul><li>Socrates located ultimate Truth in ideas or eternal forms, knowable only through reflection and reason. </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle saw ultimate Truth in physical objects, knowable through experience. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Epistemological Question <ul><li>The defining questions of epistemology include the following. </li></ul><ul><li>1. What is the nature of propositional knowledge, knowledge that a particular proposition about the world is true? </li></ul><ul><li>2.How can we gain knowledge? </li></ul><ul><li>3.What are the limits of our knowledge? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Ontology and Epistemology <ul><li>Epistemology: How do we know what we know. </li></ul><ul><li>Ontology: What is being </li></ul><ul><li>Epistemology and ontology underline the branch of philosophy called Metaphysics. The Study of Being qua Being. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Plato: The Theory of Ideas <ul><li>Equality and Inequality ( Plato, Pheodo ) </li></ul><ul><li>Justice and Injustice ( Plato, Republic ) </li></ul><ul><li>Justice for itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Equality for itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Appearances of equal beings, opinions about equality ( never actually Equal). </li></ul><ul><li>Appearances of justice, opinions about justice( never actually Just). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Theory of Ideas Continued <ul><li>The Equal and the Just exist for itself. It is only perceived in the journey of the Soul into the light. This journey is for the individual that is seeking knowledge through recollection. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of knowing is a process of recollection of the idea from the world in which Equality and Justice exists for itself. In the physical world we see injustice and inequality. Instances of, and opinions about the ultimate idea of Justice and Equality. </li></ul><ul><li>Justice and Equality will never take actuality. They are only ideas of the absolute equality and justice. </li></ul><ul><li>In the physical world justice and equality are always in pursuit. We think of the idea of Justice when we see injustice, in the physical world. We think of the idea of equality because we experience inequality in the physical world. </li></ul><ul><li>Justice for itself and Equality for itself can never be globally recognized or experienced through the senses of the physical world. </li></ul><ul><li>Two worlds, one is becoming and one is sought. Knowledge is the process or the pursuit of reaching the idea of the Good for the Good itself. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Theory of Ideas Continued <ul><li>Knowledge exists independent of the physical world. </li></ul><ul><li>This who seeks knowledge goes through a process of recollection. </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates: “ But I think, if we acquired this knowledge before birth, and then later by the use of our senses in connection with these objects that we have mentioned, we recovered the knowledge we had before, would not what we call learning be the recovery of our own knowledge, and we are right to call this recollection.” Phaedo 75e </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Immortality of the Soul <ul><li>If knowledge is a recollection then this knowledge is recollected from an eternal place where the soul existed. </li></ul><ul><li>Cebes (…) knowledge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time in which we learned that which we now recollect. But this would be impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in the human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul's immortality . </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Allegory of the Cave <ul><li>“ [Socrates:] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.” ( The Republic: Book IV ) </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Allegory of the Cave
  14. 14. The Allegory of the Cave <ul><li>Socrates: This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed .” The Republic: Book IV ) </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Idea of the Good <ul><li>To Plato, God is transcendent-the highest and most perfect being-and one who uses eternal ideas of perfection. The order and purpose he gives the physical world is limited by the imperfections. </li></ul><ul><li>Flaws are therefore real and exist in the physical world. God is the idea of the Good within which Justice exists for itself and Equality exists by itself. </li></ul><ul><li>The problem of evil emerges because of the imperfection of the physical world. </li></ul><ul><li>God, being good, is also unchangeable. God must be a first cause and a self-moved mover otherwise there will be an infinite regress to causes of causes. </li></ul><ul><li>Plato suggests for example that since planetary motion is uniform and circular, and since such motion is the motion of reason, then a planet must be driven by a rational soul </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Idea of the Good <ul><li>Plato’s point is not to establish an idea of God, but to determine what is good, just, and true. </li></ul><ul><li>Plato implicitly brings forward an abstract notion of God. The Just where Justice resides. </li></ul><ul><li>God, in the Platonic sense, is the precondition or origin of the all ideas. These ideas are timeless unchanging abstractions of understanding. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Aristotle Metaphysics <ul><li>In Metaphysics A.1, Aristotle says that “all men suppose what is called wisdom ( sophia ) to deal with the first causes ( aitia ) and the principles ( archai ) of things.” This does not mean the branch of philosophy that should be studied first. </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle distinguished between things that are “better known to us” and things that are “better known in themselves.” </li></ul><ul><li>We should begin our study of a given topic with things better known to us and arrive ultimately at an understanding of things better known in themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>The principles studied by ‘first philosophy’ may seem very general and abstract, but they are, according to Aristotle, better known in themselves, however remote they may seem from the world of ordinary experience. Still, since they are to be studied only by one who has already studied nature Physics ). they are quite appropriately described as coming “after the Physics .” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  18. 18. Aristotle Causality <ul><li>The investigation of the natural world consisted in the search for the relevant causes of a variety of natural phenomena. </li></ul><ul><li>The Phaedo , for example, we learn that the so-called “inquiry into nature” consisted in a search for “the causes of each thing; why each thing comes into existence, why it goes out of existence, why it exists” (96 a 6–10). </li></ul><ul><li>The search for causes was a search for answers to the question “why?” </li></ul><ul><li>In the Metaphysics Aristotle offers a review of the results reached by his predecessors ( Metaph . I 3–7). From this review we learn that all his predecessors were engaged in an investigation that eventuated in knowledge of one or more of the following causes: material, formal, efficient and final cause. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Aristotle Causality <ul><li>According to Aristotle we think we have knowledge of a thing only when we have grasped its cause. </li></ul><ul><li>We think we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause. The cause of its being </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle recognizes four types of things that can be given in answer to a why-question: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The material cause: “that out of which”, e.g., the bronze of a statue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The formal cause: “the form”, “the account of what-it-is-to-be”, e.g., the shape of a statue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The efficient cause: “the primary source of the change or rest”, e.g., the artisan, the art of bronze-casting the statue, the man who gives advice, the father of the child. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The final cause: “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, e.g., health is the end of walking, losing weight, purging, drugs, and surgical tools. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Rationalism and Empiricism <ul><li>“ The dispute between rationalism and empiricism concerns the extent to which we are dependent upon sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Rationalists claim that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience. Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.” Rationalism vs. “Rationalism Vs. Empiricism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , First published Thu Aug 19, 2004; substantive revision Wed Aug 6, 2008 </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Empiricist Thesis of Knowledge <ul><li>The Empiricism Thesis: We have no source of knowledge in S or for the concepts we use in S other than sense experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Empiricism about a particular subject rejects the Innate Knowledge thesis. </li></ul><ul><li>Insofar as we have knowledge in the subject, our knowledge is a posteriori, dependent upon sense experience. Sense experience is our only source of ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Empiricists may assert that the rationalists are correct to claim that experience cannot give us knowledge. The conclusion they draw from this rationalist lesson is not that we gain knowledge by indispensable reason, but that we do not know at all. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalism vs. “Rationalism Vs. Empiricism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , First published Thu Aug 19, 2004; substantive revision Wed Aug 6, 2008 </li></ul>
  22. 22. The Innate Knowledge Thesis <ul><li>We have knowledge of some truths in a particular subject as part of our rational nature. </li></ul><ul><li>The Innate Knowledge thesis asserts the existence of knowledge gained a priori, independently of experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Our sense perception is deceptive and does not amount for truth. Opinions could be misleading and can be called into doubt. Only knowledge gained through inward introspection in the mind, the journey of the soul is knowledge that could be known for certain. </li></ul><ul><li>Our innate knowledge is not learned through either sense experience or intuition and deduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalism vs. “Rationalism Vs. Empiricism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , First published Thu Aug 19, 2004; substantive revision Wed Aug 6, 2008 </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Innate Knowledge-Thesis <ul><li>Experiences in the physical world trigger a processes by which we bring this knowledge to consciousness. Experiences alone does not provide us with the knowledge itself. Knowledge has been with us all along. </li></ul><ul><li>According to some rationalists, we gained the knowledge in an earlier existence. According to others, God provided us with it at creation. Still others say it is part of our nature through natural selection. </li></ul>
  24. 24. René Descartes- Foundation of Knowledge <ul><li>René Descartes, mathematician and physicist, he sought new ways to move beyond Medieval Aristoteleanism and justify the science of his day. </li></ul><ul><li>In his Discourse on Method he expresses his disappointment with traditional philosophy and with the limitations of theology; only logic, geometry and algebra hold his respect, because of the utter certainty which they can offer us. Unfortunately, because they depend on hypotheses, they cannot tell us what is real (i.e., what the world is really like). </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore Descartes proposes a method of thought incorporating the rigor of mathematics but based on intuitive truths about what is real, basic knowledge which could not be wrong. </li></ul>
  25. 25. René Descartes-Skepticism <ul><li>His fundamental break with Scholastic philosophy was twofold. First, Descartes thought that the Scholastics’ method was prone to doubt given their reliance on sensation as the source for all knowledge. Second, he wanted to replace their final causal model of scientific explanation with the more modern, mechanistic model. </li></ul><ul><li>He calls into question everything that he thinks he has learned through his senses but rests his whole system on the one truth that he cannot doubt, namely, the reality of his own mind and the radical difference between the mental and the physical aspects of the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Descartes attempted to address the former issue via his method of doubt. His basic strategy was to consider false any belief that falls prey to even the slightest doubt </li></ul>
  26. 26. Skepticism <ul><li>Epistemology has arisen either in defense of, or in opposition to, various forms of skepticism. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationalists could be viewed as skeptical about the possibility of empirical knowledge while not being skeptical with regard to a priori knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Empiricists could be seen as skeptical about the possibility of a priori knowledge but not so with regard to empirical knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Hume held, we cannot achieve any genuine progress by means of abstract metaphysical speculation, which imposes a spurious clarity upon profound issues. The alternative is to reject all easy answers, employing the negative results of philosophical skepticism as a legitimate place to start. </li></ul>
  27. 27. The Search for Truth <ul><li>Is Truth in the intelligible world? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Truth in the physical world? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the intelligible exist in the physical world ( ideas come from observation through the senses: Aristotle, Locke, the Problem of Evil). </li></ul><ul><li>Does the intelligible exist in the mind, in a domain beyond the senses. ( Plato, Descartes, The mind, eternity) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Søren Kierkegaard- Subjective Truth <ul><li>Kierkegaard’s thought was instrumental in defining a way of being in the world that is characterized by an insistence on an individual and personal experience leading to faith and truth.  </li></ul><ul><li>He argued that faith is the subjective awareness of truth within one’s own individual existence.  </li></ul><ul><li>For Kierkegaard Christian faith is not a matter of regurgitating church dogma. It is a matter of individual subjective passion, which cannot be mediated by the clergy or by human artifacts. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Objective and Subjective Truth <ul><li>Truth in philosophical discourse is either objective or sujective. </li></ul><ul><li>Objective relates to the abstracted theoretical knowledge one can attain about the world. </li></ul><ul><li>The term “objective” signifies the and theoretical knowledge one can attain about the world, or in this case, knowledge of God and/or Christianity. </li></ul><ul><li>Rationality as a method of proving God’s existence through the sense experience is core to the cosmological argument of William Lane Craig. </li></ul><ul><li>In Philosophy, History and the Sciences Truth is pecieved to be objective, dispassionate detached from the person of the researcher. </li></ul><ul><li>To be objective is to employ empirical, rational, and scientific methods of inquiry to the topic of discussion. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Objective and Subjective Truth <ul><li>The term subjective signifies the personal, passionate, and practical approach to knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective relates to terms that pertain to the specific. (i.e. like the subject matter of the law or the case that the law is being applied to). </li></ul>
  31. 31. Kierkigaard Subjective Truth <ul><li>For Kierkegaard, objective truth is characterized by outwardness, while subjective truth is characterized by inwardness. Kierkegaard explains that truth is a paradox, in that it is objectively defined as subjectivity. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Subjectivity is Truth. Through this relationship between the eternal truth and the existing individual the paradox comes into existence. (…) How does this paradox come into existence? By jaxtaposing the eternal, essentia truth with termporal existence.” ( page 165) </li></ul><ul><li>Kierkigaard argues, in the outwardness of objectivity, wich is the knowledge that is applied by sense perception and scientific methods is also the inwardness of subjectivity. </li></ul><ul><li>Truth may be objectively defined as a passionate inwardness, which may change in depth according to the individual’s subjective experience. </li></ul><ul><li>The subjective is what defines faith and faith can only be attained subjectively by looking inwards. Faith and truth then is a subjective enterprise. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Fyodor Dostoevsky <ul><li>His two most famous novels, Crime and Punishment (1866) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880), are philosophical detective stories in which both the murderer and the meaning of life are simultaneously pursued. </li></ul><ul><li>In The Brothers Karamazov , his last novel, Dostoevsky portrayed the relationships of four brothers to their depraved and spiteful earthly father on the one hand, and to a mysterious, often ambivalent heavenly Father on the other. </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout, Dostoevsky was concerned with the justice of God and the idea that &quot;if God does not exist, then everything is permitted.&quot; </li></ul>
  33. 33. Take Home Exam Questions <ul><li>Question I. </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Aquinas cosmological argument depends on Aristotle’s causality to prove the existence of God. The argument from causality was criticized by Paul Edwards. The argument from causality also faces objections by the mere existence of the Problem of Evil. </li></ul><ul><li>Write a counter argument to the critic of the cosmological argument, mainly the claim that the argument does not prove that God is good. Take the example of Evil as described by Dostoevsky. Present a counter argument by adopting Plato’s theory of ideas, and the idea of the Good. In your answer you should explain Aristotle’s causality, Aquinas argument on causality, and Edwards’s critic. </li></ul><ul><li>You should construct a deductive claim by evaluating the idea of the Good and the main premises of the theory of ideas. The theory of ideas distinguishes between two realms of human knowledge, the journey of the soul and the limitations of knowledge achieved by the senses. </li></ul><ul><li>To answer this question you should consult: </li></ul><ul><li>Power Point Presentation Knowledge and Truth </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Aquinas Five Ways </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Edwards a Critique of the Cosmological Argument </li></ul><ul><li>Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Why there is Evil? </li></ul>
  34. 34. Take Home Exam-Questions <ul><li>Question II </li></ul><ul><li>Locke argues that we have no innate knowledge. Ideas are the materials of knowledge and all ideas come from experience. We can reach the existence of God through reason and the observation through the senses alone. As in the case of the cosmological argument. Rene Descartes innate knowledge thesis, argues to the contrary. Present a counter argument to Lock by arguing for the subjectivity of Truth and the immortality of the Soul. Take Plato’s theory of Forms, The Apology and Kierkegaard subjectivity of Truth to support your claims. </li></ul><ul><li>You should construct a deductive argument taking the distinction between values and facts, inwardness of subjectivity that is strictly associated with the outwardness of objectivity, and the subjectivity of faith as an inward recollection of ideas from the eternal realm. </li></ul><ul><li>Power Point Presentation Knowledge and Truth </li></ul><ul><li>Power Point Presentation What is Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Sorn Kierkegaard Faith and Truth </li></ul>