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Origins of knowldge 2016 revision 3. knowledge empiricism

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Origins of knowldge 2016 revision 3. knowledge empiricism

  1. 1. Reminder: Arguments against concept innatism • Are given by concept empiricists such as Locke, Hume, Berkeley • These arguments also (mostly) apply against knowledge innatism: – There are no such concepts/no such knowledge and we do not possess them/it – ‘innate concepts’ are ‘empty’, the terms meaningless – ‘From what impressions is that supposed idea derived?’ - Hume – Such concepts/knowledge can be re-defined as based on experiences – we can explain them arguing that they are derived from our experience, learned. – Locke’s arguments against innatism: » there is no universal consent/ agreement about such concepts/ knowledge » It is trivial to say that innate knowledge is just ‘the capacity to know’ » and we can explain how we possess such knowledge in other ways (by redefining them as based on experience). – Innatism’s reliance on the non-natural: weird metaphysics (Plato!) or God always gets invoked to explain where such concepts/knowledge come from. – [Such knowledge is merely analytic] – (Hume) – it does not add to our knowledge of the world because it is (trivially) to do with definitions.
  2. 2. Reminder: the difference between ideas or concepts and knowledge • Ideas or concepts = mental contents, notions, something that you think. John Locke: "whatsoever is the Object of the Understanding when a Man thinks." • Knowledge = propositions that are true, believed, justified – hence, something that you know for sure because it can be articulated into statements.
  3. 3. Reminder: a priori, a posteriori knowledge • A priori knowledge: can be known to be true independently of sensory experience – ‘known without leaving the sofa’. • A posteriori knowledge: confirmed only by sensory experience. Video game tester (true!) En route to the a priori. (Or should that be The Priory?)
  4. 4. The Origins of Knowledge Knowledge Empiricism
  5. 5. Syllabus moment Green = we’ve covered this already • Knowledge empiricism: all synthetic knowledge is a posteriori (Hume’s ‘fork’); all a priori knowledge is (merely) analytic. • Issues, including: – knowledge innatism (rationalism): there is at least some innate a priori knowledge (arguments from Plato and Leibniz) – knowledge empiricist arguments against knowledge innatism: alternative explanations (no such knowledge, in fact based on experiences or merely analytic); Locke’s arguments against innatism; its reliance on the non-natural – intuition and deduction thesis (rationalism): we can gain synthetic a priori knowledge through intuition and deduction (Descartes on the existence of self, God and the external world) – knowledge empiricist arguments against intuition and deduction: the failure of the deductions or the analytically true (tautological) nature of the conclusions – arguments against knowledge empiricism: the limits of empirical knowledge (Descartes’ sceptical arguments).
  6. 6. Concept Empiricism, Concept Innatism Knowledge Empiricism, Knowledge Innatism • CE vs CI – ALL ideas are derived only from experience OR SOME key ideas are innate to us. • KE vs KI: – ALL synthetic knowledge is a posteriori (=contingent but useful), ALL a priori knowledge is merely analytic or tautologous (=necessarily true, but dull). OR – SOME synthetic knowledge is a priori: there is synthetic a priori knowledge (= both necessary and useful). Hume’s Fork: ALL knowledge is either synthetic a posteriori OR analytic a priori KEY EMPIRICIST CLAIM
  7. 7. Reminder: Subject, Copula, Predicate • Propositions take the form: X is Y – X is the SUBJECT – ‘is’ asserts connection…hence COPULA – Y is a QUALITY…or PREDICATE
  8. 8. Analytic Statements • An analytic statement is a proposition where – Kant: ‘The subject contains the predicate’ – Hence the subject and the predicate contain the same information – such as…? • ‘Vixens are female’ • ‘Bachelors are unmarried’ – so…a ‘definition in terms’… – true merely by virtue of the meaning of the words concerned…
  9. 9. Tautologies and the Tautologous • In other words…a tautology • a statement that – adds nothing to your understanding of the world – but merely restates the meaning of a word – or defines it • To call a statement tautologous is to say that it is a tautology • So (Empiricist claim!) all analytic statements are tautologous  they teach us nothing new • Tautologies are trivial, uninteresting, empty
  10. 10. Synthetic statements • A synthetic statement is a proposition where – the subject and the predicate do not contain the same information – such as…? • ‘Malabar will win the Grand National’ • ‘Bachelors are a good idea as wedding guests’ • So, descriptive of the world… • …they teach us something new – are interesting, ‘vivid’, therefore. • But (Rationalists!) cannot be certain or necessary. – Synthetic statements could always be imagined to be different. – It is a contingent fact that Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain; it does not have to be so.
  11. 11. Which is which? • Thinking of ‘a priori’ and ‘a posteriori’ knowledge… – Which kind of knowledge would tautologies/ analytic statements put into words? – Which kind of knowledge would synthetic statements put into words? • Key Empiricist Claim: ‘Hume’s Fork’: ALL knowledge is either synthetic a posteriori OR analytic a priori.
  12. 12. (Analytic) a priori knowledge Question, Answer, Reply? Q. Why might Descartes be interested in knowledge that has an a priori/rational justification? (That is: knowledge that is true independently of any particular experience e.g. maths, logic, ethics) A dull but necessary profession… A. (Meditation One): such knowledge seems certain compared to the error- prone senses. R. But (problem): is all a priori knowledge merely analytic? True by definition; certain, yet empty; dull but necessary.
  13. 13. (Synthetic) a posteriori knowledge Question, Answer, Reply? That’s right. Most of the internet: the opposite of dull but necessary. Q. Why might empiricists be interested in knowledge that has an a posteriori justification? (That is: knowledge dependent on the world to be true?) A. Such knowledge seems vivid, useful, applicable compared to truths-by- definition. R. But (problem): can a posteriori knowledge be certain? It may be vivid, but it is also contingent.
  14. 14. (Synthetic) a posteriori knowledge Question, Answer, Reply? That’s right. Most of the internet: the opposite of dull but necessary. Q. Why might empiricists be interested in knowledge that has an a posteriori justification? (That is: knowledge dependent on the world to be true?) A. Such knowledge seems vivid, useful, applicable compared to truths-by- definition. R. But (problem): can a posteriori knowledge be certain? It may be vivid, but it is also contingent.
  15. 15. Starter Answers to Cloze exercise on Knowledge Empiricism and Knowledge Innatism Knowledge empiricists claim that all knowledge can be divided into one of two kinds. This claim is sometimes referred to as ‘Hume’s Fork’, after David Hume, who argued that all knowledge was either of Matters of Fact or Relations of Ideas. Knowledge empiricists claim that all synthetic knowledge (of ‘Matters of Fact’) is a posteriori, hence contingent but useful, whereas all priori knowledge is merely analytic or tautologous, so necessarily true, but trivial. In contrast, Knowledge Innatists claim that Hume’s Fork is incorrect and some synthetic knowledge is a priori. Hence there is knowledge that is both necessary and useful. Examples of synthetic a priori knowledge might include mathematical truths, or Kantian Categories such as causation, substance, quantity, quality.
  16. 16. Starter Write some sentences about knowledge and statements…
  17. 17. Knowledge Empiricism: ‘Hume’s Fork’ all synthetic knowledge is a posteriori; all a priori knowledge is (merely) analytic Hume argues that all knowledge can be divided into only two kinds: All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic ... [which are] discoverable by the mere operation of thought ... Matters of Fact, which are the second object of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. • Draw and label Hume’s Fork. What characterises each kind of knowledge?
  18. 18. The Key Claim of Empiricism • Hume’s Fork: ALL knowledge of synthetic propositions is a posteriori; ALL knowledge of analytic propositions is a priori. – Truths not known by definition or logic alone can only be acquired through the senses. These truths are contingent. – We can come to know some truths by definition by reflecting on our sensations. But these a priori truths are not world-shaking. • (Of course, if we can find SOME synthetic a priori or analytic a posteriori knowledge, then Empiricism is wrong…)
  • toddzepplander

    Oct. 30, 2017
  • riodanmulindwa

    May. 11, 2016

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