|Contact||Courses||Professional||Study Aids||Glossaries||Key Links||Purpose|
INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
|empirical (a posteriori)||physical objects|
|nonempirical (a priori)||logical, mathematical truths|
|Water freezes at 32 degrees F||10+10 = 20|
|Extraterrestrial beings exist||No statement is both true and false|
|René Descartes was French||All bachelors are unmarried males|
b) Acquaintance Knowledge: Person S knows X (something or someone) by means of direct, immediate experience (objects in the world, our sensations, personal beliefs and desires, etc.).
c) Competence Knowledge: Person S knows how to do X. Practical skill knowledge or know-how.
3. Sources of Knowledge: Traditional Candidates
4. The Scope and Limits of Knowledge
I.B) Descartes’ epistemology
1. Autonomy: self-conscious, deliberate attempt to conduct epistemological inquiry independent of traditional authority or personal prejudice (preconceived opinion).
2. Radical Foundationalism: certain, indubitable knowledge is justified on the basis of a fundamental first principle that becomes the foundation for our entire edifice of derived knowledge.
3. Subjectivity as epistemological starting point: Perhaps the most striking and revolutionary feature of Descartes’ epistemology is its radically subjective point of departure. In contrast to the classical orientation to objectivity (external objects, nature, or reality), Descartes seeks to reconstruct knowledge ‘from the inside outwards,’ i.e., from introspective certainty of one’s own subjective consciousness to knowledge of the external world.
4. Rationalism: the primary source of knowledge is reason, conceived as our cognitive capacity to acquire truth independent of (a priori) sensory, empirical experience.
II) DESCARTES’ BREAK WITH SCHOLASTICISM
A. Autonomy: Advances a strictly philosophical employment of reason independent of faith, external authority, religious sources, and institutional coercion. Rejection of the Scholastic, Medieval distinction between faith and reason as two independent sources of knowledge. In the Medieval period faith functions as the fundamental framework within which reason operates. Augustine (354—430 AD) typifies this epistemological division in his famous dictum: credo ut intelligam (I believe in order to understand).
B. Mechanistic Model of Scientific Explanation: Rejection of the Aristotelian, teleological model of explanation based on final causes. A final cause is the purpose or goal that causes something to occur.
Examples: health is the final cause of exercise; God is the final cause of everything that occurs. This explanatory model reflects the premodern, traditional subordination of physics to theology. Descartes substitutes a mechanistic framework in which fundamental mathematical and physical principles govern matter in motion.