1-27 Human Nature

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January 27, 2011 (6)

Skepticism, Empiricism, and Rationalism

global vs. local skepticism
global scepticism as self-refuting if claimed as a truth

Descartes, Meditation 1

Descartes' Approach in Meditation 1
"But I have sometimes found that these senses played me false, and it is prudent never to trust entirely those who have once deceived us. ...
But surely he's not wrong about the fact that he's sitting there . . .
"But in thinking about it carefully, I recall having often been deceived in sleep by similar illusions, and, reflecting on this circumstance more closely, I see so clearly that there are no conclusive signs by means of which one can distinguish clearly between being awake and being asleep, that I am quite astonished by it; and my astonishment is such that it is almost capable of persuading me that I am asleep now. "
composite things can be deceiving (note argument about painters, imagination), so "This is why perhaps that, from this, we shall not be wrong in concluding that physics, astronomy, medicine, and all the other sciences which depend on the consideration of composite things, are most doubtfuJ and uncertain, but that arithmetic, geometry and the other sciences of this nature, which deal only with very simple and general things, without bothering about their existence or non-existence, contain something certain and indubitable. ... I. For whether I am awake or sleeping, two and three added together always make five..."
It is possible that an all powerful God deceives me about even mathematics.

Descartes, Meditation 2

Archimedian Point: Cogito. I cannot be deceived into thinking that I am, so my knowledge that I am is certain.
What else can I know with certainty aside from the Cogito? That I doubt, perceive, affirm, deny, will, imagine, feel.
Wax Example: establishing that knowledge of objects is "clear and distinct"


Group Exercise on the Possibility of Being Radically Wrong about our Knowledge of the World

Continue the discussion of the possibility of being radically deceived about your experience in light of Descartes' first two Meditations. Identifying each others' views and help members of your group to develop several discrete arguments on the question (please record these in notes). Then transition the discussion to "sources of certainty." Consider not only different ways (from simple to profound) that you could be wrong about the world, but also the different degrees of certainty you have about aspects of your world (from least certain to most certain). Where does the cogito fall?

Beginning the Symposium (1)

Greek homosexuality - Livius Article.
Setting: Drinking Party, Speeches on Love
Phaedrus: Love is a great God. There is One Love. Love motivates the lovers to virtue. No lover wants to look bad in front of their beloved. "In truth, the gods honor virtue most highly when it belongs to Love." 180B
Pausinius: There are two loves: Urania - Heavenly Aphrodite and Pandemos - Common Aphrodite. Love itself is neither good nor bad. Defends Greek practice. Love's character depends on the behavior it gives rise to. Potin of customs about love is separate the "wheat from the chaff," heavenly from common.
Erixymachus: Love is a broader phenomenon and force. Medicine "the science of of the effects of love on the body" Music - science of the effects of love on harmony and rhythm. But not all love is good. Love also at work in destruction.
Aristophanes: