Philosophy Essay on Mind, World and Knowledge

Epistemology is the philosophical study of the origin, nature and limits of knowledge. The word epistemology is derived from the Greek words episteme which means knowledge and the word logos which means reason. The following study tries to elaborate and give further insight on the primary sources of knowledge that exist today. Epistemology is both normative and descriptive. Descriptive epistemology refers to assertions that are made without a person undertaking any evaluations into the matter. Descriptive claims try to explain an understanding of a matter without basing the evidence to established standards. One potential illustration of the descriptive aspects of epistemology is that knowledge existed before man came into being. For example, animals have knowledge about weather patterns which describes their migratory tendencies during certain intervals. The above illustration is an example of knowledge that was in existence long before man mastered the trends and patterns of weather. Normative epistemology refers to assertions that are made after some degree of analysis or investigation that has been carried out relative to existing standards and or principles. To illustrate knowledge is not static but rather is ever evolving owing to the fact that the earliest men relied solely on rain fed agriculture in order to farm, but the modern man now relies on irrigation and pesticide and fertilizers to farming.

The justified true belief account of knowledge states that the proposition of subject S will know of a proposition P only when three conditions have been satisfied. These three conditions are; 1; that S believes that p. 2; That is S justified in believing p. and finally 3; P is factual (True). The above illustration is referred to as the Tripartite Analysis of Knowledge. That is; S knows about p only if;

p is factual / true;
S trusts that p;
S is justified in trusting in p.

The Gettier examples are valuable in trying to make the JTB more understandable by using practical examples. One of Gettier’s example are;

  • Jones, a man, is the person that will be assigned the job, and that Jones possess ten coins within his pocket.
    Smith’s evidence for (a) might be that the company’s president has affirmed to him that only Jones would be selected at the end of the tests. Furthermore, Smith has taken the time to count the number of coins that were wielded by Jones in his pocket awhile ago.
  • The man who is going to be tasked with fulfilling the job has got ten coins within his pocket.
    Assume that Smith has witnessed the entitlement from 1 to 2 and has accepted 2 based on the grounds of 1 for which he possesses significant evidence. In such a case, Smith is more than justified to believe that 2 is factual (true).

The term retrograde motion of the planets refers to the actual motion of a physical body in a direction that is apparently opposite to that of the motion of most of the members with which it shares apparent similarities in the Solar system or any other astronomical system which have a predestined preference of direction with regards to motion. The theory of retrograde motion of the planets is relevant to Copernicus’s concept of a flat earth orbiting the sun in that due to the difference in orbiting patterns of the planets in relation to the earth’s movement, the earth could not be the centre of the solar system. This assertion motivated Copernicus to the concept that their had to be a bigger star at the centre of the solar system that was contributing to the similarities in the motion of predominantly similar motion of the planets all with the exception of the earth. As such, due to the fact that the sun was responsible for emitting light and transmitting it to all the planets with varying degree of brightness owing to the distance of the planet in relation to the sun, it was therefore concluded that the sun had to be at the centre of the solar system.

Descartes work epistemological work was based upon his late in life realization that most of his earliest beliefs had been based off of doubtful belief structures. This necessitated his need to invest more time in creating adequate belief structurers that were based on facts rather than assumptions in order to help him in pioneer and spreading his researches and findings of sciences. In his epistemological project about meditations Rene Descartes affirmed that humankind had to examine all of their beliefs and o reject all which were open to any degree of doubt. The reason for this was that by doing so people would have the same degree of beliefs thus building a foundation for research based on universally acceptable systems of beliefs. This, Descartes achieved this pedagogical theory in his six meditations. The scientific revolution was relevant to this project in that its laid credence in the processes that need to be undertaken before a scientific concept could be accepted as being true.

I agree with Descartes assertion that the scientific revolution required a complete and rational reconstruction of our belief systems. The reason for such is that it allowed the world to create a universally accepted basis of what could be constituted as scientifically true and or scientifically false. In the absence of such, the world would be in disarray as there would be numerous perceptions and methodologies that diverse people would be trying to defend as being factual regardless of the fact that they may be open to doubt by different people. Thus far, due to Descartes support for the scientific revolution, all research and science has become almost geometrically demonstrative in that they are now made of valid deductions that are primarily rooted in both experiments and observation.

Descartes method of doubt was developed and authored in his famous essays known as Meditations, specifically Meditations on First Philosophy. The method of doubt which is contained in Meditations 1, plays the role of allowing him (Rene Descartes) and others to find a method that allows people to ascertain if a certain degree of knowledge is true/ factual. In Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene had uncovered that a lot of his earlier beliefs were indeed false making him to want to question more of his earlier beliefs in order to understand what was true and what was not true. Owing to the fact that false beliefs cannot be ascribed as being knowledge, Descartes questioned whether he indeed had any knowledge at all. Furthermore, the method of doubt performs the second role of creating an accepted method by which to collect knowledge.

Descartes Cognito argument is based upon the principle of ‘I think, therefore I am.’ In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes attempts to call all out beliefs into doubt by invoking that people free themselves from their reliance of the senses in order to begin contemplating intellectual trusts. It (the doubting process) takes place in two stages. The first stage involves accepting that all beliefs which have been received via our sensory receptors be christened into doubt. In stage two, all of our intellectual beliefs are also christened as doubtful. Descartes achieves such a feat by presenting two primary reasons for doubting that all our sensory perceptions have told us the truth. The first reason is that all our senses have been determined as being capable of deceit. One example is the bending of stick places in water (refraction) or the smallness of objects due to increased distances (optical illusion). The second instance of doubt that stems from out sensory preceptors are ore severe. Rene uses the instances of dreams to illustrate that our sensory perceptions create a virtual reality that is not distinguishable from fact until one awakens from their sleep. The argument is convincing with regards to scepticism arising from his First mediations in that it reveals that doubts can stem from all sectors of intellects even from our own sensory receptors which we deem as being true. This creates a significant amount of credence as to why people need to investigate all the [perceptions of knowledge in order to draw out those which are riddled with elements of doubt so as to create a building block for what people know to be factual (knowledge) and what they do not know.

The foundationalist theory of knowledge is the theory which refers to the concept that all beliefs can be vindicated based upon foundational or basic beliefs. Such basic beliefs are affirmed as being both self-evident as well as self-justifying and thus have no reliance upon other beliefs in order to back them up. It is important to note that material objects and or entities of science are not concluded as being fundamental since they need inferential pillars of support. On the other hand, the regress argument refers to refers to arguments which make an appeal to the concept of infinite regress. Such arguments predominantly align with making objections towards a theory thus making into objectionable. The regress intends to identify and make known the negative features that exist within the theory. The regress must have an independent reason and or feature which is not a regress in itself but that people have an independent reason behind rejecting the theory.

Descartes tries to get beyond the foundation of direct knowledge by illustrating the various areas and scenario from where incidences and aspects that are viewed as being true can actually be false. He does this by emphasising that people need to reassess all theories and concepts of knowledge and to identify those which are not concrete enough as being doubtful. Additionally, Rene also tries to get over the foundation of direct knowledge by helping raise questions about the factuality of human beings own innate sensory preceptors and the numerous incidences from where much of our knowledge tends to emanate from. Thus, any common-sense beliefs about the world that human beings have which do not have incidences of doubt are true.
The weakest part of Descartes argument is that it does not delineate what exactly people need to be looking for when trying to ascertain whether the knowledge that they learned earlier should be doubted.

The coherence theory of knowledge refers to the theory that in order for a belief to be regarded as justified it needs to submit to a series of coherent belief systems. In order that a system of beliefs be regarded as coherent the specific beliefs that sum up to make that system should cohere successfully with each other. Invariably, coherence tends to involve three primary factors and or components. There are; the explanatory relations, the logical consistency and finally the non-explanatory relation. However, it is important to note that competing versions of coherentism often spell out the various three relation is differing ways. Additionally, they also tend to differ the specific role of coherence in the justification of beliefs; in certain versions, coherence is obligatory and sufficient for justification but in others it is only essential.

Yes, I think that the coherence theory of knowledge is a significant improvement over foundationalism. The reason for this deduction is that the coherence theory of knowledge allows for each new theory to be classified according to what it aims to show for instance; sufficiency coherentism or necessity coherentisms; an aspect that foundationalism did not aspire to demonstrate. Additionally, all arguments against coherentism are also classified along the paradigms of whether they target sufficiency coherentisms or necessity coherentism an aspect that foundationalism does not delineate.

George Edward Moore, commonly referred to as G.E. Moore’s common-sense refutation of Cartesian scepticism refers to his belief (G.E. Moore) the world is actually as simple as majority of its inhabitants perceive it to be. Moore tries to defend his claims by providing some common-sense illustrations and or examples that other people in the world also believe in and ascertain as being factual. These illustrations are identified as being truisms. To illustrate, G.E. Moore believes that the earth has and was in existence long before human kind came into existence. He reveals that a large section of the world, if not all also believe in this concept that the earth was first and everything else on it came later. He asserts that this claim is true because 1. He is certain about these issues, 2. Other people from diverse backgrounds and locations also believe in this phenomenon, 3. Moore is aware of this as a universal truth.

I do think that it is convincing in that before all the wold came into the same conclusion, there must exist an incredible amount of knowledge within the scientific realm that can be used as elements of proof and or evidence by supporting such common-sense dilemmas.

Bertrand Russell’s account of the of the external world is based upon the relations between humankinds’ perception and that of physics. These assertions are featured in Russell’s book which is a composition of his lectures in the filed of Our Knowledge of the External World that was published in 1914. His book formulates the basis of the external world by agitating that private experience should act as the building block for the beginning of philosophical enquiry. In his research Bertrand tried to elaborate on whether human beings were able to acknowledge the existence of the external world by the use of their actions alongside their senses. Thus far, his account reveal that humans can know of the existence of the external world by using the primitive qualities of sense data in relation to physical objects such as shape, colour, texture and temperature among others. According to Bertrand, all physical objects have the ability to cause or attract sense-data. As such, whenever it presents itself, logical constructions can and should be substituted with inferred entities.
Rationalism and empiricism have been described as being polar opposites of one another. It might be important to note that the famous philosopher Rene Descartes is actually a rationalist. Rationalism refers to the belief in innate reasons, ideas and deductions where as empiricism refers to the belief in induction and sense perception. Through rationalism, people tend to believe in innate ideas even before one is born such as through the process of reincarnation. Innate ideas are predominantly used to explain why certain people are better in certain tasks and activities more than other regardless of the fact that they may be at the same educational level. Furthermore, believing in reason as the primary source of knowledge is one of the distinctions of rationalism. Thus far, rationalists assert that the 5 senses are only capable of giving people opinions but nor reasons. On the other hand, empiricists ascertain that perception is the primary source of all knowledge. Perception has been divided into two categories; simple and complex. The simple ideas arise from perceptions of size, colour and shape while complex ideas arise when simple ideas are united. Thus far, it is important to note that with regards to empiricism, ideas can only be acquired via experience.
Personally, empiricism seems to be the most plausible philosophical tradition.

John Locke’s main criticisms of innate ideas stem from the fact that at birth, the mind of the child is an ‘empty slate’. As such, the role of the mind is to receive ideas, each unique from the next. Thus, ideas cannot be ingrained before birth as with the concept of reincarnation but rather they have to be experienced. Although external objects act by embracing the mind with concrete ideas, it is the primary role the mind to furnish understanding. The mind is fitted to both receive and understand ideas that primarily stem from experience. Ideas come via the 5 senses. To illustrate; colour is received by the eyes, smell is received by the nose, sound is received by the ears and finally temperature is received by touch.

Our ideas can be derived from experience in a number of ways, through the concept of simple ideas and complex ideas. The simple ideas refer to the primary raw materials of knowledge and are provided to the mind in different ways. To illustrate some ideas often come by senses such as light and sound. By experiencing such ideas (via senses) one has derived experience which otherwise cannot be derived via any other means. Complex ideas are a summation of simple ideas. To illustrate, beauty may be composed of a specific shape, colour, sound and smell as with regards to vehicles. Thus, by partaking in all these concepts, an experience is gained.

According to Rene Descartes, the concept of God is inborn as it could not be attained via the concept of experience. This stems from the concept of faith that individuals have about the existence of a God. However, according to John Locke, the concept of God is attained from sensations, reflections of individuals on impressions existing and finally by direct experience originating from the external world. I agree with John Locke that the concept of God is derived from sensations, reflections and by direct experiences.
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