Monday, July 10, 2006

Descartes for Dummies

First of all, I would like everyone to know that I exist. And that the external world exists. Really it does. It's there. I promise. Everyone really does exist, even Faz. Backing up, second session of summer classes have started. Environmental biology got cancled, so I'm on to some other interesting things. I'm taking American Government, because despite taking it twice in high school (the dangers of going to three different high schools), I still don't feel like I know enough to be an active and responsible citizen. (But I mean, hey, I know English, that's more than many!) Anyway, my prof is a good solid Catholic who I've seen at church stuff for years now. I'm going to beg and plead and make cookies for Dr. Keats and hopefully he'll let me count that towards a poli sci credit. (The master is picky about creditssess, precious.) Oh that was weird. Anyway, how many credits does one need for a minor? I'm also sitting in on the intro to philosophy class. Basil thinks I'm absolutely nuts for taking a class that I'm not getting credit for. I'd just love to introduce them to Fidelio! Anyway, the philo prof is absolutely thrilled to have someone intersted in philo. (NSU has a philo department of, maybe two classes.) He almost fell over when he asked the class what philosophy was and I responed, "The love of wisdom." But I think the class is going to be hard. Not like it's going to be a lot of tests or reading (not that it would matter if it was, I'm not getting a grade!), but in the though process of the prof. He seems like a nice enough guy who's really interested in what he's doing, but I almost jumped him when he said that it was the questions that were important and not the answers. Ahhh! I just finished the first reading assignment. It was all Descartian, "How do we know the world exists" crap. I really wish I'd been in Cuddeback's human nature class right now. O'Herron just said that if you didn't believe that world existed, you were stupid and needed to get out of his classroom. Dan S. tried to argue with him, but that didn't work out so well. :P Anyway, I think this class is going to be very educational for me. I will be very interested to see how people justify bad philosophy.


Blogger Propter Quid said...

:D - sounds like fun.

BTW, you didn't miss much in Dr. Cuddeback's class in my opinion. His explaination for this is actually something I really didn't like. His answer was, more or less: the fact that your senses are reliable is a premise. It is a premise because it is OBVIOUS. If you deny it, your just being stubborn and ought to be beaten.

This is wrong, I believe, because Decartes went through a huge effort to prove that he was not just being stubborn, that he really had a good argument as to why one shouldn't assume that the senses are reliable. What if (to use a pop culture reference) we're plugged into the Matrix, or if we're crazy? We wouldn't know it if we were and we'd be unable to prove it or disprove it.

Decartes own answer is also insufficient. He claimed that a-priori knowledge (gained with the senses) was the answer. But if we're crazy or 'pluged in,' our logic is just as suspect as our senses.

I believe that the best answer to this problem is that we have no choice. If our senses decieve us, there is nothing we can do about it. We can't access the 'truth.' We're stuck with whatever reality our senses give to us. Without the use of our senses and reason we are helpless and trying to learn without them is like trying to run a mile without legs. It's pointless.

Granted that this doesn't disprove Solipsim, but it does show how it is foolish.

Anyway, I hope this helps. I have a tendency to overspeak my mind at times.

God Bless.

11:41 AM  
Blogger White Phantom said...

No PQ, that was awesome. In fact, that's kind of what I came up with. Feel free to talk about philosophy any time to me. I love to hear your ideas.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Ibid said...

Andrew, I really wish that you had been able to get a philosophy degree. you should use philosophy in your Thesis.

6:42 AM  
Blogger healthily sanguine said...

I would have to disagree that Descartes "had a really good argument as to why one shouldn't assume that the senses are reliable." His argument is self-defeating. How do you ever get the experience of "being deceived" except through the senses as well? You realize you have been deceived in a certain case of sensing something, and you rely on your realization (which is also based on sense knowledge) to correct your error. Basically, you first have to assume the senses are reliable in order to show that they deceive. I don't think I said that very well, but to me Descartes is a whole lot of bosh. You'll see when you take Modern. Father of Modern Philosophy...that says it all right there. In any case, although Dr. Cuddeback was perfectly right, I did not altogether like his treatment of the Meditations. Perhaps I just didn't like the Meditations. Mr. Brown, on the other hand, gives you a lot more room to discuss and explore what's really going on--since, obviously, exploring Descartes is kind of the main point of Phil. 302. :)

11:38 AM  

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