So far this semester we have read about and discussed questions and problems in the areas of metaphysics and epistemology. Within metaphysics, we discussed issues with the notion of “realness” with regard to immaterial and material objects: to what degree can or should we consider immaterial objects as real? We’ve discussed the role that metaphysics can play in science: can science, which is invested in theorizing from that which can be adequately evidenced, sufficiently address the larger metaphysical implications of the theories it develops? We also looked at the status of “mind” in relation to the physical or material world: is “mind” something wholly independent and immaterial; is it bound wholly to the material attributes of brain; or is it something immaterial and yet materially grounded? And we looked at questions of free-will: can we have evidence of the existence of free-will, what proof do we have of the existence of free-will, how can one sufficiently prove or disprove the existence of free-will? Participant in these questions is the role of “realness” with regard to that which might lack direct sensorial proof/evidence, and the status of those things which have been previously thought of as essentially existent but not observationally apparent: to what degree is the notion of “realness” bound to the idea of observability?
Within this final question, we can sense the echoes of dualism that have appeared in our readings, that there is a seeming duality to humanity, one of the conceptual or thought, the other of the perceptual or world. This dualism plays itself out in the epistemological concerns we’ve likewise addressed. Participant in the epistemic questions we addressed is a question about the status of knowledge, i.e., what is its nature, which has traditionally forwarded the idea that to have knowledge is to have a justified true belief. This notion of justified can be understood as an attempt to bridge the seeming divide between the conceptual and the perceptual elements. Descartes, the more evident proponent for dualism, arguably attempts to secure knowledge by implying that the sole means by which knowledge is founded through rational, analytic, and a priori claims, that these are the only means for justifying a true believe so as to become knowledge. For Descartes, any attempt at justifying our true beliefs, i.e., knowledge, through the purely perceptual leads to questions of doubt for such claims due to the potential for deception and/or flaws in perception itself.
Taking as a point of contention Descartes’ reliance upon a kind of purity in concepts in the form of his innate ideas, Hume argues that the very origin of concepts is such that perception, i.e., experience, is participant, and that ideas are nothing more than the faint remnants of once vivid and lively impressions qua perceptions. As such, Hume raises the stakes of the role that justification plays with knowledge by arguing what justification can our impressions give us for such true beliefs as, say, causality? In other words, if conceptions in the form of ideas are the only means for justifying our true beliefs about causality, for example, and those ideas come from perceptual impressions that do not fully present all that our ideas can develop, how can we be justified in our beliefs that causality actually exists, that causality is actually “real”? Not necessarily a dualist, Hume is much more a skeptic as to what our conceptions can actually, sufficiently, and with justification say about the world of perception.
Save your time - order a paper!
Get your paper written from scratch within the tight deadline. Our service is a reliable solution to all your troubles. Place an order on any task and we will take care of it. You won’t have to worry about the quality and deadlinesOrder Paper Now
Inspired by the questions that Hume raises, Kant attempts to address the divide that is participant, the divide between the appearances of the perceptions and the supposed reality of our conceptual claims about them. By attempting to sidestep Hume’s understanding of experience, by depicting consciousness as more active in the very structure of experience itself, Kant attempts to secure the means by which we can have some sense of justification and certainty in our true beliefs, i.e., that we can have knowledge, by presenting a more modest understanding of the extent to which we can have knowledge, and what kinds of knowledge we can have.
For most of us, these questions might seem absurd. Barring theft, towing or anything external to my car, I can know that my car will be where I left it, because inanimate objects do not get up and move on their own. I can know this because previous empirical evidence has shown this to be a justified true belief. The questions of epistemology that Hume, Descartes, and Kant raise aren’t so much about whether or not knowledge exists, whether or not the justification for our true beliefs exists, but rather how such justification exists, and in what manner can we be justified in our true beliefs so as to secure some sense of certainty as it relates to our knowledge in general. That, we act as if we are justified in our true beliefs about the permanence or stability of inanimate objects, for example, but why?
For your midterm, I would like you to examine the notion of freedom. This is of course connected to the notion of free-will which we briefly discussed, and it is likewise connected to the questions of metaphysics we’ve addressed. For example, how can we have evidence of the existence of freedom? If we can have no direct evidence of freedom, how can we be certain it exists, i.e., that it is real? Likewise, questions about the existence of freedom can be problematized when handled epistemically. How do we know we have freedom, or free-will? What justification do we have for our beliefs in freedom? You are to address questions of freedom by first considering it from a metaphysical perspective, and then, considering it from through an epistemological lens. This is a rather large topic, and understandably it could be a lot to tackle, so what follows are some recommendations on how to approach your paper.
First, before you begin, you should make a distinction in your thoughts between freedom that is considered to be integral to humanity, i.e., free-will, and the kinds or types of freedoms that are institutionalized in, say, our Constitution. Those constitutionally guaranteed freedoms presuppose the existence of freedom in general, so to focus on them, rather than the more general notion of freedom, would be presupposing freedom’s existence without considering whether or not it exists, how it exists, how we can know it exists, etc., etc. What’s more, freedom is an extremely abstract notion. To this end, be clear in your mind about what you define freedom as being, and then present that understanding in the first part of your paper. For example, one might argue that freedom exists/doesn’t exist because freedom is nothing more than the potential to choose. By defining freedom as “choice making” one could then address the rest of the paper to the existence or non-existence of choices.
Second, structure your thoughts as much as possible before you begin writing. Come up with a plan for how you want to tackle the assignment. Start with either field, metaphysics or epistemology, and work your way to the other. For example, you might assert that freedom does not exist, that it lacks observability and therefore has no metaphysical status, because what is observable is that which is bound by deterministic unfolding (i.e., unfree), and that we can know this by looking at evidence x, y, and z. Or, you might assert that one can know that freedom exists by arguing from an a priori position, that we can have knowledge about that which we have no direct observation, that freedom may not be directly observable but is existent, and then conjecture about its metaphysical status.
Third, this assignment is intended to measure how well you understand some of the key concepts and arguments from philosophers that we’ve discussed thus far. You’ll need to utilize those concepts and ideas we’ve discussed so as to demonstrate that understanding. Be forewarned: Simply writing about your personal feelings and offering no proof that you’ve considered the topic within the context of the material of this course is far from the purpose of this paper.