A posteriori knowledge a priori knowledge
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A posteriori Knowledge A priori knowledge. A posteriori knowledge is based on experience. A priori knowledge is knowledge that is not based on experience. If you can know something just by thinking about it, without consulting how the world appears to you, that is a priori knowledge.

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A posteriori knowledge a priori knowledge l.jpg
A posteriori Knowledge A priori knowledge

  • A posteriori knowledge is based on experience.

  • A priori knowledge is knowledge that is not based on experience.

  • If you can know something just by thinking about it, without consulting how the world appears to you, that is a priori knowledge.


Possible examples of a priori knowledge l.jpg
Possible examples of a priori knowledge

  • “bachelors are unmarried”

  • 2+2=4

  • There cannot be a round square

  • Any logical truth—the connection between premises and conclusion in a valid argument


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The EVIL DEMON! experience, but it leaves a priori knowledge untouched

  • It is possible that there is a demon, with nearly godlike powers, who aims to deceive me.

  • Therefore it is possible that all my beliefs, are the result of the deceptive powers of a demon

  • Therefore I cannot trust any of my beliefs


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Meditation 2 experience, but it leaves a priori knowledge untouched

  • Descartes now tries to discover some belief or beliefs that can be known with certainty. These beliefs would have to be true even if there is a demon

  • He finds one: I exist.

  • But could an evil demon deceive him (or you) about your own existence?


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Descartes answers no. Deception requires that there be something to be deceived.

Even if all my thoughts are mistaken, the thoughts must exist in order for them to be mistaken

Everytime I reflect on my thinking I can know with absolute certainty that I exist.


But what sort of thing is this i l.jpg
But what sort of thing is this “I” something to be deceived.

  • Am I a rational animal?

  • Am I a human being?

  • What is essential to this “I” that I know to exist?

    Essentially, what I am is not human being, not rational animal, but a thinking thing

    Why?


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  • The knowledge that I am human or an animal, or even have any body, is still in doubt. A demon can deceive me about these things. So I cannot know anything about my physical being. But there is something I know. What I know is the residuum, it is what is left over after all that can be doubted is doubted—thinking, consciousness.


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Solipsism! body, is still in doubt. A demon can deceive me about these things. So I cannot know anything about my physical being. But there is something I know. What I know is the residuum, it is what is left over after all that can be doubted is doubted—thinking, consciousness.

  • Solipsism is a view that can only be stated in the first person.

  • My mind is all that exists, everything else only exists as I experience it.

    There are few if any solipsists. But is there any way to refute solipsism?


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The piece of wax body, is still in doubt. A demon can deceive me about these things. So I cannot know anything about my physical being. But there is something I know. What I know is the residuum, it is what is left over after all that can be doubted is doubted—thinking, consciousness.

  • Therefore we know the mind with much more clarity than we know the body.

  • But this is hard to believe. Its easy to think that knowledge of the physical world is much more concrete, “tangible,” and that the mind is somehow mysterious

  • The piece of wax example shows us this is an error


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  • Take a piece of wax, melt it. body, is still in doubt. A demon can deceive me about these things. So I cannot know anything about my physical being. But there is something I know. What I know is the residuum, it is what is left over after all that can be doubted is doubted—thinking, consciousness.

  • All the sensible properties change

  • Yet we still believe, we still take the wax to be the same thing

  • This shows: [supposed] knowledge of physical things is based on the mind. We need to think to know the physical world

  • Our concept of the physical world is not a bundle of sensible qualities.


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