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Archetypes ch11

Archetypes ch11

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Archetypes ch11

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  1. Archetypes ch11 David Hume (1711-1776)

  2. Intro • Skeptic: from Greek word skeptesthai ‘to consider/examine; a person who demands clear, observable, undoubtable evidence before accepting any knowledge claim is true • Evidence, expertise & training, time, interest, and ability matter when justifying our beliefs • Often rely on testimony of qualified experts but this differs considerably from relying on universal testimony • How often have you asked for verification on claims about car safety, education, moral values, abortions? • Epistemology: study of the theory of knowledge, concerns with the origins, quality, nature, reliability of knowledge • Beginning with Descartes in Western philosophy

  3. Query p284 • Have you ever been angry or insulted when someone pressed you for evidence? • Has anyone ever gotten angry with you for asking for evidence? • “Can you prove?” when people make claims about important, or even not so important, things? Analyze this question and see if you can justify not asking for evidence

  4. Query 285 • Who is qualified expert in areas such as psychic phenomena, miracles, nutrition, or philosophy? What is the relationship between the reports of experts and your own experience? When the two conflict which should you trust? How do you know?

  5. John Locke • Attempts to answer fundamental epistemological questions gave rise to the two major orientations of modern philosophy • Rationalism (Descartes) and empiricism(Greek root empeiria, experience) • Empiricism: all knowledge is ultimately derived from senses (experience) and that all ideas can be traced to sense data; not reason • Called British empiricism due to its 3 founding philosophers: Locke, Berkeley, Hume

  6. More J Locke (1632-1704) • Went to Oxford, a physician • Locke’s solution: study the origins of our ideas to better understand the nature and process of acquiring knowledge • Emphasis on logical rigor & analytical precision that would shake foundations of our cherished belief • His philosophy does contain inconsistencies as well

  7. Experience is the Origin of All Ideas • Locke = earliest empiricist = all ideas come from senses and reflection • All ideas are copies of the things that caused the basic sensations on which they rest • Copy theory = representation theory or • correspondence theory of truth (Russell Bertrand) • An idea is true if it corresponds to a fact • Procedure for checking the truth of an idea= confirmation or verification • Contrast with coherence theory of truth (rationalists)

  8. Locke’s Rejection of Innate Ideas • Recall Descartes’ priori (innate) ideas: ideas not derived from experience • Reason is as certain as the innate idea of God • Clear and distinct • Locke saw this speculation as dangerous because it distracts “our inquiries from the true and advantageous” • To him labeling a thing “innate” to convince others to accept them secondhand, without questions • Descartes attempt to free science from Scholastic shackles lands us in another dogmatic shackle • Without appealing to the ultimate test of experience, reason has no “ground’, or standard, for distinguishing truth from fantasy. • Compared rationalist’s mind to a pantry full of “innate ideas” • Mind should be empty to be filled with ideas from experience • Like mind at birth, clean slate = tubula rasa

  9. Lockes’ Dualism • Agreed w/ Descartes that something substantial holds together the sensible qualities of experience • Our everyday experiences confirm the existence of substance, which, to Locke, is matter. • 2 kinds of substance: matter and mind • Like Descartes’ dualism

  10. Primary and Secondary Quality • He added 2 kinds of qualities: • Primary: sensible, objective; material objects • Secondary: depends on the perceiver; subjective; mental • Objective/subjective distinctions reflect quarrels between Sophists and Plato + between reality and appearance • Objective world exists independently of our perceptions

  11. Locke’s Egocentric Predicament • Locke’s epistemological dualism (the knower & the known) presents a problem • If all knowledge comes in the form of my own ideas based on sense data, how can I verify the existence of anything external • Won’t the process of verification take place within the realm of my own ideas? • Called Locke’s egocentric predicament • World of our own mental construction, a self-limited one • How can we ever know independently existing things? • Locke’s answer: we somehow know that mental and physical substance exist • Sounds like Descartes to me regarding innate/common sense reason

  12. Locke & Descartes = • Both shied away from pursuing the logical consequences of their basic premises • Descartes: establish the momentary certainty of cogito but could not move beyond his own mind when he attempted to provide a certain foundation for the external world and God’s existence • Locke: Able to demonstrate experience as an element of knowledge & show inadequacy of pure reason; BUT unable to move from direct knowledge of his own ideas to direct knowledge of external reality • Locke’s empiricism does end in the egocentric predicament if pursued to its logical conclusion: • It will not only deny knowledge of an external, independent reality, but are also the possibility of knowing God, • For what simple sensations and experiences can there be on which the idea of God rests? • Locke chose in the end to affirm certain beliefs at the expense of philosophical consistency.

  13. Query 292 • Reflect on the claim that ideas are copies of sensations by considering these ideas: love, God, perfection, wisdom. Can you identify the precise sensations to which they correspond?

  14. George Berkeley tries to be more Consistent than Locke • Berkeley (1685-1753) : 2nd empiricist; Anglican bishop; posed this question • “Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it?” His answer: NO • Closer examination of matter makes more sense to deny the existence of matter than it does to affirm it • Took Locke’s empiricism further: material world does not exist • Berkeley = idealist or immaterialist : only ideas (mental state) exists; material world is fiction • We can conceive of things only in terms of the perceptions (ideas) we have of them. • Attacked copy theory as having no fixed nature because there’s only cluster of constantly changing perceptions • All qualities we assign to objects are relative to the perceiver (secondary) • Example: hot or cold coffee depends on the drinker; 120F? Not if no one is there to measure/verify it! • Example: unconscious mind; mind = think; • Radical but logically correct when concluding that it’s true of everything

  15. Query 293 • Think about the notion of mind as contrasted to the brain and brain states. Could we also have ideas, motives, and emotions we are unaware of? Could we have an “unconscious” mind?

  16. More Berkeley • To accept Locke’s reason that knowledge derives from experience means (Berkeley) we must conclude that all knowledge is limited to ideas (material states are perceptions, mental) • Pain is perception, moon is perception • Esseestpercipi (To be is to be perceived) • Descartes’ to think is to exist; Berkeley added to exist is to be thought about

  17. Berkeley and God • Had he continued with logical consequences of his premises, he would have to accept this disturbing picture of reality: Only particular, immediate perceptions can be known to exist. • Berkeley stopped short of the skeptical conclusions implied by his premises. • He introduced God as a guarantee that he had a continuing self, that he existed during deepest sleep, and that there was indeed an external world, safely encapsulated in the never-resting, all-perceiving mind of God. • David Hume did NOT stop; Hume kept pursuing skeptical logic to unsettling consequences

  18. Berkeley: empiricist but still a metaphysician: God caused Ideas • “…although I clearly can cause some ideas at will (e.g. ideas of imagination), sensory ideas are involuntary; they present themselves whether I wish to perceive them or not and I cannot control their content. The hidden assumption here is that any causing the mind does must be done by willing and such willing must be accessible to consciousness. Berkeley is hardly alone in presupposing this model of the mental; Descartes, for example, makes a similar set of assumptions. • This leaves us, then, with the third option: my sensory ideas must be caused by some other spirit. Berkeley thinks that when we consider the stunning complexity and systematicity of our sensory ideas, we must conclude that the spirit in question is wise and benevolent beyond measure, that, in short, he is God. Downing, Lisa, "George Berkeley", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

  19. 3rd Empiricist David Hume

  20. David Hume (1711-1776): Fearless consistency; Scottish Skeptic • One of few who so relentlessly and thoroughly follow the premises and principles on which his or her philosophy • Many shied away for personal, social, & political reasons…Hume REFUSED to do so. • Grew up Presbyterian, read Locke & others, never again “entertained any belief in religion”

  21. The Skeptical Masterpiece • Got fat in France & wrote Treatise of Human Nature • Returned to England to publish it but found resistance, particularly his analysis on miracles • He agreed to remove the most offensive passages but did not destroy them • The 2nduncensored, edition was not published until after Hume’s death. • Argues against materialism, the possibility of a spiritual, supernatural reality, “fixed-self” , miracles, and personal immortality • To him, neither matter nor mind exist (joke = no matter, never mind) • Denounce reason as “slave of passion” & denied the cause and effect used by previous thinkers • Thus Hume challenged the established religious beliefs, moral judgments, reason, rationalism, earlier empiricism, and certainty of science

  22. An Honest Man • Unable to earn living as writer, was rejected as when applied for professorship • Published more works but in much softer tone, which did last • Wrote the most devastating, direct, and irreverent of his works, the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (published 3 yrs. after his death) • Argued against “design” and other attempts to demonstrate the existence of or understand of the nature of God • Was wearied of hostility against his philosophy, turned to politics & history, for which he was well respected • His writing was more popular in France. “The ladies most of all” • His home became intellectual salon for celebrities like Adam Smith • At the dying hour, Hume confirmed that the afterlife “it is a most unreasonable fancy that we should exist forever” • When asked if the afterlife was desirable, he replied, “Not at all; it is a very gloomy thought.”

  23. Hume’s Skeptical Empiricism • His philosophy rests on the rejection of overly abstract, obscure, bloated speculations. • Accused metaphysical speculations of poorly worded, unclear, and based on unverified assumptions; unending and never thoroughly settled • Such “abstruse speculation” was useful only to individuals with some theological motive, who “being unable to defend on fair grounds, raise these entangling brambles to cover and protect their weaknesses.” • He suggested we inquire seriously and thoroughly into the nature of human understanding, “and show, from an exact analysis of its powers and capacity, that it is by no means fitted for such remote and abstruse subjects” • He moved the epistemological tide further away from metaphysics than Locke & Berkeley ad

  24. Impressions and Ideas An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding removed Locke’s metaphysical residue • Copies are always duller and fainter than the original perceptions • Proposed that we distinguish “ideas” from “impressions” • All ideas can be traced to impressions thus derived from experience

  25. The Empirical Criterion of Meaning • Modifying Locke’s “copy theory,” Hume developed an empirical criterion of meaning • Meaningful ideas are those that can be traced back to sense experience (impressions); beliefs that cannot be reduced to sense experience are not “ideas” at all, but meaningless utterances • Locked: all ideas derived from experience and the mind begins as clean slate, then the idea of God must be empirically based. It can’t be innate. What impressions can justify assertions about God and God’s attributes? • This empirical criterion of meaning is explosive: • Causes us to think about the idea of God before we can begin to discuss God’s nature and existence • Experienced alone can’t provide the idea of an all-perfect, eternal, all-powerful, ever-present God because nothing in our experience even remotely resembles perfection, eternity, or infinite power • Accepting empirical criterion means the idea of God is neither true nor false__it is meaningless • Discussion about God conveys no information. It is simply a form of confusion resulting from not paying close enough attention to what we say.

  26. Query 300 • Do you agree “talk about God conveys no information?” Explain. Apply the empirical criterion of meaning to such concepts as love, creativity, and intelligence. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of this criterion?

  27. The Self • Recall: Descartes = thinking thing (self) • Hume: we do not have any idea of self as it is commonly understood • Self = a flickering series of perceptions with no underlying, constant thing to unite them (sounds like Buddhist & Hindu) = Bundle theory of the self

  28. Query 302 • Where and what are “you” in the midst of some exciting experience that totally absorbs your consciousness? That is, what happens to your “self” when you are not aware of it? What exactly are you aware of when you are self-conscious? A “self” or sweaty palms, uncomfortable desk, boring lectures? Discuss

  29. Personal Immortality • Identity (self) is not a property of things but a mental act • Each time we see an oak tree, it’s different • “We cannot stepped twice into the same river, for the water into which we first…” Heraclitus • Hume does not deny that something gives order and continuity to our experiences, BUT • He insists on clearer, more precise talking, reasoning, and thinking about this and other important matters. • Thus he challenges the limits of reason and, perhaps, knowledge

  30. The Limits of Reason • Hume stops at Berkeley’s first premise: • We have no way of empirically establishing the independent existence of an external world • If, as Hume thought, there’s no rational evidence whatsoever for belief in an external reality, then why is this notion so popular? • His answer, the imagination accounts for the universal notion of the independent existence of an external world. It is the nature of the imagination to complete and fill in gaps between perceptions…fabricate and feign continuity • Our experiences tend to occur with a kind of pattern or regularity (he calls coherence): look at your head from the side or from the back, but never the whole head • If he’s correct, nature and reasons are adversaries • Hume suggested balance between nature & reason • Accused reason of being a slave to emotions, shaped by psychology and biology

  31. Query 304 • Have you been able to take Hume’s claims seriously? That is, have you seriously considered the possibility that we lack knowledge of the external world? Discuss some factors that make taking this idea seriously so difficult. Can you spot any errors in Hume’s reasoning?

  32. The Limit of Science • Scientific reasoning rests on a pattern of inductive reasoning, which results in generalized rules or principles. Proceeds from the particular to the general or from “some” to “all” • Example: Newton did not have to observe the behavior of all bodies to conclude they are subject to gravity. He based his conclusion on the behavior of just some bodies • Distrust scientist’s claim on causal pattern: A was said to cause B if the occurrence of A always and without exception was followed by the occurrence of B. • If Hume is correct, there is no empirical evidence for the existence of cause and effect. • Hume answers: we observe a series of recognizable impressions and that we come to expect the first part of the series to be followed by the second part. When we are correct, we assume the connection is causal. • The mind creates the ideas of causality and necessity; we do not observe them • Hume: All knowledge is limited to our own impressions; everything else is a product of our imagination

  33. The Limits of Theology • By rejecting the cause and effect view, he rejected all efforts (cosmological, motion, ontological) to use causality to prove the existence of God • Ontological was meaningless because the qualities ascribed to God__perfection, omniscience, omnipotence, and so forth__do not correspond to specific impressions. They are empty noises • He also destroyed the design argument (teleological--Aquinas) • Recall Design: all about us we see the evidence of God’s handiwork, order and harmony, and beauty throughout the universe • Sunset, childbirth, ocean breeze • Hume said, that’s not the whole picture • Once a thorough, objective look around, there’s even less reason to infer the existence of God • Living beings as hostile/destructive to each other (Holocaust) • Our little corner of the uni is too small to permit useful generalizations about the whole. To conclude yea or nay about God’s existence and nature is beyond the limits of both reason and experience

  34. Query 307 • Reconsider the argument from design (ch9) in light of such 20th century horrors as chemical warfare, environmental disasters, AIDs, crack babies, crime rates, world hunger, and homelessness amid plenty. Do such examples refute the notion of design or not?

  35. The Limits of Ethics Recall: 17th & 18th Century = Age of Reason • Plato said that reason’s function is to rule the appetites and emotions • Stoics attempt to control passions through reason • Descartes attempts to replaced authority of the church w/ authority of reason • Attempts to ground morals in reason continues today • Hume, however, challenged the role of reason in morality • Morality is ground in sentiment, not reason • Argued that reason plays a secondary role in moral judgments • Reason helps us clarify experience & identify facts, but does not evaluate • Attacked on any “metaphysic of morals” influence modern & postmodern conceptions of morality, value judgments • Kant called Hume’s work “scandal philosophy”

  36. The Facts, Just the Facts • Recall: Hume said we don’t perceive ‘necessary connection” but rather associate the feeling of necessity with certain related events • Moral judgments are like causal judgments • Are mental projections, not perception of facts • Are reports of moral sentiments/feelings, not facts • Moral taste • When we dislike something we label it “wrong” or “bad” and vice versa • These evaluations derive from experience, not reason • Facts are neutral, valueless • Distinguishing between descriptive and normative language • Descriptive : “D shot F in the chest 6 times. F died at 6:15pm” • Normative : the term murder = moral case, moral judgment

  37. Query • Hume’s point here is very important. Don’t rush by it. Take a moment and try to write a purely factual description of something you believe is immoral. Do you agree with Hume that the facts are value neutral and that all moral judgments are reports of feelings associated with certain facts? Explain why or why not?

  38. Moral Sentiments • Hume attempted a “reformation” of moral philosophy • Indeed lounged a revolution in moral philosophy • Announced that it was time to “reject every system of ethics, however subtle or ingenious, which is not founded on fact and observation.” • Distinction: we call things virtue because we find them agreeable, not the other way around • Moral sentiment is a disinterested reaction to character (motive). Moral virtue is disinterested approbation (liking or approval) of character/motive • Suggest careful language analysis

  39. Rejection of Egoism • Moral judgments are “disinterested” = reject egoism • Rejects that egoism all derives from self-interest • Grief & pets loving their owners • Self-love is inadequate explanation as human motivation

  40. Commentary on Hume • used full-blown skepticism to doubting the existence of an external reality • raised important points about both the limits of reason and the needs of the human heart • exposed cloudy and meaningless language and bogus theorizing • Shows clearly the ultimate inadequacy of rational and empirical efforts to prove the existence of God or infer His nature • In his own time, a great scientific revolution had already established the force and usefulness of the scientific method. • His analysis of cause and effect does not destroy science but rather modifies a bit of what some see as it arrogance • Neither science or theology can explain the ultimate origins of life or the ultimate nature of reality. • showed how little we know about self, personal identity, cause and effect, reality, the external world, the universe, and God. • Neither the scientist nor philosopher nor priest has the method and the answer to timeless questions