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Epistemology and Faith and Reason MAYMESTER 2007 DAY 4.

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Presentation on theme: "Epistemology and Faith and Reason MAYMESTER 2007 DAY 4."— Presentation transcript:

1 Epistemology and Faith and Reason MAYMESTER 2007 DAY 4

2 Rationalism The main option to Empiricism is called Rationalism We will consider the rationalism of Descartes. Read: Rauhut on Rationalism Read: Descartes Discourse on Method Part 4

3 Rationalism vs. Empiricism Rationalists think that they can know about REALITY by employing reason alone (i.e. there are parts of reality knowable by reason alone)… Empiricists think that everything knowable is known through the senses, and the objects that motivate the rationalists are really products of the mind (Hume’s relations of ideas)

4 Rationalism (2) Historically Rationalism has been associated with figures such as: Plato – (Theory of Forms/Recollection) Descartes – (Cogito/Clear and Distinct) Spinoza – (More Geometrico) Leibniz – (Truths of Reason)

5 Rationalism (3) Making sense of Rationalism is difficult sometimes. Rationalism usually emerges from either 1)Thinking that knowledge has a special status (indubitable, innate, necessary) 2)Thinking that there are special objects of knowledge (forms, necessary truths, numbers) Different Rationalists emphasize these to different degrees

6 Rationalism Defined Rationalism = Our fundamental knowledge of the universe is provided by reason Most Rationalists also admit that the senses can color our rational knowledge, but that the outlines are given by reason alone.

7 The main idea! Rationalists (usually) do not reject sensory perceptions, but… They hold that either: 1)Knowledge is fixed and unchanging – whereas the world of the sense is changing, or… 2)(At least some) Objects of knowledge are not given to the senses.

8 Unchanging Knowledge Plato thought that knowledge required that the state of knowing be such that if you know P that cannot ever change. The empirical world is limited and constantly changing So, we cannot have empirical knowledge—only belief Thus, if we have knowledge, it is not obtained empirically – Plato thus adopts innate ideas as the source of human knowledge

9 Special Objects of Knowledge Plato’s Forms – Special Ideal Objects Descartes/Leibniz: Necessary Truths – Truths of Reason How do we know them?: Innate Ideas Self-Evidence (C&D, Impossible to deny)

10 The Rationalism of Descartes Descartes used the Principle of Hyperbolic Doubt to limit what counts as knowledge to those things which cannot be doubted. His “foundation” for knowledge is: Cogito ergo sum ; I think therefore I am.

11 Descartes: Cogito The “Cogito” is the claim that I cannot doubt that there is doubt. If there is doubt, then there is thought If there is thought, then there is a thinker. SO, if I doubt, then I think If I think, then I exist Thus, if I doubt, then I exist.

12 Descartes: Clear and Distinct Ideas According to Descartes, the distinguishing characteristic of the Cogito is that it is “CLEAR AND DISTINCT” (CD) So, Descartes reasons that if a belief B is CD, and God is not deceiving me, then I know B is true, so I know B. The truths of Logic, Mathematics, and Geometry are CD So are primitive sensory experiences (like Hume’s impressions)

13 Descartes: Rebuilding Knowledge Descartes argues that if God exists, then we know that there is no Evil Demon deceiving us. The first step in reconstructing knowledge is to prove that God exists. (We will get to that later)

14 Rebuilding knowledge Once this is done, then Descartes can start to rebuild human knowledge by constructing an experienced world out of geometry and sense data. Truths about this world, the world of science, can be known by reason alone.

15 Rationalist examples The idea of God. R: I have an idea of God, but I cannot get it through the senses. E: You can make an idea of God using abstraction and imagination R: OK, but why do we all make basically the same idea of God???

16 Rationalist examples (2) The Pythagorean Theorem: R: for all right triangles A 2 + B 2 = C 2 E: I can discover this by trial and error, and others can confirm it. R: OK, but I said “for all” not “for all up until now” There is a difference! I know that the theorem will hold in cases not yet tried, you don’t.

17 Rationalist Justification A Rationalist might say: A Belief in P is justified just in case P is a neccesary truth, or is deducible from a necessary truth. Empiricists tend to be inductive reasoners Rationalists tend to be deductive reasoners

18 Leibniz vs. Hume (Some similarities) Leibniz (a rationalist/nativist) distinguishes between: Truths of Fact (truths about the world) Truths of Reason (truths about ideas) Hume (an empiricist) distinguishes between: Matters of Fact (what we know in experience) Relations of Ideas (what we know about ideas)

19 Four Kinds of Knowledge? (Kant) A PrioriA Posteriori Analytic (Relations of Idea) (Truths of Reason) All Squares have 4 sides. All fathers are male = 4 (?) NO NEED Synthetic (Matters of Fact) (Truths of Fact) = 4 (?) Tom is 6 ft tall. It is 68 degrees outside.

20 Knowledge as Justified True Belief If Knowledge is Justified True Belief, then a)Empiricist knowledge is true belief that is obtained through reliable sense experience. b)Rationalist knowledge is true belief that is either necessary, deducible from a necessary truth, or innate.

21 A Summary of sorts… View K. is Possible K. Can be had by reason alone K. is innateK. Comes from the senses Skepticism NO___ Empiricism YESNO YES Rationalism YES Some times Sometimes (must also use reason)

22 Philosophy of Religion Slides 2006 © Robert Barnard 2006

23 Philosophy and Religion Historically Philosophy and Religion have been closely related. Classical and Medieval Philosophers were often also religious thinkers or theologians Augustine, Anslem, Aquinas, Plotinus, Duns Scotus, William Ockham, etc.

24 Some Issues in the Philosophical Approach to Religion: 1.Analysis of Religious Concepts 2.The role of Faith vs. Reason in Religion Is Belief Rational? 3.How we can know God/Religious Truths (Religious Epistemology) 4.The existence of God Proofs for God

25 …by Faith alone? Tertullian – Credo Quia Absurdum “I believe because it is absurd” Kierkegaard – “The Leap of Faith” But what do they believe? And, how should we understand them?

26 Stances toward ‘God’ THEISM – Affirms that God exists. ATHEISM – Denies that God exists. AGNOSTICISM – Neither affirms nor denies the existence of God. (Usually wants more evidence or a proof)

27 What do we mean by God? We can use a single word to denote many ideas or objects. Do we all mean the same thing by “God”?

28 What is God like? IS GOD ETERNAL? DOES GOD KNOW THE FUTURE? IS GOD MALE OR FEMALE (OR SEXLESS)? DOES GOD HAVE A PHYSICAL BODY? IS GOD ALL POWERFUL (OMNIPOTENT)? IS GOD ALL KNOWING (OMNISCIENT)? IS GOD ALL-GOOD (OMNIBENEVOLENT)? IS GOD THE GREATEST CONCIEVABLE BEING? ARE GOD AND JESUS THE SAME PERSON? IS GOD EVERYWHERE (OMNIPRESENT)? (After Rauhut, p. 172)

29 What is God like? (Part 2) DOES GOD HELP THOSE IN NEED? DOES GOD CAUSE MIRACLES? DOES GOD GET MAD AT HUMANS AND PUNISH THEM? DOES GOD LOVE ALL HUMAN EQUALLY? IS GOD SO DIFFERENT FROM US THAT WE HAVE NO CONCEPTION OF GOD? IS GOD INFINITE? DOES GOD HEAR YOU WHEN YOU SPEAK TO GOD? IS THERE ONE GOD OR MANY? (After Rauhut, p. 172)

30 Varieties of Theism Classical Theism – Judaism, Christianity, Islam Pantheism – Shinto, Hinduism Pan-en-theism “everything is a divinity” New Age Theism Dualism – Zoroastrianism / Manicheanism

31 Classical Theism According to Classical Theism: God is a Person / Agent. God is capable of thought, desire, creativity, emotion. God acts in the world and can be in relations with humans.

32 The “Classical” Picture GOD IS (at least): Omnipotent Omniscient Omnibenevolent Omnipresent Rational Eternal

33 Arguments for Theism Arguments for the existence of God If God exists, then denying God is embracing a falsehood Arguments for the rationality of belief in God. Despite the fact that we cannot directly demonstrate the existence of God, there are still reasons to believe rather than remain agnostic.

34 Arguments for the existence of God Argument from Religious Experience Cosmological Argument Design Arguments Ontological Arguments

35 Argument from Religious Experience 1.I have experiences that seem to be caused by God. 2.Every effect has a cause Therefore, God Exists.

36 Argument from Religious Experience (2) Is the Inference Valid? 1.I have experiences that seem to be caused by the Easter Bunny 2.Every effect has a cause Therefore, the Easter Bunny exists Is this a counter-example? (too external?)

37 Argument from Religious Experience (3) 1.I have experiences that seem to be caused by a monster in my closet 2.Every effect has a cause Therefore there is a monster in my closet. There are other possible causes of the experiences Calling them Religious experiences is prejudicial

38 Cosmological Arguments In General, a COSMOLOGICAL argument argues from the fact that the world exists or has certain general features to the conclusion that GOD’s Existence is necessary to explain these facts. Aristotle and Aquinas are well known for making Cosmological Arguments of this kind.

39 Cosmological Arguments (2) The Key Assumption: The Principle of Sufficient Reason: For every event or object that exists there must be an explanation for that event or object.

40 Cosmological Arguments (3) 1.The Cosmos Exists (Observation) 2.There must be a reason for the existence of the Cosmos (PSR) 3.It is possible that the cosmos didn’t exist, so its cause must be necessary. 4.SO, if the cosmos exists a necessary being exists. (1 st conclusion) 5.God is that necessary being (definition?) 6.Therefore, God (necessarily) exists.

41 Cosmological Arguments (4) This version of the CA depends upon premise (3) that the cause of the universe is necessary. To get (3) you must eliminate two possibilities 1.The cosmos is caused by a contingent physical event (e.g. Big Bang) 2.The cosmos itself exists necessarily (Brute Fact view)

42 Cosmological Arguments (5) Possible Prima Facie replies: 1.If the cosmos was caused by the big bang, what caused the big bang? – causal regress is extended 2.If the existence of the universe is necessary by itself, why is that so? - Do we reject PSR? (Ad Hoc, we still apply it in other places) - Why does the necessary universe have these features and not others? (feeds the design argument)

43 Cosmological Arguments (6) Worries about the CA 1.CA assumes PSR 2.CA assumes that the cosmos is contingent (not a brute fact) 3.CA assumes that God is the only possible necessary being (must a necessary being be God?) 4.Doesn’t rule out plural necessary beings Conclusion: CA is not definitive

44 Next Time The Argument from Design The Ontological Argument The Rationality of Theism -and- The Problem of Evil Read: Rauhut Chapter 7 Read: Descartes Meditations Meditation 3 ( Reading: )


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