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I am, I exist.

This is the phrase Descartes uses in the


Meditations. But he wrote another parallel
book piece called Discourse on Method.
In that piece, he made the same point this way:

I think therefore I am.


Or, as it is stated in the original Latin;
Cogito ergo sum.
What comes next?
Having demonstrated that he is, Descartes goes
on to question what he isi.e., what kind of
thing a thinking thing is.
We will come back to this issue next chapter.
He then provides a long argument that there is
a world outside his mind. But many find that
argument unconvincing.
Is anyone out there?
If one accepts the destructive part of Descartes
his undermining of sense experience, but
Rejects the constructive partwhere he argues
for an external worldone is left with
Solipsism: The view that as far as I know, I (or
my consciousness) am the only thing that exists.
To be clear, Descartes rejects this view. But some
people argue this is where his position leads.
Descartes Third Meditation
His aim is to offer an argument for the
existence of God, based simply on what (after
the first two Meditations) he knows with
certainty.
He begins by reviewing:
His doubts, and
What he now knows, and
What he need not doubt.
Med 3: Paragraph 1
I will now shut my eyes, block my ears, cut off all my
senses. I will regard all my mental images of bodily
things as empty, false and worthless .... I will ... examine
myself more deeply, and try ... to know myself more
intimately. I am a thing that thinks, i.e. that doubts,
affirms, denies, ... [etc.]. This thing also ... has sensory
perceptions; ... even if the objects of my sensory
experience ... dont exist outside me, still sensory
perception ..., considered simply as mental events,
certainly do occur in me.
What this means
I can no longer (for now) trust my senses.
But I know that I am a thing that thinks.
This means a thing that has conscious mental
states. Descartes uses the word thinks very
broadly, to cover all kinds of consciousness.
I know I also have sensations, even if the
objects of these experiences do not exist
outside me.
Med. 3, Paragraph 3
I previously accepted as perfectly certain and evident
many things ...the earth, sky, stars, and everything
else that I took in through the sensesbut in those cases
what I perceived clearly were merely the ideas or
thoughts of those things that came into my mind .... But I
used also to believe that my ideas came from things
outside that resembled them in all respects. .... [This]
was false; or anyway if it was true it was not thanks to
the strength of my perceptions.
Med. 3, Paragraph 6
When ideas are considered solely in themselves and
not taken to be connected to anything else, they cant be
false; for whether it is a goat that I am imagining or a
chimera, either way it is true that I do imagine it. .... All
that is leftthe only kind of thought where I must watch
out for mistakesare judgments. And the mistake they
most commonly involve is to judge that my ideas
resemble things outside me.
What I really knew vs. what I thought I
knew
I know that my ideas (or sensations) exist
Whether of the earth, goats. or mere
chimera (i.e., non-existent beings).
I know these ideas (mental contents) exist
because I directly (immediately) perceive them.
But I simply assume that my ideas come
from things outside me, and that they
resemble those things in all respects.
This is what makes mistakes possible.
Descartes Analysis of Sense Experience
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What do I know?
I know that I exist.
I know that I am a thinking thing, a mind.
i.e., the subject of conscious experiences.
Med. 2 and 6 argue that this mind is non-material.

I know I have ideas or sensations in my mind.


These mental contents are what I directly or
immediately perceive.
I judge (i.e., infer) that these mental contents are
caused by things that exist outside my mind, and
that my ideas resemble them.
This is what Med. 4-6 attempt to prove.
Descartes (Lockes too) Theory of Perception: The
mind perceives ideas which are caused by and
represent real objects.

Minds Eye Idea Object

Idea Object

Mind
Descartes, Locke, Berkeley
All three accept (without much argument) that
what we directly or immediately know are only
ideas or other mental contents.
Descartes argues (in Med. 3-6) that there is a
world outside our mind.
Locke accepts (without argument) that there is
such a world, but claims that our sensations do not
always resemble it.
Berkeley argues that there is no world outside
mind (yours, mine, and Gods).
John Locke

An Essay Concerning Human


Understanding
From Rationalism to Empiricism
Rationalism vs. Empiricism
Empiricism: Rationalism:
All knowledge ultimately Not all knowledge
rests upon sense ultimately rests upon
experience. sense experience.
All justification (our At least some of our
reasons for thinking our beliefs can be justified
beliefs are true) without any appeal to
ultimately relies upon information from sense
information from sense experience.
experience. E.g., 2+2=4.
Seeing is believing.
Descartes, Locke, Berkeley
Descartes is a rationalist.
Descartes believes that the reliability of our senses
can only be established by a process of reasoning
that is itself independent of what we might know
through sense experience.
Locke and Berkeley are both empiricists.
Both believe that everything we know must
ultimately stem from sense experience, i.e., from
our sensations.
Descartes Analysis of Sense Experience
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Descartes (Lockes too) Theory of Perception: The
mind perceives ideas which are caused by and
represent real objects.

Minds Eye Idea Object

Idea Object

Mind
Indirect Perception:
a.k.a.
Representational Realism
What I directly or immediately perceive
are always merely ideas in my mind.
These include sensations, or any mental
contents.
I infer that these ideas were caused by, and
resemble, real objects that exist outside
my mind.
Mind and World
John Locke
John Locke
Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself,
or is the immediate object of perception,
thought, or understanding, that I call
idea; and the power to produce any idea
in our mind, I call quality of the subject
[object] wherein that power
is. [Paragraph 8]
Paragraph 8 Explained
Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself, or is
the immediate object of perception, thought, or
understanding, that I call idea;
i.e., what we immediately and directly perceive are
the ideas our sensations in our mind.
We perceive ideas in our minds that represent
objects in the real world that exists outside of our
minds.
8 Explained (Cont.)
and the power to produce any idea in our
mind, I call quality of the subject [object]
wherein that power is.
The objects that exist outside our minds have
various qualities (or properties) by which they can
cause us to sensations.
Different qualities in the objects cause us to have
different kinds of sensation of them.
Mind and World
Lockes Causal Theory of Perception:
Ideas vs. Qualities
Ideas:
Exist in our minds.
They are the sensations we are directly aware of.
Qualities:
Exist in objects that exist outside of our minds.
They are the properties in the objects that cause us
to have various kinds of sensations.
A Question from Descartes
Do our sensations resemble their
objects?
Recall that Descartes big worry was whether
or not there were any objects outside our
minds.
(By the end of the 6th Meditation, he assures that
there are.)
But he said we also make mistakes in thinking
that our ideas always resembled the objects in
the real world that caused us to have those
sensations..
Why should we believe that the ideas in our minds
actually resemble the objects outside our minds that
caused them?

Minds Eye Idea Object

Idea Object

Mind
In Lockes Terms
Even if we accept that the ideas in our mind
are caused by real objects that exist outside our
minds
(Locke never really questions this)
Is it true that our ideas always resemble the
qualities in the objects that caused us to have
those ideas?
Lockes Answer
Only sometimes. Some of our ideas do
resemble qualities in the objects, but some of
them do not.

Our ideas of primary qualities resemble those


qualities.
Our ideas of secondary qualities do not.
Primary and Secondary Qualities
Qualities:
Primary Qualities: Secondary Qualities:
Solidity, extension, figure, (Sensible qualities)
mobility, bulk, weight, color, taste, smell, sound,
texture [felt] temperature
are utterly inseparable are caused in us by collections
from body of primary qualities

The ideas that primary The ideas that secondary


qualities produce in us qualities produce in us DO
resemble those qualities in NOT resemble those
the objects that caused us qualities in the objects that
to have those ideas. caused us to have those
ideas.
The crucial difference:
Objects have qualities, which are powers (capabilities) to
produce ideas in us.

Sometimes the idea that an object produces in us resembles


the quality in the object that caused us to have that idea:
THESE WE CALL PRIMARY QUALITIES.

Sometimes the idea that an object produces in us does not


resemble the quality in the object that caused us to have
that idea: THESE WE CALL SECONDARY QUALITIES.
Consider the red and white colours in
porphyry.
Hinder light from shining on it, and its colour
vanishes
It produces no idea in us
Upon the return of light it produces these same
appearances in us
Can anyone think any real alterations are
made in the porphyry by the presence or
absence of light
when, it has no colour in the dark?
Other examples of the same principle:

The sound of an approaching or receding siren.


The sound the siren produces doesnt change, but the pitch
that we hear does.

Put a hot hand in luke-warm water, and it will feel


cool. Put a cold hand in the same water, and it will
feel warm.
But the water (and all its qualities) havent varied.
So, neither the (sensations of) coolness nor warmth (that you
feel) can resemble their causes in the water (because the
sensations are different, but have the same cause).
A Question for next time
Falling Trees
Youve all heard this one:
If a tree falls in the forest with no one there to
hear it, does it make any sound?

How do you think Locke would answer this


question.
What does science tell you?
Hint: The correct answer is: Yes and No.