What I usually carry into class with me, in addition to the relevant reading being discussed (in this class, Metaphysics, or a one of our on-line-available readings), is a sheet of paper on which is written a fairly skeletal outline of the points I hope to cover (usually listing just the few outline points that I write on the board before class begins), together with any passages from our writers that are not in our book, but that I wish to display on the board and discuss. Perhaps it would be of some help to you if I posted this items here on the course web page as well. Please note, though, that this won’t be all that helpful to you. It only says what main topics are discussed, and usually gives you precious little idea what was said about those topics. Still, in case it might be of some help, I’ll at least start the semester by posting the lecture outlines, and see how that goes. –KDR
1. A Philosophical Question (or Two) regarding brains-in-vats
2. Two Questions about the Descartes’s Dream Arg., cont’d
a. Bare and Substantial Possibilities
b. Descartes’s Escape from Dreaming Skepticism
3. Painter analogy [par. 6-8] and the scope of the Dream Arg
4. Descartes’s Use of Skepticism – The Hidden Agenda of the Meditations: Promoting Modern Science.
I may tell you, between ourselves, that these six Meditations contain all the foundations of my Physics. But please do not tell people, for that might make it harder for supporters of Aristotle to approve them. I hope that readers will gradually get used to my principles, and recognize their truth, before they notice that they destroy the principles of Aristotle.
–Descartes, letter to Mersenne, 28 January 1641
5. Scope of the Evil Genius Argument: Universal Skepticism?
a. M1, par. 9, par. 10
b. M3, par. 4
6. The Threat of Circularity
I have one further worry, namely how the author avoids reasoning in a circle when he says that we are sure that what we clearly and distinctly perceive is true only because God exists.
But we can be sure that God exists only because we clearly and distinctly perceive this. Hence, before we can be sure that God exists, we ought to be able to be sure that whatever we perceive clearly and evidently is true.
–Fourth Objections (CSM II 150)
7. Descartes’s Procedure: Clear and distinct perceptions, intuitions, conclusions; and the Rule of Truth
-two senses of “sensing” or “sensations” – Med. II, par. 9; alternative translation (Anscombe & Geech):
Thus, I am now seeing light, hearing a noise, feeling heat. These objects are unreal, for I am asleep; but at least I seem to see, to hear, to be warmed. This cannot be unreal; and this is what is properly called my sensation; further, sensation, precisely so regarded, is nothing but an act of consciousness.
8. The Proof of God’s Existence
–Formal Reality and Objective Reality [Med III, par. 14 top]
–CP & CPI [Med. III, par. 14]
–The Proof [Med. III, par. 22-27]
–Why the Proof doesn’t work in other cases
9. The Proof of the Rule of Truth
–God a non-deceiver [Med. IV, par. 2]
–The basic argument
1. God (exists &) is not a deceiver
2. If my c&d p’s were false, God would be a deceiver
So, 3. My c&d p’s are true
–But: The Problem of Error [Med. IV, par. 4, top] and the Problem of Evil
–The Free Will Defense [Med. IV, par. 15]
–The Rule of Truth [Med. IV, par. 17] — Issue of belief voluntarism
10. The Circle
a. Split verdict (But: what about the expressions of universal doubt; won’t help anyway)
b. Van Cleve’s solution
c. a two-level solution
11. Levels of certainty and heroic responses to skepticism (see “How Can We Know that We’re Not Brains in Vats?“, especially sections 4 and 5).
Berkeley: 2/27, 3/4
1. Overview of Berkeley’s System
–Stones, trees, books, etc. are “collections of ideas” (1); “Their esse is percipi” (3)
–Two solutions to the Problem of Unobserved Objects (3)
–Brief Reflection on God in Berkeley’s System: What Happens if we take God out?
–Berkeley and Common Sense (see van Inwagen, p. 44)
2. The Epistemological Argument
–senses vs. reason (18)
–no good deductive inference (18, 20)
–no good probabilistic inference (19, 50, 25-28)
–materialist inference no good
–a better explanation (146-149)
3. The Inconceivability Argument: 8, 22-24, 86, 139-140, 142
–Simple version — suggested in 22-24
–The more subtle interpretation: esp. 140
4. The Common Belief, The “Correction” made by the “Philosophers”, and Berkeley’s System: 56-57
–Berkeley will ask you to give up the mind-independence of physical objects, but argues that this is the best move to make to save most of what is important to common thought
5. Real Things: 29-40
–The Account: Ideas of real things will-independent (29) and strong, lively, distinct, and coherent with one another (30)
–More Important: Berkeley’s General Strategy for answering the Objection
6. Objections 34-84
–Berkeley’s General Strategy
–A Sample Objection: Don’t we see often things at a distance from us? How then can they be in our own mind?: 42-44
7. Our Knowledge of Other Minds: 145
8. Realism, Anti-Realism, and Idealism