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PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/29/16-9/30/16

by: Hadley Ashford

PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/29/16-9/30/16 PHIL 112

Marketplace > University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill > Philosophy > PHIL 112 > PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes 9 29 16 9 30 16
Hadley Ashford
GPA 3.776

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About this Document

These notes cover Wolfe and Descartes' Meditation 1-2
Making Sense of Ourselves
Martin Glazier
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hadley Ashford on Friday September 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 112 at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill taught by Martin Glazier in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see Making Sense of Ourselves in Philosophy at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.


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Date Created: 09/30/16
PHIL 112 Week 6 Notes: 9/26/16-9/30/16 9/26/16 - Inadequate arguments for why life is absurd o Actions now won’t matter in a million years o Humans are just a blip in the immensity of time/space o Humans will all eventually die - Reasons they are inadequate: o Vastness of space/time: if lives are absurd now, why would they be any less absurd if humans took up more space/time o Death as final end: actions are justified in the short-term  Ex. take aspirin to relieve headache to relieve pain in the moment, which isn’t really pointless o Million years: if what we do now won’t matter in a million years, then what happens in a million years doesn’t matter now, so shouldn’t worry about that - Definition of ordinary absurdity: discrepancy between what you think will happen and what actually happens o Ex. you go to get knighted and pants fall down: getting knighted is supposed to be dignified, but pants falling down ruins that - Definition of philosophical absurdity: the conflict between how seriously humans take their lives and the constant doubting of this seriousness o Philosophical absurdity must be universal to all humans o People take lives seriously because try to achieve goals, plan out lives, try to have a good life o The fact that they are open to doubt refers to the ability of humans to step back and wonder if their plans are right or important o Impossible to avoid being serious and trying to make life productive o Also impossible to avoid stepping back and questioning o Objection: doubting perspective isn’t necessarily superior to ordinary justification  Life can’t be considered absurd/meaningless simply because this perspective exists - Argues that even if we try to find meaning in broader concerns, those reasons are still insignificant because it involves humans and the individual o Any larger purpose can be doubted in same way as smaller ones o Objection: devoutly religious never step back and doubt their broader purpose, so can’t have conflict that causes absurdity o Response: even if these people don’t have the conflict, it is still possible to doubt whether or not their idea of broader purpose matters o Objection: there are really two questions to ask when doubting 1. Whether the purpose for human life is appropriate 2. Whether there even is a purpose  Ex. if there is a God, may question whether what we do for religion really matters or may wonder if there even is a God for which we have purpose  Must decide which question is answered before determining absurdity- author goes between both - How to live with absurdity: o Irony: doesn’t help us necessarily escape absurdity completely, but makes it a little easier to swallow o Spectators of our own lives: can’t occupy backwards step in the flesh, so must continue to live reality and every so often take a step back and view it ironically o Can abandon one perspective- completely identify with backwards step and stop living life with overall purpose  Author says viewing lives in this way doesn’t ultimately matter either 9/28/16 - Question of what is the meaning of life asks the purpose of human life, why we are here o Depends on existence of God - What makes life meaningful or meaningless o First look at meaningless lives to determine what is lacking:  The Blob: passive, person on couch watching TV and drinking beer all day  Useless: no goals, idle rich doing useless activities  Bankrupt: unsuccessful, person works hard, but unable to achieve ultimate goal  Objection: the bankrupt life implies that meaning is out of individual control  Response: this example would be externally meaningless o Meaningful life is actively engaged, has projects, and is oriented around positive value  “projects” refers to broad goal-directed tasks  “actively engaged” means that person wants to do the projects and identifies with them  “positive value” is up to debate and will determine what different people find meaningful  Meaningful life must be objective- can’t just “seem” to have value, has to actually be valuable - Reason why meaningful life must be objective: o Possibility of having an epiphany when realize that life has been meaningless o Epiphany can’t happen if meaning is subjective because involves realizing that you’re wrong o Can’t be wrong because opinions aren’t considered wrong o Objection: can have an epiphany about something personal o Response: meaning doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, what is objectively meaningful to one person might be objectively meaningless to another - Meaningfulness does not equal morality o Olympic athletes lead meaningful lives, but aren’t necessarily moral like Mother Theresa, for example - Why do people strive to live meaningful lives? o Not because it is better for the world because doesn’t mean morality o Not because it is better for the individual because doesn’t guarantee happiness o Meaningful life is good because recognizes that humans are not the most important/individual is not most important  Not egocentric  Interest in meaningful life is response to truth about world that humans are small/insignificant  Supports objectivity argument because involves fundamental truth about world 9/30/16 Meditation 1: - Realized that many opinions of youth were false and called into question beliefs built upon them o Must start over from “original foundations” so he can form new, correct opinions - Strategy is to reject all opinions that are either completely false or are questionable o Will be left only with true, certain opinions o Objection: very high standard to only believe things that are absolutely certain o Response: he actually finds that there are a lot of things left over after rejection  But possible reader may not agree with these - Reasons to throw out opinions/beliefs: his strategy 1. Reason to doubt 2. Reason to limit the scope of the doubt because entire belief may not be false - Doubt from illusion: o Senses can be deceptive, so should always doubt senses that have deceived at least once  Scope of doubt: all senses/sense perceptions o Should limit scope of doubt: there are some perceptions that are completely certain  Should throw out sense perceptions that are far removed from self, but keep those close to self  Ex. know that I am holding a pencil, so that is certain. - Doubt in dreaming: o Threatens all sense perceptions that are close to selves  Ex. could be dreaming that I am holding a pencil  Limits scope by saying that dreams piece together different parts of reality  At least ingredients (corporeal nature/physically real parts, shape, size, number, place, and time) are real/certain/constant - Doubts involving religion: o If God can do anything, then he could use that power to feed humans completely false beliefs  Could make it so humans always miscalculate 3+5=8, may not actually =8, but all humans think it does o Objection: God is too nice to deceive people like that o Response: could be an evil demon that does the deceiving instead o Targets every single belief to throw out because questionable Meditation 2: - New goal is to find one thing that is certain - God could exist to put thoughts in head and he would be certain and real o Possible that he, himself put thoughts in own head  Then he would be real and definitely exist o Demon that is deceiving has to have something that exists to deceive- so he must exist - Interpretation 1: 1. He thinks 2. Everything that thinks has to exist 3. He must exist o Not really exactly what he is arguing - Interpretation 2: 1. Should only accept beliefs that are absolutely certain 2. In each doubting scenario, he exists 3. Can’t doubt own existence 4. Should, therefore, accept that he exists o Objection: not a sound argument because only takes into account what he believes/doubts, other people could doubt his beliefs and not find them “absolutely certain”  Invalidates premise 1, so conclusion cannot follow o Response: only his doubts matter because no way to be certain if other people truly exist or believe things that are truly absolutely certain o Objection: possible that humans exist in a dream/imagination of higher being  Doubts/beliefs made up by other being  Can project deceptions on humans in its dream


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