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Response To Skepticism Reading - Russel, Philosophy

by: Sydney Dowd

Response To Skepticism Reading - Russel, Philosophy Phil 2010 016

Marketplace > Georgia State University > Phil 2010 016 > Response To Skepticism Reading Russel Philosophy
Sydney Dowd
GPA 4.0

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About this Document

These notes are on tomorrow's reading by Bertrand Russel, complete with quotes.
Introduction to Philosophy
Aaron Cochran
Class Notes
philosophy, Russel, Response to Skepticism
25 ?




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sydney Dowd on Tuesday March 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Phil 2010 016 at Georgia State University taught by Aaron Cochran in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views.


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Date Created: 03/22/16
Response To Skepticism / Bertrand Russel / From Sensation to the External World / 28 Mars Note: this reading used a situation where we are looking at a table. This example is used throughout the notes. Distinctions between properties of reality and properties of our own perceptions are difficult.  ­ If all colors in every situation of viewing something (ex: a table) are real, does the table actually have one color? ­ If we cannot trust our eye to tell us what the “true” color or texture of something is, then why should we  trust other methods of seeing (ex: microscope?)  ­ Colors are hard to say as belonging to an object because they are the result of environment,  perception, etc. Thus, they can’t be said as definitively belonging to some object. The real shape of the table is inferred from what we see – but its REAL shape isn’t what we see.  ­  Our perception changes. If we move, we see the object differently. If the light changes, we see a  different color. If we touch a different part, we feel a different texture. ­ Our immediate experience is not reality.  ­ We cannot know the objective (real) qualities of any external object.  “Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we would wish, has at least the power of asking  questions which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the  surface even in the commonest things of daily life.”  What is certain? ­ Although we doubt whether the table or anything else is real, we don’t doubt that we are perceiving  sense­data (colors, textures, etc.)  ­ Sense­data (information we take in) is certain.  Do objects exist when we are not perceiving them?  ­ If a cloth hid the table completely from view, and if the table’s existence depended on us taking in  sense data from it, then it wouldn’t exist if a cloth hid it!  ­ We cannot make conclusions about things when we aren’t perceiving them if they don’t exist when  we’re not perceiving them.  Believing that things do not depend on being seen/heard/etc by us to exist is an instinctual belief; that  is, we already have it.  This belief that there really are existing objects corresponding to our sense­data “does not lead to any  difficulties, but on the contrary tends to simplify and systematize our account of our experiences, there seems  no good reason for rejecting it.” ­ Thus, we admit the external world / AKA all things outside of ourselves does indeed exist, and we don’t  have to be taking in sense­data on everything for it to continue existing.  ­ If a system of instinctive beliefs is found to be harmonious (they all agree with each other, no  conflictions), then the whole system is possibly worth accepting.  ­ Though the possibility of the system of beliefs being wrong remains, it’s less likely because all parts of  the belief system are interrelated (harmonious) and have faced strict critical analysis. ­ Basically, it’s possible that (as Descartes suggested) nothing but the “I” in “I think, therefore I am”  exists, but it’s also possible that this belief is wrong. “We cannot have reason to reject a belief except on the ground of some other belief.”  So the table exists. But what’s it like? When we judge a coin to be circular, and see it from a point of view which makes it look like an oval, we admit that objects have a real shape which belongs to the object itself, apart from its appearance.  Real shape exists in “real space,” while perspectives on something are in our “private space,” each of us  individually.  Physical objects = not exactly like our sense­data. However, they do cause our different sensations (ex: our seeing of the table is caused by the table) Physical objects, or objects existing in the ‘real space’ have properties that are different from the ones  perceived. So how can we know what they’re like, when all we have is our own perspective? What can we know about real/public space?  ­ Spatial relation, not things themselves.  ex: We know that, for a solar eclipse, the moon, sun, and earth must line up in a straight line. Yet, we  do not know what a physical straight line looks like on its own. We only know how it looks in our private  visual spaces (we only know what we see it to be). 


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