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Ways of Knowing

by on October 26, 2012

Last session we discussed Descartes problem of knowing how to identify men in coats from disguised automata. The discussion seemed to end on the judgement that it was just an unanswerable problem.A mandatory part of my high school education was a course called “the theory of knowledge” which is concerned with how we can discover the truth. using what i learned in this course, I’d like to argue that we can be certain that the men in the street are not automata by saying firstly sense perception is just one of four ways of knowing. Descartes says that if it were not for his “judgement” there would be know way to be certain one way or the other. Here Descartes tells us that there is a way we can be certain about things outside of our perceptive faculties: reason. Such inductive reasoning would have need for past empirical evidence to support it and requires faith, another way of knowing, to trust in this prior knowledge. Reason and faith as flawed as any other way of knowing can be, but in this case Descartes only sure route to the truth: there were not automata in coats roaming the streets of 16th century France.Image

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