Philosophy Lesson Eleven: Twentieth Century Empiricism

The 1930’s, in Vienna, was a cultural, artistic and Philosophical golden age. During this time, the world was full of positive and negative possibility, and in certain ways, humanity flourished. In this little city, a group which called themselves ‘The Vienna Circle’, created one of our more modern Philosophical theories, known today as ‘logical positivism’.

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The Vienna Circle was composed of many members, including Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, and Alfred Ayer. This group would meet and ponder regularly, and came out with many theories and ideas. The logical positivists agreed with Hume that any real fact can be experienced by the senses. If something is can be seen, it is possible. They believe that knowledge comes from observing the world.

They also agree that analytic truths are tautologous, yet do not regret them as worthless, and thus choose to view them as deductions made about the world.

The Verification Principle is the tests The Vienna Circle created, in order to decide if a statement is true or not. Anything true is deemed as meaningful. In order for something to be true, it must be verified by sense experience. Anything you, yourself don’t experience is meaningless…

Meaning god, emotions, and stories are irrelevant to existence.The effects of emotions can be seen tho, but other than that, they are invisible to the world.

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Philosophy Lesson Five: Sensory Impressions

We cannot have any ideas without first having impressions.
-David Hume (1748)


Let’s start by looking at this apple.

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When we look at this apple, a variety of ideas come to our mind, even if we don’t notice them at all. Our subconscious links this computer image to numerous ideas in moments. Such as…

- The apple is red
- The apple is shiny
- The apple is smooth
- The apple is crunchy
- The apple is sweet
- The apple is round
- The apple has a leaf
- The leaf is green

With the ability of being able to simply visualize this apple, we have almost created an apple in our internal minds. The apple is everything, except physical.

If someone had never seen an apple, or the color red, it would be quite literally impossible for them to imagine such a thing. Because, how does one describe a color? a taste? an odor? I have never eaten meat, I know the smell of meat though, and from that I can try to understand what the texture might be like, and the blend of the spices covering it, but I still, don’t know what meat tastes like.

This can be related to anything in existence, if you haven’t seen it, or have sense impressions that you can draw from and create ideas from, you can’t imagine it. How can we imagine ANYTHING we’ve never seen then? We can all picture a unicorn, we can all picture aliens, and different kinds of fictitious creatures, we can create worlds, and machines. Although, these ideas aren’t alive in our reality, they are all directly linked to different things in our world... just rearranged. Locke and Hume argue that all ideas spawn from reality. Nothing we could ever conceive or imagine could ever actually be original.

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How can we explain our emotions and our feelings away?

Theres…

Loving cheese -----------------------> Knowing what cheese taste’s

The idea’s our mind creates, evolves into a world of opinions, likes, dislikes, fears, and passions. Hume states that, ‘We have ‘inner senses’, such as plain pleasure, feelings of love and hate. Our inner and outer senses create our reality, our ideas and impressions. If we’re insane, are we insane to ourselves?

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Philosophy Lesson Two: What is Skepticism?

Skepticism:

a. To have doubts or reserved judgements about a thing.
b. a political movement in Philosophy.


We will be learning about definition b in this short mini lesson of notes.

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Let’s start by introducing to you…

The Infinite Regress Argument: an argumentative point in Philosophy that states true knowledge of the world is impossible. Why? Because every time you create a new ‘truth’ in your mind, you are justifying it.

For example: I saw a dalmatian at the park the other day.

But can we know this to be certain? Was the dog painted with spots? Was it a robot dog? Was it really an alien pretending to be a dog? The larger the imagination, the more possibilities we can conger up with our minds about what I really saw at the park the other day. The thing that stops people from speculating over this, every time they create a new ‘truth’ in their head, is called ‘common sense’, which although can be spoken for, can also be very, very, wrong.

In order for you to be a ‘true’ skeptic, you must realize that in order for anything to technically be considered true, you must justify it, then justify your justification, and justify that justification, and thus, carry on to infinity. Which is where ‘The Infinite Regress Argument’ comes from.

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This leads us on to question the legitimacy of our senses...

Can We Trust Our Senses?:
We already know that there are ways in this universe to manipulate sight…

a. Perception
b. Optical Illusions
c. Color blindness
d. Hot water on normal vs. freezing hands
e. Mirages
f. Hallucinations (drug induced or otherwise)


Waking Dreamers:
While you are dreaming, everything seems entirely real. Henceforth, what’s stopping all of this from being a dream right now?
- See Inception

It’s All An Illusion!: Because of the reasons I listed above, we cannot fully trust our senses, what’s stopping all of this from being merely an illusion brought on by anything, from Aliens keeping us sedated in a coma like state so they can feed off the magnetic fields in our brains, to being a fairy princess in a magical land, simply asleep by the fairy dust stream.
- See The Matrix I, II (but not three, that was crap).

This is another reason we can never be certain of anything.


skepticism-theory


Pyrro of Ellis arrived at this and thus rejected all forms of knowledge because he truly believed that NOTHING is for certain. Pyrro thus became a bit of a philosophical calamity because he was so extreme with his theories, that his friends and followers had to follow him around stopping him from walking into traffic and falling into holes. This is a case where a philosopher has rejected all common sense about the world for his claims.

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