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Good example of three question test essay

1. Descartes famously begins his Meditations on First Philosophy by considering so-called “ radical doubt.” What is radical doubt, and what are the three phases in the argument that lead him to it? What does he believe is the idea that is fundamentally resistant even to the deepest of doubts? And why does Descartes begin his epistemology like this, anyway?
Rene Descartes propounded his theory of radical doubt where he insisted on the systematic process of doubting one’s beliefs in a bid to determine or ascertain that which is indeed true. Descartes, in his radical doubt, advocated for doubting the chief reasoning over and above doubting the evidence of the sense and other cultural superstitions. In his works, “ The Meditations of First Philosophy”, Rene Descartes argues for a resolution to doubt everything that he believes in order to establish something to be entirely certain (Gillespie). The phases that lead Descartes into this argument of radical doubt are the perceptual illusion and the dream issue. Regarding the perceptual illusion, Descartes believed that the perception about the external world that was achieved through the human senses is likely to turn out as mistaken. He stresses on the fact that it is wise to not wholly believe what one perceives as things are not just as they appear at first glance. The argument by Descartes here seeks to note the clear distinction between reality and appearance together with a strong suggestion that the world is not as it seems to appear (Gillespie). With respect to the dream issue, Descartes describes a method of doubting every perception by going back to his inability to distinguish his clearest dreams of his real life. He comes to this conclusion based on the fact that most of his clearest dreams are indistinguishable from waking experience and thus argues that it is possible that everything that he sees in the world is only a figment of his imagination. The third issue is with regard to the deceiving god wherever he explores the consequences of all present god changing into a deceiver thus rendering all the beliefs fallacious. He appears to suggest that it be an evil demon that drives all our experiences (Newman).
3. What is Locke’s “ tabula rasa?” Why does he view the mind this way? To what is he responding? How does it illustrate the central idea of empiricism in epistemology?
English philosopher John Locke described the mind of a newborn child as resembling a blank slate or a clean sheet of paper that could only be filed by human experiences. He first established the claims of empiricism that is the reliance on the experiences of the sense or the mind over speculation. He made out the case that the human mind is complete at birth but a blank slate, which he called tabula rasa (Locke). It is upon this tabula rasa that experiences do imprint knowledge. He did not believe in the idea that the human mind is vested with inborn conceptions. Locke was responding to the imposition of beliefs to a younger generation or children by an older generation. John Locke’s approach encourages empiricism, which emphasizes on having a pre-defined hypothesis, and well described variables that form part of experimental procedures to determine the cause and effect associations. This doctrine of tabula rasa inevitably leads to egalitarianism and vulnerability. This idea by Locke was central to empiricism in epistemology as it argued that the human mind is clean and blank and is only filled by experiences of the sense-which is in essence-empiricism (Locke).
5. What is “ Hume’s fork?” What did he believe was its impact on traditional metaphysical and epistemological ideas? How did he apply it to the ideas of causation, induction, and substance?
David Hume described his idea popularly named, “ Hume’s Fork” to denote that, all objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds namely: Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact (Flew). It identifies three dichotomies now known as the analytical, the contingent and the a priori /posteriori ideas. To begin with, it is important to note that David Hume is a classic empiricist who believed that all ideas emanated from experience as they originated from what he called impressions. He also believed that all justified beliefs are justified through experience save for the relation of ideas. Relations of ideas were merely how the ideas of people were related to each other (Roth). Hume applied this to the idea of causation, induction as well as substance. He argued that one could tell that all bachelors were not married without endeavoring to interview them of their marital status since that is how people define a bachelor. He further argued that one could not know anything about whether something exists or does not exist merely on the basis of how the word is defined. The import of this is that it had an impact on traditionally metaphysical as well as epistemological ideas, as the ontological argument that God exists owing to the way people define, “ God” aborts. He argued that any knowledge that could lead people to conclude anything about what is real outside of our own minds has to come from experience. He called maters that a person could know outside of experience as relations of ideas.
7. Is rationalism or empiricism the more adequate approach to attaining knowledge? Why do you think so?
The bone of contention between rationalism and empiricism revolves around the extent to which human beings are dependent on sense experience in their effort to gain knowledge. Rationalism argues that people can obtain knowledge of things or the world outside our minds through the use of reason and without experience. For instance, David Hume was of the view that morality could be derived from feelings while Kant argued that the moral duties of man could be deduced from rational reflection as well as the use of the Categorical Imperative. The rationalists have developed their view of attaining knowledge in two ways. The fist view is that there are cases whether the flesh of the concepts and knowledge outstrips the information availed by sense experience. The second view is that human beings do construct accounts of how reason in one form or another avails extra information about the world. On the other hand, empiricism postulates that everything that is in the mind hails from the senses (Roth). Simply put, rationalism adopted by Descartes agitates for the breakdown of large and difficult to small manageable problems (Gillespie). I find the rationalist approach as a more adequate approach to the attainment of knowledge since though a human mind may not have much information at birth; it surely cannot be that they are deficient of any innate qualities. Though the experience plays a lot on the behavior of individuals, it is equally important that nature play a critical role.

Works Cited

Flew, Antony G. A Dictionary of Philosophy, rev 2nd edn. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984.
Gillespie, A. ” Descartes’ demon: A dialogical analysis of ‘Meditations on First Philosophy.” Theory and Philosophy, 18 (2006): 761-781.
Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1999.
Newman, L. “” Ideas, pictures and the directness of perception in Descartes and Locke.”.” Philosophy Compass (2009): 134-154.
Roth, AS. ” The Necessity of “ Necessity”: Hume’s Psychology of Sophisticated Causal Inference.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2011): 114-123.

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