Cartesian Skepticism

Skepticism, in philosophy, refers to a global view, which is more than doubting argument. It is an approach, which is beyond critical facts, rather it questions the evidence. Therefore, skepticism is an outlook, which we cannot understand everything about the world with sureness.  Although, we are used to the reasoning that we have information or knowledge concerning things we have learned or experienced. Consequently, skepticism inquiries or questions whether there is some truth with the knowledge experienced or attained (, n. d).  There are two types of skeptical views, which are against experiential or empirical knowledge. These skeptical views are founded on claims, which argue practical knowledge are conquered or defeated by the possibility, that we can be misinformed and deceived as far we can understand. In this assignment, I will discuss Cartesian skepticism, as a skepticism that we have learned in class.

Cartesian Skepticism

The idea and essence of Cartesian skepticism argument, declares that various empirical suggestions and intentions such as that we are trees, cannot be verified or recognized as we might be misinformed.  Conversely, connected forms of these claims assail our reasoning for deeming various empirical suggestions founded on deception (Mandik, 2004). As a consequence, these forms of reasoning challenge arguments to knowledge, which is an essential condition for knowledge. Often, the claims examined by the Cartesian skepticism are of the variety of experience. However, they are easily transformed into the claims of reasoning or justification through reinstating all phenomena of knowledge with reasoning.

Below are two examples of Cartesian skepticism argument or claim:

Example 1:

  1. I recognize and understand that there are trees only if I am aware that I am not deceived that there are trees.
  2. I don’t acknowledge that I am being deceived that there are trees.
  3. Consequently, I am not aware that there are trees.

This first example seems to be a valid argument, however, is it sound?

Example 2: 

  1. If I am a brain in a silo or vat, in that case, I cannot think that I am a brain in a vat.
  2. I can imagine and believe that I am a brain in a vat.
  3. As a consequence, I am not a brain in a vat.

The two arguments are valid; however we need to understand if they are sound (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2001). Consequently, the soundness and eligibility of the two examples depend on the mentioned premises. Conversely, let us assume that I have lived an ordinary life as a personified brain, taking pleasure in all kinds of regular casual contacts with brains and vats, until two days ago when I was abducted in my sleep, and I bowed or turned into a hectic or hallucinating brain in a vat. Therefore, it appears then that I could be a brain in a silo, and I think am a brain in a vat. Also, if all the trees in the world were not clear to me, entirely ruined, then my synchronized hallucination, which indicated there are trees, is an extreme deception. As a result, example 2 of the brain in a vat makes sense and holds water. Apparently, tough defenses of the premises of the Cartesian skepticism are available, which allows sound and valid arguments.

Response to Cartesian skepticism

The author of Reason, Truth, and History, Hilary Putnam challenges the Cartesian skepticism through proving that a brain in a silo or vat cannot imagine or suppose as a brain in a vat. He argues that for the skepticism to be a valid reasoning, thought must connect to something in certainty.  Since the brain has an idea or notion about itself and it must exist in actuality (Derose, 1999). Therefore, going with the Putnam argument, Cartesian skepticism seems to be incorrect. Conversely, Putnam declares physical substances like the brain, vat, lamp, tiger, or rock is only objects to what they refer. Moreover, the correlation between the term and the thing is made by pointing to an item and naming the subject. Apparently, the speaker makes the name achieve or obtain a reference.  As a consequence, we cannot use these terms or items in a logical manner without referring to the substances or objects in the world, which the act of naming interrelates them.

Additionally, Putnam argues that if we were to call the objects as assortments of premises that we call vat.  Nonetheless, for Cartesian skepticism to be substantial, and gain weight, the similarity and correspondence must not exist (Derose, 1999). Subsequently, Putnam’s reasoning very powerful, as it refers to objects that are used correctly. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that Putnam argument, references or names only the objects that are around us, either made from substances or molecules. Further, it is vital to note that not everything that comes into your perception becomes a thought. Furthermore, the argument of Putnam does not need that all things should be thought; apparently, the argument utterly presumes that there exists objects or items which are not thoughts.

Implication of the Cartesian Skepticism

Skepticism does not eradicate the question of how people should live their lives. Nevertheless, skepticism establishes something about actuality and certainty where the question needs to be answered (Woodward, 2011). As a consequence, when we study about basic definitions such as truth, reality, and knowledge, does not assist us to decide the kind of beliefs that are consistent and dependable.  Often, we develop a desire to search for detailed and various definitions of truth, knowledge, and reality, which are more practical and constructive for differentiating unreliable reasons from certain reasons. Furthermore, these adjustments do not change what skepticism reveals; instead, the alterations are founded on the revelation.

It is easy to alter ideas and languages so as to assist us to obtain new ways of reasoning, which allow us to answer our query of how we should live our lives. Consequently, we shift from coherence theory of truth to a correspondence theory of to truth to a more practical and realistic definition. The implication of Cartesian skepticism recommends reasonable and mechanical doubt as the right method of differentiating between the known and the unknown. The Cartesian skepticism is a correct argument and one of the ideal requirements for perfect knowledge (Woodward, 2011). The Cartesian doubt is very vital as it shows us what does not matter or count as knowledge. The skepticism is polluted or tainted by some levels, uncertainty, and ambiguity. The change offers us with the claim that despite all things we perceive we know, there could be an existence of an evil demon that analytically gearshifts our perceptions and thoughts, which causes our insights and understanding to become false.

In conclusion, my stand and support are on the Cartesian skepticism as it is a right theory and argument, which provides absolute necessities for ideal and perfect knowledge.  The ambiguity in the skepticism becomes the foundation for defining accurate knowledge, which allows us to identify and recognize the existence of a vice that logically controls our judgment and opinion.

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