Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quiz March 19

Descartes, Pascal etc.

1. What state of mind, belief, or knowledge was Descartes' Method of Doubt supposed to establish? OR, What did Descartes seek that Pyrrho spurned? LH 63, 64

2. Did Descartes claim to know (at the outset of his "meditations") that he was not dreaming? LH 65

3. What strange and mythic specter did Gilbert Ryle compare to Descartes' dualism of mind and body? ("The  ____ in the ______.") LH

Image result for descartes quotes

4. Historically, scientific observation and tests replaced "truth  by ______" as exemplified by Aristotle and the Church. P 121

5. An argument whose conclusion must be true if its premises are true is called _______. (inductive, deductive, abductive) P125

6. _______ is Karl Popper's view that science and knowledge progress by conjecture and refutation rather than proof, and that a theory which cannot in principle be falsified is unscientific; Thomas Kuhn said science progresses by _______ shifts. P 131, 135

BONUS+: What pragmatic American philosopher was Descartes' "most practical critic"?

BONUS++: (T/F) A.C. Grayling thinks that, because Descartes was so wrong about consciousness and the mind-body problem, he cannot be considered a historically-important philosopher.


1. Is there anything you know or believe that you could not possibly be mistaken about, or cannot reasonably doubt? If so, what? How do you know it? If not, is that a problem for you?

2. How do you know you're awake and not dreaming? Is it meaningful to say "life is but a dream"? (And again: "Inception" - ?!)

3. Are you essentially identical with or distinct from your body (which includes your brain)? If distinct, who/what/where are you? How do you know? Can you prove it? OR, Do you believe in immaterial spirits? Can you explain how it is possible for your (or anyone's) material senses to perceive them?

4. Do we experience the world immediately, or are our sensations a filter or screen between our minds and the world? If the latter, what do you say to the solipsist?

5. Do you think Samuel Johnson's refutation was successful?

6. What would be the point of avoiding commitment to the existence of physical objects?

Image result for pascal cartoon

1. Pascal thought if you gamble on god and lose, "you lose ______." LH 72

2. (T/F) By limiting his "wager" to a  choice between either Christian theism or atheism, says Nigel, Pascal excludes too many other possible bets. LH 75

3. Those who agree with Descartes that mind and body, the mental and physical, represent metaphysically distinct and separate substances are called what? P 138

(OR, what is the most serious difficulty facing those who defend this view? P 141)

4. The view that everything has a mind of some sort is called what? P 141

5. Does Nigel think parallelism, occasionalism, or epiphenomenalism are plausible? P 143

6. Conscious experiences of how it feels or what it is like, personally, to be in a particular state of mind are called what?

BONUS: What religious sect did Pascal convert to in his youth, and what were its main tenets?

BONUS+: What was Pascal's attitude towards the cosmic scale of the universe? (How did he say it made him feel?)

1. Do you agree that, contrary to Pascal, most nonreligious people would consider it a huge sacrifice to devote their lives to religion? Why?

2. Is the choice between God and no-god 50/50, like a coin toss? How would you calculate the odds? At what point in the calculation do you think it becomes prudent to bet on God? Or do you reject this entire approach? Why?

3. Do you believe in ghosts, immaterial/immortal spirits, or other non-physical entities? Are you one yourself? If so, do you believe this on the basis of evidence or of desire? If not, why not? Either way, have you come to terms with your mortality? Explain.

4. Why do you think the evolution of mind so closely parallels that of the brain? (What's the best explanation?)

5. What do you think of the idea that the apparent link between mind and body is pre-arranged by God, conceived as a master clock-winder? How about the idea that mental events are caused by physical events, but not vice versa?

6. If neuroscientists ever succeed in mapping the brain and modeling the causal neurological events correlated with thinking, will that solve the mystery of consciousness? Is there a gap between the explanation and the experience of pain, pleasure, happiness, etc.?


  1. H01
    FQ: Descartes used the _________ and __________ arguments to prove to his satisfaction that God exists. (LH 68)
    FQ: (T/F) Pascal was a strong, healthy child. (LH 70)
    FQ: (T/F) Pascal thought of himself as a theologian. (LH 71)
    FQ: (T/F) The main objection to scientism is that it overvalues scientific explanation. (P 136)

  2. Regarding DQ 2. Is the choice between God and no-god 50/50, like a coin toss? How would you calculate the odds? At what point in the calculation do you think it becomes prudent to bet on God? Or do you reject this entire approach? Why?

    I do not think that it or should be like a coin toss. I reject that approach entirely.

    It should be a matter of investigation and deductive reasoning, like anything else.

    First of all, religion has been around for a very long time in many forms. No one religion bears any more worth than any other. They were all at one time "known to be fact" or in many cases, "the dominant religion". Like any story, it should be weighed and measured by facts, investigated thoroughly and broken down so that we might find it's truths.

    Am I certain that God is not real? No. I am also not certain that there is one or possibly many. I am not certain if there are no gods, possibly higher beings (be it more advanced or intelligent) or of course, possibly just stories concocted to either control the populace or to bring about change.

    I believe that there are things yet unexplained and I know that the human mind is capable of incredible things. Perhaps, there is a link of consciousness that spans the globe, for the most part lying untapped until we hit brief moments where we stumble upon it. I am not certain.

    What I am certain of is that ideas are both incredible and dangerous, they cannot be easily squashed or stamped out and we cling to them as if our very lives depend on them. We will do wonderful or horrible things in the name of religion if we feel justified to do so and that is exactly the problem with refusing to question religions and ideas. All it takes is to believe that we are justified to do something for us to be all to eager to take action, without really analyzing the situation.

    A coin toss? No, religion is far too dangerous to leave up to a coin toss. It must be questioned, constantly, less it decide that it is above the law and take on a life of its own.

  3. Sec.8 Group 2: Kayla & Alyssa's questions:
    F(Q):K: Based on anthropomorphism, what does God do? (LH 78)
    A: why can a historically authentic performance never be achieved?(P170)
    D(Q):K: Is everything art ?
    A: what is your definition of art ?