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
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?
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.?