Category Archives: theory of knowledge

Opposing views on issues of knowledge, truth, and reality

In the modern age it may not be “hard to imagine” that the subjective/objective distinction has no “metaphysical significance,” but it surely does not follow from a philosophical rejection of the mind-body dualism. Rejecting mind-body dualism, with its implication of mind as entity apart from body, does have metaphysical implications; but this is distinct from questions regarding the significance of the distinction between subjective experience and objective reality.

More on the Confusion regarding ‘Representations’ and the Objects represented

Far too many people — mainly philosophers and psychologists — and now Antonio Damasio (of all people!) —- assume that it makes sense to think of “us” (the knowing subject) as somehow situated inside the brain. Sure, if you think of the subject (who perceives and has experiences) as located inside the brain or identical to the brain, then a mystery arises as to how the subject (the person?) interprets that input, which may or may not represent external reality. But why in the world do we have to accept this queer perspective?

Some Remarks on a Blind Alley in Western Epistemology

With the model of sense perception of sense perception, which I shall call the “Reid-Darwin-Pragmatic model,” we assume as a starting point the existence of the individual in a natural, social world. Instead of saying with Descartes that there is a chasm between the perceiver (the subject) and the object, physical world which must be bridged if we’re to avoid the skeptical trap.

Notes on difficult subjects: Confusing our concepts, experiences, and reality

Insofar as our coherent language and thought allows, the so-called “phenomenal world” is the real world, i.e., the world in which we exist, the one we experience and one accessible to human understanding. Of course, our concept of this reality can be refined through analysis, mathematical modeling, scientific theorizing and investigation. The resulting picture or model, a refined one when compared to our untrained intuitions, will be a picture or model of the world of experience. It does not point to a “world-in-itself.”

Do we perceive real things, or just our representations of them?

This talk of “transcendental reality” distinct from “empirical reality” (the reality investigated by science and experienced by humans) is suspect, to say the least, unless you happen to be a Kantian or believer in transcendence of some kind.
I have great trouble accepting the claim by some people that they can “climb out of their minds” to the realm of the transcendent (whether this is a philosophical, metaphysical, or mystical claim); hence, I stand with the thinking of Richard Rorty, John Dewey, William James, Hilary Putnam and Donald Davidson on this issue.

Some Remarks about the Concept of ‘Belief’

William James wrote a well-known essay “The Will to Believe,” in which he defended certain religious belief as compelling even if not rationally grounded beliefs; for example, the decision to belief in God as a vital choice that many persons make, despite lacking good rational grounds to support that belief. We will to believe in God.
In one sense of the term “belief,” what James contends may strike us as being absurd. For in ordinary circumstances our belief that something is such & such (e.g., that it will rain today, or that my car has enough gasoline to get me home) is not a matter of choice or of our willing it, but rather a case in which we base the belief on supporting evidence. Here making a decision to believe irrespective of the evidence could get us in trouble.