External World Skepticism Essay

Published: 2020-01-31 12:22:25
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Locke and Descartes have very different ideas about how to defeat external world skepticism. Whose views are more valid about the realiability of sense perception for understanding the external world?

The knowledge, the idea of the existence of external world and the way it is perceived by human being has been controvesy issue for centruies. Descartes and Locke also two very important name who proposed some viewpoint, even it can be said some theories, on the issue. The existence of external world and external bodies are true without us? Or do they exist as long as we perceive them? The idea of existence of external bodies, the knowledge of them can be attained through the way they reach us in any form. The most common and the easiest, as it will be discussed later as the only, way is the senses through them we perceive the material objects and arrive at the information they exist or not. Every existential material being has some spesific physical qualities that appeal to our senses, and through this way we experience them. It is an obvious fact that something that does not exist can do nothing to us or can show no quality to be noticed by us.

Famous philospher Descartes also, basically based on this perspective, put forward that what we are perceiving through our senses are the external bodies that caused the ideas in us. As the ideas of external bodies caused in us by their perception through our senses, they exists outside independent of us. This means that whether or not we perceive any material being, it keeps to process of existence. Only, the idea of it, in us, begins with our noticing, perceiving and putting in a place in our mind. To be more clear, the part of it, its existence to us is this: our getting the idea of it. And getting an idea of an objects is provided through experiencing it by our senses independent of our will and desire. When we notice an object it has been realized that it reached us with one or more physical qualifications of it; thus we perceived it through our sense organs and have an idea about its existence. So, tt the very moment we perceive an object, its existence accepted by us in my opinion.

However, Descartes claims that sensory ideas must be produced by some substances other than us as we have a passive faculty of sensory perception and only active faculties can use them. It is worth to noting that it is totally wrong as it is possible our having an idea that produced without us. The ideas are produced, no matter what they are about, in our mind. And, ideas of external things comes into being in our minds just because we can notice them in a way. After their idea, their knowledge is reached with the way their qualities are perceived by senses. On the other hand, Locke makes his theory depend on a more assured ground. The Knowledge of the Existence of any other thing we can have only by Sensations. The only way to know any external thing is to experience it through our sensory organs.

Because their realization in our minds or their existence in us is created by the testimony of our sensory organs. It can be said that our understanding of the external things pass through our reliability on our sensations. However, it also is worth to note that whenever we perceive something through our sensory organs, a certain quality of them affects us in a specific way. After their perception realizes in our mind, we makes reasons about them and understand that there are material objects that exists outside, independently. So mean, there are external material things that exists without and independent of us. Furthermore, the knowledge of them can be gained only through sensations and perceptions. First of all, when we face with an object, we perceive it through our sense organs.

This perception is moved on to our brain, and with its interpretation of the object, an idea of it takes place in us. For instance, my perception of a book, my knowing of a book is provided me with the certain qualities of it. Its shape and color could be an example for this. It has a shape and a color and i can see it with my eyes, so the idea of the book reach me through the testimony of my eyes. In this example the color and the shape of the book helps me to define it in my mind with some specific qualities. Again, lets consider a flower which has a good odor and pink color. Using our sensory organs we can ascribe the flower color and odor qualities. In a more detailed way, thanks to its odor i know that there is a thing independent of me which has a color and an odor. It already has been there with its color and odor but we were not aware of it before perceive it. Otherwise, because our sensory organs do not have the capability of producing some senses without getting any stimulus from outside, it would be a fallacy to believe that we create the ideas of external objects in our own mind without their existence, even though in some situations stimulus may leads us to have wrong ideas about the reality.

Additionally, it is also another possible situation that we may have the idea of an object, without getting any cause from it at the very that moment depending on past experiences. As an illustration, lets consider a nomad traveler who passing through a desert. The weather is so hot, everywhere is yellow and the tiredness of walking very long time increases the desire to have some water but he does not have. In this while, within this deprivation he sees a puddle. But as far as he gets close to it, the puddle becomes distant, and the nomad realizes that it is not a real, existed puddle but just a mirage. His eyes tricke him and he sees an object which, in fact, does not exist there at that moment. With the effect of other stimulants like hot weather, yellow color etc. the thirst increases to the extend that it gives rise him to see an unexisted thing as it exists there. The idea of a puddle comes into being in the mind of the nomad at the result of the causes come from the outside existed things, but it drags him to be under the illusion of an unexisted thing at that moment.

To be more clear, it is not the situation that the nomad sees a never existed thing as existed at that moment; on the contrary, he sees an image of an existed thing which existed in fact on this world, but unexisted there and for that moment. The appearance of a puddle is a consequence of the perception of hot and the vast desert. Perceptions of their being truly creates a false idea of another object. So to speak, her brain plays a game with the nomad and brins up the idea of a previously perceived object. The nomad has the notion of puddle. He has the idea about how a puddle looks like. And at that moment with the wrong association of ideas, he had wrong idea about the puddles to be there at that moment. Nonetheless, it does not change the reality that there is a puddle thing outside him and the perception of it realized before, the idea of it comes into being in the mind of the nomad, thus he can recall it among from all the ideas he has thanks to previous perceptions. The perception of the puddle came to existence in a moment his previous life.

Consequently, our sensory organs may lead us to have wrong perception in a moment of our life, but it cannot be deniable that this wrong perception also comes from a true perception of the object in another moment, so it exists for another moment even though it does not exist for that moment. Locke has a claim related to this: As when our Senses employd about any Object, we do know that it does exist; so by our Memory we may be assured, that therefore Things, that affected our senses, have existed. And thus we have knowledge of the past Existence of several things, whereof our senses informed us, our memories still retain the ideas; and of this we are past all doubt, so long as we remember well. We believe the existence of some objects as we have past experiences with them, even though at the moment we think about them we do not have any physical relation with them. Moreover, as another point of view, if it would be thought for things that cannot be sensed by our sensory organs but material, it can easily be said that it is impossible that there such a being exists, as the material objects are the ones that have some physical qualities that affect us through sensory organs of us.

When it comes to abstract things or their ideas in us, the situation is totally different and we cannot be so sure about their existence and we cannot have a definite, true knowledge of them. They are not physical obejcets nor are qualified with the features that can be comprehended through perception. As i agree with him to some extent but do not completely, Locke thinks that the idea of spirits does not make us know that any such thing do exist without us, but Eternal God. And according to him we must believe existence of some spiritual things, even though we cannot perceive and discover them in any way, as God created them and we informed about them with revelation or for other reasons. The spirits or abstracts that we have idea about them are known by us, as some of us experienced them.

We are tend to believe in what majority believes. Although we do not perceive them with our own senses, we may be persuaded to have the idea of their existence. It also is related to our beliefs. If God informs us that they exist even though we do not experience them, we may believe as we faithfully trust and obey Him. However, It is not certain that some spirits are around exists. They may be there for the ones who believe in them, and not for the others who do not believe. These kind of knowledge depends on belief and it would not be logical to say something certain about them. Descartes on the other hand, links the knowledge of non-material things to God. According to him, if God had not give us a way to recognize such higher forms, we has been strongly inclined to believe that bodies produce them. And so if the ideas were transmitted from a source other than corporeal things, God would be a deceiver; and he is not; so bodies exists.

This claim again would be true if one believe in God without any doubt, but s/he may not. So it shoul have more logical explanation that do have a common validity for everyone. As i mentioned above, since the ideas of abstracts cannot be thought independent of belief, their existence might be related to the believing them directly. As an example, think about Deism; those who believe in it consider God as the only holly one. They believe in God, but they rejects the religions, reveletion and all the other things which are mentioned in religions as things created by God.

So in short, the existence of things other than the material things cannot be known clearly and certainly as they might be accepted by the ones who believe and might not be accepted by the others who rejects. Last but not least, it can be said that having knowledge about any issue begins with knowing and knowing with understanding. To understand something, it is a must that its being left an impact on us in such a way that we perceive it through sensations. Addition to this, it is a fact that an impact comes with a feature that belongs to an object and helps us to perceive the object, thus we comprehend its existence and have the knowledge of it.

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[ 1 ]. Descartes, Meditations 6 , p 43 in textbook.
[ 2 ]. Descartes, Meditations 6 , p 45 in the textbook
[ 3 ]. Knowledge of the Existence of other Things p. 630 (in textbook) [ 4 ]. Knowledge of the Existence of other Things (p 636, p 134 in textbook) [ 5 ]. Knowledge of the Existence of other Things (p 637, p 134 in textbook) [ 6 ]. Descartes, Meditations 6, p 45 in textbook.

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