The purpose of the Opening Discussion is to allow us to directly think about a philosophical question or problem without the bias that might result from prior knowledge of the ideas and arguments of important philosophers.
This direct approach to a philosophical question or problem sets the stage for our inquiry into the philosophical theories and arguments covered in the module. It furthermore is the first step toward a greater self-awareness of our own individual intellectual biases and assumptions.
The Opening Discussion MUST be completed at the beginning of the module during the timeframe specified in the course calendar. Please make sure to carefully follow the directions provided and adhere to the deadlines specified in the course calendar.
Click on ‘Reply’ to create your Opening Discussion POST in response to the prompts below. In your post, please address the following:
Contrary to Descartes, who tried to establish *reason* as the foundation for all possible knowledge (rationalism), the British Empiricists argued that *experience* (sense perception, observation, experiment, etc.) serves as the foundation for all possible knowledge.
With David Hume, the focus of empiricist epistemology shift to the *language* in which explanatory claims are expressed. This focus on language (and the distinctions first introduced by Hume) has had enormous consequences for the direction of epistemological inquiry and is a defining characteristic for the so-called analytic philosophy of the 20th century and beyond.
Consider the following statements:
- A triangle has three sides
- A bachelor is an unmarried man
- It frequently rains in Florida in the summer
- Humans have opposing thumbs
- Can you ‘group’ these statements into two different groups? What is the difference between these groups of statements, when it comes to conditions for truth and knowledge? Please make sure to be specific, and carefully explain your reasoning.
Contrast the above statements with the following:
- God exists
- Reality is the realm of the forms (Plato)
- Reality is a collection of substances (Aristotle)
- What do you think is the difference, compared to the previous statements, with respect to conditions for truth and knowledge? Please makes sure to be specific, and carefully explain your reasoning.
Respond to at least two of your classmates. In order to respond to a classmate, open the classmate’s post and click ‘Reply’. If you agree with your classmate’s view, please provide an additional example to support his or her view. If you disagree, please provide a concrete counter-example. Please make sure to be specific in your remarks, and carefully explain your reasoning.
You must create your POST before you can reply to your classmates. Therefore, you should create your POST a day or two before the discussion deadline.
Your initial post should be about 200-300 words in length, and your responses to classmates should each be about 100-200 words in length, but feel free to be as detailed as you wish.
Your post and your responses must be written in proper English (correct spelling and grammar, and appropriate style). It is recommended to write your post and responses using a word processing program and copy and paste the completed post and responses. This will avoid losing work in case of internet outage, etc. You are encouraged to comment on your classmate’s feedback to your initial post and keep the (civilized!) discussion going.
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