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Epistemological and Metaphysical Theories

Evaluate Rene Descartes’ argument for knowledge, including the role of skepticism, the evil demon, and God in resolving his doubts

Rene Descartes believed that the best way to acquire knowledge is through the use of the “doubting methodology” (Moore & Bruder 110). Descartes claimed that skepticism is the key to certainty. He was able to accomplish this through the dream conjecture and the evil demon conjecture. He doubted everything.

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He explained that there is a possibility that he was merely dreaming. He also doubted the outcome of his thought process, because he said that it is possible that there was a malevolent demon that deceived him. In order to erase doubts he developed a clear and distinct criterion. He discovered that there are at least two things that he could never doubt based on the “clear and distinct criterion” framework. He said that he could never doubt the existence of self and God.

Evaluate Hobbes’ view that everything is material

Hobbes reduced everything into bodies or physical objects in motion. He was aware of the problematic aspect of his theory, because emotions and intelligence are obviously non-material aspects of life. However, Hobbes attempted to clarify his view by explaining that the thinking process is merely the biological reaction to motion outside the human body.

The ability to react to the effect of external motion was called perception. Hobbes said that human beings have the capability to express these perceptions through verbal speech or sign languages. The only problem with this view is that Hobbes was unable to explain what caused the motion in the external world. His inability to provide a clear explanation for this phenomenon, weakened his ability to discredit the assertion that the thinking process originated in the human brain.

Evaluate John Locke’s Theory of Representative Realism, and the primary and secondary qualities

Representative realism is just a fancy way of describing the irrefutable qualities of a particular substance. For example, the primary qualities of a piece of paper is evident to all people. If they have the sense of sight and the sense of touch, then, they could arrive at the same description of the piece of paper placed before them.

Locke utilized the term “representative realism” because he asserted that aside from primary qualities there are secondary qualities. The secondary qualities are the less obvious qualities of the paper. Locke’s idea is flawed if one will consider the fact that people are in agreement when they described the object set before them.

Evaluate Spinoza’s view that God is everything

Spinoza’s view that God is everything must be interpreted through the context of pantheism. It is wrong to assume that Spinoza was an atheist simply because he denounced Judaism. In reality, the said philosopher was a pantheist. A pantheist believes that God is all.

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Spinoza believed that everything comes from one infinite substance called God. This is similar to Conway’s view that there is a common denominator, however, Conway believes that God created everything. Spinoza on the other hand believed that there was no personal God that created everything, because these substances are merely a modification of the infinite substance called God.

Evaluate Spinoza’s view that we are determined to be free in the context of the notion of free will

Spinoza argued that free will is an illusion. This assertion is based on the idea that a person’s decision is influenced by his nature. Thus, free will is not the driving force that enables a human being to eat or sleep.

It is his biological nature and biological needs that compels him to eat. This metaphysical view is acceptable if viewed in the context of breathing air, sleeping, and similar biological functions. However, it is flawed when viewed in the context of random actions. For example, Fred loves to eat hamburgers while John loves to eat sushi. Both Fred and John have the capability to decide what they want to eat. At the same time, Fred has the freedom to decide not to eat.

Evaluate Anne Conway’s monadology in light of the fact that she argues for 2 distinct substances

Conway developed a metaphysical concept called monadology. She said that everything in the universe are reducible to a single substance (Moore and Bruder 107). It is essentially the same as atomic theory minus the discussion of subatomic particles. However, Conway went even further when she said that these are created substances, and they are dependent on God. Thus, they are called creatures, because they are God’s creation.

She also said that all creatures have both an individual essence, and an essence that is common to all (Moore and Bruder 108). It can be argued that her justification to the existence of a common denominator was based on the assertion that God created these things. She said that all substances have both a mental and physical component.

Evaluate the two versions of “epiphenomenalism”: “occasionalism” and parallelism

Parallelism and “occasionalism” explain the connection between the mind and the body. This is especially true when it comes to physical movement. Advocates of parallelism argued that the mind does not actually cause the body to move.

They needed to develop this theory in order to maintain the separation of the material and immaterial realms. However, they needed to determine the enabling power that allows the mind to move the body. When an artist decides to pick up a brush and paints, he is able to do so without difficulty. They suggested a solution, and they labeled it “occasionalism” (Moore and Bruder 110). In this theory, God is the enabling power.

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Evaluate Olivia Sabuco de Nantesa’s view on the connection between mind and body

Olivia Sabuco’s metaphysical view was the forerunner to modern day holistic medicine. Sabuco did not intend to develop a medical solution to certain health problems,. However, she was able to develop this idea in her attempt to solve the connection between the mind and the body. Sabuco argued that the mind resides in the soul. Nevertheless, there was a need to facilitate the function between the body and the soul.

Sabuco resolved this dilemma when she proposed that the brain functioned as the facilitator. It was an impressive insight if one considers recent findings regarding the connection between the human body and the human brain.

Evaluate George Berkeley’s view that to be, is to be perceived

It can be argued that Berkeley borrowed extensively from Locke’s ideas. However, Berkeley focused on the primacy of the human mind. Berkeley shared common ground with Locke, especially when it comes to the use of the senses.

Nevertheless, Berkeley argued that only the mind has the power to perceive things. Berkeley created one of the best epistemological frameworks. Nonetheless, there is one problematic aspect of his treatise. Berkeley was convinced that nothing exists outside the mind. It is difficult to accept this proposition based on the modern world’s understanding of science. Scientific principles enable people to see that even in the absence of human thought, the universe will continue to exist.

Evaluate Leibniz’s view of monads

According to Leibniz, monads are indivisible units of force. His idea was a forerunner to a contemporary view that certain particles are a form of energy. However, the said philosopher believed that monads are non-physical. This simply means that Leibniz’s theory was affected by the limitations of his physical senses. He made the assumption that an invisible substance is automatically labeled a non-physical substance.

Nevertheless, Leibniz’s contribution was evident when he asserted that something exists even if it is not visible to the naked eye. Without Leibniz and similar minded thinkers, it would have been difficult to analyze things that are not perceptible to the senses.

Evaluate David Hume’s arguments against induction (uniformity of nature)

Hume’s argument against the validity of the uniformity of nature makes a lot of sense. Inductive reasoning made on the basis of a series of observations does not guarantee the truthfulness of a certain conclusion that was based on those observations. For example, a certain school bus arrives at particular destination every 7 in the morning.

According to Hume the clockwork precision of the bus driver does not allow the observer to conclude that the said school bus will arrive at the same destination next week. It is possible for the school bus not to arrive on time. However, Hume failed to acknowledge the significance if someone was able to predict the arrival of the bus. Hume failed to consider the possibility that someone can make a scientific guess, and make predictions based on information gleaned from observations made earlier.

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Evaluate Immanuel Kant’s notion of the “noumena” and the phenomenal

Kant is in agreement with Locke and Berkeley when it comes to the combined effect of experience, and the ability of the mind to perceive. However, Kant disagreed with Hume’s view that there is no way to ascertain the truth. Kant argued that it is possible to reach a certain level of certainty when it comes to knowing something. However, the limiting factor is the concept called phenomena. In other words, objects and events must be experienced through the senses.

Kant developed the concept of “noumena”, and this means that there are things that are outside the realm of experience. He argued that when it comes to noumena no one can be certain.

Evaluate Hegel’s arguments against the concept of “noumena” as described by Kant

Kant created a caveat in order for him to establish certain truths. He said that as long as the philosopher avoids ideas and concepts related to “noumena”, then, there is a way to ascertain truth based on the capability of the human mind to perceive things.

Hegel on the other hand said that the human mind must not be limited to such notions. Hegel believed that the world is perceived through the expression of infinite thought (Moore and Bruder 140). Hegel made his mark when he asserted that it is possible to view reality in absolute terms.

Evaluate Schopenhauer’s pessimism

Schopenhauer’s pessimism is rooted in the assertion that human beings are driven by their will. He added that the problem is not that people are driven by their will, but on the fact that the will has no moral compass. Therefore, the world is in disarray, and there was no lasting peace because human beings acted as if they are animals governed by an instinct geared towards destructive behavior.

The problem with this view is that it ignores the fact that children are innocent. It also ignores the fact that human beings are capable of acts of heroism and other noble deeds.

View of Metaphysics or Epistemology

It is impossible to pinpoint the most reasonable epistemological or metaphysical view from the given body of information. The best way to develop the most reasonable epistemological or metaphysical view is to combine different perspectives. In my opinion the best way is to combine the ideas of Locke, Berkeley, Kant, and Hegel. By combining their theories one can ascertain the truth not only through the power of the senses, but also through the power of the mind.

Works Cited

Moore, Brooke, and Kenneth Bruder. The Power of Ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

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