Epistemology and Metaphysics: Philosophers Views

Philosophy is one of the most ancient disciplines in the academic field. Over the years, it has attracted the attention of various scholars. They include, among others, Descartes, Plato, Locke, and Hobbes. In this paper, the author will analyze the ideas promoted by some of these philosophers in the book “The Power of Ideas”.

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Analyzing the Ideas of Different Philosophers

Descartes’ Knowledge

Rene Descartes makes a number of arguments about knowledge. They include the role of skepticism, evil demon, and god. However, his arguments do not entirely mean that God does not exist. In framing his ideas, Descartes aims at proving a sound basis for scientific methods. Through his philosophical journey, he is trying to prove that the main source of scientific knowledge lies in the mind of people and not necessarily in their senses. Descartes is not skeptical about God’s existence.

On the contrary, he tries to illustrate the compatibility between science and religion. The philosopher has made other arguments. Some of them include deceiving God, the dream, and the evil demon arguments. The evil demon argument tries to explain the source of all deceptions. According to him, instead of blaming God for sinful acts, people should put the blame on the evil demon (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). The argument that God exists and is not a deceiver simply means that the Almighty will solve one’s doubts.

Hobbes’ Material Objects

Thomas Hobbes argues that all objects are material. The objects in reference include thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The argument explains human behavior. Hobbes compares human beings to objects.

He argues that bodily activities, such as sensation, result from mechanisms of the body. The features generating the feelings are compared to material things by the philosopher. According to Hobbes, the ideas, feelings and thoughts that human beings have are motivated by the society (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). The society is also an object that is material to the life of the human beings.

Locke’s Theory of Representative Realism

John Locke is well known for his theories of representative realism and primary and secondary qualities. The theories explain that people’s perceptions about objects are not direct. On the contrary, the perception is created by those objects that make people have different experiences (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010).

According to Locke, representative realism highlights the difference between the experiences brought about by the objects and the objects themselves. The theory of representative realism further explains that there are two different types of objects behind these differences. They include primary and secondary qualities. The former are associated with the independence of the observer. The latter, on their part, are brought to existence by other observers. As such, secondary colors are used to represent their primary counterparts.

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Benedictus’ “God is All”

Benedictus de Spinoza’s view that “God is all” entirely revolves around religion. The philosopher explains this by making reference to Hindu traditions. He does not believe in the idea of dualism between the world and God. The philosopher believes that God is omnipresent (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). Consequently, God is everywhere and, as a result, is everything.

Benedictus’ Notion of Free Will

Benedictus argues that people are meant to be free. He makes this argument in the context of the concept of free will. The philosopher highlights the confusion in the mind of human beings. People have delusions that come from the fact that their ideas may be inadequate. The ideas processed by the mind may be not enough to propel different activities in the society (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010).

Benedictus argues that people fear acting on their own will because of perceived consequences. It is easier for people to form a society as a group than as an individual. The observation explains the notion of the free will and how it is executed to create a free mind.

Conway’s Monism

Anne Conway is known for her arguments on monism. To this end, she argues for two distinct substances. Her views explain that only one substance is created in reality. However, this substance is divided into two parts. The two are matter and spirit. She is opposed to the ideas held by other philosophers like Descartes and Benedictus.

According to her, the best example of monistic metaphysics is a purely spiritual or material substance (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). She is opposed to Descartes’ dualism. According to her, an individual is entirely a singular being. There is no distinction between the body and the mind. The two elements are one and the same thing. However they can be spiritual or material.


There are two versions of epiphenomenalism. They include occasionalism and parallelism. Epiphenomenalism addresses the issue of how immaterial things can be prevented from affecting material things (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). The communication between the body and the mind in the context of dualism is the main cause of epiphenomenalism. Parallelism takes into consideration both the physical world and the individual.

The concept promotes the idea that God and the environment are the reasons why things interact with each other. Parallelism makes people adjust their lives to fit into the physical environment. Occasionalism argues that the substances cannot be the cause of different outcomes. What this means is that only God can be the direct cause of outcomes or events.

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Nantes’ Argument on the Connection between Mind and Body

Olivia Sabuco de Nantes argues about the connection between the mind and the body. The argument holds that human nature is a single unit. According to her, the body and the mind can interact smoothly as a single unit (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). To this end, the rational soul must agree with its spiritual counterpart. It is the only way an individual can freely exist. In the absence of this cooperation, the body and the soul cannot co-exist peacefully.

Berkeley’s “To be is to be Perceived”

George Berkeley holds the opinion that “to be is to be perceived”. The argument is directly related to the five senses. The philosopher addresses the issue of the mind and the idea of materialism and immaterialism (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). According to him, the mind is the biggest driver of ideas. The existence of something or anything depends on this element. The non-existence of something is also determined by the mind.

Leibniz’s Monads

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s arguments revolve around monads. It is a simple substance that cannot be easily divided into different parts (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). There are different types of monads. According to Leibniz, individuals have a rational soul. According to this philosopher, the soul is like a monad. The perceptions in the mind of a rational soul represent a highly developed monad. What this means is that individuals cannot be divided. In addition, they have varying perceptions about different things.

Hume’s Views on Induction and Cause and Effect

David Hume argues against induction and cause and effect. His arguments are based on the uncertainty of causation and the problem of induction. With regards to causation, many people assume that one event leads to another (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). Hume terms this connection as meaningless. It is not always true that one event leads to the emergence of another.

Hume argues that God is the first cause. Induction draws conclusions from particular experiences in life. According to Hume, it is not possible to create a connection between two events without knowledge on nature. Uniformity in nature improves individual’s knowledge and understanding of the environment.

Kant’s Noumenal and Phenomenal

Immanuel Kant has written extensively about noumenal and phenomenal. Noumenon represents the things that appear to an individual. Kant argues that an individual’s speculative reason can only identify an observable occurrence. It cannot identify the noumenon (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). What this means is that only immortal beings or God can see things that appear to individuals.

Hegel’s Views on Noumenal

Hegel’s arguments against noumenal contradict the ideas held by Kant. Hegel is opposed to the fact that something that exists cannot be known by explaining that what is real. His arguments mean that what is real is mind, spirit, or soul (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). He concludes by saying that if people know more about themselves, then it will be easy for them to act rationally.

Schopenhauer’s Pessimism

Schopenhauer’s pessimism is seen throughout his philosophical works. He does not believe in the realities of science (Brooke & Moore-Kenneth, 2010). Unlike other philosophers who agree with the nature of science, Schopenhauer is not satisfied with any of the facts. For example, he argues that space and time are foreign. They are modes of human cognition.

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Conclusion: Hume’s Reasonable View of Epistemology

A critical analysis of chapters 5 and 6 of “The Power of Ideas” reveals that David Hume has a reasonable view of epistemology and metaphysics. The reason is because he offers a viable explanation of the cause of events. He is opposed to causation and induction. As such, he makes sense of the occurrence of events.


Brooke N., & Moore-Kenneth, B. (2010). Philosophy: Power of ideas (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

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