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Essay On Epistemology

1134 words - 5 pages

This is an interesting question partly because it is a complex query dressed up in a simple manner. There are many terms here which require a great deal of unpicking before being able to arrive at any sort of warranted conclusion. As a result, there are some assumptions that will have to be made in order to analyse these concepts in a concise framework. Here we have terms like ‘reason’ (and qualified as ‘very strong’), ‘belief’ and ‘false’. In other words, this essay is primarily an epistemological investigation into reason, belief and truth. I will first, and somewhat briefly, define what I feel qualifies as truth before looking at what it would take to have a warranted belief in a false ...view middle of the document...

“I think, therefore I am” is a declaration of the extent of indubitable knowledge. That is to say, we can only be sure that a thinking entity exists by point of fact that it thinks (whether it be doubting, and whether or not we can define exactly what such a thinking entity might ontologically be). As Michael Lacewing states[3]:
So Descartes begins by understanding knowledge in terms of certainty. To establish certainty, he tests his beliefs by doubt. Doubt, then, is the opposite of certainty. If we can doubt a belief, then it is not certain, and so it is not knowledge.
From this Rationalist mantra, one can further adopt the position of the Pyrrhonian Skeptic. This term represents a skeptic who is defined by doubt so as to remain effectively agnostic over everything, even their own position, such that judgement is evaded. However, this, as a scope for an epistemology, is not very useful; it is not entirely pragmatic[4] in the context of everyday life. As a result, it can be deemed necessary, in order to form a usable epistemology, to build up from this. Yet to do so, one has to make certain leaps of faith, if you will. Or to put it another way, one must hold to knowledge claims that are not indubitable – a usable epistemology seems to have inevitable need of making some leaps of faith over claims that cannot be proved or disproved indubitably.
In order to make sense of the question, let us first look at notions of truth. Within the framework of this essay I will adopt the Correspondence Theory of truth which can be defined as follows:
The basic idea of the correspondence theory is that what we believe or say is true if it corresponds to the way things actually are—to the facts…
The correspondence theory of truth is at its core an ontological thesis: a belief is true if there exists an appropriate entity—a fact—to which it corresponds. If there is no such entity, the belief is false.
Facts, for the neo-classical correspondence theory, are entities in their own right. Facts are generally taken to be composed of particulars and properties and relations or universals, at least. The neo-classical correspondence theory thus only makes sense within the setting of a metaphysics that...

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