• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the view that knowledge is possible

Extracts from this document...


Assess the view that knowledge is impossible Philosophical scepticism and ordinary everyday scepticism are very different. The difference between both types of scepticism is that ordinary scepticism is doubt that the train will come on time for example, whilst philosophical sceptics believe knowledge is impossible. Global scepticism is doubts everything for the purpose of an academic study this differs from ordinary scepticism due to it being on a much larger scale. The best example of a sceptic is Descarte. He was the first philosopher to think so deeply into scepticism. Descarte wrote six meditations, the first named 'Method of Doubt'. This meditation had three waves; The Senses, Dreaming and Malignant Demon. Each wave looked at a different theory of scepticism. There are many different arguments that conclude knowledge is impossible. The Infinite Regress of Reason, Closed Belief System and Brain in a Vat theory are the three examples which will be looked at, in detail, as to how they came to the conclusion that knowledge is impossible. ...read more.


The name explains what some philosophers think to be real; that our brains really are in Vats and being controlled. An example of this is in Descartes' first Meditation - in the third wave of doubt (the evil demon argument). This is one example of a sceptic's theory: A scientist in the year 2560 is sending impulses through a secretly obtained brain to give it the illusion that it is living a life and that the life is a real experience. However there are criticisms to these theories such as The Infinite Regress of Reason can be stopped by Foundationalism and therefore isn't infinite. This theory says there are things in this world that we can know for sure and all other beliefs can be built-up on top of these foundational beliefs. Beliefs that justify themselves or need no justification are foundational beliefs and these beliefs justify others. This classic reaction to the Infinite Regress is called Foundationalism. ...read more.


For example, the existence of physical objects shouldn't be doubted even though they cannot be explicitly justified using language. Therefore the Brain in a Vat theory cannot really be genuine as it is rejected by common sense. In conclusion, the theory of scepticism, although a strong argument in the short term, when thought about more thoroughly is fundamentally flawed because the criticisms of each argument evaluated proves that there must be truth in this world for us to be able to doubt anything. Although philosophical scepticism, on some levels, can help us see what can not be proven or justified, it also helps us understand that knowledge is indeed possible and that we must all have some aspect of truths in our beliefs. For example Descarte, said: 'I think therefore I am'. This quote explains that knowledge of having a present experience is true and from this knowledge we can build up other claims (for example the claim of physical objects proven to ones' self by using senses and the common sense theory). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Descartes Meditations

    The things which we perceive as real are actually just shadows on a wall, which represents us being deceived in what we think is real and true. And just as the escaped prisoner ascends into the light of the sun, we amass knowledge and ascend into the light of true

  2. Evaluate Descartes Method of Doubt

    Therefore all paintings are forgeries. This is clearly invalid, as a forgery suggests that there is a real painting out there somewhere which the forgery is a copy of. Is Descartes not making the same mistake in his first wave of doubt?

  1. An embodied life in heaven is entirely possible. Discuss.

    St Thomas Aquinas established Aristotle's view on the aspect of the function of the soul, and agreed that the soul was the force animating the body, giving it life. In his book "Suma Theologica" Aquinas referred to the soul as the 'anima', which means ' that which animates the body',

  2. Discuss the characteristics of the scientific method which makes it superior over other methods ...

    Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications, do not qualify as scientific theories. One of the key factors of scientific method is that the theory must be falsifable. Sir Karl Popper (1902-1994): Falsificationism (1993)

  1. Synoptic Study, Satre, Engels and Marx

    Sartre and the African worker have exactly the same absolute, fundamental freedom yet Sartre's power is much greater giving him more options and pleasant choices. To use our favorite painting analogy we are free to paint what we want, using the un changeable colours, paper and physical laws as a

  2. Can You Step into the Same River Twice?

    A continuation of Heraclitus' theory is that all 'knowledge' obtained from our senses is entirely user relative. This is demonstrated through the saying "The path up and the path down is one and the same". This describes how our senses can fool us and whilst we believe that a path

  1. Theory Of Knowledge essay

    test all particular phenomenons to the general law, leaving the possibility that there is one that does not conform. Therefore according to Hume, science cannot provide us with accurate knowledge and should not be given such a high status. Another criticism of the scientific method is that as science is

  2. Critically Assess the View that, Without a Predetermined Conceptual Scheme, Our Sense Experience Would ...

    Therefore this illustrates how Kant could know things about the world that are not true by definition, but could be discovered by reason alone. However, there are some criticisms to Kant?s theory. It is debated as to whether Kant actually proves his theory.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work