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Theory of Knowledge

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a) Briefly explain one difference between idealism and phenomenalism. Idealism is a philosophy which maintains that the ultimate nature of reality is based upon ideas. It holds that matter is dependant on our minds, and similarly that the real world and knowledge of it is inseparable from our consciousness. Berkley's Idealism holds that something only exists when it is being perceived, "to be is to be perceived", and that is it impossible to think of something that cannot be imagined, for to conceive such a thing is to imagine it. Phenomenalism on the other hand, puts an emphasis on how we speak of experience and use our sense data to understand reality. It says that objects do not exist in themselves but only as sensory stimuli. Furthermore, it reduces talk about physical objects in the external world to talk about bundles of sense data. b) Explain and illustrate why dreaming may lead to skepticism about our perceptual knowledge. For many, a dream will seem like reality until full consciousness is regained. Even the most obscure of dreams lead us to believe that what is taking place when we are asleep is actually a chapter in out lives. ...read more.


For example, like how a bowl of water can feel warm to one hand, but cold to the other. It is difficult to dispute them because we are all aware of how important sensory experience is. The above example forms part of the argument from illusion- in which we believe we are experiencing something but we are actually experiencing something else, such as when a stick is half immersed in water, it appears to be bent even though we absolutely know it is not. Or to a greater extent, when someone is hallucinating and believes to be perceiving something that was never there in the first place, such as in Shakespeare's Macbeth, when Lady Macbeth believes her hands to be covered in blood. Philosophers such as Ayer hold that to perceive at this type is to believe that everything you are witnessing is true; furthermore there is no difference in the actual experience to the illusionary one. AJ Ayer maintained that to verify a statement is to call it meaningful, consequently if we are to claim that we see a bent stick, we are saying that it is just like seeing a bent stick in water. ...read more.


Secondly, the idea of na�ve realism on the whole should not be dismissed as we cannot claim for sure that its ideas are wrong. For all we know the way that we see the world is the only way we can see the world, without the need of sense data and overstated ideas by philosophers who believe that common sense theories are primitive. In conclusion, it seems that na�ve realism is a very simplistic way of explaining how our perceptions work. Many dispute this as they believe that there is more to existence than just 'what you see is what you get', it can be likened to the view of atheists who take a pessimistic stance of the world and make claims such as 'when we die, that's it, we die' (Dawkins). Furthermore, this simple way of viewing existence seems to be an insult to its entirety, which leads me to believe that perception isn't just a matter of opening my eyes to view the world, but more to do with ideas or forms which are provided by our minds. Therefore, it seems that I have placed myself in the idealist camp, and must conclude that na�ve realism is most defiantly na�ve, and not at all useful when discussing perceptions within existence. Alessandra Anzante ...read more.

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