34

This is actually an easier question than it seems, largely because it operates on assumptions that are easily conceded to or missed. The first assumption is that reality is absolutely compartmentalized; it is not. Where does Greek end and Latin begin? That's a harder question than it looks like if you pay attention to language and there's a whole book ...


26

We simply can't. We can't even prove that the Universe was created yesterday along with all memories of the past. We can't prove the Universe isn't just a run of a simulation (see the Simulation Hypothesis). If you put it this way, nothing can actually be proven.


18

Two interesting arguments from recent decades relevant to this are Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument and the doctrine of Semantic Externalism. Wittgenstein argues in Philosophical Investigations that it is impossible for there to be a language which only referrs to private, inner sensations. Very roughly, the idea is that there is nothing which ...


14

Here's one way: DOOLITTLE But how do you know you exist? BOMB #20 It is intuitively obvious. DOOLITTLE Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have of your own existence? BOMB #20 Hmm... Well, I think, therefore I am. DOOLITTLE That's good. Very good. Now then, how do you know that anything else exists? ...


12

I'm not sure how nobody has mentioned this yet, but the most discussed philosophical work on the topic you have presented is Rene Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy. The most relevant part of this work to your question is Meditation I, however, to be properly understood, it should be read in context of the complete work. Several full-text ...


11

"Distrust your senses" is a very long tradition. Recall Plato's "cave" analogy from the early dawn of philosophy, ~400 BC. Plato postulated that there is a reality outside of what humans experience. He compared the human "experience through the senses" to the experience of a caveman looking at a shadow play on the cave wall: The caveman can only see the ...


8

G. E. Moore has a lovely little paper called A Defense of Common Sense that has important implications for your question. The basic idea is easy to grasp. There are a variety of skeptical scenarios that seem to undermine claims to possess some kind of ordinary knowledge. The dreaming case you mention is one such scenario. Descartes's Evil Genius case is ...


8

If I am dreaming now, then it is a much more coherent and stable dream than what I normally call a dream. When I wake up and think about the dream, I realize that locations, people, and circumstances in the dream were constantly shifting, and there it is impossible to put together a rational story. Sometimes I even notice these qualities while I'm dreaming, ...


8

Touch is just another form of sensory input subject to imperfect reading of the world like any other sense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactile_illusion The whole phantom limb phenomenon involves massive deception, not sure whether this fits in your categorization of "tact". (Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind - fascinating and ...


8

Husserl is perhaps the last truly classical figure in epistemology, he still believed in objective content of knowledge, the same for "angels and centaurs" as for humans, and the possibility of "apodictic certainty" at the end of eidetic and phenomenological investigations. He believed that by suspending ("bracketing out") stereotypes and presuppositions, ...


7

Various branches of cognitive science (psychophysics especially, but not only) have demonstrated that we can be profoundly misled in our subjective interpretation of an experience. One of the most profound: when you look around, it seems as though you're seeing things the whole time. You're not. The visual stream is effectively blanked during a saccade ...


7

[Sorry this is wall of text-y but the question is really hard and outside my area] One of the most pressing philosophical problems at the end of the 19th century was to explain how to reconcile the passivity of the senses with the activity of the mind. If our knowledge is going to be about the world, then somehow the world is going to have to ``push back'' ...


7

The basic response to this question (whether you listen to ancient philosophy, early/late modern philosophy, or pretty much anybody who's thought much about it) is that "you could always be missing something". Carneades: It's basically impossible to KNOW anything with certainty, because you can never know how much you don't know. But you have to live life, ...


6

You want me to prove to a sceptic that I am not dreaming? Depends how cooperative they are: Do you agree that a dream is a fictional experience; one where someone (how about we call them a dreamer) experiences the appearance of reality, but there is nothing but that experience? That no object operates under it's own internal logic, but is simply a surface ...


6

Edmund Husserl is one of the founders of phenomenology. Husserl has even studied mathematics, but afterwards switched to philosophy. Husserl has published Philosophy as Rigorous Science besides many essays like Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy with phenomenology already in the title. It is up to you, to decide ...


6

Phenomenology has a narrow meaning in contemporary philosophy as a style of philosophical inquiry originated by Husserl, and I do think that it is particularly congenial to a mathematician. Husserl worked as Weierstrass's assistant in his youth, and later personally knew and corresponded with Cantor, Hilbert, Courant, Minkowski, and other major ...


6

There is a kind of epistemological ‘duality’ to our thinking about consciousness. In 'The Puzzle of Conscious Experience', the philosopher David Chalmers describes the 'Easy Problem of Consciousness' as the question of how a cognitive agent is able to perceive things and be aware of things. This would also include awareness of self: self-awareness. This '...


6

"Being and Time is a long and complex book." We may say that Heidegger's aim in his work is to discover what is common (more fundamental) to various different questions (inquiries) about the existence of objects/entities: Does the table that I think I see before me exist? Does God exist? Does mind, conceived as an entity distinct from body, exist? All ...


5

from experience: the more control i have over my actions, the more toward the awake state i am (just because i 'know', or was fed the concept, that when awake, my world is reality). on the other hand, when i sleep, i have control of the world (with some training and not still at 100%) while my action just seem to 'flow' from somewhere, as i'm guided by ...


5

I absolutely love Kierkegaard's response to skepticism. To paraphrase, the problem is the abstract notion of certainty which doubt demands all be measured against. There is certainty that I'm not dreaming, but it's not like mathematical certainty or logical necessity... it's far more fleeting than that. The question "Could I be dreaming?" is a question ...


5

I don't think there is any "reasonable expectation" in principle, just a lot of arbitrary choices. Privacy-seeking is a non-rational behavior that provides certain advantages in various social situations. It can provide protection from disease, allow behavior that is individually beneficial but not desired by the alpha individual, and so on. If you ask ...


5

Well, as with almost everything in philosophy, it depends on the definition you use, in this case of "science". Meditation is open to falsification. If you do it and experience something that leads you to a hypothesis, I may do it and experience something that falsify your hypothesis. Notice that the fact that a phenomenological method is ontologically ...


5

Like many terms in continental philosophy, this one is a little elusive. Imagine you are on a spaceship looking down on earth. Now imagine a person standing at one point on the surface of the earth. That person's "horizon" will be all the thing things that she can see--the region that contains the horizon will be a circle so many miles in diameter. Note that ...


5

They don't; that is not all do; for example the natural philosophers; most, of whom are now called scientists, and in antiquity physilogoi took their sense on trust; if you are going to physics as Galileo or even as Einstein did - you'd better be able to trust your measurements. It was Descarte that popularised the view that one shouldn't trust one sense; ...


5

I recommend Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. About third way into the book he starts to deal more and more with phenomenology — he approaches the topic through our use of language and mixes in mathematics as well. He is considered one of the greatest philosophers (of the 20th century if not ever) and yet contemporary philosophers of mind seem ...


5

Absolutely not. Heidegger's "essence of Dasein" is really a misnomer to make a point, by stating that Dasein's essence is existence he upends the traditional use of "essence" as form, idea, the opposite of existence. Heidegger questioned that essences can be the kinds of universal invariants that Husserl wanted them to be, and therefore that his "eidetic ...


4

I think the methodology of consciousness studying is the same of cognitive science methodology. The difficulty in considering for example the theories of meditation in Hinduism or Buddhism as scientific theories of consciousness is the same difficulty that is in the origin of the scientific methodology of the double-blind trial: How to eliminate subjective, ...


4

Temperature may be a good example. If you give someone a metal bar and a book, which both have the same temperature, say 15°C, people will say the metal bar feels colder than the book. It's different from an optical illusion in the sense that there is a real, physical explanation, namely that (a) the temperature we feel is the temperature of our hand, not of ...


4

I think Shane aptly describes the concept on a basic level, so I'm just going to supplement that by trying to address how the concept is supposed to benefit us and the value it is supposed to add. Even though Gadamer is the big name for hermeneutics, "horizons" is a concept that we can trace back to at least Heidegger but perhaps further to Hegel and Kant. ...


4

The opening section of Being and Time tells us that being is not a concept, which means it will not admit of the same sort of definition that a concept like triangle might. Nonetheless, being is that on the basis of which beings are understood as such, that is, always and everywhere when we deal with beings in any way we necessarily approach them on the ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible