Lesson 1: Assignments

Required Reading

Chapters 1-3 in "The Science Before Science"

Written Assignment

What is infra-scientific knowledge?

What is proper knowledge?

Describe what evidence you personally have that the earth moves around the sun and then catalog what is open to doubt about your belief that the earth is round, relative to your sharp proper knowledge of things like the paper in front of you right now.

Give one further example of a "commonly known" scientific fact that is not, in fact known at all in the proper sense of the word, but unrecognized (blind) faith based on authority to some large degree for most.

Give an experiment/reasoning that you could do to help bring the given instance of improper knowledge closer to or into the realm of proper knowledge. Note the experiment does not have to be one you personally could do, but must be possible in principle.

How can I be both 1028 atoms and one thing?

Which comes first, in the sense of requiring no trust or use of probable reasoning, our knowledge of ourselves or that of the atom? Explain.

Give another paradox that seems to imply the radical untrustablity of the senses. Unwind the paradox and explain why the senses in the end arbitrate its truth.

Comment on the statement "I believe that it is possible to understand" or said another way, "I believe that I may understand." In particular, why is it so important to inculturate this understanding despite the fact that we know that we know.

I read the following autobiographical account by a woman on the Web. In the days before color television, she saw the Fechner's Disk displayed on captain Kangaroo. She was only a child at the time, and she rushed to tell her mother. Here mother would not believe her no matter how she pleaded the truth of her story. Effectively no one believed her because, they told her, it is impossible that she could have seen color on the black and white TV's. As a result of this childhood experience, she became a subjectivist believing all is one's opinion. What went wrong with her thinking and those around her? Catalog the mistakes in thinking involved here.

One of M.C. Escher's paintings shows stairs that at one moment appear to start from level A and descend to what appears to be a lower level B and, the next moment the stairs appear to start from the same level A and climb to a higher level B. Does this prove something can be simultaneously higher and lower than something else? Explain.

Define form and matter. Give examples of standard English uses of the words form and matter and words derived from them. Identify where the usages correspond with and where they diverge from the technical usage of philosophy.

Define potentiality, act and material change.

State the principle of contradiction, also known as the principle of identity.

Locate a physics book or encyclopedia that discusses the constituents of electrons and nuclei; what are those constituents if any? You will find that nuclei are composed of protons and neutrons, which are in turn composed of quarks, it would seem that they, like the electron, are (empiriometrically) points. Is a nucleus mostly nothing? Why or why not?

Give an example of sensorial knowledge.

What is the imagination? What are phantasms?

Why should we be careful of leaning on the imagination too much in philosophy?

What is the difference between material and immaterial "change"? Note that change in this latter sense is an extended meaning of a word often reserved for material change only.


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