WESTERN MULTIDISCIPLINARY CAMPUS
RESEARCH METHODS AND TECHNIQUES IN ENGLISH
UNIT 1 Introduction to theory of knowledge
Review of class two:
Aristotle criticized Plato because he separated the idea or substance from the particular object.
However Aristotle states that the particular object contains the substance. One cannot talk about beautywithout talking about the beautiful object. One cannot talk about evil without talking about a bad person. According to Aristotle’s philosophy of science true knowledge can start in what is perceived. So it is understood that reality is composed of matter and substance. The difference is that the matter moves (changes). And it also has a final goal.
Aristotle tried to explain why a particular objectchanges. At the beginning he talks about four causes: the material cause, the pattern, model, or structure; the formal cause of a human is "human-shaped"), the efficient cause: the means or agency by which a thing comes into existence (a potter is the efficient cause of a bowl); and the final cause: the goal or purpose.
René Descartes (1595- 1650)
As he was fired from the Sorbonne he devotedhis life to study Aristotle. He was a scientist and a philosopher. To explain what scientific knowledge is he begins criticizing Aristotle. Descartes says that Aristotle didn’t find anything new. Aristotle’s reasoning is syllogistic: from the universal object (substance), he derives a particular object. For example men are mortal. Juan is a man; therefore, Juan is mortal. This kind of reasoningdoesn’t provide any new knowledge, says Descartes. According to him knowledge is constructed by each subject by means of his thoughts. Eg. I construct my own knowledge in my thinking. I think, therefore, I am. Which thing exists? I’m sure that I exist because I think. When I say this is a cat, I am constructing the cat. I think of the cat, although I am not seeing the cat. However I have todemonstrate that this object exists. If I fail in demonstrating its existence, then that object doesn’t exist. He agrees with Plato and Aristotle that there is knowledge outside the subject. However, says Descartes, that knowledge must be proved or demonstrated because our senses can distort the reality. He says: everybody believes in god. But we have to prove that god exists. But the proof of theexistence of god exceeds our capacity of invention, of conceptualize and as it outside that capacity, therefore God exists.
Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine, Indre-et-Loire, France. When he was one year old, his mother Jeanne Brochard died of tuberculosis. His father Joachim was a judge in the High Court of Justice. At the age of eleven, he entered the Jesuit CollègeRoyal Henry-Le-Grand at La Flèche. After graduation, he studied at the University of Poitiers, earning a Baccalauréat and License in law in 1616, in accordance with his father's wishes that he should become a lawyer.
Descartes never actually practiced law, however, and in 1618 he entered the service of Maurice of Nassau, leader of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. His intention was to seethe world and to discover the truth.
“I entirely abandoned the study of letters. Resolving to seek no knowledge other than that which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortuneoffered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive some profit from it.” (Descartes, Discourse on the Method)
On November 10, 1618, while walking through Breda, Descartes met Isaac Beeckman, who sparked his interest in mathematics and the new physics, particularly the problem of the fall of heavy bodies. On November 10, 1619, while traveling in Germany and thinking...