Descartes’ vs. Hospers Knowledge is an acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study of investigation and a familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning. (3) Many philosophers have different perspectives of knowledge. Descartes’ believes that the only thing absolutely known is that you exist because you think. However, Hospers believes that there are different forms of knowing that must be proven with evidence. Descartes’ believes that you can doubt anything that exists because it’s either a misconception or seen as an illusion.
He suggests that if he is able to find in each one some reason to doubt, that it will suffice to justify rejecting it as a whole. The main reason for Descartes’ doubt in everything is that his senses have deceived him in the past. He states that “I have accepted as most true and certain I have learned either from the senses or through the senses; but it is sometimes proved to me that these senses are deceptive. ” (1) When you smell something sweet you probably think it is going to taste sweet as well. However, if you taste it and it’s not sweet, your senses have deceived you.
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This is only one example of how your senses can deceive you; Descartes’ however, believes since his senses have failed him once that he’ll always have to doubt them. Also, Descartes’ believes that dreams are just false delusions because occasionally, in sleep he is deceived by the illusions in his dreams and there are no indications that he can clearly distinguish when he is awake or asleep. Descartes’ allows himself to be deceived by everything and there is nothing that he previously believed to be true, that he doesn’t somewhat doubt.
Descartes’ main point of knowledge is that he is thinking, therefore he exits. He states that, “I am, I exist, is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it or that I mentally conceive it. ” (1) He believes that when you think, it doesn’t use any senses, hence, thinking is the only thing you can never doubt. He finds that thought is an attribute that belongs to him and can never be separated from himself. “I am, I exist, that is certain…a thing which thinks. ” (1) Descartes’ then explains that a thing which thinks also doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, imagines, and feels.
Overall, Descartes’ believes senses deceive us and the only known thing that he can’t doubt are his thoughts and that he thinks therefore, he exists. Hospers however, believes otherwise. Hospers objects Descartes’ argument because he believes that there are different forms of knowing that must be proven with evidence. First, he states that there must be three conditions fulfilled to call it knowledge: I believed it, I had good grounds on which to base the belief, and the belief was true. Hospers uses the example that you know your bookshelf is in your room because you just pulled a book from the shelf a few minutes ago.
Even though you had left the room you “believed with good reason that it was still there. ” (2) However, if you walked back into the room and the bookcase was gone you wouldn’t have been able to say that you “know” it is in the room. Hospers would explain that this form is a weak sense of knowing. He states that to know in the weak sense is to “know a proposition when I believe it, have a good reason for believing it, and it is true. ” (2) Using know in the strong sense would be “that in order to know a proposition, it must be true, I must believe it, and I must have absolutely conclusive evidence in favor of it. (2) Hospers argues that if you are skeptical at all of knowing something or have any doubts, even to the smallest degree; you have a weak sense of knowing. To have a strong sense of knowing you must have perfect justification. Also, if you are thinking in the terms of probability then you are knowing with the weak sense and knowing something is absolutely certain is to know in the strong sense. All in all, Hospers believes that there are two types of knowing. Knowing in a weak sense (with doubts) and knowing in a strong sense (certain).
I agree more with Hospers argument of strong and weak knowing. An example of a weak sense of knowing would be stating that you “know” your car is in the parking lot outside. You parked it there this morning so it should be there. However, if it was stolen while you were inside then your car would no longer be there. Hence, you know it in the weak sense because you are not certain. If someone calls and asks if there is a table in your room and at that very moment you are sitting on the table, you know that there for sure is a table in your room. It won’t magically disappear under you; so herefore, you know it in the strong sense that there is a table in the room. If you are using know in the strong sense then there should be no doubt whatsoever. Everyone will doubt a situation until they are certain. If the ceiling is leaking it is probable that it is raining outside and there is a hole in the roof, however, there is still some doubt until you know for sure if it is a hole that is causing the leak. Once you go upstairs and find a hole that is causing the leak, you will have no more doubt and know for certain that the reason the ceiling is leaking is because of a hole in the roof.
In our world today we state that we “know” many things, however, most of the time we aren’t completely certain. When I know something and I am apprehending it clearly and with certainty (I can touch the object) I am using the strong sense of knowing. I don’t think anyone should go as much in-depth into knowledge as Descartes’ did. He is challenging all philosophers and scientist the world has ever known. No one should care that much to doubt everything in the universe and to wonder if it’s just all an illusion and nothing in this world is real.
That is why I agree with Hospers description of doubt and the groundwork it sets for knowledge. Descartes’ believes that “I think, therefore I am,” (1) meaning that he knows he exists because he has the ability to think and his thoughts have never doubted him. However, he also believes that he will never trust his senses because they have deceived him before. Hospers believes that there are different forms of knowing that must be proven with evidence. The different factors of knowing are to know with a strong sense and to know with a weak sense.
Most knowing is in the weak sense because it is not absolutely certain. I agree more with Hospers argument of strong and weak knowing because there are times of knowing that are certain and times of knowing that are probable, which would fit into the two classifications. It is not rational to always doubt your senses because they have deceived you before, which is one of Descartes’ arguments. In the end, knowledge will always be an acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study of investigations. (3)