Doubt Everything

Wed, Feb 22

We've been considering trust (in traditions, in religions, in communities, in friends, in yourself) as a virtue. Today we'll consider whether it is also a vice. We'll look at a defense of skeptical philosophical inquiry, one introduced by Enlightenment philosopher Rene Descartes. Descartes thought that a scientific approach to life requires rooting out all of one's potential biases. But how far can this go? Are we biased toward believing we are awake and not dreaming? Biased toward believing 2+2=4? What's the role of doubt in the good life?

We have three main learning goals for this day. You will:

  1. Appreciate the distinction between "global" and "local" skepticism
  2. Understand Descartes' "method of doubt" and "cogito" argument
  3. Critically engage Descartes' dreaming argument for skepticism, and understand why he makes this argument.



Read This:

Prof. Blaschko's students should read this: Interactive Essay: Doubt Everything (Descartes)

Prof. Christy's students should read and annotate this same text via Perusall.


Do This:

Prof. Blaschko's students: Read and annotate the short "Application Article" on Perusall.

Prof. Christy's students: Read the short "Application Article" on Perusall.

All students: 

  • Make sure you've completed the "How We Argue" (ThinkerAnalytix) course up through lesson 8 by today's class.
  • After you've finished today's reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section's Canvas page.

Watch This: