On Friday I asked you to try to describe or explain the difference between 

a) seeing a star
b) feeling a pain

This provoked some discussion although most of it was not entirely what I’d hoped for!  
Remember that the bit of philosophy we are doing at the moment is ‘Epistemology‘. We are looking at the various things various philosophers have said about how we get knowledge and the status of that knowledge. In light of that we might begin to think some useful things about this question. 

The second part of the question (we didn’t get that far) should help us think some interesting things about the first part.

try to describe or explain the difference between: 

a) Seeing a star that you believe to be a hole in the floor of heaven.
b) Seeing a star that you believe to a ball of fire several million light years away.

Some thoughts/questions
  • Is it possible to make the same kind of mistake about the pain as we have about the star?
  • Would we expect the star to look the same even after our beliefs were updated? 
  • Would knowing that a pain was ‘simply’ the result of nerve fibres being stimulated make it ‘feel’ different? 
  • Is there anything different or privileged (superior) about the pain?

You won’t need to answer these questions in the exam, but thinking about them might help you to a better understanding of what epistemology is all about. 


On the other hand … just get on the with essay you haven’t finished yet!
(Rorty, P&MN, p.85)



Advertisements