Philosophy

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t is plugged into the brain. The brain then processes these impulses where they are transformed into an image in our mind. What our minds experience is an image of the outside world similar to how a television projects an image captured by a television camera. In Putnam’s thought experiment, you imagine that your brain has been severed from the nerves connecting it to your senses (eyes, ears, nose, etc.) and has been removed from you skull and placed in a vat filled with the nutritional fluid necessary to keep your brain alive and functioning. Electrical wires have been spliced into your sensory nerves that are connected to the sensory inputs in your brains. The other ends of these wires are connected to the outputs of a giant super computer. A man sits at the keyboard of this super computer inputting data. This data is transformed into electrical/neural impulses that travel through the spliced wire/sensory nerves and into your brain. The brain processes this information as if it were from your senses. Hence, you have whatever image the man at the keyboard wants you to have. Suppose he inputs data that you are sitting in a café in France drinking an espresso. He includes all the usual sensory data, including the smell and taste of the coffee, the hardness of the chair and table, the cool breeze blowing by, the sounds of the traffic, and the view of the Eiffel tower. You experience all of this exactly as if you are really there. In such a situation, you would have no idea that you (or at least your brain) are actually sitting in some vat in some laboratory. In 1999, Putnam’s thought experiment became the basis of a megahit movie, The Matrix. However, Putnam was not the first to suggest that there may be a problem with perceiving and knowing reality. A number of philosophers have wrestled with this problem. This brings us to your assignment. In Module/Week 5’s Reading & Study folder there are 3 short readings. Your assignment is to read them and then write an...
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