How Is Certainty Possible?

Topics: Epistemology, Empiricism, Skepticism Pages: 3 (1089 words) Published: November 29, 2005
How Is Certainty Possible?

Certainty is defined as being free of doubt. In philosophy is there such a thing that we know without any doubt? Do we know anything with absolute certainty? Although we may believe to have genuine knowledge in some cases, there are other cases in which we do not know, but only think we know. Now therein lies the problem, how do we distinguish what is absolutely certain and what is not? This is why the idea of knowledge and certainty is so important. Both empiricists and rationalists have attempted to determine this. When you know something you not only have an opinion, but that opinion is true. Now how do we distinguish which opinions are true. We can't just say because we believe something, it is true. Although everything we know is also believed, not everything we believe is known. A person can believe something is true but in fact he can be wrong about it. Take a weather man for example he can believe that it will rain or not rain tomorrow and then in fact be wrong. However, if he were to say that its either going to rain or not rain tomorrow, he wouldn't be wrong. There is no way he can be proven wrong. However we learn nothing from this. This is why it is so difficult to determine what is certain in the world. In fact many philosophers believe we cannot say anything is certain in the world. So what can we know with absolute certainty? Perhaps only that I exist, and some mathematical, logical self evident truths. Then came Descartes, who like many others, tried to apply mathematics to philosophy in order to find certainty. In order to disprove skepticism, Descartes decided to use skepticism. He would out-doubt skeptics by doubting everything he had ever believed until he arrived at something that could not be doubted. While doubting everything he believed he also found a way to doubt the empiricists' view, the view that knowledge comes from the senses. His first reason for doubt is the common experience of being deceived...
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