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Philosophy Assignments 2

Question 1
Please answer a question from the list of reading questions (which is posted as a PDF). *Copy and paste the question you are answering* above your response.

Question 2
Please answer a second question from the list (but it has to be a question on a different reading/author than the first question you answered) Submit your second response here.


Week 2 Assignment

Part A. (3 points)
at least 3 of the following questions (but the three questions you answer must all
come from different readings, you can not choose more than one question from a given
). You should write a few sentences for each answer.

1. According to Plato, what are particulars (you can mention an example to help explain your
answer) and what do they indicate about the nature of reality (how does this lead Plato to
distinguish between particulars and universals)?
– They are all the objects in the sensory world, they are all the objects we experience
through our senses.
– We don’t sense or see abstract things, rather we are always sensing some object (we
see a particularly beautiful thing like a sunset, and then another particularly beautiful
thing like a painting, but we never see “beauty.”
– Many particulars share properties (for example there are many beautiful things or many
things that have the property beauty)
– Plato claims that if there are lots of particulars that can share a property, then that
property is what they have in common, it is what unites these particulars. And so there
must be something such as “Beauty” even though we never experience it through our
– So Plato draws a distinction between particular and universals: universals are the
properties that multiple particulars can have. Forms exist independently of particular
things, all particulars could be destroyed but Beauty wouldn’t be destroyed.
2. What is the relationship between the Forms and particulars, where do each exist (what realm
do they exist in)
? How are the Forms and particulars different?
! – particulars share or participate in the forms, but they exist independently from them.
– the from just is that property that it gives to particulars, participating in Beauty makes a
particular beautiful
– Forms give the particulars that take part or share in them the properties we sense in

– Forms are independent of particulars, so each form has its own essence (the form is
that essence) it remains as itself regardless of the particulars that participate in it.
– Forms reside outside of time or space, they exist in the “intellectual world”
– Particulars are in the sensible, or “visible world”
– the Forms are unchanging and permanent, and they are perfect
– particulars can change, they are imperfect, they can only exist dependent on a form
3. According to Plato, what is the Form of the Good, what role does it play (hint: explain how the
analogy between the Sun and the Form of the Good accounts for what the Form of the Good
– Plato introduces the analogy of the sun when he argues that philosophers must be
prepared to achieve the highest form of knowledge- which he calls the Form of the
– From The form of the Good that things derive their value. In order to fully account for
what the Form of the Good is he uses the analogy of the sun:
The Analogy of the Sun looks something like this:

The visible world The intelligible world (the Forms)
The sun The Form of the Good
The eye The mind (reason)
Sight Intelligence
To see To know
Light Truth
Growth The being (reality) of the Forms

– With the light of the sun our eyes are able to see (the eyes are empowered by the light
the sun causes- it helps to illuminate things, make them visible).
– THe Form of the Good is like the sun in the intelligible realm- we can only have
knowledge w/ the form of the Good. The Good gives objects of knowledge (other
Forms) their truth. The Good is not knowledge or intelligence itself- it is beyond or
superior to it.
– The good is not just one of the Forms- it unites the forms, all the forms take part in it.
The Good is superior to other forms, it is what gives the other forms unity and harmony.
It also serves as the standard from which everything gets its reality.
4. According to Plato, what are the two realms of reality? Describe these two worlds or realms
and account for their differences. What objects or sorts of thinks reside in either realm?
– two realms of reality are the sensible and the intelligible realm.
– the sensible we access through our senses
– the intelligible we access through our intellect
– You can only achieve knowledge in the intelligible realm, while in the sensible
realm we only have “Opinion” (which is divided up between belief and
imagination) both of which are lower epistemic states.
– in the sensible realm you have what Plato discuses are like shadows and reflectionsyou have unclear information that changes (is not fixed), and you come to believe
things in a second hand way (you may believe things are true when they are actually

an illusion). In this realm you maintain commonsense views of the physical world.
Because you access the world through your senses, you only have the somewhat
stable (but not fixed) notion of the physical world. You have not, and cannot attain
knowledge in this realm
5. Does Plato think that we can have knowledge of the things in both realms? Why or why not?
! – knowledge for Plato is made up of two divisions (reasoning and intelligence/
understanding). Reasoning relies on certain assumptions or images from the sensible realm (an
example is the knowledge you gain from geometry- you are always relying on doing geometry
with imperfect physical shapes). Understanding/intelligence does not require a reliance on the
physical world. It is a more pure form of knowledge- it is knowledge of the forms which doesnt
use any physical images. We get this knowledge through philosophical argument and
reasoning. You dont need any hypothesis with this higher form of knowledge, we understand
things as they truly are in and of themselves- it is ultimate clarity and have reached Truth (which
is something absolute, objective, and fixed).
6. According to Plato, can we acquire knowledge and if so, how can this knowledge be
acquired? Does Hume hold the same high standard of knowledge that Plato does (does he
agree with Plato)? Why or Why not?
Hume does not think (like Plato does) that through the mere operation of thought (through
reason alone) one can establish anything about what exists. According to Plato we can acquire
knowledge- we do it through reason alone. We come to understand first principles, and finally
arrive at a clarity about the world when we know the Forms, and most clearly the Form of the
Good. Plato has a high standard of knowledge- what we can know are things that are fixed,
absolute truths about reality. Hume does not suppose that we gain knowledge through reason
alone. He argues that we have no rational justification for certain things we claim to know (like
inferences in cases of cause and effect). For Hume, knowledge of matters are fact are what we
can directly experience.
What does Plato’s simile of the cave represent?
– the simile of the cave is a representation of knowledge and how we move from the sensible
realm to the intelligible realm. The cave represents the world of senses and the prisoners inside
the cave think they “know” things but they are just believing what has been told to them- they
have second hand information and they believe that the illusions or shadows on the wall are real
objects. You move on from this initial rudimentary stage to form more beliefs given your access
with the world outside the cave- which is reality. The objects outside of the cave represent the
Forms, looking at the reflections of these objects outside the cage is an image of what it is to
reason, and to finally look upon these objects by help from the sun (the form of the good) you
have full intelligence/understanding of the forms and reality as it is. Eventually the prisoner can
look upon the sun without any difficulty, but the process will be challenging. Finally, once one
has reached this level of understanding, the person with insight (the philosopher) would try to go
back into the cave but people won’t believe her.
8. According to Locke, what is the difference between Qualities and Ideas (what are qualities
and what are ideas)?

Idea – “whatever the mind perceives in itself, or is the immediate object of perception, thought,
or understanding.”
! sensations, perceptions
Quality of the Subject – “the power to produce any idea in our mind”
Ex. Snowball: has the power to produce in us the idea of white, cold, round. The powers that
produce in us those ideas are the qualities.
Qualities are inseparable from the bodies of objects: Solidity, extension, figure, and mobility.
9. For Locke, what is the difference between primary and secondary qualities (give examples),
how are these two types of qualities related, what do they produce in us?
Original/Primary Qualities: produce simple ideas – solidity extension, figure, motion, rest,
number – inseparable from object.
Secondary Qualities: not in the objects themselves. The powers to produce in us certain
sensations by virtue of their primary qualities.
We derive many of our ideas from secondary qualities of an object, but according to Locke,
do the objects contain these ideas?
Bodies ideas by impulse – the operation of insensible particles on the senses.
Sensible qualities are by mistake attributed to objects themselves. These powers depend on the
primary qualities
The ideas of primary qualities are resemblances of the object – their patterns really exist in the
bodies themselves.
The ideas of secondary qualities have no resemblance to the objects at all. There is nothing like
our ideas existing in the bodies
We derive our understanding many of our ideas of fire (hot) from the secondary qualities of the
object. But we cannot say that the objects themselves contain the idea of hot. This is absurd.
Bulk, number, figure, motion of the parts of fire are certainly included in the fire and thus are
Light, heat, whiteness, coldness are not really in the objects
According to Locke, how is human knowledge attained?
Locke maintains that individual substances have essences- primary qualities- which cause all
the object’s other qualities. Bit since we cannot observe these primary qualities in things we
cannot use them for understanding of underlying reality. So this means that Locke holds a view
about what is possible for knowledge that is very limited. Through observation and

experimentation we may get a reliable general picture about the appearance of the external
world but we cannot conceive of the true nature of reality.
– his definition of knowledge: it is a perception of the agreement/disagreement of ideas (essay
– so we know the truth of a proposition when we are aware of the relation between the ideas that
are connected bu it.
– we can have
intuitive knowledge (which is direct recognition of the relation between
ideas) (e.g. I know 4 is not the same as 8). It gives us certainty but it is rare.
– we can have
demonstrative knowledge: we get the relation or agreement/
disagreement of ideas indirectly through other ideas (e.g. If I know A is larger than B
and B is larger than C, I know demonstratively that A is larger than C)
– sensitive knowledge: the belief that our sensory ideas are caused by things that exist.
there is some real external cause outside us, and though we dont know what it is, we
know it produces an idea in us.
– so According to Lack’s limited view about knowledge: we can achieve genuine knowledge only
when we have clear ideas and can trace the connection between these ideas so we can see
whether there is an agreement or disagreement between these ideas. This is very rare.
– Our effort to gain genuine knowledge of the material world is troubled by our ignorance in
regards to substances- we have sensitive knowledge but that is about it. We dont have ideas
that are adequate of the real essence of a substance- so carful empirical observation can only
give us at best the SECONDARY qualities that make up our experience of the world.
– so the certainty of knowledge is hard for humans to obtain
– so according to Locke we ought to lower our expectations of what we can know- hence the
limited epistemological view he offers.
Brief Notes on: Personal Identity (to be covered in Week 9):
– Locke explains PI independent of identity of substance
– the idea of the person = that of a moral agent who is and can beheld responsible for their
– however- identity of some underling substance (soul?) is not necessary or sufficient for
personal identity.
– What is important for personal identity is that the person self-consciously takes actions to be of
ones own.
– this is a “forensic” notion of PI: Iff I remember having committed some act I can thus be
punished or held responsible for it. fIf I regard myself in the future can I be held accountable
and that influences my decisions on how to act now.
12. According to Hume, what is the difference between Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact
(what object in human inquiry fit within either class)

Relations of Ideas – Geometry, algebra, arithmetic, studies where every
affirmation is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. Discoverable by the mere
operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe.
! Matters of Fact – the contrary of every matter of fact is still possible because it can

never imply a contradiction. Demonstratively false things imply a contradiction.
13.According to Hume, are we warranted in making judgements about cause an effect; can we
know the nature of the relationship between two events by observing these events? Are we
correct when to say that one event caused another simply by observing that two events occur

together? Why or why not? Do we have reasons to suppose that objects are necessarily
Knowledge of cause and effect is not ascertained a priori but arises a posteriori.
1. Metaphysicists, when confronted constantly with conjunctions of events, believe that
there is a connection there that may be known by reason alone.
2. Our apprehension of the relationship between two events is entirely arbitrary. Thus,
the relationship between objects is entirely arbitrary.
3. Every effect is distinct from its cause.
*It is thus vain to suppose that we could find cause and effect through reason.
“These ultimate springs and principles are totally shut up from human curiosity and enquiry”
14. According to Hume, what can we have knowledge of?
Hume is an empiricist- knowledge is gained through the senses. Hume does not think (like
Plato does) that through the mere operation of thought (through reason alone) one can establish
anything about what exists. Hume argues that we cannot deduce effects from experiencing a
cause or visa versa. (just because we experience the sun coming up tomorrow does not mean
we can know for certain that it will rise again). According to Hume, we cannot deduce that the
world beyond how we sense/experience it is how we experience it. Hume gives an example of
two billiard balls hitting each other. We know from observing it in the past that one ball hitting the
other ball will cause it to move. But on what basis can we think that the future will resemble the
past? In order to make this inference we would have to rely on the principle “the future always
resembles the past” but this principle itself is just like the example of the billiard ball. So our
belief that the future will resemble the past is not based on reason, the inference is not based on
reasoning. Instead, when we perceive a cause (the ball hitting another ball) we believe that the
second ball will move. We draw this inference without any reasoning- we form the belief on the
basis of an association our imagination has made between two ideas (cause and effect).
According to this picture- the mind passes from the impression of an object to the idea to the
belief of another object. It is note determined by reason (it is determined by certain principles
which associate together certain impressions of objects and they are united in the imagination).
According to Quine, when do we commit ourselves to an ontology (an explanation of
Similar to the acceptance of a scientific theory – we adopt the simplist conceptual scheme into
which the disordered fragments of raw experience can be fitted and arranged. We have a
complete ontology when we have fixed upon the over-all conceptual scheme which is to
accommodate science in the broadest sense. We commit ourselves to an ontology when we
make claims
there is something which red houses and sunsets have in common. This is the
only way we commit to an ontology.
– As Russell pointed out, the surface grammar of our sentences often appears to commit us to
the existence of things that do not appear to exist. However, further examination of the
implications of our utterances shows that we are not necessarily committed to the existence of
such entities.
– Quine Distinguishes between the question of the ontological commitments of a theory and the
question of “what there is.”

16. Quine discusses the problem of “nonbeing.” What is this?
McX’s Proposal: Non Existent Things are Ideas
– McX cannot convince himself that in any place of space-time there is a flying horse
– if he has to give further details on Pegasus (a flying horse) then he says that Pegasus is an
idea in people’s minds.
– when we talk about real things we see a difference between talking about those things and
talking about the ideas of those things
– when we talk about the idea of a chair, we are saying things about chair-ideas, we are not
saying things about chairs.
For Quine: Nonexistent objects are NOT ideas like McX claims (THE Problem of NonBeing)
– Quine says that he can concede (for the sake of argument) that there is some entity which is
the (mental) Pegasus-idea
– BUT this mental entity is NOT what people are talking about when they say “Pegasus doesn’t
– McX doesnt confuse a building that exists (the Parthenon) with the idea of a building (the
Parthenon-idea). But the minute professor McX starts to talk about things that
don’t exist, he
confuses these two things.
– When we deal with weird things, like mythological creatures, numbers, properties (or anything
that is not an ordinary physical object) saying that those things are “mental things because
they are not physical things” doesnt help us at all.
– e.g. Saying “God is an idea” or “Pegasus is an idea” or “Unicorns are an idea” is just
saying that “people have an idea of God or Pegasus, but they don’t exist.”
– However: this still leaves us with the original question: What is it to say that God
or Pegasus doesn’t exist (what does this mean? what are we doing when we
say this?)
– Consider the question: “Are there unicorns? Is there Pegasus? Is there God?”
– * IF we are saying that Unicorn-ideas or Pegasus-ideas or God-ideas, then the answer
to such questions are “Of course, yes! We have a unicorn-idea right now)
– There ARE unicorn-ideas: we are not asking whether unicorn-ideas are physical
– We are asking whether there are unicorns, and if there are, where are they.
The problem addressed in this article:
– We seem to attribute “non-existence” (non-being) as a property to certain things
– e.g. “Pegasus does not exist”
– When you say something like “Pegasus doesn’t exist” you DONT mean to say that “Pegasus
– The problem posed by McX: when you say “Pegasus doesn’t exist” you are really saying:
“Pegasus has the property of non-existence.”
– If Pegasus has a property has a property of “non-existence” this is similar to saying “pegasus
is white”
– In the case of the claim “Pegasus is white” Pegasus would have to exist in order to have that
property whiteness (or to have any other property)

– So now it looks like in the case of the claim “Pegasus has the property non-existence” that
Pegasus really has to exist in order to have a property attributed to him.
*Quine’s response: When we say “X does not exist” we aren’t intending to say that “X actually
exists at all” that is the thing we are denying! So it is a bad consequence is that we have to
assert the existence of X or Pegasus. Something has gone wrong. So Quine wants to say how
did we get here? How do we go wrong?
17.According to Quine, by using the name “Pegasus,” must we be referring to some
metaphysical entity? What do we gain by rephrasing the word “Pegasus” as a description,
and how does this resolve the problem of nonbeing?
– Argues that Pegasus is not an idea in the mind of humans (no more than the Parthenon is not
an idea in the mind of humans) since this is not what people are denying when they deny
existence to Pegasus.
– Quine argues that sentences with non-referring terms (such as Pegasus) do not commit us to
an ontology inflated by non-being. Russell has shown that descriptions do not name entities in
the world and thus the phrase ‘Pegasus exists’ does not commit us to the existence of a real
horse that can fly. Instead, any sentence containing that phrase is an existential statement.
Thus the statement “Pegasus does not exist” is meaningful and true and “Pegasus exists” is
meaningful and false. Nor do statements with names commit us to the existence of what they
name. For names can be shown to be descriptions, and descriptions do not pick out things in
the world.
– Argues that Pegasus is not an idea in the mind of humans (no more than the Parthenon is not
an idea in the mind of humans) since this is not what people are denying when they deny
existence to Pegasus.
18. According to Quine, how is our acceptance of an ontology similar to our acceptance of a
scientific theory?
– Quine Distinguishes between the question of the ontological commitments of a theory and the
question of “what there is.”
– Our acceptance of an ontology is similar in principle to the acceptance of a scientific theorye.g. a system of physics:
– we adopt, if we are reasonable, the simplest conceptual scheme into which the
disordered fragments of raw experience can be fitted and arranged.
– Our ontology is determined once we have fixed upon the over-all conceptual scheme
which is to accommodate science in the broadest sense;
– and the considerations which determine a reasonable construction of any part of that
conceptual scheme, e.g. the biological or the physical part, are not different in kind
from the considerations which determine a reasonable construction of the whole.
– To whatever extent the adoption of any system of scientific theory may be said
to be a matter of language, the same—but no more–may be said of the adoption
of an ontology. (328)

Part B. (3 Points)
According to Plato, which of the following is most real?
a. Mathematical Objects
b. The Forms
c. Objects
d. Shadows
Ontology is the study of…
a. Words
b. How things exist
c. What things exist.
d. Knowledge
With which of the following statements would John Locke agree?
a. Primary qualities inhere within objects
b. none of our ideas of objects resemble the objects they represent
c. Secondary properties inhere within objects
d. All we know we know solely through the understanding.

Last Updated on January 22, 2018

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