An Introduction to Philosophy

By James H. Ryan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE

In our investigations of the problems of philosophy, we have confined our attention so far to, what might be called, the external aspects of reality. Reality also presents an inner side which, on reflection, bristles with problems as numerous and as truly fundamental as those which we have attempted to solve. We have thought about the world as one or many, as material or spiritual, as mechanical or teleological, but we have assumed always that there is a world external to our minds. It is necessary, now, to examine critically this assumption, and to ask ourselves whether we are justified in supposing that a world really distinct from ourselves exists.

To the man in the street, the question as to the extra-mental reality of the world is received with questioning surprise. For him it approaches the absurd to doubt about the reality of the universe, since he has always believed that he is surrounded by material things, and feels that he can directly perceive them. But is this belief well grounded? A thorough examination of the act of knowing, together with the factors which influence it, causes doubts as to the validity of our knowledge.

If we know the world at all, we must know it with and by our minds. Now, all knowledge begins with perception, but perception carries with it no definite guaranties of its own accuracy. Our senses deceive us often. Not only do we see things which do not exist, as in illusions, dreams, etc.,

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An Introduction to Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Chapter I - Philosophy, Its Meaning, Scope, And Methods 1
  • References 23
  • Chapter II - The Problem of the One and the Many 25
  • References 53
  • Chapter III - The Problem of the Nature of Reality 54
  • References 72
  • Chapter IV - The Psycho-Physical Problem 74
  • References 108
  • Chapter V - The Problem of Life 109
  • References 143
  • Chapter VI - The Problem of Knowledge 144
  • References 201
  • Chapter VII - The Problem of the Nature and Criteria Of Truth 203
  • References 242
  • Chapter VIII - The Problem of Freedom 243
  • References 272
  • Chapter IX - The Problem of Morality 273
  • References 303
  • Chapter X - The Problem of the Self 304
  • References 340
  • Chapter XI - Philosophy, Science, and Religion 341
  • References 392
  • Index 395
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