1. Chapter 10 discusses idealism, the claim that nothing exists but our minds and their ideas. Many people find this a difficult theory to grasp, let alone accept. Watch the video below about idealism; it succinctly explains the theory as well as objections to it. Then, explain your understanding of idealism and your response to it. Do you accept idealism? Why or why not? If you don’t accept it, how do you refute it?
George Berkley’s Idealism. YouTube video file. [8:58]. Philosophy Vibe.. 2016, April 24. youtu.be/v-lDlxVQy4c
2. The film The Matrix is in large part based on Descartes’ Meditations, specifically the Evil Genius argument, and Plato’s allegory of the cave (video below). In The Matrix, one character, Cypher, wants to return to the matrix (a computer simulated reality), knowing full well that nothing he experiences there will be ‘real’ (see Agent Smith and Cypher video below). In thinking of how you value your experiences, specifically, what you value about them, is one criterion for assigning value related to whether or not an experience is real? Does it matter to you if something ‘really’ happened? Or, if you experience it as real, is that all that matters? If, at the end of your life, you were to find out that all of it had been a computer simulation, would that change the way you value the ‘experiences’ you had? Explain why or why not.
The Cave: An Adaption of Plato’s Allegory in Clay. YouTube video file. [3:10]. bullheadent. 2008, April 18. youtu.be/69F7GhASOdM
Agent Smith and Cypher. YouTube Video file. [1:11]. pumasheen. 2006, Dec 12. youtu.be/Z7BuQFUhsRM
3. State your understanding of Descartes’ dream argument and his Evil Demon/Genius argument. Exactly how do you know that you are not dreaming right now? Given the strength of the Evil Demon argument, how do you think one can escape the skepticism it seems to entail? What do you think we can know with absolute certainty? Defend your response with reasons and examples.