Philosophy bro

Critically assess the view that we can come to gain knowledge through rational intuition and deduction

Critically assess the view that we can come to gain knowledge through rational intuition and deduction

Intuition: immediately self evident eg a triangle has three sides and we dont have to think about it

Deduction: need to be worked out as its not self evident

Empiricists believe that…

We need sense experience and reflection to gain knowledge.

Rationalists believe that…

We do not need prior experience to gain knowledge eg. Decartes Cogito theory (evil deceiver) : a priori intuition, “certainty”, abscence of doubt

Illusion argument - because our senses decieve us eg. halluciations, imaginging water in the middle of the desert, we should we should not trust on sense alone

Dreaming - we dream of an external world therefore we know that we exist

Evil Deceiver - how do we know that we are not being completely deceived?

Through the illusion argument he claims the most extreme doubts of our existence (illusion, dreaming, evil deceiver) proves that we exists - we must exist in order to exist

"I think therefore I am"

Humes response to Cogito - EMPIRICIST

Introspect - we ony see perspectives NOT ourselves so we may not exist

When Hume deny’s “self” He uses the term “I” which is acknowledging himslef that he exists                                                                      

Assess the view that claims about what exists can be grounded and justified by a prior intuition:

A priori referes to believing that something is either true or false, without experience. For example, it is possible to know that a plane can fly without seeing a plane or being on one. Intuition is something you know immediatley, such as a triangle has three sides. By using these intuitions as a foundation, we can use deduction to demostrate or prove further a priori thruths about what other things must exist and what they must be like. 

Decartes basically says that he can doubt everything, but he cannot doubt his own existence. He is certain of this, however there are three waves of doubt.

The illusion argument outlines that to know that the real world is like, he needs to be sure that he is not being decieved by his sense.

Origins of God - Swinburne

Critically discuss the idea that the idea of ‘God’ can be explained by mundane social and psychological processes.


Projection is the key to all sociological and psychological explanations of the origins of the idea of God. However, the projection involved is taken to be unconscious, we don’t realise that we are invented the idea of God. The idea is that human beings create the idea of God as a reflection of their fears, their childhood experiences or to fulfil some kind of social role.

First evaluation point

The problem with each of these statements is that there are many fairly obvious counter examples, for example… Durkheim says that God was created in order to make social solidarity, helping to produce a general consensus. However, it could be said that religion could divide people, not cause solidarity. On the other hand, Hume says that religion is a result of humans projecting their fears into natural occurrences, however, it is arguable that there would be no reason for god to be transcendent as theists see god. This is because it wouldn’t make sense to make god a projection of us if he isn’t going to be in time with us.

Moreover, the idea of God in the theistic tradition seems to contain elements, such as transcendence, that, it could be argued, are not necessary if all we are doing is projecting a God based on fear or as a projection of a father figure.

I think that even though the sociological reasons are more relevant today than the psychological reasons, the psychological explanations from Hume are the most appropriate in coming up with the origins of God as people hundreds of years ago were superstitious and so wanted explanations for natural events.

Second evaluation point

It can also be argued that the concept of God may be a social or psychological construct; however, this doesn’t mean that the idea of God is just a human construction. Clack says that even if religion was developed by humans, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. This is explained further by John Hick who responds to criticises Freud’s criticisms. While Frued says that God is a projection of people’s views of their fathers, Hick states that as people see children as dependent and as being loved, they can see that that is what their relationship to God is like. Therefore, God indirectly make people think of god as a father as he creates the same relationship between humans which they then find similarities in. However, if someone has grown up without a father figure, how can they know exactly know what the father- child relationship is like.

Third evaluation point

It has been argued by theistic philosophers like Richard Swinburne that psychological and sociological accounts of the origins of God fail to take account of the origins of knowledge of God in genuine experience of God. He thinks that there is a principle of credibility. This means that we should believe that things are real unless we have evidence that they are mistaken. There is also the principle of testimony which is the thought that it’s reasonable to believe what someone tells you unless there is evidence otherwise. Unless someone is a known liar or was on hallucinogenic drugs, we shouldn’t not trust someone. Other people may feel that whereas all normal people are able to perceive objects, and to perceive them in much the same way, religious experiences only happen to certain people, which are normally religious people.. Swinburne on the other hand argues that as non-religious people don’t have expectations or knowledge of god, therefore they wouldn’t know if they had a religious experience.

Can empiricist explain abstract concepts?

ABSTRACT CONCEPTS = green - means something different to everyone, triangle - different types, mammal - no distinct picture of mammal


Locke - you use features of seperate concepts, which you have experienced, and put them together to form an abstract concept


Berkeley - all concepts must copy experience, to be able to picture them is very important. Abstract concepts are inexperiable, not even in theory or empiricists can explaon. eg human, colour.

Conclusions of Objections…

Objection 1;

Objection 1 is basically saying that God puts the “idea of God” in our subconscious minds as part as our human nature, so we would come up with the idea of God on our own, but not really because we would have been told by God to think of a God.

However, if this was true, where does free will come into the equation, if God told us to think up a “God” then surely he would be taking away our free will to believe in him in the first place.

Out of all the theories, the most probable seem to be Durkheim and Marx, as their theories can be actively applied to society, whereas the psychological theories; Frued Hume and Feuerbach, can never truly be proved as it is just an onbervation of the mind.

Evaluating the Ontological Argument

Kant criticised the ontological argument, he says that existence is not a predicate. We can imagine something which is the same as the existing thing, however, the predicate that it exists is not a predicate at all. This means that God may or may not exist. This can also be applied to the Loch Ness monster - it has many predicates including green in colour, under water features, scales etc, but the idea that it exists is not a predicate.

Problem of Evil

If God was all powerful, all knowing and all loving, why does he allow evil?