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Core Theme: What is a human being? by Mind Map: Core Theme: What is a human being?
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Core Theme: What is a human being?


Epistemology (from Greek επιστήμη - episteme, "knowledge" + λόγος, "logos") or theory of knowledge is a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge.


Reaction from Church against the rise of science in the age enlightenment.

Sceptics makes the distinction between practical certainty and metaphysical certainty., Practical certainty, Certainty gained from confidence., E.g. "I am certain that it will hurt if I fall", Many arguments against Skepticism uses practical certainty as the main argument., But this completely misses the point., Your confidence for a knowledge claim might be there, even though your interpretation of the knowledge might be completely wrong., E.g. When Einstein introduced new way to explain attraction between masses., Metaphysical certainty, Certainty of confidence - is confidence fully justified?, Makes distinction between accurate and precise knowledge claims.

Rationalism, Plato, Knowledge came first through 'world of ideas'., Descartes, 'I think, therefore I am' - reaction against Scepticism, Took skeptical perspective to reach to his conclusion., However difficulty comes from affirming anything else about reality., You may be able to affirm your consciousness but it is hard to talk about objects in the external world without falling victim to scepticism, Idealists and realists tries to dig out of the hole dug by the sceptists.

Empiricalism, Aristotle, Knowledge came first through senses, So called 'forms' is in fact just your own innate reasoning organizing objects into certain categories, Realism, Direct Realism, Common sense or "naive realism", Sensory perception is the way the world really is, Direct access to "reality" through sense perception, Counter Arguments, Common sense not necessarily true as observed in the Copernicus revolution, relativity., Hallucinations, illusions, dreams, Possible to see things that no longer exists e.g. stars, We realize that what we perceive is not reality external to us but something "within us"., Relativity says what we perceive depends on our perspective of the situation (e.g. are we moving? are we stationary?), When we look at an object, we all witness the object at different times as light travels at a fixed speed., If it is possible to perceive something that doesn't exist (e.g. star), then we must conclude that sense perception is external to reality., Representative Realism, Locke's Realism, Primary Qualities, Space, shape, quantity, motion, Quantitative, Can't be confused, pertains to reason e.g. Triangle is a triangle, impossible to be a square., What exists independently of us, Secondary Qualities, Subjective, Color, taste, smell, touch, What we perceive, To a certain extent there is a resemblance between secondary and primary qualities, Primary qualities can be inferred by secondary qualities, Counter Arguments, 'Veil of perception', We only know what we perceive so impossible to know of external qualities, Primary qualities of another dimension, impossible to be proven, Not in direct contact with external reality (primary qualities) so difficult to prove it exists, Leads to the trap of scepticism, Berkeley's Idealism, Proponents of representative realism are susceptible to false metaphysical speculation., Idealism, Berkeley's Idealism, Reaction against Locke's Realism, Accepts the fact that we cannot know of the world that is other than our senses, So questions why there is a need to define an external reality, 'External reality' is philosophical speculation, Absolutely no justification of an 'external reality' if true empiricist view is reestablished, Wholly relies on sensory perception to know, Thus objects are mind dependent, they are perceived, Things only exist when perceived by the mind, 'To be is to be perceived', Surroundings that are not perceived are perceived by an all-pervading being known as 'God'., This ensures regularity in the world, Counter Arguements, Berkeley is jumping to conclusions to say there is a God that perceives everything, Argument only seems added on as a last ditch attempt to explain the absurdity expressed by other arguments., Falls downs his own trap of metaphysical speculation as God cannot be perceieved, no justification, Phenomenalism, Ideas of John Stuart Mill, Wholly relies on sensory perception as constructed by the mind, Take's Berkeley's idea further, Berkeley identified the problem that metaphysical speculation about external reality to explain sensations abandons true empricism., However Berkeley fell to his own trap in putting forward the notion of God., Phenomenalism avoids the problem of external material objects completely., One may ask whether this just goes back to the same problems faced by direct realism., How can you tell the difference between illusions and actual sense-perception?, In illusions, initial perceptions would not cohere with auxiliary perceptions., I would not be able to confirm my initial perceptions of a tree by going up to it, feeling it, smelling it etc., Actual sense-perception can be affirmed through the coherence of auxiliary perceptions., Not the same as direct realism - phenomenalism does not put foward any notion of an external world. It is completely mind dependant., Criticisms, What explains all this coherence in the four senses?, Only way to explain this is through metaphysical speculation., Representative realism avoids this problem but at the cost of speculating, by saying that objects exist in a point in space., How do I take seriously the opinion of other beings if they are just being perceived?, Extreme phenomenalists are not willing to accept that other humans have conciousness as this leads to metaphysical speculation., However this stance leads to absurdity for many people., Extreme Idealism / Sollipsism, Only a single mind in existence, Counter argument, No purpose in life, Bertrand Russell joked he received a letter saying 'Dear Professor Russell, I am a solipsist. Why isnt everyone else?'

Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of mind is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental event, mental function, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly...


Problems, When did we start to have minds?, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Conception to Birth, How do does mind/body interact?, The problem of other minds

Plato, Provided first insight of Dualism, Recognized a split between two worlds, The world of forms, The world of appearance

Substance Dualism, Descartes, 'I think therefore, I am', A reductionist approach, I can deny the existence of everything I perceive, Thus my body would not exist, But I cannot deny the existence of my conscious self therefore I must exist, Counter arguments

Epiphenomenalism, 1-way interaction, Body to mind only, Our mind receives sensory input, However our mind cannot respond back physically, Mental events are of secondary phenomenon, The mind is left as an observer, Therefore they cannot affect causal chain of events, Counter arguments, Impossible to know if other people have conscious experiences, No distinction between a Human being and an android, Goes back to the original problems of distinguishing a machine from a human being., Problems are similar to epistemological phenomenalism.

Parallelism, No interaction between mind and body, Mental events are synchronized with physical events, Both entities are under the same clock, Clock is maintained by God who provides the harmony, Counter arguments, There is evidence of body affecting mind, e.g. When I am drunk, it impairs judgment, Thus physical events does affect mental activity


View that the we are only made up of a single substance

Physicalism, (see metaphysics), Behaviourism, Proposes that questions such as "What is the mind?" are pseudo-questions., Mind is mental language., Describes nothing more than the behavior of that person., Mental language is paraphrased based on behavioral propensities (what one is likely to do)., By paraphrasing and replacing with descriptions of behavioral propensities, they eliminate the need to use mental language., If mental language is eliminated, there is no need to refer to an external mind., Counter arguments, Analyzing behavioral propensities through paraphrasing is impractical. There are too many conditions to fulfill., Infinite descriptions cannot be fathomed., One has to question the mental language that lies beyond the infinite as you realize that there is always going to be an end point in your descriptions., It does not work if one takes into account introspection., You do not see mental language such as "pain" as behavioral propensities., Instead you just experience them., Although behaviorism can explain "pain" for an observer, it is not the same when explaining the pain one experiences him/herself., Pain you experience yourself cannot be reduced to behavioral propensities as it is not an accurate parallel., You do not have to infer your "pain" through the behavioral propensities, instead you just know., Behaviorism cannot explain this feeling of immediacy from being conscious., Mental states will always exist no matter how much we paraphrase., If we paraphrase a mental state, we will always have to refer to a different mental state., There may be some debate as to which mental state is an accurate picture of a certain mental state., If paraphrasing is not done carefully, then it just becomes pointless as it does not accurately paraphrase the intended mental phrase., This seems likely as we always have to refer to other mental language to paraphrase. The other mental language may not be an accurate depiction - this is debatable., Identity Theory, Maintains that mental events are the same as physical events in the brain, Thoughts are equal to the firing of neurones, As lightning is equal to electrical discharge, Can be compared to H20 and water, Both are interchangeable, They refer to the same thing, Terms 'mind' and 'brain' are interchangeable, The state of mind would be equivalent to the brain patterns shown in a scanner, When I think of 'clouds' at this particular time, the brain scanner would detect a unique pattern representing this thought, When this pattern reoccurs, we know the person is thinking about clouds, Emotions can be described quantitatively, Counter arguments, Introspection cannot be denied when compared to behavior observation, What can appear to be a certain emotion can be denied by first hand experience, Does not place introspection in priority when analyzing emotions, Functionalism

Epistemological Idealism


The nature of the world


Idea first observed in Greek tragedies

Acceptance of unvarying fate, Future events cannot be altered, Truth is timeless

Counter arguments, Does not explain why future is unalterable, Freewill is lost

Determinism, Hard Determinism, Determinism is true, freedom is an illusion, Monism, Physicalism, Psychological Behaviourism, People are controlled by their environment., Definition of a human being is a definition of his or her behaviour, The view that the world is essentially material, Idea revolves around a fundamental unity in a changing/flowing world, Fundamental unity is described by Democritus as an atom, An atom allows us to make accurate description of any object, Counter arguments, Metaphysical Idealism, Criticism, It is absurd in recognizing that the proponents of the argument are predetermined to support hard determinism., You can't defend the rationality of a position if you fall victim to your own argument., Proponents of hard determinism break the "4th wall"., Everything is determined by prior causes, Modern science has been based on this assumption, Science e.g. Physics, presents a mechanistic or deterministic view of the world., e.g. Newton's universal laws, e.g. Darwin's theory of evolution, 'God does not play dice' - Einstein, Questions notion of responsibility, Our whole legal system is based on responsibility., Counter arguments, Rise of quantum mechanics, Chaos theory, Events before an occurrence accurately describes that occurrence, The principle of sufficient reason, If this holds true, anything can be predicted as long as causes are known, Thus stock market changes can be predicted if every single factor is known, However these factors would be innumerable, Though theoretically determinism still holds true, Soft Determinism, Determinism and freedom are compatible, I am free to go anywhere unless I am prevented from doing so, Counter arguments, Fails to distinguish between the two types of freedom., Practical Freedom, Only looks at physical limitations of freedom, Metaphysical Freedom, Asks whether we are responsible for our own actions, If someone is hypnotized into doing something, are they responsible for their decision even though if they insist that it is their own?, Marxism, Belief in dialectical process as influenced by Hegel, Belief that changes in the world are socio-economical, If factors were known these changes could be predicted, Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, Communism is final synthesis, it is the utopia that is envisaged, Religion would have to abolished for this to happen or else people would never act to implement this change, Recognizes the flaws in religion as pointed out by Feuerbach, 'Religion is the opium of the people', Religion causes people to be ignorant of the actual situation e.g. poverty, Religion is what characterizes social classes thus fuels class conflict, The need to believe in a 'higher being' introduces a certain hierarchy, e.g. 'I am richer because God blessed me', Counter arguments, Most religion actually stresses that its followers should act rather then listen, Recognizes class struggles because of rise of capitalism which is fueled by religion, Alienation of the proletariat, Production of products for workers become alien as corporations grow, Mega corporations have no concern about worker's state of being, It is wrong to treat human beings as a means to huge profits, As a results, proletariats were mistreated as result of growing capatilism, Notion that it is God's 'will' suggests that this mistreatment is a result of wrong doing, Thus religion bars the way for change in society e.g. a revolution

Free will

Is there a mind and body relation? [philosophy of mind]

Is the universe a purely physical entity?

Metaphysical Idealism, Refers to priority of the mind rather than the physical., Temporal priority, What came first? Mind or the physical?, Ontological priority, Can the spiritual part of a person exist independently of the body?, Extreme idealists purport that matter does not exist., Phenomenalism, Kant's form of idealism, Definitions, Analytic/Synthetic, Analytic truths, When the predicate is contained within the subject, We arrive at the truth by simply analysing the statement., E.g. "All fathers are male", Synthetic truths, When two statements are synthesized - they synthesize two different concepts., We arrive at the truth through experience - not through analysing the statement itself., E.g. "All human fathers are over two years old", A priori/A posteriori, A priori knowledge, Independent of experience., Necessarily true and universally true., A posteriori knowledge, Based on experience., Knowledge claim is based on observation and evidence., Strict empiricists agreed that Analytic truth and A priori knowledge goes togethor and vice versa., They see mathematical statements as complicated tautologies., Logical positivism, Kant said it is possible to have a priori knowledge which is synthetic., Fundamental Idea, Analogy of the tinted spectacles, World as we perceive it is governed by our mind (the tinted spectacles), The world is only known to us through the tinted spectacles thus all objects are mind dependent, We are noumenally free but phenomenally determined, Noumena, Things as they are in themselves, A priori knowledge, 2+2=4, Universally true, Phenomena, Things as we experience them (tinted spectacles), World of cause and effect, A posteriori knowledge, Based on experience, Only true to you, We perceive causal reality (Phenomena) but our innate reason is what makes us free, Our ability to identify causes (attribute of our reason), Morals inherent in our reason, Morality just as innate as reason, Just as basic as saying 2+2=4, So by following our reason (morals) this makes us free as we are completely certain of our conscience and thus our decisions., Made a distinction between "things as they appear to an observer" and "things in themselves"., Metaphysical speculation is false, We only know through Phenomena, Phenomena is the material needed for reason to develop, Inherent morals (reason) are not evident in children, This is because the child has not received enough sensory input for his faculty of reason to analyze, 'God', 'external reality' etc. does not exist in the phenomenal world we exist in, Thus we have no reason to believe, it just hopeful speculation, To believe in 'God' is to simply have faith, Protestant thinking, As opposed to Roman Catholics which rely more on reasoning

Existentialism, Atheistic Existentialism, Nietzsche, Nihilism, Belief in nothing (or no God), A true nihilist is someone who recognizes human condition, There is no God so love and compassion are seen as weakness, Strength is then the core value, the "superman" is someone who recognizes the human condition and takes up this core value., He is someone who reevaluates human situation, this marks 'the death of God', Sartre, Existential anguish/despair, We are 'condemned to be free', It is human condition, Animals are slaves to their own instincts but we have freedom of choice., The uncertainty of things makes us anxious, One has no guarantee that the right decision has been made., Freedom of choice and individuality/authenticity is emphasized, Bad faith, Deceiving ourselves that there are laws or ways of behaving written into society., When one denies their own total freedom., e.g. Cafe waiter analogy, Analogy of the waiter whos actions are too waiter-esque, His exaggerated actions only shows that he recognizes he is not a waiter., He is conciously deceiving himself. He is role playing the essence of a waiter., He know's he is free but does not acknowledge it., Existence precedes essence - Existenialism is a Humanism, There is no predetermined essence in man, you define who you are only through yourself., You are not born good or evil., "I am nothing else but my own concious existence, I decide and choose my own values", Sartre's novel - Nausea, Absurdity of human existence, Main character recognizes no rational order to existence, Recognizes that existence is purposeless and meaningless - where "things are divorced from their names"., Atheism is the first major foothold for a prospective existentialist., Influence from Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky's quote sums it up: "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted", Religious Existentialism, Kierkegaard, Disproved current system of rules and laws set by the Church, Because it encourages exploitation of the system, Recognized the need to have individuals, Christianity depends on whether the religion is true for you, Acceptance into religion should be characterized by free individual choice, Acceptance into Christianity should be through a "leap of faith", A leap of faith is a completely free decision made by you without any external influence., You are aware that you are completely responsible for this leap of faith so you become a fully devout Christian as opposed to just a nominal Christian., Leap of faith is completely subjective, Conversion into Christianity cannot be achieved through rational enlightenment or development of knowledge as Christianity itself is rationally incoherent., Religion should not be governed by laws, Coined the term 'Sunday Christians', Refers to Christians who only abide by the laws but do not understand what it means to be a Christian, Emphasis on Christianity as a way of life, Reaction against Hegel's philosophy, He recognizes three stages in life - each requiring a leap of some sort., The aesthetic, The ethical, The religious